Haemanthus fertility

J.E. Shields jshields104@insightbb.com
Thu, 08 Jan 2004 06:26:18 PST
Hi everyone,

Regarding Angelo's questions and comments, I find that my one clone of 
Haemanthus albiflos some years produces a good crop of seeds, like this 
year; other years -- indeed, most years -- it produces none.  In either 
case, I haven't intentionally hand-pollinated the albiflos.

A year or so ago, I tried pollinating Haemanthus humilis hirsutus by 
itself, and got one seed.  Pollinating the one clone of H. albiflos with 
hirsutus pollen produced maybe a dozen or more seeds -- but are they true 
hybrids or did the hirsutus pollen just stimulate an apomictic seed 
production?  Maybe in 4 to 6 years, when some of them start to bloom, I'll 
be able to say.  H. albiflos seedlings can be as hairy as hirsutus 
seedlings at this early stage of their growth, so a little hair on the 
leaves is not conclusive at the moment.

I pollinated the hirsutus another time with fresh coccineus pollen, andvice 
versa.  I got no seeds on the coccineus, but did get maybe a half dozen 
seeds on the hirsutus.  Again, did I really get hybrids, or parthenogenic 
seeds of hirsutus?

Although the chromosome number of Haemanthus is sometimes listed as n = 8 
or 9, most of the numbers seem to be n = 8:

H. albiflos, 2n = 16
H. coccineus, 2n = 16 from two references
H. humilis hirsutus, 2n = 16

So these crosses, [albiflos X humilis hirsutus] and [humilis hirsutus X 
coccineus] are, at least on the face of things, compatible in chromosome 

I had three plants of H. barkerae bloom this past season, all from the same 
batch of seeds from Rachel Saunders.  I pollinated those three across each 
other and got no seeds at all.  For H. barkerae, 2n = 16 also.  This was 
the second time these barkerae had tried to bloom; the previous year, the 
scapes aborted just short of actual anthesis.  Still, they may just be too 
small, to young, to support seed production.

A very good question , Angelo.

Jim Shields
in central Indiana (USA)

Jim Shields             USDA Zone 5             Shields Gardens, Ltd.
P.O. Box 92              WWW:    http://www.shieldsgardens.com/
Westfield, Indiana 46074, USA
Tel. ++1-317-867-3344     or      toll-free 1-866-449-3344 in USA

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