Hoya stenaokei (NS12-222)

Hoya stenaokei is named for Sten-Åke Svensson whose children supported the early work of Nathalie Simonsson in Papua New Guinea. She discovered the species in 2011, and when she later published it, named the species Hoya stenakei, thinking that it was optional to write the Swedish letter Å as A. She found out later that botanical nomenclature did not allow it and Å has to be written as AO, hence stenaokei. I think that it will probably be written incorrectly for many years to come as stenakei is so much easier to pronounce and spell than stenaokei!

Hoya stenaokei (NS12-222) was discovered in Sandaun Province, Baiberi, PNG growing in lowland rainforest. It was discovered as a single known specimen growing as an epiphyte 20 m up in a very tall tree, nestling inside a fern, Asplenium sp., in a species-rich primary forest with limestone karsts. Soon after its discovery the area was logged and despite later attempts to find the plant again, it could not be located. This plant joins H. macgillivrayi, H. archboldiana, and H. onychoides in the Hoya Macgillivrayi Complex. The interesting thing to me is that H. stenaokei is the only one in the complex to have pubescent leaves and flowers.

I received Hoya stenaokei May 10th, 2022 in an Etsy order from an Indonesian vendor. Unlike many overseas orders that I have placed, most of the plants in the box arrived in pretty decent shape. It included two or three half rooted cuttings of stenaokei among other things. I quickly potted them up in coir chips and put them in the propagator. The 3 plants that came in the order were all labeled H. stenaokei, but what was puzzling was that two of them had pubescent leaves and one had glabrous leaves. I did not know if the vendor somehow made a mistake or not. I sold the smaller of the two pubescent cuttings, and kept one and kept the glabrous one. Both cuttings grew well under lights in the grow tent, but the pubescent one grew with much greater vigor. It was not long before I had to move it up to a 7 inch pot with a tomato ladder trellis. In November of last year (2023), Hoya stenaokei (NS12-222) budded up and flowered less than 18 months after I had started it from a cutting. The plant was primarily grown in coconut husk chips, with a weekly dip into a nutrient solution. The specimen was truly outstanding despite living with root mealybugs, which I am still working on eradicating.

We are going to bid farewell for now to Hoya stenaokei, but have no fear it will be revisited soon when the glabrous leafed version and its flowers are discussed. For now, all I can say is that this Hoya, especially if you like large flowered Hoyas, is a must have. With its big furry blooms, fuzzy leaves, and beautiful scent, there is nothing not to love!