Author Topic: Species which hybridise  (Read 2053 times)

IanScott

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 28
    • View Profile
Species which hybridise
« on: March 09, 2017, 10:37:55 PM »
At the Meconopsis Group meeting in Edinburgh there was a request for information as to which Meconopsis species would hybridise, and the Forum would seem a sensible place to have this information available.

Firstly, this is not a complete list. For example I have not included hybrids of M. violacea nor M. sherriffii which, as far as I know, are not in current cultivation.  If either is, then please send me some seed for the seed exchange.

Secondly, there are some hybrids where we are not 100% certain of the parentage, for example M. x beamishii and M. x sarsonsii.

Thirdly, some species are distinctly promiscuous in the garden, whereas others need a lot of coaxing. M. punicea and M. quintuplinervia grow together in the wild, but the natural hybrid is quite rare.

Parent species in bold, followed by species which are known to hybridise, or may hybridise (?) - we really don’t know. I will up-date the information as required.


M. baileyi: M. betonicifolia; M. gakyidiana (?); M. grandis; M. integrifolia; M. paniculata (?); M. quintuplinervia; M. simplicifolia; M. superba

M. betonicifolia: M. baileyi; M. gakyidiana (?); M. grandis (?)

M. dhwojii: M. napaulensis

M. grandis: M. baileyi; M. betonicifolia (?); M. gakyidiana (?); M. integrifolia; M. simplicifolia;

M. horridula: M. prattii (?); M. racemosa (?); M. rudis (?); M. zhongdianensis (?)

M. integrifolia: M. baileyi; M. betonicifolia (?); M. gakyidiana (?); M. grandis; M. quintuplinervia; M. simplicifolia

M. napaulensis: M. dhwojii; M. paniculata; M. regia; M. staintonii

M. paniculata: M. baileyi (?); M. napaulensis; M. regia; M. simplicifolia; M. staintonii

M. prattii: M. horridula (?); M. racemosa (?); M. rudis (?); M. zhongdianensis (?)

M. punicea: M. quintuplinervia

M. quintuplinervia: M. baileyi; M. integrifolia; M. punicea

M. racemosa: M. horridula (?); M. prattii (?); M. rudis (?); M. zhongdianensis (?)

M. regia: M. napaulensis; M. paniculata, M. staintonii

M. rudis: M. horridula (?), M. prattii (?); M. racemosa (?); M. zhongdianensis (?)

M. simplicifolia: M. baileyi; M. grandis; M. integrifolia; M. paniculata; M. sulphurea

M. staintonii: M. napaulensis; M. regia; M. paniculata

M. sulphurea: M. simplicifolia

M. superba: M. baileyi

M. zhongdianensis: M. horridula (?); M. prattii (?); M. racemosa (?); M. rudis (?)



Note: M. gakyidiana aka M. grandis ssp orientalis



Allan Jamieson

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 30
    • View Profile
Re: Species which hybridise
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2017, 11:26:12 PM »
Thanks for that Ian, it is an inexact science at best to even attempt to guess which Meconopsis will or indeed can even hybridise with each other. Saying that I would say that you need to adjust your entry for napaulensis. Many years ago I can remember having a nice napaulensis type Meconopsis in full flower and wondering (as you do, well I do anyway!) whether it could possibly be crossed onto any of my perennial blue flowered Meconopsis to maybe get something napaulensis like but maybe with a lot of luck perennial. I tried quite a few different combinations backwards and forwards using the napaulensis plant both as seed and pollen parent onto various perennial blue Meconopsis which were in flower at the same time.

Out of all the crosses that I made just one of them actually produced viable seed, which was I think using napaulensis as the seed parent. Of course being me and given that it was a long time ago I can't remember which perennial blue Meconopsis provided the pollen! I did take a lot of photographs of the hybrid seedlings as they flowered in their second year and most impressive they were too, a surefire award winner in all the important details, strong flowering stems with vivid blue flowers all the way up them, larger than napaulensis flowers but reminiscent of them, height was kind of similar to Lingholm, except for me the most important detail. They were all monocarpic, loads of big fat seeds produced which proved to be infertile in the end.

I will have the transparencies of these hybrids tucked away somewhere in a box and I think that I probably marked the other parent onto the slide mounts in marker pen. So, it is unlikely but given a bit of encouragement napaulensis can hybridise with more plants than you originally might have thought.

Maybe worth someone trying a few more experiments with napaulensis again to see what is possible but you'd be very lucky to get anything perennial out of it and to me that is kind of an important quality in a garden hybrid. I did try to cross the hybrid seedlings with various other Meconopsis but nothing worked at all, probably too complex a hybrid, maybe some of my newer hybrids might have been compatible but given the mixture the chromosomes could have been diploid or tetraploid even. Possibly a complete fluke that it worked at all, which maybe makes the point, never assume that something won't be compatible if you're thinking of hybridising. If there is even the vaguest chance that two plants might be able to hybridise, it costs nothing to make the attempt, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

I know that Ian is trying to keep the monocarpic Meconopsis pure bred as it were and this is a worthy aim and it is in all our interests to keep a supply of fresh seed available for these plants.

IanScott

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 28
    • View Profile
Re: Species which hybridise
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2017, 08:05:50 AM »
The list only relates to (hopefully) the species, but I am aware that probably there are (or were) some interesting multi-parent hybrids. For instance  in 1984 Jim Cobb crossed M. napaulensis with M. grandis. The progeny were "all very similar ...... evergreen, immensely robust but poor in producing flowering spikes".  However, this probably was M. napaulensis (of hort) rather than the true species and many of the M. grandis at that times were also hybrids.

Likewise, M. x auriculata was a rogue hybrid in a batch of M. aculeata seedlings which George Taylor described as evergreen with pale yellow flowers. From its description it may have been a cross between M. baileyi (M. betonicifolia at that time) and M. paniculata, but we don't know.

Although I do want to maintain pure species, I would like to see some members of the Meconopsis Group attempting some controlled hybridisation. In that I mean using parents of correctly identified species of pure breeding, taking the proper precautions when hand pollinating, and recording everything. It's like cooking: unless you write down your recipe, it is difficult to create that fantastic culinary delight a second time.

We need to remake M. x beamisii and M. x sarsonsii, just to know what they should actually look like, and how variable those parameters might be.

Also I have been encouraging some members to remake M. x finlayorum and M. harleyana by providing wild collected seed to raise the parent plants. Some I wouldn't bother with. I accidentally produced M. x ramsdeniorum back in the 1980s - it was sterile and not a patch on either of its parents.

I also know that Bjorna Olsen made the M. cookei cross to produce a range of hybrids, some of which appeared to produce viable seed. I looked at the seed, which was of the correct size and shape (not the infertile dust which sometimes gets sent to other seed exchanges), but I had no success in getting it to germinate.  Perhaps others did.

Allan Jamieson

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 30
    • View Profile
Re: Species which hybridise
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2017, 08:57:31 AM »
Ian if I ever manage to find these old transparencies from that cross I will try to scan them and post them on here. It often seems to be the way that when you create new hybrids that the most stunning ones to flower seem to have a bit of a death wish!

Similar story with the hybrids which I flowered last year taking pollen from the almost betonicifolia plants ex Alaska, which I crossed onto a little plant that I had raised from allegedly wild grands seed which I got at a group meeting many years ago. I've done similar crosses before using baileyi and grands plants that I raised from seed ex Evelyn Stevens and they were all much of a kind, which isn't at all what happened with the newer cross.

The seedings grew on very strongly in their first summer after germinating in 2015 and actually looked at that stage very similar in leaf shape to the George Sheriff Group type plants. The only thing that they didn't do that year was produce any offsets, which most of my hybrid seedlings usually do at that stage. They came through again in March last year and grew on very strongly indeed but some of them looked extremely different at this stage to others from the same batch. One seedling flowered looking very like simplicifolia, very short flowering stems carrying one single flower on top of it, others looked a bit grands like and a few of them decided that it would be rather fun if they could grow six foot flowering stems and carry a lot of extremely large beautiful flowers. Not what you would expect from an F1 cross from what I thought at the time were two pure breeding strains of Meconopsis!

At this stage there were still no offsets visible and I thought they were all going to prove to be monocarpic again but then some of them began to produce an offset or two and I knew then that at least a few of them would most likely be perennial. This spring I would say about a quarter of them have survived and I will see how they do this year. Of course the very tallest plant definitely did die but some of those that are coming through just now were pretty close in height and appearance to that plant, so all is not lost yet by a long way. The plants were reasonably early in flowering too, virtually being past their peak by the time that Huntfield began flowering in my garden last year.

I will post pictures of these plants onto another section of the forum in due course plus images from last year and those of other hybrids I have raised etc too.

Blue Stu

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 25
    • View Profile
Re: Species which hybridise
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2017, 01:12:31 PM »
Looking through the first post list of hybridisers, is the ability to hybridise not neccesarily a two-way process?
Are there instances where the pollen of A can fertilise the female parent B but the pollen of B cannot fertilise A?

Allan Jamieson

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 30
    • View Profile
Re: Species which hybridise
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2017, 11:57:37 PM »
You would think that it would work that way if two plants are genetically compatible, that the same cross could be made either way. In my experience I'd say not always, that napaulensis cross was repeated in six different combinations, crossing napaulensis pollen onto Lingholm, baileyi and grandis and then vice versa, with a few extra attempts included to make sure that I got the best possible chance of getting a successful cross. However even with all that work, only one of the crosses actually produced fertile seed and I am pretty sure that was with pollen put onto napaulensis most likely from Lingholm but until I find these missing transparencies I won't know for sure.

Sometimes one plant might work better as a seed parent rather than pollen parent, this is usually the case with Lingholm for instance, it gives good hybrid seedlings but there is nothing to stop anyone from doing the cross in the other direction. The only thing which matters is the end result in any case! I would tend to try every cross both ways as a matter of course and even if you get a decent F1 generation seedling, it might still be worthwhile to try to self pollinate those seedlings and raise the F2 generation. Reason being in my view is that under normal circumstances certain genes are dominant in any true breeding species or form, when you make a cross onto another true breeding form you don't know for sure how the seedlings will turn out. Usually they will be fairly similar but one or two might be exceptional and the rest just fairly good. With the F2 generation you may well get the genes combining in different ways and seedlings may express different characteristics from either of the parents of the F1 generation or indeed the F1 generation itself. The extreme height of some of the seedlings which I mentioned above in my new hybrids which flowered last year would be an example of an unexpectedly variable F1 generation because one of the parents was itself a hybrid but saying that none of the parents were producing massive flowering stems 6 foot plus in height. It is possible that this unusual height might be some relict from some common ancestor these plants had with some of the modern tall monocarpic Meconopsis, hard to say with any certainty but I do think that there are possibly desirable characteristics hidden away in the DNA of some of our large flowered blue Meconopsis, getting these to express themselves is pretty much a game of trial and error because until you try, you'll never know which plants actually have the genes that you are looking for hidden away inside their DNA. It is a bit of a lucky dip!

IanScott

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 28
    • View Profile
Re: Species which hybridise
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2017, 02:21:04 PM »
When you cross blue flowered Meconopsis species with yellow flowered Meconopsis species the result is normally a cream flowered hybrid e.g. M. x beamishii and M. x sarsonsii. However some of the yellows are quite pale e.g. M. sulphurea and are not far off cream. 

So if you use the yellow flowered plant as the pollen donor it is quite obvious when the cross has worked as the resulting seedlings are no longer blue flowered.

However, if you use the blue flowered plant as the pollen donor then you really need to study the foliage etc carefully, to be 100% confident that the plant hasn't been self-pollinated.  Obviously removing petals and stamen from the acceptor plant and covering the stigma after pollination increases the level of confidence.

Blue Stu

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 25
    • View Profile
Re: Species which hybridise
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2017, 07:23:17 AM »
Does the yellow on blue rule apply to all mecs?
What happens to yellow on red and red on blue?
At what stage does the pollen become ripe?
 

Allan Jamieson

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 30
    • View Profile
Re: Species which hybridise
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2017, 08:09:52 AM »
Sometimes there are no rules as such and that is pretty much the case with hybridisation! If you have certain aims in mind when you try to create a new hybrid you can predict the likely colours that will arise from that cross but that assumes that both parents are true breeding for one particular colour, white seems to be a recessive gene in large flowered perennial Meconopsis, needing two versions of that gene, i.e. one from each parent to actually manifest that colour, meaning that many plants with blue flowers could well be carrying that gene but will have normal blue flowers.

It is not entirely clear with the monocarpic Meconopsis which colours are dominant there as some of the hybrid strains of so called napaulensis/ regia have a variety of colours expressed in the seedlings but there must still be some colours more dominant than others within that mixture. With the cross that I mentioned above involving a napaulensis garden hybrid pollinated from a large flowered perennial blue Meconopsis, that cross only worked with one combination out of six that were tried, thus the seedlings were blue as napaulensis was the seed parent in that case.

It might be worth trying some of the white flowered perennial Meconopsis such as baileyi Alba in a cross to a monocarpic species, just to see whether the recessive white gene would still be recessive when combined with the colour genes from the monocarpic plant, i.e. could you maybe get a perennial bright yellow or red flowered hybrid Meconopsis that way? I think with a bit of patience and luck something like that might just be possible but who really knows? The joy of hybridisation is in attempting crosses that at first glance might seem impossible or at best unlikely but occasionally this approach can pay off. You cannot accurately predict what a hybrid will possibly look like unless you know the exact genes that the potential parent plants which you have in your garden actually carry (both dominant expressed genes and recessive genes which you simply cannot see with the naked eye) and even then you would need to know whether some plants were diploid or tetraploid, to determine whether they are actually physically compatible, it is somewhat complicated to say the least.

Not knowing most of these things, there is nothing whatsoever to stop the amateur plant breeder trying any cross that he/she considers worthwhile because you just never know what you are going to get and it is always better I think to live in hope!