Massonia pollination

Roy Herold
Wed, 26 Dec 2007 19:43:41 PST
Ah, what a fine time to bring up the subject of Massonia, one of my 
favorite genera of bulbs (I think I got that right).

Just this past weekend I was going around reading keys to Massonia, 
measuring lengths of flower parts, and becoming more and more confused. 
I'm now up to about a dozen different accessions of Massonia, three of 
which are blooming now and the rest are waiting in the wings (and 
visions of Daubenya still dance in my head).

Regarding pollination, I have never had any problem with getting 
excellent seed set on my two warhorses (or is it brood mares), M. 
pustulata, originally from Richard Doutt and Bioquest (wasn't that a 
great catalog?), and M. depressa (but closer to pustulata) from a NARGS 
seedex. I have never gone in and done any tickling, but usually can 
delight in the sight of giant seedhead erupting from the withering 
leaves in the spring. These tend to have enough seed to send to every 
society I belong to, and then some.

Regarding rodents, I always leave my Massonias outdoors in the fall 
until the first frosts. This year for the first time the chipmunks took 
a liking to them, even before the flowers opened. Doutt's pustulata 
fared the worst, with big hunks chewed out of the leaves. No damage to 
the bud, fortunately. The M. aff depressa-pustulata also got a few 
nibbles. After I moved them into the greenouse, the mice took over, 
leaving discrete droppings on the leaves but doing no additional damage. 
The mouse traps did their trick shortly thereafter.

As for ID's, I continue to be confused. The pustulata and 
depressa-pustulata have similar flowers, but start blooming a couple of 
weeks apart. Seedling yearlings emerged this fall with a similar 
separation. The yearling pustulatas had pustules, the pustula-depressas 
were still smooth.

Some echinata seedlings are blooming for the first time this year, but 
the flowers are leaning towards depressa. These came from Mesa Gardens 
seed. Bloom time seems to be between pustulata and pustulata-depressa.

I can hardly wait for some of the others to come along, including the 
"shimmering silk stocking leaves" ex Rust en Vrede Nursery and the 
"bewitching perfume" ex Addo (love Steve Hammer's descriptions). And 
there are more from Steve, Mark M., MSI, and others.

I agree with Brian's assessment of the need for a large pot surface area 
for the leaves, but wonder a bit about the need for such a large volume 
for the bulbs and roots. I was very surprised this season to find leaves 
just as large on 3" sq. pots as on 6" sq. pots. Lean and mean, etc. Just 
keep some neigboring pots, and the leaves don't curl over the edge. I 
also think I'm starting to pick up on the best watering routine for 
massonias. Happy, turgid leaves are pressed against the surface of the 
soil, almost as if there was a magnet underground and the leaves were 
steel (weird analogy, but it works for me). When the magnets get weak, 
and the leaves can easily be lifted, it's time to water. Put the pot in 
a dish of water, let it soak for a day, and everything should be good to 
go for another month (in a cold greenhouse, below 40F at night).

One of the high points of my visit to South Africa in November 06 was an 
unexpected Massonia encounter. I was searching for Euphorbia horrida 
alongside the N9 near Uniondale, and THERE IT WAS! No, not Euphorbia, 
but the wonderful tumbleweed-like seedpod of a MASSONIA, with the mother 
  bulb nowhere to be found. I think I managed to salvage two seeds from 
the pods, and I'm still trying to figure out what I did with them. 
Probably mixed in with the haworthia seed. I collected some albuca-ish 
seed from the same spot, and have a bulging pot of seedlings from them.

I continue to lust after M. jasminiflora, and home that Mary Sue gets 
some seeds. Another massonial object of desire is the little guys up on 
Sani Pass. Will Rachel *ever* list them again?

I should have plenty of seed (if the massonia gods are willing) and 
bulbs for the BX next summer. If any other PBSers would like to do some 
swapping under the table, let me know.

NW of Boston
Good snow cover for the past week. Global warming is dead this year.

Leo A. Martin wrote:
> Jim Shields wrote
>> ....
>> I tried to cross pollinate the two individual clones of [Massonia]
>> depressa that I have, so maybe there will be some seeds for Dell
>> to distribute in a few months....
> I and several friends here in Phoenix have obtained fertile seed from
> solitary Massonias of species depressa, pustulata, and "sp." That is, only
> one Massonia blooming in the entire garden at that time. No signs of wild
> gerbils nibbling the flowers. What about the rest of you on the list?
> I haven't really had enough to send to the seed bank or I would have.
> Leo Martin
> Phoenix Arizona USA
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