Fritillaria hybrids

Jane McGary
Wed, 12 Mar 2008 15:03:06 PDT
The fritillarias are getting going well now and I'm having the annual 
anxiety of trying to verify their identities. Oh for a monograph! I wish I 
were not so intimidated by the thought of posting photos on the PBS wiki -- 
every time I try it, I seem to do it wrong.

The big surprise today was the first flower in a pot of seedlings of F. 
pluriflora, seeds from my own plants. It appears to be a hybrid with the 
pollen parent probably being F. striata, which flowers nearby at the same 
time. F. pluriflora flowers are held upfacing or at an oblique tilt, 
whereas this one has fully pendent flowers like F. striata. The tepals are 
slightly reflexed at the tips, like striata but not like pluriflora. It is 
deep pink, like pluriflora, but shows the "dotted line" tesselation of F. 
striata, and also that species' white style. It does not have the sweet 
fragrance typical of striata. I have sent photos to experts for their 
opinions. These two species both come from California, but are widely 
separated geographically.

I'm eagerly awaiting the first flowering this year of another plant that I 
know is a hybrid, because I made a deliberate cross with pollen of F. 
eastwoodiae onto what I think is F. gentneri (or a very large, flaring F. 
recurva, which is basically ... gentneri). I did this because I had only 
one clone of the latter, so could not get pure seed of it, and was curious. 
F. eastwoodiae itself is sometimes claimed to be a natural hybrid of F. 
recurva x F. micrantha, but it is very stable and fertile, and I suspect it 
should be viewed as a good species.

I've previously written about bee hybrids here between F. biflora and F. 
purdyi (both ways), and Ed Rustvold of Berkeley, California, has sent me 
material of plants he thinks are this cross. Diana Chapman and I have 
apparent hybrids of F. liliacea x F. agrestis that were made by bees here 
-- no improvement on the former, unfortunately, as they are green instead 
of white and smell bad.

I prefer to grow wild species, but these garden hybrids are fascinating 
too, and the purdyi x biflora cross is both attractive and unusually 
robust, probably a better garden plant than the somewhat miffy F. purdyi 
but preserving its black-and-white tessellation and shiny surface texture. 
It also produces many offsets AND viable seed -- I may see the F2 flower 
this year.

So if you'd like to be a lily breeder and don't have much room, consider 
their little cousins.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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