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Hoya lanceolata/bella Complex

Updated: Jun 8, 2021

HOYA LANCEOLATA/BELLA COMPLEX


(Hoya lanceolata Wall ex D. Don and similar species, subspecies, and forms).


Note: I would like to acknowledge that most of the information here are from an article written by Mr. Mark Randal. I just re-arranged the contents of the article to make it easier to understand for most of us Hoya collectors who do not have background in botany and who prefers to read blogs or write-ups of a trying hard non-expert Hoya fanatic. It is re-arranged to suit Hoya collectors/enthusiasts in New Zealand. I have seen only three of the species,subspecies and forms of the Hoya lanceolata complex in New Zealand and they are:


1. Hoya lanceolata

2. Hoya lanceolata ssp. bella and

3. Hoya lanceolata ssp. bella f. paxtonii.


Hoya lanceolata Wall ex D. Don


Hoya lanceolata is often sold as Hoya bella in New Zealand. According to the article I’ve read, Hoya lanceolata and Hoya bella were originally separate species but H. bella was erroneously placed as a subspecies to H. lanceolata by Douglas Kent in his 1981 paper. So perhaps this is why in our PBI list, Hoya bella and Hoya lanceolata are listed separately.


Hoya lanceolata is similar in appearance vegetatively to ssp. bella but it has smaller, closely set leaves. The stems are pendant and clothed in lance-shaped leaves that are 1.5 to 2.5 cm long and approximately 1cm wide. (“Lanceolata”= “lance shaped, broadest in the middle and tapering to both ends”, Latin).


The flowers of Hoya lanceolata are about 1.7cm in diameter, with a creamy white corolla and a translucent lavender corona. The corona scales are more linear in shape (when viewed from above) than those of ssp. bella, similar in structure to the corona scales of H. linearis, and lack the broad concave top of the corona scales of ssp. bella, f. paxtonii, H. engleriana, and H. dickasoniana. The flowers are terminal and occur in groups of six to ten, usually during the northern hemisphere’s spring.


Hoya lanceolata Wall ex D. Don ssp. bella Hook)


Hoya lanceolata ssp. bella is the most commonly found of the "bella complex" in cultivation. The leaves of this plant are larger than those of H. lanceolata, ranging in size from 2.5 to 3cm in length and 1 to 1.5cm in width, but are of a similar, lanceolate shape. Flowers of both species are similar in size and color, though the corona of ssp. bella is usually more infused with a reddish-violet than that of H. lanceolata, and the corona scales (in ssp. bella) are cymbiform (boat-shaped), being wider and having a broad shallow concavity on the top of each scale. Flowers are borne (in ssp. bella) terminally and all along the stems, and the flowers occur, in clusters of six to ten, more freely and often for a longer bloom period that in H. lanceolata. “Bella” is a latin word for “beautiful”.


VARIEGATED HOYA LANCEOLATA SSP. BELLA

There are two variegated forms of ssp. bella. The more common one has green leaves bordered in white and often is sold under the name ‘Lida Buis’. The other form has green margins with creamy yellow centers often sold under the name Lois Buis.’. The new growth is often flushed with pink in these two clones. These variegated ssp. bellas are notoriously fussy, slow growers. As with most variegated plants, flowering is greatly reduced, so these are most often grown for their colorful foliage.


Hoya lanceolata Wall ex D. Don ssp. bella (Hook.) D. H. Kent forma paxtonii


In commoner’s (non-expert) language this means it is a species of Hoya called lanceolata under the subspecies bella but it has a different form and the form is called “paxtonii”. The difference is in the form of the leaves.

D. H. Kent forma paxtonii has longer, wider leaves than ssp. bella, often with an undulate* leaf margin. The flowers have minute differences from ssp. bella, the most obvious difference being that the corona scales of forma paxtonii are more compact, resulting in a smaller corona than that of ssp. bella. The prime difference (to growers) between these two forms will be that forma paxtonii (abbreviated as f. paxtonii) is said to be a more vigorous, less culturally demanding plant. Forma paxtonii blooms, similar to ssp. bella, over an extended period in the northern hemisphere’s summer, also in flower clusters of six to ten.The form designation of this plant probably refers to Joseph Paxton, a 19th century architect, landscape architect, and editor of several botanical journals.


Illustration of the differences between Hoya lanceolata, Hoya lanceolata ssp. bella and Hoya lanceolata ssp. bella f. paxtonii


Although the overall appearance of these species is very similar there are notable differences between these three:



Hoya dicksoniana


The remaining species, ssp., and form- ssp. bella, f. paxtonii, Hoya engleriana, and Hoya dickasoniana all have similar coronas which can be difficult to distinguish from each other with the naked eye. There are minor differences in the floral structure of each species, however, with the possible exception of ssp. bella and Hoya dickasoniana. Since the flowers of these four species are so similar, identification is easier when considering leaf morphology, which is distinct for each species or form. Hoya lanceolata ssp. bella is the most commonly found of the "bella complex" in cultivation. The leaves of this plant are larger than those of H. lanceolata, ranging in size from 2.5 to 3cm in length and 1 to 1.5cm in width, but are of a similar, lanceolate shape. Flowers of both species are similar in size and color, though the corona of ssp. bella is usually more infused with a reddish-violet than that of H. lanceolata, and the corona scales (in ssp. bella) are cymbiform (boat-shaped), being wider and having a broad shallow


Hoya engleriana


Hoya engleriana Hosseus has, again, very similar flowers to those of ssp. bella, and the cor