potential flower colors question

Hannon othonna@gmail.com
Fri, 19 Dec 2008 19:00:15 PST

While this is not my subject at all, I can offer a few points from
observation and what I learned from gifted breeders like Fred Meyer.
There are "rules" in color inheritance and in what "color breaks" are
likely or possible according to the color of the parent(s).

For instance, it is not especially unusual to get a yellow "sport" or
"morph" from a batch of seedlings of a plant that is typically orange-
or red-flowered. This is called a color break, a clean break as it
were from the original or typical color of the species. Examples
include Crocosmia, Clivia, Tigridia pavonia, Mimulus, marigolds, etc.
They often turn up as individuals rather than populations. A break to
red or orange in a normally yellow-flowered plant seems to be much
less common.

Blue flowers can also break to yellow, as species in genera like
Delphinium or Iris. Breaks from orange-red to blue-purple or the
reverse are rare. The rules have to do with genes that control color
obviously but they are often complex. What we interpret as "a color"
may be two or more colors in different layers of tissues that give an
overall monochromatic effect. So, if one layer can be bred out you get
a different color result. Another example is breeding yellow flowers
by "pulling out" the yellow color in the throat of an otherwise red
flower by continuous breeding.

What can occur naturally I think is largely a determinant in what can
be done in breeding, but some pretty amazing things have been
accomplished with embryo rescue and gene splicing. One might ask,
rather than "Is it possible?" -- "Is it cost-effective?"

Sorry to give you such an incomplete idea of this subject, I wish I
knew more myself. Rest assured plant breeders know a LOT about this
subject and much of it is written up in appropriate journals.

Dylan Hannon

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