Triploids are fertile-- was Another Lycoris question

Jim McKenney
Mon, 17 Aug 2009 16:08:26 PDT
Kenneth Hixon mentioned Lilium ‘Black Beauty’. 


From a hybridist’s point of view, ‘Black Beauty’ is one of the most
important hybrid lilies ever raised. Many of the first generation of modern
OT hybrids (hybrids of Oriental and Trumpet lilies) have this lily in their


How can that be if it is sterile?


Part of the answer is that ‘Black Beauty’ exists (thanks to much determined
lab work back in the 1950s and 1960s) in several forms. The easiest to work
with from a breeding point of view are apparently the tetraploids. 


These tetraploid forms have been in commerce now and then since many years
ago. It’s possible, Kenneth, that what you have is one of the somewhat more
tractable tetraploid forms. 


Kenneth also mentioned the successful use of triploid Hemerocallis pollen in
hybridization. Yes, I knew about that, and should have mentioned it. When a
similar topic was discussed on this forum years ago, I think it was Jim
Shields who pointed out to me (maybe in a private communication rather than
in a posting to the forum) that the use of  triploid Hemerocallis pollen was
sometimes successful. 


Most of what I know about breeding with triploids comes from what I know
about lily breeding. With true lilies, the probability of success using
triploid pollen seems to be very low. But many triploid lilies set abundant
easily germinated seed when given suitable tetraploid pollen. 


Lycoris and true lilies are not closely related. So little is known about
breeding in Lycoris that you will have to excuse me for looking to other
groups for potential models. But as the use of triploid pollen in
Hemerocallis demonstrates, past experience is not always a good guide to
future success, and it pays to try everything many times. 


And I would ask those of you who find these posts too long or too boring to
consider something E.A.Bowles wrote in one of his books: “If readers…come
across passages containing more references to illustrations and the lore of
early authors than they appreciate, will they please skip them, charitably
believing that there are others to whom they may prove useful and


Jim McKenney

Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone

My Virtual Maryland Garden



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