Parade of Fangs, Eye of the Pumpkin

I’ll get to the fangs and the pumpkin eventually, but first a taxonomic puzzle in botany and two botanical puzzles in (Mexican) Spanish, triggered by this Pinterest photo from a while back:

(#1) [as captioned by its (Mexican) poster] Lirio plantasonya

One bit is easy: lirio Sp. ‘lily’ (though that too will turn out to be problematic). At first I tried to interpret plantasonya ‘Sonya’s plant’ as a species name accompanying a genus name Lirio in a binomial name — but the lily genus is Lilium (from Latin), not Lirio (in Spanish), and there appears to be no Lilium species with the name plantasonya or anything close to it.

Ok, so it’s a common name, not a taxonomic one. Then: what’s the plant in #1 that’s being called lirio, a label that, like lily in English, is notoriously given to lots of things ( for example, lily of the valley, lirio de los valles) that aren’t lilies in anyone’s mental universe — plants with resembloid, rather than subsective, names. It could be a lily, but maybe it’s an iris, or something else; we have another 6-parted flower identification exercise here, like the ones I posted about on this blog last month:

on 4/7/19 in “Two moments of iridaceous naming”, a naming exercise: lily? daffodil? fancy tulip? (or, maybe, amaryllis?) — no, an iris (Douglases iris, Iris douglasiana), but a fancy hybrid iris :

(#2) The hybrid iris ‘Bonnie Rose’, looking lilioid

on 4/19/19 in “The white and the red”, with another fancy iris: Iris confusa, or bamboo iris

(#3) Another fancy iris, looking lilioid

It turns out that the plant in #1 is none of the above, but a fancy hybrid Hemerocallis, or daylily. “Plantasonya’ (or maybe ‘Planta Sonya’) is apparently a variety name (like ‘Bonnie Rose’ in #2). The variety might be related to the hybrid ‘Sonya Starchak’:


And so I fell into the world of hybrid daylily enthusiasts: the breeders of these gorgeous flowers, and the gardeners who grow them. #1 took me quickly to Le Petit Jardin daylilies in McIntosh FL (in Marion County, south of Gainesville); here’s an array of their 20 new introductions for 2019:

(#5) New introductions are expensive (often $100-150 per root), but the roots quickly spread into clumps, and established varieties sell for less (down to $20 per root)

Another source: Bell’s Daylily Garden in Sycamore GA (in Turner County, in south-central GA), whose 2019 introductions include:

(#6) ‘Parade of Fangs’

(#7) ‘Eye of the Pumpkin’

(also: Divine Fingerprints, Italian Summer, Let Faith Arise, Peacock’s Pride, Pirate’s Gold Coin, Pumpkin Tree, Relentless Love)

But, but, the linguistic questions. There are two, and they’re related:

— Q1: How do speakers of (Mexican) Spanish refer to daylilies? Other than with the semi-technical term lirio de dia — or do (some) people adopt this term for everyday use?

— Q2: What does the term lirio refer to in everyday (Mexican) Spanish? (I’m prepared to hear that there’s variation.) In particular, does lirio generally cover Hemerocallis as well as Lilium plants and flowers? Does it also cover Iris plants and their flowers? Amaryllis?

There would be nothing particularly notable about lirio covering a category embracing more than one taxonomic genus while being used as well for one of those genera. This is the situation that Larry Horn has called autohyponym (X above, and X below). In our culture, oriental poppies (genus Papaver) and California poppies (Eschscholzia) together belong to a large POPPY category, referred to as poppies in ordinary English, while poppies also picks out Papaver plants specifically: poppy-poppies vs. California poppies.

So it is, for some Anglo Americans and lilies — and, probably, for some Latinos and lirios — as I explained in my 3/2/19 posting “Fried chicken waffle Benedict”:

Even in the realm of biological classification, people operate with folk taxonomies that often diverge from the technical taxonomies (despite biologists’ claims on occasion that their classifications are the only correct ones). So far I haven’t encountered anyone who thinks that calla lilies are lilies; everyone seems to recognize the label as metaphorical in origin and in practice. But I have encountered a fair number of people who think that daylilies (genus Hemerocallis) are just a subtype of lily, so that planting a “lily bed” might involve Stargazer lilies (a Lilium hybrid), or Stella de Oro lilies (a Hemerocallis hybrid), or some combination of these.

My man Jacques firmly categorized Lilium and Hemerocallis together, while equally firmly believing that calla lilies, water lilies, lilies of the Nile, lilies of the valley, etc. weren’t lilies at all. For him, daylily was a subsective compound; for me, it’s resembloid.

That is, lily-lilies vs. daylilies.

I have some grasp of how these things work in Anglo culture, for English speakers, but in Latino culture, for Spanish speakers, I’m at sea. So I still don’t know quite what to do with Lirio plantasonya in #1.

One Response to “Parade of Fangs, Eye of the Pumpkin”

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