Variation in Lycoris squamigera

Jim McKenney
Thu, 06 Aug 2009 09:10:35 PDT
In two recent posts Lycoris squamigera has been described as sterile. That’s
true in the sense that no one has ever raised flowering plants from seed of
this hybrid. 


But I think there are two things to keep in mind about this.


One is of historic interest. Caldwell reported that Lycoris squamigera will
sometimes form viable seeds if the scapes are cut when the plants are in
bloom. He was not the first to discover this, but when he heard about it he
tried it and was able to get hard black seeds now and then. These seeds
would germinate normally, but he was never able to grow the resulting
seedlings on to flowering size. If someone were to try this today using
modern embryo rescue and tissue culture techniques, the results might be
very different. 


If such seeds were produced apomicticly, they would be clonally identical to
the parent plant.  In other words, even if successfully grown on, you would
just get more Lycoris squamigera. 


The other thing to keep in mind is this: prospective hybridizers of this
genus should be on the lookout for a tetraploid with 36 chromosomes. Pollen
from such a tetraploid used on Lycoris squamigera would probably result in
an abundant set of viable seed. Are there any 18 chromosome diploid Lycoris
other than the hybrid x albiflora? If so, that’s where I would start with
the colchicine. Tetraploids derived from the 19 chromosome forms might be
worth trying, too.



Jim McKenney

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

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