Monday, May 30, 2016

Hybridizing Moraea Species: 2016 Status

The list below shows Moraea species crosses I've attempted as of spring 2016. As you'll see, I have focused mostly on the very colorful "peacock" Moraea species and their relatives (technically, subgenus Vieusseuxia). There are more than 40 species in the subgenus, but I've been able to obtain and grow only about 15 of them so far (if you know how to get the others, please let me know).

I have also experimented with crossing a few other flowers in other parts of the genus.

Let's start with a summary chart of the Vieusseuxia crosses:


Here's what I think I've learned so far: Most of the Vieusseuxia species that I've tested are willing to cross with each other. The big exception is M. lurida, which appears to be pretty reluctant to cross with anything else. It may be willing to cross with M. bellendenii.

My most surprising result, which isn't shown in the chart, is that I've been able to cross a species in subgenus Homeria with Moraea villosa (you'll find a link to that cross in the list below). I didn't expect the cross to work, and it opens up a number of other interesting possibilities.


More details on the crosses. The list below shows every cross that produced seed. In the notes, "not viable" means the seeds looked at least marginally good enough to plant, but the seeds either did not sprout, or the seedlings died.

Homeria sp. (probably M. flaccida) X
     villosa. 1 bloomed: MM 11-91.

Moraea aristata X
     atropunctata. 2 crosses, have not yet bloomed.
     bellendenii. 1 cross, seed not viable.
     calcicola. 1 cross, successful: MM 03-04.
     gigandra. 2 crosses. 1 not viable, 1 bloomed: MM 11-28.
     longiaristata (?). 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     loubseri. 1 cross, bloomed: MM 09-01.
     lurida. 1 cross, not viable.
     neopavonia. 5 crosses, 2 not viable, 1 died, 2 not yet bloomed.
     tripetala. 1 cross, not viable.
     tulbaghensis. 4 crosses, all viable. 1 has bloomed: MM 10-37.
     villosa. 9 crosses, 8 viable. 3 have bloomed: MM 09-02MM 10-39MM 11-19.

Moraea atropunctata X
     aristata. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     bellendenii. 1 cross, seed not viable.
     calcicola. 1 cross, bloomed: MM 03-98.
     gigandra. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     longiaristata(?). 1 cross, seed not viable.
     loubseri. 1 cross, seed not viable.
     neopavonia (?). 2 crosses, 1 not viable, 1 bloomed: MM 99-00.
     tripetala. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     tulbaghensis. 1 cross, seed not viable.
     villosa. 2 crosses. 1 not viable, 1 has not yet bloomed.

Moraea bellendenii X
     aristata. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     longiaristata (?). 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     loubseri. 1 cross, seed not viable.
     lurida. 2 crosses. 1 not viable, 1 has not yet bloomed.
     neopavonia. 2 crosses, 1 died, 1 not yet bloomed.
     tripetala. 1 cross, seed not viable.
     villosa. 5 crosses, 3 not viable, 2 have not yet bloomed.

Moraea calcicola X
     neopavonia. 2 crosses, 1 not viable, 1 has not yet bloomed.

Moraea collina (yellow) X
     elegans. 1 bloomed: MM 12-23.

Moraea elegans X
     flaccida (orange and yellow form). 1 cross, seed not viable.
     collina (yellow). 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.

Moraea fergusoniae. I tried for a couple of years to cross this species with the Vieusseuxia Moraeas, but had zero success.

Moraea flaccida X
     polystachya. 1 cross, turned out to be self-pollinated M. flaccida.
     elegans. 1 cross, turned out to be M. flaccida.

Moraea gigandra X
     aristata. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     atropunctata. 3 crosses, 2 viable, have not yet bloomed.
     bellendenii. 2 crosses. 1 not viable, 1 has not yet bloomed.
     calcicola. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     collina (?). 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     loubseri. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     neopavonia. 3 crosses, 2 have not yet bloomed, 1 bloomed: MM 12-144.
     tripetala. 1 cross, not viable.
     tulbaghensis. 3 crosses, all viable. 1 bloomed: MM 10-04.
     villosa. 9 crosses, 8 viable. 1 has bloomed: MM 11-17.

Moraea longiaristata (?) X
     aristata. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     calcicola. 1 cross, not viable.
     neopavonia. 2 crosses, 1 not viable, 1 has not yet bloomed.
thomasiae. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     villosa. 2 crosses, have not yet bloomed.

Moraea loubseri X
     atropunctata. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     gigandra, 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     neopavonia. 2 crosses, 1 has not yet bloomed, 1 bloomed: MM 12-49.
     tripetala. 1 cross, not viable.
     tulbaghensis. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     villosa. 3 crosses, 1 not viable, 2 have not yet bloomed.

Moraea lurida X
     fergusoniae. 1 cross, not viable.
     neopavonia. 2 crosses, 1 not viable. 1 has not yet bloomed (high risk of pollination with other lurida flowers).
     tripetala. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed (high risk of pollination with other lurida flowers).
     tulbaghensis. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed. High risk of pollination with other lurida flowers.
     villosa. 2 crosses, 1 has not yet bloomed, 1 looks selfed: MM 12-192. High risk of pollination with other lurida flowers.
Note: In my area, M. lurida is aggressively pollinated by flies. In my early crosses I didn't realize this, and did not protect the flowers from cross-pollination from other M. lurida. I have since tried to re-create the same crosses while protecting the plants from flies, and there has been almost zero seed set. So I suspect the earlier crosses, but I will not know for sure until they bloom.

Moraea neopavonia X
     aristata. 2 crosses, have not yet bloomed.
     atropunctata. 3 crosses, have not yet bloomed.
     calcicola. 2 crosses, have not yet bloomed.
     gigandra. 3 crosses, have not yet bloomed.
     loubseri. 3 crosses, 1 not viable, 2 have not yet bloomed.
     tripetala. 2 crosses, 1 not viable, 1 has not yet bloomed.
     tulbaghensis. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     villosa. 7 crosses, 1 awaiting germination, 5 have not yet bloomed, 1 has bloomed: MM 03-99.

Moraea polystachya X
     aristata. 1 cross, not viable.
     atropunctata. 1 cross, not viable.
     thomasiae. 2 crosses, both awaiting germination.
I've made many other attempts to cross M. polystachya with the Peacocks, but didn't bother to write them down after it became clear that they were all failures. I still try occasionally,  because it would be great to get peacock colors on this very vigorous plant. Alas, I think it's not to be.

Moraea speciosa X
     polystachya. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.

Moraea thomasiae. I just got this species to bloom, and tried my first pollination experiments with it. It's too early to say anything about the results.

Moraea tricolor X
     macronyx. 2 crosses. 1 not viable, 1 bloomed: MM 12-143.

Moraea tripetala X
     aristata. 3 crosses, 2 have not yet bloomed, 1 bloomed: MM 12-141.
     bellendenii. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     calcicola. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     gigandra. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     loubseri. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     longiaristata(?). 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     neopavonia. 3 crosses, 1 not viable, 1 has not yet bloomed, 1 bloomed: MM 12-109.
     tulbaghensis. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.
     villosa. 4 crosses, none have bloomed yet.

Moraea tulbaghensis X
     atropunctata. 2 crosses, not yet bloomed.
     longiaristata (?). 1 cross, not viable.
     loubseri. 2 crosses, not viable.
     tripetala. 1 cross, not viable.
     villosa. 9 crosses. 2 not viable, 6 not yet bloomed, 1 bloomed: MM 11-72.

Moraea vegeta X
     macronyx. 1 cross, has not yet bloomed.

Moraea villosa X
     aristata. 3 crosses. 1 not viable, 1 not yet bloomed, 1 bloomed: MM 11-31.
     atropunctata. 4 crosses. 1 not viable, 3 not yet bloomed
     bellendenii. 2 crosses, 1 has not yet bloomed, 1 bloomed: MM 12-118.
     calcicola. 3 crosses. 1 not viable, 2 not yet bloomed
     gigandra. 6 crosses. 3 not viable, 2 not yet bloomed, 1 bloomed: MM 11-24.
     homeria sp. 3 crosses, not yet bloomed
     longiaristata (?). 1 cross, not yet bloomed
     loubseri. 4 crosses. 2 not viable, 2 not yet bloomed
     lurida. 1 cross, not viable
     neopavonia. 5 crosses. 4 not viable, 1 not yet bloomed
     tripetala. 5 crosses. 3 not viable, 2 not yet bloomed
     tulbaghensis. 17 crosses. 2 not viable, 13 not yet bloomed, 2 bloomed: MM 11-140MM 10-02.
Note: In case you're wondering why I made so many crosses with M. villosa, it's because there are so many color forms of that species.

Moraea Wish List

I am trying to collect as many species as possible from subspecies Vieusseuxia, because it includes the Peacock Moraeas (the most colorful in the genus) and because most of the Vieusseuxias I've tried can interbreed. So I want to both preserve these plants in cultivation and see how they combine together.

I haven't been able to find sources for the species below. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. I'm happy to trade.

Moraea algoensis
Moraea amabilis
Moraea amissa
Moraea barkerae
Moraea barnardii
Moraea caeca
Moraea cantharophila
Moraea cuspidata
Moraea debilis
Moraea deltoidea
Moraea gigandra (orange, white forms)
Moraea grandis
Moraea hainebachiana
Moraea helmei
Moraea incurva
Moraea insolens (orange, white forms)
Moraea lilacina
Moraea lurida (orange, purple, white forms)
Moraea longiaristata
Moraea mutila
Moraea ogamana
Moraea petricola
Moraea regalis
Moraea rivulicola
Moraea tulbaghensis (white form)
Moraea villosa ssp elandsmontana
Moraea worcesterensis

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Moraea unguiculata





I have some other plants that might be M. unguiculata, but I haven't been able to confirm their identity. This is the only one that I know is the species. The flower is a cute little thing, about the size of the tip of my little finger. So far I haven't been able to cross it with any of the Peacock Moraeas, but I'm just getting started.

Moraea MM 14-138

Seed parent: Moraea neopavonia with blue eye
Pollen parent: Moraea atropunctata with many spots

The parents:

GK 1429. Kudos to Garry Knipe, who got these to bloom while they were still in the seed cup (using seeds I bred). I was hoping for orange flowers with spots, but they look a lot like paler versions of M. neopavonia.

Moraea MM 13-86

Seed parent: MM 11-135a ((atropunctata x neopavonia) X (atropunctata x calcicola))
Pollen parent: MM 11-135b ((atropunctata neopavonia) X (atropunctata calcicola))

The parents:

MM 13-86a. It's often hard to get Moraea hybrid siblings to cross, but in this case it worked. I was hoping we'd see some recessive genes in their offspring, but these two plain-looking pale orange flowers produced a plain-looking bright orange flower.

MM 13-86b. Paler than its sibling. It's an interesting peach color.

Moraea MM 13-81

Seed parent: MM 09-02c (aristata X villosa)
Pollen parent: Moraea atropunctata

The parents:

GK 1329. The seed parent is a vigorous villosa-like flower that doesn't fade in the sun. In this cross I was hoping to mix that vigor with the spots of M. atropunctata. Although the hybrids have a few spots, they mostly look like M. villosa with a dark center. Grown by Garry Knipe from seeds I crossed.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Moraea MM 13-79

Seed parent: MM 10-19 (flaccida X collina)
Pollen parent: MM 10-19 (flaccida X collina)

The parents:


This is an F2 hybrid from a Homeria cross that's almost completely sterile. It refused to set any seeds for a couple of years, but then I noticed a small questionable pod on one of the plants. It had a few seeds in it. I planted them, and they sprouted. I was excited because supposedly F2 hybrids show off those obscure recessive genes. Then one bloomed...

 MM 13-79a. Yeah, it looks almost exactly like the parents! Oh well.

Moraea MM 13-25

Seed parent: Moraea villosa form F
Pollen parent: Moraea tulbaghensis with blue eye

The parents:

GK 1321. This cross was raised by Garry Knipe from seeds I shared with him. Some of his seedlings are blooming a year earlier than mine; he is an excellent gardener. This flower was just opening when I visited Garry's place. As you can see, the eye is green.

Moraea MM 12-186

Seed parent: MM 09-04a
Pollen parent: Moraea atropunctata

The parents:

MM 12-186a. The seed parent was bright yellow, so I was hoping for a yellow version of M. atropunctata. Instead, the flowers are pale orange. I am not sure what's going on here. The genetics of yellow vs. orange color in Moraeas appear to be complicated.

You get day and night shots here. The night shots tend to wash out the orange color. The daytime photo is more true to life.

I do like the corkscrew effect in the inner tepals (the thin petals between the main ones).



MM 12-186b. This one is cream-colored instead of yellow, but at least it has some spots.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Moraea MM 12-166

Seed parent: Moraea 'Zoe'
Pollen parent: Moraea villosa form a+

The parents:


MM 12-166a.I know Zoe and its striped tepals are in there somewhere, but the M. villosa look dominates this cross. (Hints of Zoe: The style crests are light purple instead of white, and maybe the white ring around the eye). I need to cross this with some other stuff to see if I can get the stripes to come out. Also, maybe we'll see some other colors in the other flowers from this cross.

Moraea bellendenii


A late-blooming plant (May in California) that's relatively tall and has smallish yellow flowers. This plant is closely related to M. tricuspidata, which looks similar but has white to cream flowers. There are reportedly hybrids in the wild, and I wonder if they got mixed in with my plants, because the flowers that came to me as M. bellendenii range from cream to pale yellow to bright yellow.

Here's one of the pale ones:
If you have any thoughts on the identity of this plant, please post a comment.

These plants interbreed readily with the Peacock Moraeas, which is exciting because they'll let me add yellow, late-blooming, and height to my hybrids. M. bellendenii also appears to interbreed with M. lurida, something that I haven't been able to do with the Peacocks. Those crosses have not yet bloomed as of 2016.

Moraea MM 12-158

Seed parent: Moraea bellendenii
Pollen parent: MM 09-04a ((atropunctata x neopavonia) X (atropunctata x neopavonia))

The parents:

This was another exciting plant for me. When I started breeding Moraeas, I didn't have any yellow ones. After several years of experimentation, I managed to get MM 09-04a. It was a beautiful little plant with a bright lemon yellow flower that didn't fade in the sun. Unfortunately, the year after it bloomed, some sort of rot got into the pot, and all the corms of it died. I was very sad (moral of the story: separate the offsets and put them in a different pot).

However, I had saved some pollen, and I crossed it with a number of other plants, including Moraea bellendenii, a yellow species I had recently obtained. These flowers, like the pollen parent, are small but bright yellow, and do not fade in the sun. Now I'm happy again.

MM 12-158a. It's a very cute cheerful flower, and sets seeds. The pollen looks OK, but I don't know yet if it worked in any of the crosses I made.


MM 12-158b. Maybe a bit paler than form a, although that could just be the lighting. Note that the style crests in the center are white instead of yellow. This form does not have viable pollen.

MM 12-158c. I'm fascinated by the dark ring on the tepals, broken by a thin yellow midvein. Rings like this show up in several bellendenii hybrids. Alas, this plant doesn't set many seeds.



Moraea MM 12-145

Seed parent: MM 03-04b (aristata X calcicola)
Pollen parent: MM 03-99b (neopavonia X villosa)

The parents:


MM 12-145a. This cross combined four beautiful species, which you'd think would produce something spectacular. Instead I got a dull cream flower. This is a very large, tall plant, and I do kind of like the hits of yellow in the inner tepals. But overall I'm not all that impressed. I will be interested to see what its siblings look like. I hope they'll show more color.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Moraea MM 12-144

Seed parent: Moraea gigandra
Pollen parent: Moraea neopavonia

The parents:

Ahhhh, cool! M. gigandra is the largest Moraea species, usually purple with a very narrow blue eye and dark center. I crossed it with my favorite orange and blue Moraea, and the result was this: large flowers with the general shape of M. gigandra, but purple-orange tepals and a hypnotic light blue eye. As with some of the other crosses, I hope I'm gradually edging toward red. But the stuff I'm getting along the way is very nice as well. These plants are fertile. The pollen's kind of clumpy, and I am not sure yet if the crosses with it worked. But the plants did set a couple of seed pods.

MM 12-144a. The central cup is very dark, and as you can see, the flowers look different under various lighting conditions (and as the flower ages).



MM 12-144b. This one has a bit more purple to it, and the central cup is lighter. Also, note the orange streak in the midline of the outer tepal.

MM 12-144c. Has the lighter cup and mid-tepal orange streak of form B, but the eye is darker and has a ragged edge.

MM 12-144d. Probably the pinkest of the four forms.

MM 12-144e. A big surprise, this one looks exactly like M. gigandra. Maybe part of the seed pod was self-pollinated?

Moraea MM 12-141

Seed parent: Moraea tripetala
Pollen parent: Moraea aristata

The parents:


This is turning out to be an interesting hybrid, with very variable colors. Unfortunately, the flowers are relatively small.

MM 12-141a. The seed parent was a small form of M. tripetala with intense purple tepals and a yellow eye surrounded by a white rim. The pollen parent is a white flower with a beautiful turquoise eye. As usually happens with M. tripetala crosses, the hybrid has the general form of M. tripetala. But the eye has turned blue, the style crests are halfway to white, and there's some hairiness at the center of the flower. The flower is not all that large, but I want to experiment with it some more because the color combinations are interesting. Only one plant bloomed this year, but as you can see from the twist ties in the background, I made several crosses on it.

MM 12-141b. Interesting. I almost never get two totally different tepal colors in a hybrid of two species. But form A is purple, and this one is white. That probably says something interesting about the genes of the two species, but I don't know enough genetics to say what it is. If anyone has thoughts, please post a comment.

MM 12-141c. Even better than form B. Note the dark purple coloration in the style crests, the dark inner tepals (the little pitchfork-shaped petals between the big white ones), and the nice radial purple streaks on the outer tepals.

Moraea MM 12-140

Seed parent: MM 03-04a (aristata X calcicola)
Pollen parent: MM 09-02a (aristata X villosa)

The parents:


MM 12-140a. This is a cross of two vigorous hybrids, one that blooms a very long time and the other especially large. The result was a nice plant, but not especially large or long-blooming. This flower also got battered by the rain; maybe it'll look better next year.


Moraea 'Zoe'



This spectacular flower was named by Bill Dijk of New Zealand, after botanical artist Zoe Carter. He discovered it growing in a cultivated stand of Moraea villosa plants. It may be a variant of M. villosa or may be a garden hybrid. There are some good arguments for hybrid, based on plant characteristics, but an almost identical plant was photographed in the wild in South Africa by noted nature photographer Colin Paterson-Jones (you can see the photo here).

Bill shared some corms of Zoe with Mary Sue Ittner of the Pacific Bulb Society, who has in turn shared them with others. In Mary Sue's garden the plants have set seeds, which grew to flowering size. These Zoe offspring have an altered pattern of dots and a darker eye.

I have some offspring that were shared by Mary Sue, and a couple of corms that appear to be the original Zoe, or something much like it. Photos of the apparently-original form are above. Here are a couple of the offspring (note the darker eyes and sparser streaks):