Introduction + Geissorhiza
Fri, 08 Apr 2016 16:01:10 PDT
Hi Evan,
I can understand your fascination with the Cape flora, it is what led me to do my doctorate on tissue culture of xerophytic and geophytic pelargoniums spp and develop a modified embryo rescue technique for interspecific hybrids that normally would not form due to endosperm breakdown way back in the late 80s at Cornell.  Geissorhiza is generally an easy genus to grow, but you will need to wait until fall to get the cool temps needed to get optimum germination from them.  They do germinate easily once the cool temperatures that the prefer occur.  Geissorhiza tends to be quick growing and will often flower the second year from seed.  Dry dormancy in summer is what most like as well, don't let the pots overheat and watch for mice or other vermin that might want to snack on the corms.  Many reproduce well by cormlets as well as seed. 
Rachel and Rod of Silverhill Seeds list a good number of species, and they are always out and about and probably can find more.  In some cases seed may come up different than the identification since they collect a lot of seed from wild populations and of course the seed pods don't come with labels nor are they in flower when the seed is mature.  But that is more often the exception rather than the rule, and even misidentifications often turn out to be worthwhile things to grow.   
If you havent already done so you might want to look up and contact Peter Goldblatt, I am not sure what he is up to these days but he is the expert on all things Iridaceae in the Cape flora.  
Welcome to the PBS and good luck with your research.
Ernie DeMarie
Briarcliff Manor NY (z7/6) where the lows of 20 and 21 last week did damage some early risers such as Kniphofia bruceae and Crinum bulbispermum but they will simply regrow new foliage, they normally wouldnt have gotten as far as they did if March werent so warm.  Less severe frost will happen again overnight this weekend and then things should get back to normal sometime next week.  

-----Original Message-----
From: Evan Eifler <>
To: pbs <>
Sent: Fri, Apr 8, 2016 1:22 pm
Subject: [pbs] Introduction + Geissorhiza

Hello Everyone,

My name is Evan Eifler. I'm a graduate student in the Botany Department at
the University of Wisconsin - Madison. I study the ecology and evolution of
the Cape Floristic Province in South Africa. I originally studied abroad in
Cape Town as an undergraduate where I took courses in terrestrial and
marine ecology. I have since become fascinated by the shear diversity of
plant species endemic to this special region and am studying the processes
that led to the astounding diversity we witness today. The iris family is
one of the largest plant families in the Cape and is thus of great interest
to me. Specifically, I'm looking to develop a family tree for Geissorhiza,
which, at last count, is made up of 103 species. To do this I will need to
collect tissue samples from the majority of species to then extract DNA and
it would be very useful for me to have plants growing in our greenhouse as
backups and for extra tissue (and just for the fun of it!).

So I've come to tap the knowledge resource that is this listserv. I've read
through most of the archives on Geissorhiza so I feel somewhat prepared,
but I thought I'd see if anyone had any additional tips, tricks, or
suggestions on how to propagate Geissorhiza. I plan on ordering seed from
Silverhill and starting the germination process in July (a little early
from what I understand). Obviously I'll be growing these in pots in a
greenhouse as it's snowing here in Madison even today. I'm also interested
to hear what species are being grown by the PBS members / which are "in the

I'm interested to hear what you have to say and am excited to be a new
member of the PBS community.


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