On Plant Heritage’s 2021 shortlist for Threatened Plant of the Year, was an Irish plant, Aspidistra ‘Irish Mist’. Though not the eventual winner, it was voted People’s Choice. I have in the past cited A. ‘Irish Mist’ as an example of a cultivar which may not have a large fan club because of its yellow mottled foliage but one deserving to be preserved as part of our horticultural heritage. Obviously, my assumption about its likely popularity was incorrect.

Charles Nelson named this distinct form of Aspidistra lurida which was growing in the Aquatic House in the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin in 1990. The name ‘Irish Mist’ was chosen to reflect the blurred yellow spotting of the leaf. In the Society’s journal Moorea, Vol. 10, Alison Rutherford describes A. Irish Mist’ as follows: “…as well spotted as a good Aucuba” and “…if you are kind to it” it will flower well. She concluded: “It would be a neat ending to the story if the origin could be found”.

Hopefully in time we can add more information to the history of this plant. I have spoken to retired colleagues
who are familiar with the plant collections at Glasnevin and who can remember various Aspidistra being grown in the glasshouses. Some have a clear memory of substantial sized plants of this particular clone being grown in the late 1970s well before it was named. It continues to be cultivated in the Gardens today.


As appeared in Newsletter 155, April 2022. Text and photo courtesy of Brendan Sayers