potential flower colors question

totototo@telus.net totototo@telus.net
Sat, 20 Dec 2008 12:05:54 PST
Many flower colors are due to the presence of more than one pigment. Our local 
large camas, /Camassia leichtlinii ssp. suksdorfii/, clearly has a deep blue 
pigment with lesser amounts of a rather muddy purplish pigment. The combination 
in the usual flower gives the deep saturated blue-purple characteristic of this 
subspecies (and also of /Camassia quamash/).

Years of scouting around for color variants have yielded a number of white, 
near-white, sky-blues, and so on. Once, just once, I thought I saw a pink 
flowered form, but as the sun was low, this may have been due to the reddish 
evening light.

Oddly enough, the type of this species occurs only around Roseburg, Oregon, and 
is a pale creamy yellow.

Luther Burbank at one time was working with /Camassia/. The multi-volume 
"Harvest of the Years" has a colored illustration of his trial patch, but the 
color is not photographic, so it's hard to say if he actually had the range of 
colors depicted.

/Cichorium intybus/, a common roadside weed that lines our highways with 
skyblue in late summer and early fall, seems to have the same combination of 
pigments, but its blue is much less saturated. A good white flowered form 
turned up once, I've seen the odd pink once or twice, and I've also seen plants 
with a deeper blue.

At the other end of the spectrum, consider /Tulipa sprengeri/, which has a 
uniquely glowing red flower. I'm convinced that this is a red pigment plus a 
yellow pigment, and keep hoping for a yellow-flowered specimen to turn up among 
the many self-sown seedlings in my garden. So far no luck.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate
on beautiful Vancouver Island


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