Monday, June 25, 2012

Moraea Hybrids Update 2012

It's was a very entertaining bloom season for the hybrid Moraeas in my garden.  Here are the highlights...

New Hybrids

Moraea flaccida x Moraea ochroleuca? (MM 10-19).  The seed parent is orange with a yellow center.  I crossed it with a pure yellow one (probably Moraea ochloreuca).  The result is a pleasant apricot-colored flower with a yellow center:

This is a nice plant, and as you can see below, an 8-inch (20 cm) pot of them makes quite a show. 

Note the interesting veining on the backs of the tepals.

This shot is backlit, which shows off the veins even better:

Unfortunately, these plants appear to be pretty thoroughly sterile. I've tried a lot of crosses with them this season, with absolutely zero success so far.  They have a lot of good-looking pollen, but it just doesn't do anything.

This is disappointing from a plant breeding perspective, but there is a silver lining.  It means this cross is probably safe to share broadly, without much worry about it turning into a weed.

Moraea aristata x loubseri (MM 09-01).  As you'd expect, this is halfway between the two parents.  The tepals are light violet when they open, but in the sun they eventually fade to almost-white.  Like several other M. aristata hybrids I've raised, this one produces very little pollen.  It also didn't set any seeds, despite numerous pollination attempts.

I am worried that this one may be a genetic dead end.  I'll keep trying to cross it for the next several years.

Moraea aristata x villosa (MM 09-02).  This one has the color scheme of Moraea villosa, but the tepals are paler, and the flowers are huge, about 30% larger than villosa.  They're the largest Moraea flowers I've ever seen.  I guess this is what you call hybrid vigor.

Although the flower below looks white, it's actually pale violet, a color that is hard to capture in a photo.

(MM 99-00 (Moraea neopavonia x atropunctata)) x MM 99-00 (MM 09-04).  This is my first F2 hybrid Moraea [F2 means that you created a hybrid (the F1 generation), and then crossed that hybrid back with itself].  This self-crossing causes recessive genes to come out, and every book I've read on the subject says the F2 generation is the one where you see the most unusual characteristics.  Many of my Moraea hybrids do not want to cross with themselves, so I was very happy to finally get an F2 flower.

And it was worth the wait.  The parent flowers are orange with a hairy center, like this:

  Self-pollinate them and what do you get?  Naturally, a bright lemon yellow flower!

(MM 09-04A)

Where the heck did that color come from??  I didn't own any yellow Moraeas when this cross was bred, so it's definitely some sort of recessive color gene(s) being expressed.  A second plant of this cross bloomed, and it looked similar to the one above but orange.  A third one turned out to look a lot like the parents.

MM 09-04A has a lot of pollen that makes seeds well with other Moraeas, and it sets seeds when pollinated with many things.  So I hope this won't be the last you see of this color in hybrid Moraeas.

Moraea villosa x neopavonia (MM 03-99B).  A sibling of this one bloomed last year, and it made a nice large orange flower with a black eye.  Note that the orange is a bit deeper toward the center of the flower.

(MM 03-99A)

That plant did not show up this year (which has me worried).  But a new sibling did, and is interesting in other ways.  Its flowers sometimes have weird flanges growing out of the middle of the tepals.  This appears to be a chimera, because other blooms on the same plant did not have flanges.

You wonder if there's some possibility to create a double Moraea.

(MM 03-99B)

This photo shows the same flower on the left several days later, faded by the sun, with another flower on the same plant but without the flanges.

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