Category Archives: Canna News

2020 Canna Trials International

The 2020 Canna Trials International  are being held at the National Canna Collection housed at Hart Canna Nursery, and the open days to the public will be Friday 28 August to Monday 31 August, 10.00am to 4.00pm.

The National Collection is housed at:

Hart Canna Farm
Lincluden Nursery
Shaftsbury Road
Bisley, Woking,
Surrey. GU24 9EN

e-mail address:

Telephone numbers:
Landline: 01252-514421
Mobiles: 0776-295-0000

In the centre of Bisley, take Shaftsbury Road In Shaftsbury Road, Watch for the sign on the right.
Take the rough track Lincluden Nursery.
Plenty of parking.
(A satnav should get you right to our gate)
If you can’t find us phone 0776-295-0000

Annual Subscriptions

For nearly a year we have operated with an introductory subscription of £10, with the intent to then charge a full subscription of £20.

The purpose of the subscription is to cover the costs of the website, apps and other running costs only, as this is not a ‘for profit’ venture.

We are pleased to advise members that we have established that we can continue with the current subscription charge of £10 for at least another year.  

Canna ‘Rosemond Coles’ name confirmation

Over the decades the various names of this variety have varied in popularity, as it has many synonyms. This week I discovered an old catalogue entry from W.W. Coles, nurseryman from Kokomo in central Indiana. This nursery was the plant originator (a sport of The President) and obviously the name is now confirmed once and for all as CannaRosemond Coles’. This also removes speculation that it was originated by Captain Cole in Australia.
The entry in the Canna Cyclopedia has been updated, but the separate synonym lists will not be updated until after Christmas.

Canna ‘Félix Ragout’

A small aquatic Italian Group cultivar, equally at home as a water marginal or in the border; green foliage, oval shaped, upright habit; round stems, coloured green; panicles of flowers are open, self-coloured yellow, staminodes are medium size, edges irregular, petals green, fully self-cleaning; fertile both ways, not self-pollinating or true to type, capsules round; rhizomes are thick, up to 3 cm in diameter, coloured white; tillering is average.
We cannot trace the originators of this cultivar, but we believe that it has been renamed many times by others over the years for marketing reasons. There again, if we can’t identify an originator, then maybe it is an existing cultivar that has been renamed for commercial reasons. These things do happen, you understand?

Synonym: C. ‘Felix Ragot’

Canna ‘Florence Vaughan’ rediscovered!


CannaFlorence Vaughan’ growing in the gardens of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens, Australia.

The original Canna ‘Florence Vaughan’ has been traced to the Melbourne Botanical Gardens in Australia.

Congratulations are due to Mrs Dale McDonnell in Australia, for tracking down this elusive cultivar, dating back to 1892. CannaFlorence Vaughan’ was traced hiding in the confines of the Melbourne Botanical gardens where it had escaped the vagaries of fashion and nurserymen confusing identities. By bringing this original cultivar to the notice of the international Canna community she has allowed us to put one of the many Canna inconsistencies to rest, at last. 

CannaFlorence Vaughan’ was originally raised by Monsieur Crozy of Lyons, France and imported into the USA by Vaughan’s Seed Store and named for Mrs Vaughan. It was described in the early US gardening journal Garden and Forest thus: 

This is the best yellow spotted Canna introduced up to this time; color, lemon yellow spotted with bright red. The size and form of the flower is by far the best that has been raised to date; it has been claimed for this variety that it was the best yellow in cultivation, but the scarlet markings on the petals detract from the brightness of the yellow. It is a strong, robust grower, with flowers of the largest size with large heads, blooms freely, and for florists’ sale will be very, very satisfactory. Bronze Medal awarded for this at World’s Fair, Chicago, 1893.Garden and Forest
Vaughan’s advert for CannaFlorence Vaughan’The name and the correct descriptions appeared in catalogues, gardening books and encyclopedia up until the 1940’s.

In the 1960’s the name again appeared in catalogues, but it was now the vanished cultivar CannaRoma’ that had mistakenly been given this name in the USA and Europe. CannaRoma’ was described by Messrs Dammann & Co. as having light-yellow flowers adorned with its trademark nasturtium-orange blotches and red marks.

Most canna enthusiasts had recognized for some time that CannaFlorence Vaughan’ was wrong, but where was the real C. ‘Florence Vaughan’? It has taken this discovery in the documented accession archives of the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne Australia to complete the solving of the long-running mystery.

In Australia CannaRoma’ was known from the early 1900s but disappeared from catalogues in 1926 when Messrs Brunnings sold out, although it had been correctly described up until then. Unfortunately, CannaRoma’ was subsequently misnamed as Canna ‘Heinrich Seidel’, another of the Italian cannas from the house of Dammann & Co. in the 1890’s, which was yellow with a red throat, and the misuse of that name is local to Australia.

CannaRoma’As can be seen from the pictures, CannaFlorence Vaughan’ is a typical, Crozy Group canna (both image above), with gladiolus-like blooms. Whereas, CannaRoma’ (image left) is a typical Italian Group canna with large, floppy, iris-like blossoms, and the labellum is larger than the staminodes. The two types are so basically different that it is difficult to see how the original mix-up could have occurred. It again seems to be another Nurseryman misnaming from the early 1980’s.

Canna cultivar groups

At Claines Canna Collection we have a collection with over 750 Canna accessions and we had a pressing need to have a method of categorising the collection. Therefore, we created a set of Canna cultivar groups, to satisfy our own requirement to produce manageable paper and web catalogue of this large collection. This article describes what we did, why we did it, and our own experiences.

The International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP) regulates the naming of cultivars and cultivar Groups, and we decided that this was a progressive way forward, rather than looking to the past and the categorisation methods that had already failed and been abandoned. There simply was no point in us trying to resurrect them. So out of the window went species-like names like hybrida, hortensis, generalis, orchiodes, most based on the genotype (the DNA makeup). Also, the recent attempt to call all cultivars x generalis is quite pointless, as just by enclosing the cultivar name with inverted commas means that it is a cultivar!

The modern Cultivar Groups are not concerned with the genotype of a plant, only what it looks like, i.e. the phenotype. We eventually decided to base the groups on Canna history, where different types and styles of cultivars were introduced at milestone points in time. The reasoning being that these differences are immediately visible to the experienced eye and meet our criteria of being sustainable and easy to use. So we specified the following groups:

Agriculture Group

 This group includes all Cannas that have been used in agriculture. Farmers have selectively bred Cannas over a period of thousands of years, by simply selecting which variants best produce what they want to grow. They probably gave the cultivars separate names, but the only name that has come down to us is C. achira. Achira is the generic name for Canna in the Andes region, where they were grown as a horticultural crop and not as ornamentals.

Normally these are C. discolor hybrids, and they have been raised for their ability to produce high quantities of starch. Triploids produce significantly more starch than diploids, and the research that has been done in the area of agricultural Cannas shows that they are nearly all triploids. Incidentally, they are nearly all seed sterile as well.

CannaQueensland Arrowroot

CannaQueensland Arrowroot’ has been an agricultural crop in Australia for two centuries, and it still continues to be grow there.

In his researches in Asia, Dr Tanaka has described several cultivar variants, and it is certain that many more agriculture group Cannas exist, but have not been brought into horticulture and catalogued, in other tropical and sub-tropical areas; India, Africa and Hawaii immediately spring to mind.

Most of the members of this group have fine large banana-like foliage and are also able to be described as members of the next group, the Foliage Group.

Foliage Group

Cultivars, F1 and F2 hybrids, normally with small species-like flowers, but grown principally for their fine, banana-like foliage. These cultivars were originally developed by Monsieur Théodore Année, the world’s first Canna hybridiser, who introduced many original cultivars and also acted as the inspiration for many more Canna (Foliage Group) introductions.

The hybridisers working on this group rapidly discovered a scientific fact, confirmed more recently in the 1960’s by Dr Khooshoo, that is, if the flower size is increased significantly, then the seedling will be less substantial than its seed parent. So, to produce more floriferous plants we have to accept that they will be smaller than the more architectural Foliage Group cultivars.

Crozy Group

CannaMadame CrozyPodgora Gardens

A cultivar group where the flower spikes are arranged close together on the stalk and have narrow to medium staminodes. There is always space between the staminodes when arranged formally, and the labellum (lip) is smaller than the staminodes, and is often twisted or curled.

CROZY Antoine

The pioneer of this group was Monsieur Antoine Crozy of Lyons, France, who started breeding Cannas as early as 1862, from stock originally developed by Monsieur Année, the world’s first Canna hybridiser, who introduced what we are now calling ‘Foliage Group’ specimens.

CannaAntoine Crozy

By careful selection, Crozy created hundreds of new floriferous cultivars and created a rage for new dwarf Cannas across the world. At this point, we have to put the word dwarf into perspective. They are smaller than most of the Foliage Group, but they were still mostly over 1 metre (3ft 3in) in height.

The cultivars in question were sometimes referred to as gladiolus flowering cannas, but describing flowers as similar to another genus is discouraged. In any event, they are gladiolus-style, not some sort of clone.

Also, in the past, they were sometimes called the “x generalis L.H. Bailey” garden species, although such “pretend” garden species are now deprecated in favour of Cultivar Groups. When first describing the generalis “pretend” species, Dr Bailey defined it as C. glauca L. x C. indica L. x C. iridiflora Ruiz and Pav. x C. warscwiczii A. Dietr. Incidentally, the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (1961) demanded that cultivars should be designated by their parents. The ICNCP eventually realised that this was unsustainable and revised their regulations to those we have today, and on which this effort is based.

Italian Group


A cultivar group with large, very fragile staminodes. Flowers are arranged somewhat loosely, in clusters with wide petals, so wide that there is no space between them when arranged formally. The labellum (lip) is larger, or at least as large, as the staminodes, unlike the other groups where it is smaller and sometimes curled. The stamen is also much wider than that in the other cultivar groups, so much so that early nurserymen referred to the stamen and anther as ‘inner petals’.

Canna flaccida

The Italian Group obtained its larger sized, but less sturdy, flowers from the introduction of Canna flaccida, crossed with C. ‘Madame Crozy’, in the early 1890’s by Dr Sprenger in Naples, Italy followed shortly afterwards by Luther Burbank in California, USA, with the same cross. Both used C. ‘Madame Crozy’ as the seed parent as it was considered to be the finest of the existing Crozy Group cultivars.


Specimens of this group used to be called the orchid flowering cannas, or x orchiodes L.H. Bailey, a garden species, which in the rules of the time he defined as being (C. glauca L. x C. indica L. x C. iridiflora Ruiz and Pav. x C. warscwiczii A. Dietr) x C. flaccida.

Those same rules also mean that when Sprenger crossed C. ‘Madame Crozy’ back with pollen from that specimen, then it needed at new garden species name, perhaps x generalis backcross L.H. Bailey, and its official definition was ((C. glauca L. x C. indica L. x C. iridiflora Ruiz and Pav. x C. warscwiczii A. Dietr) x (C. glauca L. x C. indica L. x C. iridiflora Ruiz and Pav. x C. warscwiczii A. Dietr.) x C. flaccida) ); really rolls of the tongue, doesn’t it?

It is easy to see why the ICNCP eventually changed its regulations to those we are describing here today. In any event, it is difficult to see the similarity between this group and orchids. Is it only me?

Variegated Group


This group covers all Cannas with variegated foliage, regardless of how the variegation has occurred. If the variegation is distinctive, then the cultivar is eligible for membership of this group.

CannaKansas City

The only natural and reproducible variegation in Cannas is the red/purple stripes on a green leaf that were introduced primarily through Canna indica f. warscwiczii.

CannaBengal Tiger

All other variegation is introduced through mutation of one sort or another, see C. ‘Kansas City’ (a natural sport) and C. ‘Bengal Tiger’ (radiation induced).  Such variegation, induced by mutation is not transmitted to seed offspring, and the only propagation method available is vegative, i.e. the division of rhizomes. Bear in mind that mutations can revert spontaneously, and then you are left with what is potentially another new cultivar.

Aquatic Group


This group is for cultivars that thrive as marginal water plants. Characteristically, they will have lance-shaped foliage and long, thin rhizomes that spread for long distances, and anchor the plant into the mud of the margins. Many cultivars that have the water species (C. glauca and C. flaccida) behind them, have these qualities and several breeders have introduced new aquatics in the last few decades.

Typically, aquatic cannas can be recognised both by the long, thin rhizomes but also by their lanceolate shaped foliage, some of which are coloured glaucous blue/green.

Conservatory Group

The growing conditions in a Conservatory are quite specialised and do not suit many cultivars, this group have been selected for thriving in this environment, required features being plant vigour, early flowering, foliar appearance, self-cleaning ability and good propagation qualities.

This cultivar group originated in Longwood Gardens, USA, who have vast areas of conservatories. Dr. Robert Armstrong, the newly appointed Geneticist, began a canna breeding program in 1967, when it was realized that cultivars available at that time were not suitable for use on display in the Conservatories. The new cultivars would also have to be suitable for growing in their immense garden complex.

New blood was required to create something new, and the project started with making crosses involving three cultivars, ‘Ambassadour’, ‘Moonlight’, and ‘Banner’, which were obtained from Yalta, Ukraine and South Africa.

As the project progressed, other cultivars and species were introduced from around the world. Seeds of five species were received from Lago Maggiore, Italy, Canna glauca was procured from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and in 1972, Dr. John Creech of the US National Arboretum, added three Russian cultivars, ‘K.A. Timirazov’, ‘Krimsky Riviera’, and ‘Soleznaya Krasavaya’. The scope of the project was extended to include new aquatic cultivars.


With the new additions to the breeding stock, red, orange and pink cannas were developed for the Conservatory along with the original white and yellow. Between 1972 and 1985, twelve cultivars were selected for release. Named for local historically significant places and events, they were:

The list above shows the original members of this group, but it will be extended as other cultivars prove to have the same qualities and capability of growing continuously 52 weeks of the year in the specialised conditions of a conservatory. If anbody has experiences of such growing conditions, then please let me know.

Miniature Group

CannaTom Thumb

This group covers cultivars growing under 0.5m (19″) in height, the flowers should be in scale to the rest of the plant. They should be suitable for being used as cut flowers for table decoration at formal dinners or in restaurants.

There has been interest in growing such small specimens in the past, the Seven Dwarves Series is one example, and the Alipore Canna Collection in India also had some success, referring to them as Pygmies. As that term is no longer considered politically correct, we coined the term miniature to describe these very special treasures.


CannaMadame Legris

The photographs above show typical diploid and tripoid cultivars, namely C. ‘Madame Legris’ and C. ‘Aida’.
The Crozy Group triploids have given us a slight problem, but not insurmountable. These are the Crozy Group cultivars who’s seedlings have changed from diploids to triploids. The outstanding example of this is C. ‘The President’, which produces spikes of large flowers, and many new Canna cultivars are of this type, including CannaAida’ (right).

Triplods have larger staminodes, and some even create that perfect circle where there are no gaps between the staminodes.  This also means that they are no longer complying fully with our definition for the Crozy Group, but they certainly are not Italian Group cultivars. We ignored this inconvenient fact and placed them in the Crozy Group, anyway. However, this is obviously not long-term correct, and we feel that we now need a new group to contain the Crozy Group cultivars which outgrow this group and become “super-crozy”.

Any respectable suggestions for a descriptive group name will be gratefully received.

The terms of reference for Cultivar Groups are rather loose, and if somebody wanted to start categorising cannas as Yellow Group or Red Group that would comply with the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants, but would also seem to be a touch futile, and not provide the same terms of reference as the groups described above.

Other than that, the Cultivar Group categorisation has worked well for us and we have no regrets. It was a considerable effort to implement for hobby collectors, but we would commend our groupings to anyone else thinking along the same lines and please feel free to use what we have done.

Canna tuerckheimii to be conserved

A proposal has been made to conserve the name Canna tuerckheimii against C. latifolia, C. gigantea, C. neglecta, and C. violacea and the name C. jaegeriana against C. leucocarpa (Cannaceae).  The proposal has been made by Dr. Hilte Maas van der Kamer, of the National Herbarium, Netherlands in the journal TAXON.

Most of the proposal is devoted to the C.  tuerckheimii proposition and what look like totally convincing arguments are made for the proposition that C. latifolia, C. gigantea, C. neglecta, and C. violacea should be synonyms of C. tuerckheimii.

Canna latifolia

However, Dr Tanaka, in his revision of the species, put forward his view that C. tuerckheimii was a synonym of C. latifolia.

Interestingly, one of the arguments put forward refers to the number of Google hits under the various names. The times, they are a changin’, even for taxonomists.

Canna jaegeriana

The proposition for C. jaegeriana looks less controversial, and as Dr Tanaka also recognizes C. jaegeriana it would appear that proposition may pass without question. However, this is not a two-man show and there are others involved other than our two learned species authorities.

As we have happily grown and spelt C. latifolia for many years we are concerned about a change in name to one we cannot spell!  More seriously, it is good to see how the naming process works, as the canna genus still has many ‘old species’ to classify and align.

Comparison of Crozy and Italian Groups

We have two old prints to illustrate the differences between the Crozy Group and the Italian Group of Cannas. The prints date from the late 1800’s when these two groups were being created and perpetuated.

CannaAntoine Crozy


The two prints together illustrate the difference between the Crozy Group and the Italian Group that followed. The first print (C. ‘Antoine Crozy’) shows the narrower petals of the gladiolus-type French canna and the right (C. ‘Austria’) shows the so-called, orchid-type ‘Italian Job’, with petals (really staminodes) that are large, showy, crinkled edges and inclined to be a little floppy (flaccid), showing their descent from the USA species C. flaccida. In addition, the lip (labellum) is larger than the petals.


Comparison of the two basic canna types

Character Crozy Group Italian Group
Cultivars Crozy, Alipore, Gladiolus or French Dwarf cannas, x generalis. Italian, Iris, Orchid, Burbank, or Giant flowered cannas, x orchiodes.
  Diameter: Medium to large, less than 12.5cm Very large, 12.5cm to 21cm
  Colour: Many Bright yellow to deep red striped or splashed. Not pink or clear white.
  Petals: Narrow, erect or ascending. Reflexed after about the first day.
  Tube: About 1.25cm cm. long, not longer than sepals. About 2.5 cm. or more, much longer than sepals.
  Staminodia: Narrow to broad, mostly erect or strongly upright, well separated in outline. Space between staminodes. Broad and soft with flowing outline, lip funnel-form at the base. Staminodes make a full circle when formally arranged.
  Pollen: 50-80% 40-60%
  Seed: 1-19 seeds per capsule Sterile


Khoshoo, T.N. & Guha, I. – Origin and Evolution of Cultivated Cannas. Vikas Publishing House.