A dazzling roadside field of blue (and purple, pink, white…)
Consumers not so smart say the three-quart-gallon brigade

From the depths of the black lagoon arose – Dendranthema!

It’s back – resurfacing from the rotting depths of oblivion, the horror that was... Dendranthema!

What are they playing at?

ChrysanthemumWarmIglooBOBNA Some years ago, after a great deal of careful study, the botanists decided that many of our old friends in the genus Chrysanthemum (garden chrysanths, cut flowers and pot ‘mums) should be moved into a new genus, Dendranthema. There was uproar – from gardeners, nurseries, from just about everyone. Even the botanists saw it as regrettable, even if it was botanically correct.

Eventually an important decision was made which acknowledged that the needs of gardeners and the horticultural trade should be considered alongside the accuracy of botanical judgement. Although there were sound botanical reasons for the move, the name was changed back to Chrysanthemum. Everyone was happy again. This was in 1997.

Not any more. And it’s not the botanists who are unhappy. Having agitated for the new name to be abandoned it’s nurseries who’ve brought it back. Dendranthema rides again.

First it was, the American wholesale branch of Blooms of Bressingham which is part of the Yoder group. Yoder bred five garden chrysanthemums, the Igloo Series (including 'Warm Igloo', above), and released them under the name Dendranthema. ChrysanthemumRhumbaWGDETA-1This was in 2006. It seemed like an isolated aberration, perhaps intended to distinguish these hardy garden varieties from other types - which are rather looked down upon by some keen gardeners. Now I see that the four varieties in the Autumn Crescendo series of garden chrysanths, derived from ‘Sheffield Pink’ and marketed by Walters Gardens (including 'Rhumba' in the second picture), are also being sold as Dendranthema.

Now I’m not saying these are bad plants, far from it. Both series look prolific and hardy, Igoo Series with a more mounded habit like a modern chrysanth, Autumn Crescendo more of an old fashioned type. But Dendranthema? Perhaps next they’ll dredge up the name Viorna for herbaceous clematis.

No. The whole point of the system of botanic nomenclature is that it's consistent and that people don't just decide to make up names or use old or invalid ones just because they happen to feel like it. So dragging Dendranthema back from the dead is just bewildering. Next stop: Horminum, the resurrected name for annual salvias. Just to be sure you don’t think you’re getting a sage bush.

Stop before it’s too late!