Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Moraea longiaristata?

These are white flowers with a varying number of blue spots on them. I received them from a friend, who grew them as M. longiaristata. I puzzled over the identification, because according to the books, M. longiaristata is supposed to have a single, straight inner tepal. The species I grow has an inner tepal with three points on it, the middle one curled. That may sound like a minor distinction, but the biologists use the inner tepal as an identifier for many species.

For comparison, you can see some verified photos of M. longiaristata here.

I thought these might be M. unguiculata, which has a curled inner tepal. I posted some of the photos below to iSpot, a site dedicated to nature observation in South Africa. The answer I got from the Moraea experts there is that this might actually be M. longiaristata, but could well be M. algoensis, or a hybrid between the two species.

For my own records, I'm going to leave it marked as "M. longiaristata?" because I trust the grower who gave it to me. But I'll be careful not to mix it with the species (if I ever get the confirmed species).

By the way, if you have any ideas on its identification, please post a comment.

This individual has relatively few spots...

To me, this one looks a bit like pictures of M. tricuspidata, but it's a very small plant and doesn't bloom late enough in the season.

This one has a lot of spots...

As you can see, these are very small plants.

Here's that three-lobed, curved inner tepal.

Whatever its identification, this is a cute little thing.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Moraea bellendenii

This is one of my latest-blooming winter Moraeas, coming into bloom in mid- to late April, just as most of the other species finish. The flowers are fairly small, but grow on tall stems. Flower color ranges from pale to bright yellow.

Moraea loubseri

Nearly extinct in the wild, this species is known only from a single rock quarry in South Africa. After M. loubseri was discovered, the mining was stopped, but very few of the plants remain. The folks in South Africa seem to be keeping a death watch over the site, checking each year to see if any of the bulbs bloom. In some years they don't, and word goes around that the species may be extinct. Then a couple of plants will be seen in flower.

It's a pretty depressing situation.

Fortunately, M. loubseri is fairly easy to grow in cultivation, and it has been distributed to enthusiasts around the world. It's an interesting flower, with purple tepals and a deep blue nectar guide covered in black hairs. The center of the flower is translucent and colored yellow-green, with more black hairs on it.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Moraea MM 11-135

Seed parent: Moraea MM 99-00b (atropunctata x neopavonia?)
Pollen parent: Moraea MM 03-98b (atropunctata x calcicola)

I crossed an orange flower with a pale purple one that has spots. I was hoping for an orange flower with spots, but instead, in 2013, I got a couple of flowers that look a lot like the seed parent. I wondered if maybe the cross could have self-pollinated, or if the bees tricked me. Then in spring 2015, a third plant bloomed, and it was yellow. I'm delighted to have another yellow hybrid (they've been hard for me to make), but I'm surprised that this cross produced it. Who knows that's going on?

MM 11-135a

MM 11-135b

11-135c. Strongly yellow in the center, fading to pale yellow on the outer ends of the tepals.

Moraea MM 11-128

Seed parent: Moraea MM 03-98c (atropunctata x calcicola)
Pollen parent: Moraea MM 03-99a (neopavonia x villosa)

I wanted to see what I would get if I crossed a purple freckled flower with a bright orange one. Would I get an orange freckled flower?

The answer: kind of. The flowers are very pale orange, and there aren't very many freckles. But they're nice looking.

MM 11-128a.

MM 11-128b.

Moraea MM 11-69

Seed parent: Moraea MM 03-07B ((M. atropunctata x neopavonia) X villosa F)

Pollen parent: Moraea tripetala (pale blue form)

Here we have a blue-purple flower crossed with a pale orange one that has freckles on the back. The result is, naturally, a striped flower!

I have no idea how the genetics of that works, but it's fascinating to see the sort of diversity you get out of these multispecies crosses.

MM 11-69A

Moraea MM 11-101

Seed parent: Moraea MM 03-98a (atropunctata x calcicola)
Pollen parent: Moraea gigandra

This one's very similar to MM 11-61, which is not surprising because the parents are similar. In the plant you see here, the white ring around the blue eye is a bit broader.

I like the tidiness of this flower. There is a nice contrast in colors, and the borders between the colors are crisp.

MM 11-101a

MM 11-101b

MM 11-101c

This one looks more purple than the others, but that's just because the sunlight was bright that day. The center, however, is grayish rather than the orange of the other two offspring.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Moraea MM 11-61

Seed parent: Moraea MM 03-98c (atropunctata x calcicola)
Pollen parent: Moraea gigandra

I was happy that this one bloomed only two years after the cross was made, while the corms were still in the seed cup. Moraeas usually take three years to bloom. Compare to MM 11-101, a similar cross.

MM 11-61a. This was a nice surprise. It has the basic look and shape of Moraea gigandra, but with an orange center that apparently comes from the orange in the center of the seed parent.

MM 11-61b. Similar to form a, but with a white center.

MM 11-61c. I don't know what to think about this one. It's very different from its siblings, and looks a lot like M. villosa.

MM 11-61d. Looks a lot like form b, but with less white in the middle.

MM 11-61e. Could actually be form c. It's hard to tell because my only photo of it was taken at night.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Moraea lurida

This one blooms very late in my garden, with the flowers sometimes not opening until early May. Most of the other Moraeas bloom from March to mid-April, so this is quite a contrast.

Online photos show that Moraea lurida grows in the wild in a bewildering variety of colors, including white, maroon, purple, and orange. But the selection usually available in the US is pale yellow with dark mauve markings. I'm trying to find more color forms, but I think most of them are not available in captivity. If you know where to find them, please post a comment!

The shapes and markings of these flowers are very interesting, but I don't appreciate the colors.

The plants appear to appreciate a bit more moisture than some of the other species. I suspect they might be happiest with a bit of summer water, so they never completely dry out.

This species can be crossed with at least some of the "peacock" Moraeas. I'm just getting started with it, but will be very interested to see what it'll do in combination with them.

Here's the plant in bud, with elaborate stripes on the backs of the tepals.

Moraea atropunctata

This isn't technically grouped as one of the "peacock" Moraeas, I guess because it doesn't have bright colors. But I think it is a beautiful flower, and crosses with the Peacocks readily.

The tepals are just slightly cream colored, with heavy brown-orange spotting on the back. The center of the flower is black and hairy, with just a hint of orange to it. Around the center are some dark brown freckles. The number and density of freckles varies from plant to plant.

These plants are somewhat finicky in my garden, sulking if they don't get enough drainage.

Here's a side view. Note the fleshy color of the central crests.

Here's a flower as it is just opening. You can see the orange-brown spots on the backs of the tepals.

The form below has more spots, some of them purple. I wondered if it might be an accidental hybrid, but then I found this photo of a plant in the wild on the iSpot service, and it has similar colors. So there's more variation in the species than you usually see in captivity. (This one has yellow pollen, by the way. The ones above have orange pollen.)

One unusual thing I've noticed about these plants is that when the flowers are damp (for example, from rainfall or overnight dew), the flowers turn brown. But when they dry out again they're white.

Here's a damp flower:

And here it is after it dried out:

Moraea aristata

This is one of the rarest of Moraeas, known from only the grounds of the Cape Town Royal Observatory. Luckily, it's easy to grow in captivity, and produces offsets vigorously when happy. I have a patch of several hundred corms in front of my house, where they grow at the base of a Japanese Maple in filtered sun.

The flowers are white with a vivid blue and purple eye. Some specimens have flatter tepals than others. I have not figured out whether this is genetic, or due to slight differences in growing conditions.

Here's a form with flat tepals:

This one has recurved tepals:

When the flowers are in bud, you can see that the backs of the tepals are delicately marked in dots and lines.

Here's what it'll look like if you grow a patch of these plants. I started with just a few extra corms that I put in the ground. Ten years later, they've made a very nice clump.

Moraea neopavonia

To me, these are stunning flowers: brilliant orange and brilliant blue, with black freckles thrown in.

In captivity, the forms you usually see have a large or narrow blue eye, which is sometimes colored slate or black, or is absent altogether. Judging from online photographs and correspondence I've exchanged with folks in South Africa, there's a lot more variability in nature.

Botanists have merged Moraea neopavonia with a related species, Moraea tulbaghensis. Intermediate forms between the two species were found in the wild, and it became very difficult to tell them apart. I use the old name to identify my plants that have the forms shown here.

Big blue eye:

Narrow blue eye:

Gray-blue eye:

Black eye:

Deeper orange color, big blue eye. I call this form 'Summerfield' in honor of Gordon Summerfield, the South African bulb grower who supplied it to me:

Eye almost missing:

Almost no eye, streaky tepals. I informally called this striking flower 'Sunrise.' Unfortunately, it died away after a few years, but it was a good pollen parent, and many of its offspring inherited its intense orange center. The bulb veterans always tell you, if you like a particular plant, propagate it. I've learned that lesson, to my regret, several times.

An intermediate form between M. neopavonia and M. tulbaghensis. Eye is bluish and flowers are fairly flat, but they're the smaller size typical of M. tulbaghensis, and are somewhat cupped. I think it's because of flowers like this that the two species were merged.