Abelia x grandiflora
a-BEE-lee-uh x gran-dih-FLOR-uh
Linnaea x grandiflora
LIN-ee-uh x gran-dih-FLOR-uh
Abelia x grandiflora (Rovelli ex André) Rehder is either an accepted name, an unresolved name OR a synonym of this particular shrub. It was named and described as such by Alfred Rehder and “in author” Liberty Hyde Bailey in Cyclopedia of American Horticulture in 1900. It was first named and described as Abelia rupestris var. grandiflora by Renato Rovelli and Édouard-François André in Revue Horticole 56 in 1886.
Linnaea x grandiflora (Rovelli ex André) Christenh. may be the new accepted scientific name. It was given this name and described by Maarten Joost Maria Christenhausz in Phytotaxa in 2013.
Both the Abelia and Linnaea genera were described by Carl von Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753.
Although both parents of this beautiful hybrid Abelia, A. chinensis x A. uniflora, are native of China, the origin of the Glossy Abelia is unknown. No one knows who made the cross, when it was done or where. It is known is was introduced to gardeners in Italy in 1886 and is now the most widely grown Abelia in the world.
This Abelia was one of the original shrubs planted by my grandparents probably in the 1960’s. It was one of my favorite shrubs when I lived here in the early 1980’s and still is. Hard to believe it has lived for so many years and has continued to retain its shape without spreading into a massive clump like the Lilacs and other shrubs do with age.
Last year I decided it was high time I figured out what this AWESOME shrub was. I went online and did an image search and found a similar shrub linked to The Missouri Botanical Garden. The name of the shrub is/was Abelia x grandiflora. I was very happy that I found the name. They say that it is a cross between A. chinensis and A. uniflora.
Then when I started to make this page for the Abelia x grandiflora on December 2, 2017, I thought I better make sure again. I checked The Plant List first to see what it said (which I already had done before). It still said the name was unresolved and wasn’t about to change on that site since it is no longer maintained. I still use The Plant List to access Tropicos so I can research the author’s name and where the plants name was documented.
So, I checked the new Plants of the World online website to see what they had to say and was SHOCKED to see what it said. It says the genus Abelia is a synonym of Linnaea. What in the heck is a Linnaea? I thought that was a publication that was written in 1829.
SO, let’s go back a little. According to The Plant List (2013 version), there “were” 29 accepted species in the Abelia genus and one accepted infraspecific name. There were 38 species that were synonyms of other species (plus an additional 15 of infraspecific rank) plus 12 names that were still unresolved. When I counted the names on the list, I came up with 101 not 95. It also says there were 2 accepted species in the genus Linnaea (plus one accepted infraspecific name), 1 species that was a synonym of another species (plus 3 infraspecific names that were synonyms) and 21 names that were still unresolved.
Today, December 2, 2017, as I am writing this page, according to the Plants of the World online website, maintained by Kew (a division of The Royal Botanic Gardens), all 14 species of Abelia on their list (plus one infraspecific name) are ALL synonyms. Two species on the list were moved to the Zabelia genus, Abelia x grandiflora is now Linnaea x grandiflora, and the rest it just says are synonyms but doesn’t say of what? They list only ONE accepted species of Linnaea (Linnaea borealis) and ONE accepted infraspecific name (Linnaea x grandiflora). What happened to the rest of the species in the Abelia genus? Oh, yeah, it just said they were synonyms but not of what (except for 3 names).
The Missouri Botanical Garden (of which Tropicos is a division), which was one of the major contributors of The Plant List, along with Kew-Royal Botanic Gardens (who is responsible for the new Plants of the World online), still lists Abelia x grandiflora as an accepted name. Although I was told The Plant List is no longer maintained because of lack of funds, it seems there may be more to it… The Missouri Botanical Garden website, and Tropicos, always seems to be up to date with name changes, but both sites still say Abelia x grandiflora is the correct and accepted scientific name. There were a lot of other people, groups, and organizations that took part in building The Plant List, so getting everyone to be in agreement was probably pretty tough.
Then I read the Wikipedia article published on the Abelia genus and some questions were answered. It says that some authors, including the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group, consider the Abelia and a few other genera in the Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle) family actually belong to the Linnaeaceae family. Some genera, including the Lonicera (which is the honeysuckle) would still remain in the Caprifoliaceae family.
Well, that doesn’t answer my question completely… Which is still weird, because even though the genus name possibly changed from Abelia to Linnaea, it is still in the Caprifoliaceae family, and so is the genus Linnaea. When I type in Linnaeaceae on Plants of the World online to check out that family name, it says “no results”… Hmmm…
SO, what is this plant? Is it Abelia x grandiflora or Linnaea x grandiflora? Is it in the Caprifoliaceae family or the Linnaeaceae family? Well, it kind of looks like there was a compromise. Maybe one side agreed to change the genus name if the other agreed to leave it in the family it was in. I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens next.
Light: Full sun to part shade
Size: 3-6 feet tall x 6 feet wide. Well, ours was 13 1/2 feet tall.
Flowers: White and pink bell-shaped flowers starting in late April to May.
I have been wanting to give the Abelia a good pruning for a while but I kept putting it off. I really like this shrub in all its glory and the thought of pruning it disturbed me. But, it was a problem mowing around it. Information online says the Abelia flowers on new growth and there is a lot of old growth for sure. Dad told me he had pruned it back many years ago.
So, on 10-11-17, I finally pruned it. It was impossible to measure how tall it was, so when I started pruning, I measured the height of where I cut and the tallest stem after I cut it. The combined measurement was 13 1/2 feet.
I have provided a few links below for further reading.
I hope you enjoyed this page about the Abelia x grandiflora/Linnaea x grandiflora. I will continue adding photos and information as time goes by (if I didn’t kill it). if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on the “Like” below if you have visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated.