Reticulation and Fritillaria

Jane McGary
Wed, 09 May 2007 09:06:17 PDT
Jamie wrote,
One of the newer and definitly heretical theories on evolution is that
>of reticulation. ...  it supports the idea of hybridization in the 
>creation of
>new "species". ... Essentially, we do not have a tree of evolution, rather 
>a net of
>evolution (reticulate means netted).  Various autart entities
>criss-cross through time and hybridize, often/eventually die out in
>their previous form and continue to evolve through mutation and further
>hybridization.  The mechanism is largely controled via natural barriers ...

Reading this, I immediately thought of the western American Fritillaria 
species. Their propensity to hybridize when cultivated close together is 
becoming very interesting to me. I have some good-looking F. purdyi hybrids 
here, and correspondents have told me about some natural hybrid populations 
of several species.

F. purdyi, which is rather difficult to grow and is rare in the wild, is a 
good candidate for deliberate hybridization because its flowers are 
unusually attractive -- checkered and striated black on white, with a 
peculiarly glistening surface. Its intermarriage of choice here appears to 
be F. biflora, since they flower at the same time and I have raised hybrids 
with both as seed parents. F. biflora is one of the more easily cultivated 
species (it survived 17 F in my rock garden last year and went on to 
flower), and the apparent hybrids are bigger than either parent.

I also have some deliberate cross seedlings of F. gentneri x eastwoodiae, 
not yet flowered. These are obviously closely related species of the F. 
recurva group (gentneri may in fact not be properly assigned to species 
level), but gentneri has quite large flowers and eastwoodiae has numerous 
flowers. It would be great to get the right combination of these factors, 
but no doubt several generations of crosses would be needed, if it's at all 

Another (accidental) cross that has occurred here is F. liliacea x 
agrestis, which is not such a good idea, because what you get is in general 
a greenish liliacea that smells bad -- though not as bad as agrestis.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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