A Comment for the PBS: Lycoris squamigera and bloom triggers

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@jimmckenney.com
Wed, 05 Aug 2009 10:09:01 PDT
Anita asked "Is it possible that there is some genetic variation in Lycoris
squamigera in spite of its being produced mainly by bulb chipping?"



Anita, you've touched on something about which I've long speculated. It's
been accepted for a long time now – fifty years or so - that Lycoris
squamigera is triploid and almost certainly of hybrid origin. In other
words, there is probably no place on earth where there exists a sexually
reproducing population of Lycoris squamigera.


But, is there evidence to suggest that the hybridization which produced
Lycoris squamigera occurred more than once? To put it another way, is
Lycoris squamigera a clone, or does the name represent a collection of very
similar plants of similar origin? 


At this time of year I keep a lookout for big groups of this plant in old
gardens. In the past it was dirt cheap, and occasionally one sees it planted
by the hundreds in country gardens. 


Usually such plants are all much alike; occasionally I see plants which seem
to have a slight difference in color or stature. What, if anything, is the
significance of these variations? Sometimes such big plantings are mixed
with a few Lycoris sprengeri here or there.


Seed of Lycoris squamigera was offered on one pre-WWII seed list I have
seen. I wonder what the source of that seed could have been (and what, if
anything, grew from it). 


As is so often the case in horticulture, the commonest plants sometimes pose
the most intriguing puzzles. 



Jim McKenney


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