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Black Sarracenia have been in the cross hairs of breeders for a long time now, but few have succeeded in creating such a beast. Granted, there are a few Sarracenia out there that do turn black with an "artificial suntan" aka when greenhouse grown, but has anyone made a plant that turns black from head to toe without the need of a greenhouse? It's definitely not easy to make such a plant, the reason being that most of the black clones/genetics in cultivation are difficult to coax that color out of them. They really need the exact right conditions to darken up! Sure, they will get black when grown under powerful lights indoors or under greenhouse conditions, but outdoors, they merely get dark. Here's a good example of a black alata that gets dark under my outdoor conditions, but not black. This is S. alata dark 'upward lid' Stone Co, MS: In the wild, they definitely can get pretty dark as the traps age, but you don't see such a high frequency of dark alatas in cultivation. As an aside, I've bred with many "proven" black alata clones only to find the offpsring are generally not as impressive. Some selfed plants (ie. selfed alata 'Night') looked quite impressive greenhouse grown, but they still don't color up easily outdoors. Anyways, the pics below are from wild plants growing in Stone Co, MS: Previously, the closest thing I've personally grown that gets really dark without a greenhouse suntan is Phil's Faulisi's Black Widow: Honorable mention shout out to Rob Sacilotto's S. 'Tornado'(aka S. 'Vortex') There are also pictures online of some black flava x alata crosses made by insektenfang.com, but since the pictures are clearly copyrighted, I'm not going to copy them in this thread. That hybrid appears to have a very black head, but the body is dark red. I'm very confident these were greenhouse grown plants, and they appear to be as dark as some of the black alatas grown under greenhouse conditions. For those of us without greenhouses, are there any individual plants out there that turn black even under outdoor conditions? I'm not aware of any non-man made plants like that. Logically, there has to be a way to make a completely black plant from head to toe using flava rubricorpora and the dark alatas, so that's what I did. Black widow is really cool, but I want blacker! LOL I made several small batch crosses with many different clones in search of that black individual. By small batch, I mean I sowed between 30-50 or so seeds per batch. Surprisingly, most were duds: while the plants were pretty and many were bright red, none were black, so I tossed every last cross out. In one cross, I did get a few darker indivduals, but not darker than black widow. GAH!!!! Phil either got lucky or did a lot of pheno hunting to find black widow. Anyways, Next thought was, what if I grew out over a 1000 seeds, will that one black individual appear? Those black genes have to be there somewhere, maybe it's just a numbers game. But it's not practical to grow out 1000 of each cross, that could take up a lot of space very quickly and become impractical. I decided to focus on one cross that had dark individuals and re-made it the following year, producing an enormous seed batch. If a few dark ones showed up in 50 seeds or less, will that one black one show up in 1000? It was a ridiculous amount of work transplanting seedlings and culling lighter colored individuals. No, I didn't grow them all the way out (don't have space and time for that), I did massive cullings and selected out the darkest ones. With a combination of an educated guess and the power of numbers, I finally found that one individual that I was looking for! Interestingly, NOT A SINGLE OTHER PLANT in the super sized seedling batch was as dark as this individual! There were some that I suspect could probably get blacker with an artificial suntan, but I was looking for the one that gets black under multiple environmental conditions. There were other individuals that came close in terms of blackness, but I culled them to make sure imposters don't go into circulation. Speaking of imposters, this is the reason that I'm not giving out exact details about the clones used in this cross, but in general, flava rubricorpora and alata were used, just like in Phil's black widow cross. Perhaps the beans are being spilled quite early as this plant is still a seedling, but after you see the pics below, you'll probably agree that this individual is already outstanding. In case you haven't already read this thread about seedling selection and want to dig deeper, I recommend reading this: http://sarracenia.proboards.com/thread/4004/seedling-selection This un-named clone below doesn't start off black: the traps really have to age before it gets to this color. This plant was naturally grown outdoors in Northern California, and quite possibly represents one of the first of its kind that can get black from head to toe without an artificial greenhouse suntan: In case you want to zoom in to see the details of the pic above: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/39714739103/in/dateposted/ and if you want to zoom in: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/31737863587/in/photostream/ The whole dang thing is black: Another shot: notice some of the younger, smaller traps still have some greenish pigments on the lid: In case you want a close up of that last pic: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/45954892134/in/photostream/ This is still a seedling, so again, I may be spilling the beans a bit early about it. For this reason, it won't be named or go into circulation until it reaches vegetative maturity and has been throughly "explored." Who knows, something better might turn up in the meantime. To be continued....
Leucophylla dominant moorei hybrids seem to be a very intriguing group of plants, and this clone is no exception! S. x moorei 'Bouquet' looks totally like a pure leucophylla, except it has some outstanding red coloration mixed into it! The underside of the lid is dark red, as is the lip. There's even dark red veins that weave into the white pigments, giving it a very eye-catching contrast of bright and dark colors. This plant produces a profusion of pitchers that when clumped all together, looks like a bouquet....hence the name. Easily one of my favorite mooreis out there so far because of how eye catching it is. Note to all you out there trying to impress your significant other with plants: I would never in a 1000 years dream of making a bouquet out of this plant and giving it to my wife as a gift....she'll just say "didn't you just cut that off from the front yard?!" Sigh, no love or appreciation for how difficult it is to grow this stuff, imagine how much the plant is set back from such a harvest....maybe not the same response you'll get, but just sharing my experience :) Photos taken 9/8/16: Kinky lip: n
First off, for those of you not familiar with this variant, S. flava 'extreme red throat' is an unofficial, fictitious name to describe a plant that has more red in the throat than the average S. flava var. rugelii. Some would call this plant a rugelii, while others may call it an ornata. I think neither best describes these plants because some of the pitchers don't have veins, some are a bit reddish, and others are rather green. For those of you who want to see "the plant that started this whole thing" here's "the type specimen": http://sarracenia.proboards.com/thread/229/flava-killer-new-pics-added We suspect all of these extreme red throat variants are the result of hybridization and mixing with different species, and then back-crossing. what are the exact ingredients? Maybe a dash of S. flava var. rubricorpora, and a glug of rugelii, or maybe a selfed rubricorpora x rugelii that has a rubricorpora phenotype. Alternately, there may be a moorei here and there that has an extreme red thoat, and then it back-crosses with rugelii to create a "pure" looking plant with an extreme red throat. In the case of the Bay Co, FL plants, it's likely that these extreme red throated plants resulted from mixing with "regular" rugelii's. We did see some rubricorporas at this site that had very solid red throats, but the tricky thing is tracing nature backwards and trying to find out what crossed with what. Only in cultivation or with DNA tests can we find out exactly what's going on. There are a lot of interesting observations about this site that I will explain in detail in another post. For now, this post will focus on the extreme red throat variants. All photos were taken 8/23/14: If this isn't an extreme red throat, I don't know what is: The body on this one is almost pure red, and I wonder if it can turn solid red depending on environmental conditions. For this reason, I don't call this variant ornata: On the other hand, this one is definitely an ornata: Beautiful greenish body to contrast with the deep red: Love this one, even with the "battle wounds": This trap didn't want to cooperate: Some of them turned out "normal" in terms of the amount of red in the throat: Wanna-be extreme red throat: I think this new late summer trap came from a plant that had rubricorpora-colored pitchers on it. The waters are so muddy on nomenclature, but we can debate that in another post :) Deformed pitcher: Another "regular" rugelii, but not quite regular: Slightly out of focus, but this gives you an idea of what the whole plant looks like: And to end the post, a really cute little baby deer that didn't move even when we came really close to it. Believe me, after being shot at, I know exactly how that deer feels.
The parrot pitcher plant grows in a lot of places, and their frequency in Sarracenia habitats are relatively high. With such high population numbers comes great genetic diversity, and in Washington Co, AL, there are certainly some unique and amazing looking individuals. This is the samne area where the giant "golfbalensis" parrot pitcher plant comes from, and no doubt, many of these were pretty big. Unfortunately, it seems like I didn't take too many photos of these awesome plants, probably because most of them were so hidden in the tall grasses (hindsight is 20/20!). Almost everywhere in these habitats, if you were to dig into the thick, tall grass, you'd surely find a few parrot pitcher plants in there. We probably didn't see even a fraction of what was out there, as they were hard to find. However, there were a few that were exposed in full sun. S. psittacina in situ, Washington Co, AL. Check out the dark red colors on this plant! These were growing in a "wash" where a stream or temporary flood cleared away shrubs and brush. Notice how the substrate is mainly this powdery, white sand with a little bit of organic matter: This isn't an example of thick grass...this is considered an "exposed" plant easily visible as you walk by: Plants in this area had dark red colors: My attempt to photograph a plant-these were definitely tough to capture: Check out the beautiful the white and red veins on this trap: This one was really neat-it was growing in some thick shrubs that probably used to be an open field many years ago: Same clone-the white on this one was intense! One last shot: