The first is a species called Canna rubra (Willd.). Johnson's Dictionary of 1856 describes it has having "Red flowers indoors in December, originating from the West Indies and first introduced to
The earlier reference to flowering in December was due to the fact that in those days, in
Rather than using glass houses, Monsieur Théodore Année and the other French hybridisers quickly adapted the technique of lifting and storing rhizomes in the winter months and growing out again next spring, once the threat of frost had receded. The rhizomes descended from Canna indica and C. glauca proved to be amenable to that process, and so we remain today. That technique is now used by most Canna growers resident in temperate zones. As we all know, Canna 'Annei; was the first canna cultivar, but Monsieur Année went on to produce many more cultivars, amongst them were some with dark foliage.
We have early records of three Foliage Group cultivars raised in the mid 1800's, the first was Canna 'Rubra Perfecta', (perfect red) raised by Théodore Année, Passy, France, EU in 1861. In Subtropical Gardening, Robinson 1868, it was described as having stems dark-red, from 5 ft. to 6½ ft. high. Leaves dark-red, rayed with purple. The flowers are of medium size, orange-red. Rootstocks are dark-red, and conical. It seeds freely.
Canna 'Rubra Superbissima' (superb red) was another new cultivar from Monsieur Année, also in 1861, and Robinson described it as having stems dark purple-red, very thick, from nearly 6 ft. to 6½ ft. high. It’s leaves are broad, round, purplish-red, with a metallic lustre. Flowers of medium size, light orange-red. The rootstocks are brownish, very thick, conical, and crowded together. It was stated to be one of the finest metallic-red-leaved Cannas. In addition, Thompson's Gardener's Assistant, edited by Thomas Moore, 1892, described it as being 5 to 6 feet in height; leaves very broad, of a rich purplish red colour, with a metallic lustre in the sun. This is a free grower, and one of the best of the red-leaved kinds. At that time in canna history the floriferous cultivars from Monsieur Crozy were the fashionable rage, so the mention is all the more remarkable as
Finally, Canna 'Rubra Nerva', (red ribbed) was raised by E. Chaté and sons, sentier Saint-Antoine, Saint-Mandé,
This strongly resembles our own cultivar, C. 'Russian Lance' (left), which was a seedling from C. 'Russian Red'. We are growing C. 'Russian Red' next to C. 'Rubra Superbissima' for comparison this year, as there seems to be no difference between them. We also intend to supply a specimen of the latter to the National Canna Collection, so that Keith and Christine Hayward can make a judgement as well.
- Le Canna -
E. Chatéet fils, 1867
- Subtropical Gardening - Robinson 1868
- Thompson's Gardener's Assistant, Edited by Thomas Moore, 1892