Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Angora and a Little Rascal

With the flowering of each new cross, I get more and more excited about the potential for hybridizing within the genus Petrocosmea! I often think back to what it must have felt like for those very first hybridizers of African violets and then reflect upon the myriad of flower and foliage variations available today within that genus. Looking at a collection of species Saintpaulia, one might never imagine the variety that would have evolved from those charming, but fairly simple and uniform flowers and foliage types among the species in that genus. Oh, the things that are yet to be within the world of Petrocosmea!!!!! ( I can dream, can't I???)

The subject of my current adoration is the offspring from a cross between P. forrestii (as the seed parent) and the magnificent, and quite unique P. duclouxii. Both very different from each other in a number of ways. I was on Cloud Nine when I saw those seedpods developing! Now, ten months later, the babies have grown up and are showing first flowers. I've selected two from among the twenty that I flowered to name,and one other one which is remaining unnamed for the moment. P. duclouxii was clearly dominant form flower type in every seedling. P. forrestii was dominant for foliage type among all but one of the seedlings. Flower size was a mixed bag, with about nine having smaller flowers like forrestii and 11 having larger flowers like duclouxii. Peduncle length was clearly influenced more by forrestii...which I was not so happy about. Now, here are the "kids"........

Petrocosmea 'Keystone's Angora' was the first selected and named. It was chosen for it's magnificent foliage, which appears as a large P. forrestii, but the leaf texture is outstanding. I wish you could touch the screen and feel these leaves! They are literally as soft as angora! I HAVE to pet them everytime I see this plant. Hence, the name! The plant is showing more buds to come. I'm hoping for a bit more bloom with maturity, since both parents are quite floriferous.

The flower of P. 'Keystone's Angora' ...a smaller version of it's P. duclouxii parent, but a bit pinker, due to the influence of forrestii. Petals are rounder and more obtuse on the tip, making the flower less "starry" than those of P. duclouxii. Anthers are deformed, producing no pollen, but the pistil appears normal. I'm hoping it will be seed-fertile.

The second seedling names is P. 'Keystone's Little Rascal'. Leaves are more like duclouxii in shape and texture, with some veining, but size of the foliage is more like forrestii. It was chosen for it's heavy flower count and small size. It was the only seedling to inherit the shorter, sturdier peduncles of P. duclouxii. All other seedlings have the long, unruly peduncles of P. forrestii...and undesirable trait in my opinion. This plant did form two offsets, which I was not happy about, however, it's positive qualities of heavy bloom count, peloric flowers, most with extra petals, and the sturdier peduncles won out. The flowers on this plant are quite small, among the smallest of all it's siblings. I'm happy with it's reduced size and compact habit.

Most of the flowers (92% of them) were near-peloric and had extra petals. Again, as with all of the flowers in this cross, the anthers are deformed and produced no pollen. Pistils appear normal.

One other trait from this cross which I was very happy about, was that it produced three very small, almost "miniature" seedlings. This is the third Petrocosmea cross, involving larger parents that has show a tendency to produce a few "miniatures". My first cross, P. rosettifolia #3 x sericea produced one miniature plant, which pure white flowers (P. 'Keystone's Bantam'). By using P. 'Kesytone's Bantam' in a cross with P. forrestii (the most compact of the species), I got 100 miniature seedlings...all MUCH smaller then 'Keystone's Bantam'. None of these have flowered yet, after 11 months, and most all are producing HEAVY offsets, a trait which I am attempting to select out of the hybrids that I release, so I am not sure that I will ever release any of these. These miniatures do, however, give great hope to me that miniature Petrocosmeas are a real possibility and likely not too far in the future. Just one more exciting and mysterious trait tucked away within the genetics of this genus.

A photo showing the difference in the size of the flowers of P. 'Keystone's Little Rascal' (on the right) and one of it's siblings....(which I have not named so far). Both of these are smaller than the parent P. duclouxii. Petal shape, petal width and length all were quite variable, as can also be seen in the photo The petals of the larger flower on the left are more oblong and narrow, giving the flower a more "star-like" appearance. The petals on 'KLR' on the right are shorter and more ovoid in shape, making the flower appear rounder and fuller.
And, as must be done, the remaining 17 seedlings all went into the trash bin...... Rest In Peace!