Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Stella de Oro Daylilies: Linquistic Tragedies

Ah, sticking with the spring theme, let me talk about another plant that has recently became a star in my landscape. About anywhere you go on the Casa de Quasebarth (another linguistic nightmare, but I digress) you'll find these gold, mounding perennials. They have deep green, strap-like leaves and produce a fragrant gold flower in the summer. The thrive in full sun, well-drained areas, but are hardy enough to survive in shaded areas. But did you know....

The name is a very tricky linguistic nightmare. It all starts with the word, "daylily" itself, which has a second legitimate spelling: "day lily."

But matters get worse when we consider the plant's scientific name. Technically, it's Hemerocallis 'Stella de Oro.' Which is the name given by the original hybridizer. As you can guess, the original hybridizer of a hybrid enjoys the honor of naming it. In this case, it was the honorable, Walter Jablonski, who proceeded (whether intentionally or not) to carry this "hybrid" thing a bit too far....

You see, "Stella de Oro" literally translates, "star of gold." Superficially, it looks either Spanish or Italian. Problem is, it's neither one -- not in its entirety, at least. "Stella" is "star" in Italian, and "de oro" is "of gold" in Spanish -- but not vice versa. So what we have here, essentially, is a hybridization of language to describe a hybrid plant. It's "Spitalian!"

Not surprisingly, then, this name is commonly mangled in every imaginable way, including as:

  • "Stella d'Oro daylily"
  • "Stella Doro daylily"
  • "Stella d Oro daylily"

"Stella d'Oro daylily" has, in fact, become such a common misspelling that it has virtually taken over as the preferred spelling for the plant. In part, what seems to be happening here is that people are correcting Jablonski's flawed formation. They are rendering the plant name in proper Italian, where "star of gold" would, indeed, be written as stella d'oro.

1 comment:

MrsGreenThumb said...

I was a friend of Walter Jablonski, he did things his way. He had a great passion for plants and hybridized both daylilies and lilacs. A visit to his home and garden was always interesting. Thanks for your blog.