Triploids are fertile

Jane McGary
Tue, 18 Aug 2009 11:22:51 PDT
An anecdote to add to this discussion:

Near San Francisco Bay there are, for some mysterious reason, several 
populations of triploid Fritillaria affinis. The one most often grown 
is from Point Reyes and is known in gardens as 'Wayne Roderick'; I 
think I posted a photo of it on the wiki at one time. It has never 
set viable seed (seed with embryos) here, despite the presence of 
many diploid forms of this species. Recently Ed Rustvold of Berkeley 
sent me material from two other triploid populations, and this year 
one of them, growing next to 'Wayne Roderick', set seed with embryos. 
I'll have to make some deliberate crosses when I get the plants 
resettled in their new home next year, and see what happens.

I don't know if triploids are known in any other species of 
Fritillaria. Interestingly, it has been suggested that the Liliorhiza 
section of the genus found in western North AMerica  is closer to 
Lilium than are the Old World Fritillaria sections.

My interest is primarily in growing natural species, but it is 
tempting sometimes to act the bee, and bees also have created some 
hybrids here within the American frit species. I don't know what the 
ploidy of the latter may be, presumably all diploid as they set 
viable seed, but I have noticed that the hybrids are more robust as 
young plants than are the "true" species, and tend to flower a year earlier.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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