Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Star of the Day 'Capricornia' (syn. Souvenir d'Azza Gray?)

Without a doubt, the most generous blooming, eye-popping Canna I grow is one now being sold in Australia as 'Capricornia'. It was imported from New Zealand and I believe it to be one of the old Bendigo cannas imported to that country from Australia in the 1960s. Many of these cannas from the old Bendigo collection made their way to New Zealand without any name tags attached. Naturally they had to have a name to be sold in New Zealand, so many were renamed. I believe 'Capricornia' to be one of these lost identity/new identity cannas. I have another clump of this same Canna which I acquired directly from the remnants of the old Bendigo collection, without a name.

The outstanding characteristic of this generous performer is the branching ability of each flowering stem which goes on producing branches of bloom for over six months. No less than thirteen sequential heads of bloom branch from each spike. If my season was longer, perhaps there might be more, but the frosts usually overtake them before they are done producing. The flowers are extremely weatherproof and of a wonderful clear vermilion red illuminated with a faint blush of gold.

I believe it to be the old Crozy hybrid 'Souvenir d'Aza Gray'. But so far have been unable to find

multiple proofs for this identity. This old Canna was in the Bendigo collection as late as 1991 and no other on the old list of their cultivars matches the description as well as 'Capricornia' does. In the old literature the floriferous nature of 'Souvenir d'Aza Gray' is particular commented upon.

This ability to throw many fresh branches from each spike is not something that Canna breeders have given much consideration. The average canna will give three or four sequential branchings from the flowering spike. Additional branching is a very valuable characteristic and one well worth exploring and breeding towards.


  1. Dale, what colour would you call this one?

  2. Well Malcolm, I call it vermilion as it is the same shade as my tubes of paint! Almost orange but definitely on the red side of the spectrum. It's a very pure coloured canna and doesn't alter much as it ages.

    It contains those "sparkle" cells in the staminodes that reflect light - hence the gold overlay that changes depending from which angle it is viewed. Almost like a hologram and quite different to a blush of another shade. Makes them very hard to photograph as you get a flare from the reflection of the sun. Many cannas have these and we have never selected for the characteristic as the Daylily breeders are now doing.