Monday, February 23, 2015

Moraea MM 11-91

Seed parent: Yellow Homeria species (probably M. flaccida, but I'm not sure)
Pollen parent: Moraea villosa form a

This one was something of a shock.

I tried for years to cross Peacock Moraeas and various species in the former genus Homeria, without any luck. The Moraeas refused to set seeds with Homeria pollen, and Homeria flowers seem to self-pollinate extremely easily. I ended up with a number of "crosses" that turned out to be identical to the seed parents.

Eventually I tried making a few crosses in which I looked for Homeria flowers just as they opened, removed the anthers before they could shed pollen, and then packed them with Moraea pollen. That was a tedious process, and most of the crosses didn't set seed. I eventually gave up in frustration.

So imagine my surprise when these flowers opened.

MM 11-91a.

Another angle on the same flower. You can see a bit of the nice orange pollen:

In the second year, the flowers bloomed again. The flowers looked more yellow this time. I don't know if that's due to a difference in lighting, or something else. Check it out:

MM 11-91b. A bit more purple in the flower than the one above.

Here are a couple of second year photos:

MM 11-91c. Identical to the seed parent.

The seed parent was a yellow Homeria I've had for decades. It's old enough that I'm not sure of the species any more, but according to an old tag it is probably the yellow form of M. flaccida. The pollen parent was Moraea villosa a, which has purple tepals and a blue eye.

Three of these plants bloomed this year. One is a clone of the yellow Homeria seed parent. The other two are absolutely, positively hybrids.

So it is possible to cross Peacock Moraeas and Homerias.

The hybrids in this cross are ugly but interesting. They are a weird brown color, which I do not like. But I love how the inner tepals (the smaller ones) have expanded, and they have a very interesting leaf vein mark on them.

In my notes about the cross, I wrote: "13 seeds, several with a green spot. Plump." Later, when I repotted the unbloomed corms, I wrote: "Look like Homeria corms." Go figure.

The flowers have nicely-developed anthers with lots of orange pollen, so they may be fertile. I crossed the two hybrids with each other (and got one pod). I'll also try them with some other species and hybrids.

What's next? When I look closely at the flowers, it appears that the yellow color from the Homeria spreads through the whole flower evenly, and then purple is overlaid on it in a veined pattern. That's what makes it look brown. So I wonder what would happen if I crossed the yellow Homeria with a Peacock Moraea that has pale or white tepals. Would I get a yellow flower with the big nectar guides of a Peacock Moraea? That would be very exciting.

There are other species of Homeria that have pink, salmon, and mixed-color flowers. If I combined them with Peacock Moraeas, all sorts of interesting color combinations might show up.

It looks like I'm going to be picking the anthers off a lot more flowers...


  1. I'm curious if MM11-91b is able to set self-seed. The F2s would show an interesting mix of colors and patterns.

  2. Thanks for the note, and I had the same thought. Most of the Moraeas I've grown (hybrids and species) don't appear to be self-fertile, so the first thing I did with these was cross aXb and vice-versa. But as you point out, I ought to also try them on themselves. Since the Homerias seem to self-pollinate, maybe the hybrid will as well... Nice idea.


  3. Self-incompatibility systems can sometimes be overcome experimentally. Heat inactivation of the incompatibility system ( is one of the more interesting methods, but there is no guarantee that a particular method will work with the Moraeas.

  4. Very interesting cross. MM 11-91a looks very nice to me!

  5. very nice and interesting plants Mike.

  6. An update one year later: One of the aXb crosses set a nice full seed pod, and the seed sprouted well. So in another 2-3 years we should know how the next generation looks. -Mike