Early results from cross-breeding Les Hannibal's Amaryllis

jim lykos jimlykos@bigpond.com
Mon, 13 Sep 2010 04:10:14 PDT

The colour variations in the Amaryllis hybrid  crosses described by  Michael 
are also to be found here in Sydney Australia. In my experience some crosses 
produce seed colour ratios that are hard to genetically explain and this can 
be confirmed by the eventual flowering of these seedlings. There are some 
hybrid crosses that prove to be infertile or nearly so against most pollen 
and seed parents, while they prove to be extremely fertile with the odd 
Amaryllis hybrid.
I have collected around 50 different colour variants of Amaryllis (most of 
them hybrids)  from all over Australia, and have been trying to breed 
different colour combinations, florferiousness and  improved flower shapes. 
My inspiration also came from Les Hannibals  many articles in the Journal of 
the Royal Horticultural Society of London written  during the 1950's and 
1960's  and in the IBS quarterly  newsletters around the same period.

Arlington Worsely  (of  Worselya procerum  fame) preceded  Les Hannibal in 
his experimentation with intergeneric Amaryllis hybrids  and also wrote a 
number of  articles from the 1930's pointing out how the colour of Amaryllis 
seeds reflect the eventual colour of the seedling flower.  In an article on 
Amaryllis Parkeri he also developed  a fairly complex genetic algorithm 
tying in  17 divergent parental plant characteristics  between Amaryllis 
belladonna and Amarygia Parkeri.
For instance these are a few of the 17 differences to be found in Amarygia 
hybrids compared to the Amaryllis species:
Increase in size and number of flowers in hybrid - 16 to 40 while species 
has 5 to 13.
Changed structure of the umbel with flowers arranged in an ringnet or 
candelabra style while in species all flowers face in same direction of 
midday sun.
Bulb larger  growing with around 50% of the bulb exposed to sunlight, while 
species has bulb just beneath soil surface.
Presence of a pseudo-stem from 2 to 10 inches in height in the hybrid. - no 
pseudo-stem in the species.

Now you may say where are the Amaryllis hybrid bulbs that have up to 40 
flowers?   Well they are rare but they do exist but more often as the F1 
hybrid between Amaryllis and Brunsvigia. Attempts at creating hybrids and 
selfing has revealed that  the F1 hybrids are seed sterile, but a few do 
have some fertile pollen and so over  the 170 years since they were first 
crossed in the garden of Camden Park outside of Sydney by JC Bidwill, they 
have been grown by a number of bulb nurseries in Sydney which made the 
further crosses  Amaryllis belladonna x F1 Amarygia and  Amaryllis 
belladonna x ( belladonna x F1 Amarygia) and  Amarygia x F1Amarygia.
From these it is clear that Amaryllis hybrids are more commonly found  than 
Amaryllis species, and that some have complex genetic backgrounds - 
including what have been called in the nursery trade until the 1950's 
Amaryllis Mutliflora. These are the large bulb hybrids that have up to 40 
flowers and one nursery in particular the Holloway Bros produced and named 5 
Amaryllis Multiflora varieties during the 1930s to 1960's.

In Australia it has become clear that a number of Amarygia's were created 
during the colonial period between Amaryllis and Brunsvigia josephinea, B. 
littoralis and probably B. grandiflora, and that seedling bulbs of these 
crosses were available through a couple of nurseries in Sydney up until the 
Colin Mills the coordinator of garden volunteers at  Camden Park has over 
the past couple of years remade the Amaryllis belladonna x F1 Amarygia and 
Amaryllis belladonna x B. josephinea cross. The purple-red F1's were crossed 
with a white Amaryllis species flower and the others with two other 
Amaryllis hybrids. There are about 600 seedlings growing at Camden Park in 
irrigated outdoor seedling beds - the outcome in two to three years will be 
a valuable guide as to the virtue or otherwise of backcrosses to the F1 
Amarygia, and provide direction for further breeding as well as providing an 
understanding of what happens to these colour crosses.
I have photographed the seed from 70 Amaryllis hybrid crosses in community 
pots which I made 4 years ago and  are near flowering size. In recent years 
I have segregated seed from crosses according to seed colour and I'm growing 
colour forms in seed colour labeled  pots.  So in future there should be a 
lot more understanding of flower colour forms and their relationship  to 
physical plant characteristics.
Earlier this year I was shown  a picture of a white Amaryllis Multiflora 
with 26 flowers and I flowered a bulb of a Cream coloured Amaryllis hybrid 
that had 22 flowers, so such Amaryllis hybrids do and can exist - the future 
of Amaryllis breeding is promising as at least from my experience 1 in 4 
seedlings from hybrid crosses appear superior to their parents.


Jim Lykos
Blue Mountains Sydney Australia

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Michael Mace" <mikemace@att.net>
To: <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, September 13, 2010 4:08 PM
Subject: [pbs] Early results from cross-breeding Les Hannibal's Amaryllis

> I'm finally getting flowers from some crosses I made of Amaryllis hybrids
> from Les Hannibal.  The results are puzzling, and I'd love to get
> suggestions or words of wisdom from the Amaryllis and plant breeding 
> experts
> on the list.
> Quick background for people who joined the list recently:  About 10 years
> ago, the late Les Hannibal permitted a number of us to dig Amaryllis bulbs
> from his backyard.  These were the extras from decades of breeding he had
> done -- he threw surplus seeds down the hill and let them grow anywhere. 
> I
> ended up with about 50 bulbs, a mix of whites, light pinks, dark pinks, 
> etc.
> You can see pictures of some of them here:
> http://pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/… (you'll need
> to scroll down a bit)
> I am not a professional plant breeder, but I wanted to see if I could make
> some improved forms from the bulbs Mr. Hannibal gave me: match the 
> superior
> size of one plant with the color of another, stuff like that.  So I 
> started
> making crosses.  Now 10 years later, the first of those crosses are 
> finally
> blooming.
> I am trying to figure out what controls flower color in these plants, 
> based
> on the limited knowledge of genetics I got from taking a couple of bio
> courses in college.  In other words, I am a rank amateur, and I'm getting
> really confused because the flowers don't appear to be acting the way the
> textbooks say they should.
> Here's what I am seeing:
> 1. Crossing a pink flower and a white flower generally produces a majority
> of pink flowers and a minority of white flowers.  I don't have enough
> blooming bulbs to have a statistically accurate sample yet, but so far it
> looks like the ratio is about 3:1 or 4:1 pink to white.
> 2. Crossing a mid-pink flower with a dark pink flower produces mostly pink
> flowers that are intermediate in color between the two parents, plus a
> minority of white flowers.  Again, the ratio might be about 3:1 or 4:1 
> pink
> to white.
> 3. In one case, crossing a dark pink flower with a white flower produced 
> all
> white seedlings.  This is especially weird because the pink flower was the
> seed parent, so these can't be apomixic seeds (clones of the seed parent).
> Unless of course I screwed up my notes and switched the seed and pollen
> parent.  But I was pretty careful.
> Anyway, here's what I think the results are telling me:
> --The ratio of pink to white flowers implies that pink color is dominant
> over white color.
> --However, I don't know what to make of the fact that the pink shades
> average out when they're crossed, rather than one being dominant over the
> other.  What is this telling me?
> --The fact that I got some whites by crossing two pinks implies that both 
> of
> those pinks had recessive genes for white, right?  Since one of the pinks 
> I
> crossed was my darkest pink, I don't know whether any of my bulbs have 
> pure
> pink color genes in them.
> --I can't figure out how a cross of a pink and white flower would produce
> all white flowers, unless in this case white is dominant.  But could a 
> gene
> be recessive in some cases and dominant in others?
> I'm really confused.  Would any of the experts out there care to comment?
> Any advice?  And can anyone recommend a good book or website on plant
> breeding and genetics that might help me figure out what I'm seeing?
> Thanks,
> Mike
> San Jose, CA
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