Plants of hybrid origin

Jane McGary
Tue, 15 Jun 2010 10:24:14 PDT
This discussion has focused on cacti, but it may be of interest to 
bulb enthusiasts to know of some bulb populations that have been 
described as species, even though they're fairly well proven to be 
hybrids. Fritillaria gentneri is a name given to a group of unstable 
populations in southern Oregon that have been shown by DNA studies to 
be hybrids between F. recurva and F. affinis. There is strong local 
support, however, for retaining gentneri as a full species because 
it's a showy flower that is celebrated in local artwork and so on. In 
this and other similar cases, as well, endangered species status 
makes it easier to protect the sites where a plant occurs from 
development. (Unfortunately for us, it also makes it illegal to 
disseminate any material of it in horticulture. Those big red things 
out in my bulb frame are just really nice-looking recurva, of course. 
And I grew them from seed given me by people on whose property they 
were growing, anyway.) Other examples from the west coast of the USA 
are Lilium pitkinense and Brodiaea pallida, both known from single 
sites in California and both probably hybrid populations. An example 
from Turkey is Fritillaria kittaniae.

A recent issue of the Rock Garden Quarterly had F. gentneri on its 
cover and I supplied an article discussing this issue in the context 
of that plant.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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