|Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’|
I was delighted to see that the lilyturf, also known as monkey grass, which is really Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’, is blooming now.
This tough as nails plant survived the Drought of ’12, partial shade, neglect, squirrels and did I mention virtually no rain for three months?
I was curious about its botanical family, so I looked it up. I love how I can look this kind of stuff up on the Internet and get up to date information. If I relied on the plant taxonomy textbook that I used in college back in the previous century, I’d be proclaiming it to be in the…
Well, I don’t know what family I’d declare it to be in because I can’t find mention of it in that textbook, Vascular Plant Families by James Payne Smith, Jr. (Mad River Press, 1977). I would have guessed Liliaceae and hoped for partial credit.
The correct answer for which plant family Liriope is in is Asparagaceae, in particular the subfamily Nolinoideae. But partial credit could have also been given for the plant family Ruscaceae, which at one time stood on its own before they moved it and several other families into the subfamily Nolinoideae of the family Asparagaceae. It took me awhile to sort that out even after I read it online. You will not be quizzed, so let’s move on.
The primary genus in this subfamily is Nolina. I’ve never heard of Nolina, which lead me to look that up, too. Turns out that most of these plants are tropical which is why I’m not familiar with them. I’m a temperate gardener, and I mean that in both the climatic and personal sense, being a mild person, such as I am. I am!
I suppose we are just lucky at this point that the plant taxonomists didn’t change the genus name, Liriope. Otherwise, we gardeners wouldn’t go around wondering if we were pronouncing it correctly. Li-RYE-o-pee? Sure, however you say it is fine, just say it really loud and no one will have the nerve to correct you. They’ll just assume that if that isn’t how they pronounce it, they are wrong because you said it loudly and proudly.
Isn’t that how all arguments are won these days? The louder person wins. The other, more temperate person gives up and goes back to diving down rabbit holes of botanical plant families, wondering just how long she should keep a plant taxonomy textbook published in 1977, which isn’t correct anymore?