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S. flava experiment: colour "varieties"

Kiwi Earl

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Given the current debate about the legitimacy of Sarracenia flava "varieties", I thought the following would be of interest. I will be using the term variety for simplicity other than for those instances of quotation marks.

Normally not interested or seeing the value in cross-pollinating solid examples of varieties, back in 2007 I conducted just such an experiment using S. 'Waccamaw' and a particularly strong S. flava var. rugelii (a very tall fluted form with the tube flaring markedly towards the peristome). S. 'Waccamaw' was the recipient of the var. rugelii pollen under strictly controlled isolation.

The original intention of the experiment was not simply to see what came out. Rather than self-pollinate the var. atropurpurea, I was interested to see the result of pollination by a var. rugelii in an attempt to draw out recessive alleles from the var. atropurpurea. In essence, to discover whether the Carolina genes of the var. atropurpurea would express a "var. cuprea", native as that variety is considered to be to the Carolinas also, notwithstanding the influence of the var. rugelii genes native to that variety's range distinct as it is from the Carolina S. flava range. While form was an interesting side issue, colour expression was the focus.

Here are the parents:




Below are some notable examples of the offspring:

Clone 'A' is a striking "var. atropurpurea" and to any eye unfamiliar with the experiment and the significant distinction between the parents, other than perhaps for the presence of the strong var. rugelii splotch, this plant would likely be accorded var. atropurpurea status. It has something of the wide shouldered fluted appearance of the parent var. rugelii clone but not as strongly as in other offspring. As passed down by S. 'Waccamaw' the colour saturation on the outer pitcher surfaces while the interior remains golden is significant.





Similar but distinct is Clone 'B'. Again, and perhaps slightly more strongly than in Clone 'A', the distinctive pitcher and hood form of the var. rugelii parent has proved dominant and is readily apparent. Yet again, the pigmentation trait of the var. atropurpurea appears to have influenced the colour of this particular offspring although the lack of solid red at the terminal end of the hood is reminiscent of a strongly coloured var. rubricorpora. Outside the context of the experiment, in all likelihood it would be labelled as such. The column splotch is not as pronounced as in Clone 'A' but there is significantly more veining within the pitcher than in all the other offspring clones I present here. Lacking in both parents, this interior veining perhaps represents a recessive Carolina flava var. flava allele present in the var. atropurpurea. Note the diminutive pitchers are an expression of the full sized one.



In contrast to Clones 'A' and 'B' (and Clone 'C' below), Clone 'D' presents as an attractive "var. rubricorpora" in colouration. The wide shouldered fluted form of the parent var. rugelii is very evident in this clone. Again, interior veining is very limited and the column splotch is no more than the limited confluence of red of the S. 'Waccamaw' parent. Arguably, Clone 'D' seems more an expected result of the breeding being a mid-line blend of the features of both parents in terms of colouration. However, perhaps var. rubricorpora colouration has shown through from the var. rugelii as a recessive allele, intimately related as those two "varieties" are in the field.



Moving on to Clone 'C'. Indeed, a "var. cuprea" expression exhibiting all the colour traits of a 'genuine' Carolina var. cuprea was a result. Form-wise, the notably wide mouth and flared upper pitcher and the distinct central hood form of the parent var. rugelii clone were reproduced. An inference can be drawn that a recessive var. cuprea phenotype exists within the Carolina var. atropurpurea parent. As you can see from the images of Clone 'C', notwithstanding its pitcher form and rather a strong splotch, it would not be unreasonable for anyone to accept that it is a genuine var. cuprea from a Carolina location. In fact, with the fluted form of the var. rugelii parent it presents as a very handsome "var. cuprea" specimen indeed. As it happens, three such "var.cuprea" were produced from the sum of germinated seed but this clone was far and away the best of them. It is significant that the copper colouration of the hood fades over time as in the case of a good percentage of genuine Atlantic Coast var. cuprea, whereas the red pigment of its red siblings does not.







Then there was this specimen, Clone 'E'. I contend this could be accorded the name "var. ornata" (albeit with a strong splotch) or "var. flava" (again, the splotch). For those whom feel variety names are an imperative, then what exactly would this be described as? Not representative colour-wise of either parent per se, one could argue it represents nothing more or less than an expression wave within the genotypic S. flava ocean. Indeed, such offspring are thrown as potentially representatives of historical lineage on occasion as a result of breeding one var. rugelii specimen with another. Visually this is as recorded in the field.

Apologies for the lack of a individual photo, however there were a number of offspring that were as close to the var. rugelii parent as Clone 'A' is to its var. atropurpurea parent.

So, having intermingled the phenotypes representative of two currently isolated S. flava populations we get, in this case at least, the expression of all but the "variety" known as maxima. Certainly I'm not willing to simply label these particular horticulturally produced plants as any of the nominated 'varieties' as found in the wild because they look like them. If 'variety' names are deemed by many as here to stay, the example of the above plants goes to my contention elsewhere that S. flava var. atropurpurea of the Atlantic Coast should not be described as having a presence in the S. flava var. rubricorpora populations of Western Florida 700 miles away with simple colour being a singularly all too simplistic element in that geographical representative context.

The above clones will in all likelihood remain solely in my collection. And, they'll even more likely remain labelled alphabetically.

All in all, it proved a fascinating and worthwhile experiment for my part which I hope others will find interesting. Any-which-way, it dished up some very attractive S. flava clones.

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Did you keep records of the number of each colour variant compared to the total number of seedlings?

Were there equal numbers of each colour variety or did some predominate?


The numbers of each variant in the overall sum of seedlings was relatively balanced except for the heavily veined Clone 'E'. While there were other veined but not 'coloured' individuals, Clone 'E' was the only one of that degree.

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Great to see that. I started simillar experiments in 2006 and all the results obtained since now were included into article published in AIPC magazine issue 1 this year. I think pdf could be available upon request at AIPC board.

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