The nomenclature (clutter) of Crassula gollum

The nomenclature clutter of Crassula gollum

Marina Welham

After years of encouraging people to use botanical names because common names are far too confusing, I am embarrssed to write this article.  Having received this photogrpah of the plant known to many of us as Crassula ‘Gollum’, it occurred to me that I had seen the same plant somewhere with another name.  I decided to do a little research so I could give you the facts.  All I did was to open a can of worms.

Take a look at the list I made of all the names of this plant I came across in books, on the internet and in dealers’ catalogs.

Crassula argentea cv ‘Gollum’
Crassula argentea ‘Hobbit’
Crassula ‘Coral’
Crassula ‘Gollum’
Crassula ‘Gollum’ dwarf
Crassula ‘Hobbit’ Monstrose leaf form of the
     common Jade Plant
Crassula Break Dancer – crest and so-called
     mutant of Blauw Vogel which is a Dutch plant
Crassula Gollum (Hobbit)
Crassula ‘Hobbit’
Crassula montrose jaba ‘Hobbit’
Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’
Crassula ovata convoluta ‘Gollum’
Crassula ovata ‘Hobbit’
Crassula portulacea convoluta ‘Gollum’
Crassula portulacea cv. ‘Gollum’
Crassula ‘Skinny Fingers’ Jade
Crassula ‘Red Hobbit’

Crassula ovata ‘Coral’
Thought by some to be Crassula ‘Gollum’
Plant & Photo:  Norma Lewis, Valley Village, CA
Red tips on the ‘fingers’

Some say Crassula ovata is the one and only correct name for most jades with of course the cultivar name following.  So this plant we are talking about (do we actually remember which one that is by now?) should be correctly named Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ or Crassula ovata ‘whatever other cultivar name has been given’.  When people use the names Gollum, Hobbit, Skinny Fingers and Break Dancer, the trick is to figure out if they are all talking about the same plant or variations of it or simply don’t know what it is and hope one of the names is correct.

Others say Crassula portulacea is the preferred name with both Crassula argentea and Crassula obliqua being rejected.  Note that Crassula obliqua is considered now as Crassula portulacea var oblique.  I got this last bit of informatoion from the web site of a British C&S Society affiliate group.  I won’t name them in case the information is wrong!  Sigh!

In any case the plant in the photo shown on the previous page has been known to me for many years as Crassula ‘Gollum’ and I will continue to call it that.

This plant enjoys sunshine and likes some warmth in winter.  Apart from that it needs the usual care for succulents.

I hear tell one or two new books on crassulas are in the works.  Perhaps in them we will find the answer.

Source:  Welham, M. (2002)  “The nomenclatureclutter of Crassula gollum.”  The Amateurs’ Digest 14(2):  9-10.  Marina Welham, Sidney, BC, Canada.

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