0335 "Donna Fanuday" has an odd thing in common with 0597 "Raven," from last Friday's post: they both produced first blooms with extremely short peduncles.1 Like Raven, Donna was less extreme about this with her second bloom, but it's still weird. (From time to time, I fantasize about having English-speaking Anthurium seedlings who I could just ask about these things: WHY DID THIS SEEM LIKE A GOOD IDEA TO YOU ANSWER ME RIGHT NOW YOUNG LADY. But you knew that.)
I really wanted to like Donna, because she's large2 and relatively unscathed by the thrips and has decent leaves,
but the bloom is seriously underwhelming. Even if it weren't shorter than the leaves, it's not an interesting color (red/yellow), and the spathe is so badly reflexed that it's difficult to photograph. Here are the best pictures of the first bloom:
And the second, shortly after it opened, before it had had time to raise the spadix and flip back the spathe:
We've seen worse before, and surely will again, and I'm not willing to say that Donna is definitely, for sure, doomed to the wastebasket. But I can't say for sure that she's safe, either.
The silver lining to this sort of thing is that it's a chance to learn something about what makes Anthuriums tick. Had I stuck to the varieties available in the garden centers, I'd never have seen a plant with short peduncles; I'd never even have known that that was a possibility.3 If you really want to get to know a plant and find out what it's capable of doing, breed a few hundred of them. If you're paying attention at all, you'll see something you've never seen before.
2 I know small, compact plants are desirable, especially because they make it possible for me to keep more individual plants in the same amount of space, but . . . I like big leaves and I cannot lie.
3 Though I might have suspected. Of the dozen or so species genetically compatible with A. andreanum, at least two, A. kamemotoanum and A. hoffmannii, naturally produce inflorescences on very short stalks. I don't know how widespread the genes of either plant might be in modern Anthurium hybrids, though I get the impression that they're pretty well-represented.
It's not clear from reading the Anthurium-breeding book exactly what qualities A. hoffmannii might be used to impart to offspring, though it's mentioned as having contributed to the "tulip-type" hybrids, as is A. kamemotoanum. Hoffmannii also appears to be useful for producing green spathes, though A. nymphaeifolium and A. ravenii are also green, and A. formosum and A. roseospadix are sometimes very slightly green, so there are probably routes to get to a green spathe that don't involve going through Hoffmanniitown. Not that a lot of people are trying to make green-spathed Anthurium hybrids in the first place.
A. kamemotoanum is a really interesting species, and I was surprised to find that I couldn't locate a photo of it online -- the book has one photo of the blooms, plus an illustration of the whole plant on the dust jacket (low-quality image available at Amazon), and that is all. Not only is A. kamemotoanum unusual in having short peduncles, but the spathe flops over the top of the spadix a bit, giving the inflorescence something of a "hood," the two sides of the spathe are different colors (a dark red or purple-red "front," next to the spadix, and a green or green-streaked-with-red "back"), and some of the kamemotoanum hybrids shown in the book have a different color near the top of the spathe (the "acumen," if you're into terminology) than they do at the bottom. The most striking hybrid, a cross with A. lindenianum and A. kamemotoanum, is white or light pink near the base, sort of streaky pink and dark purple-red in the middle, and dark purple-red at the acumen. (It's on p. 39, for those of you following along in your own books at home.)
I don't know anything about the heritability of short peduncles, or the ancestry of my founding varieties of Anthurium, so I have no idea whether Donna's peduncles are a genetic throwback to hoffmannii, kamemotoanum, or both, but it's possible.