Sunday, 11 October 2009

Canna 'America'

A tall Italian Group cultivar; bronze foliage; oval stems, coloured purple; flowers are open, orient-red (RHS 42A) with salmon spots, throat yellow, staminodes are large, good bloomer; seed is sterile, pollen is low fertile; rhizomes are thick, up to 3 cm in diameter. Introduced by C. Sprenger, Dammann & Co., Naples, Italy, EU.

Granted the RHS Award of Merit in 1897. Mention must be made of the farina 'sheen' on the stems and leaves. In the same year Professor F. A. Waugh, University of Vermont, wrote that "We have just had this Canna in flower, the third in Dammann's list of so-called "Orchid-flowering" Cannas. It has been something of a surprise to us, for in some way we had formed the notion that it was inferior to Italia and Austria. In our present opinion, however, it ranks above both. The foliage seems to be stronger and tougher, and is of a color much harder to get in Cannas. It is dark bronzy-red, with irregular and inconspicuous dashes of lighter greenish color. The flowering-stem is tall and strong, bearing a large spike of flowers of the form and size of Italia.
They are, however, of a most rare and striking color, a sort of brilliant apricot-red faintly spotted with darker salmon. The centre is canary-yellow, marked with the apricot-red of the body color, very much after the pattern of Austria and Burbank, except that in America the centre is lighter-colored than the wings. The blossoms are richer in appearance than any of the earlier Orchid-flowering Cannas. They do not appear to be better in substance, though; and this seems likely to prevent the general use of all the Canna flacida crosses in outdoor bedding. If it were not for this flabby quality of their blossoms they would soon very largely supersede the French dwarf Cannas for all classes of ornamental work."
This is a cross between the Crozy Group cultivar C. ‘President Carnot’ x C. flaccida ‘Le Roi’ in 1893. 
Canna flaccida 'Le Roi' would appear to be a C. flaccida strain that had settled down to the climate of Naples, rather than the sub-tropical climate of Florida and southern USA. At Claines Canna we are attempting to establish a strain of C. flaccida that can grow happily in our mangled climate. We are not crossing it, just growing on the strongest rhizomes year after year. The crosses between the Crozy Group and C. flaccida are some of the most important ever made and we want to perpetuate these crosses.

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