Friday, August 14, 2015

Anthurium no. 0597 "Raven"

For the most part, growing my own Anthuriums from seed has been an exercise in spending a lot of time and money to get things I basically already had. I mean, there are subtle differences, none of the seedlings is exactly like one of the original named varieties, and every once in a while I get something different enough to be interesting, but it feels like I reinvent the wheel quite a bit. 0597 "Raven," for example, is awfully similar to my NOID pink.1

Anthurium 0597 "Raven."

The NOID pink.

That's also a really bad match between name and color -- obviously a "Raven" Anthurium would need to be black. At worst, it should be some very very dark color, like maroon, plum, or brown. Something at least a little gothy. Even red would be more name-appropriate. *shrug* But what're you gonna do.

Reinventing the wheel is, I suspect, something plant breeders wind up doing a lot. Might be a bigger problem with some types of plants than with others -- plants that don't vary tremendously in the first place, like Spathiphyllum, and plants that self-pollinate, like Coffea arabica, both produce extremely similar offspring; I have no idea how breeders manage to choose one plant over another in those cases. On the opposite end, all my Schlumbergeras so far have been, I think, from the same cross, and although they were all pretty similar to one another, only a couple were at all like either of the suspected parents.2 So far, for me, Anthuriums have been in between these two extremes. A quick look at photos of the 97 seedlings to have produced completed blooms to date shows me that about 5 out of every 6 Anthurium seedlings strongly resembles one of the parent varieties, usually 'Gemini' or the NOID pink.3, 4

One reason to get into plant-breeding in the first place is because it's a good way to get lots and lots of some particular kind of plant you like. If you have more money than time, you just buy lots of that kind of plant; if you have more time than money, you can breed. So I'm probably less disappointed than you might imagine, when I get a plant like this. I mean, at least Raven has nice leaves; the thrips are leaving them alone so far.

And it's produced two blooms in a short period of time, which is also promising, though the first bloom didn't look much like the second.

The first bloom, in late June.

So is Raven a keeper? At least provisionally: as long as she can keep the thrips and scale at bay, and as long as she produces blooms more like the second one than like the first one, sure, she can hang around.


1 Not that the photos are a particularly good illustration of that, alas. I discovered while I was writing this post that I have very few usable photos of the NOID pink, and no good ones. This is going to be a tough omission to correct, too, since the NOID pink has been really reluctant to bloom for the last couple years.
2 055B "Fort Venus" was pretty close to 'Caribbean Dancer," and 061A "Leather Fairy" was similar to the NOID peach, though in both cases, there was enough space between parent and child that I think I could tell them apart if I needed to.
3 'Gemini' was the seed parent for like 40% of the seedlings, and its close relative 'White Gemini' is the seed parent for another 40% or so, so it totally makes sense for a lot of the seedlings to look like 'Gemini.' I'm actually kind of surprised that they don't all look like 'Gemini,' to tell you the truth.
The similarity to the NOID pink is harder to explain. I don't think it's actually made that big of a contribution to the gene pool -- it doesn't bloom often -- but it is one of the few parent plants that reliably sheds pollen, so that could be some of it. It's also possible that the NOID pink is just close to the "average" of the plants I've got, that when you cross my parent varieties randomly, pink/pink is just what happens most often, the same way that when you mix lots of different colors of paint together, you're often going to hit some shade of brown or gray.
4 And considering that only eight seeds out of a hundred will go on to bloom within three years, and only one in six seedlings will look substantially unlike all the varieties I already have, this means that I have to start 75 seeds to get one interesting bloom within three years. And even then, there's interesting in a good way, and interesting in a bad way.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Anthurium no. 0058 "Betty Larsony"

Betty, Betty, Betty. She was the very first seedling to produce a flower bud, and is still the youngest seedling (14 months) ever to produce a flower bud. And then it took her two and a half years, maybe (?), to produce a flower bud that actually developed and opened. So that's, uh, pretty weird.

Some of the problem is that I had to cut the top off the plant; I don't remember when that was, or why, but that's a pretty substantial setback, and it's not like Anthuriums grow that quickly in the first place. But even then: the first bud never opened, and at least one bud last year (around January 2014) aborted before opening as well. Somewhere in between those two dropped buds, I cut the top off the plant and it grew back from the stump.1

Two posts from 2014 claim to have photos of a flower from Betty; I decided later that this one was a case of mistaken identity,2 and I'm unsure whether the second shows her or not (with 0035 "Alyssa Edwards"), but it strikes me as at least somewhat more likely.

So it's possible that it only took a year to re-bud. Even if that's the case, though, I only got one bloom, and then she was done trying for another year and a half. Two whole blooms in two and a half years is pretty weak. By way of comparison, consider: 0112 "Dottie A. Rebel" produced her first bud in late March 2015, i.e., not quite five months ago, and has already produced at least three blooms (maybe four), plus two unopened buds besides.

I could maybe forgive slow blooming if Betty had anything else going for her, but she's pretty disappointing. (Persistent, granted. But disappointing.) The blooms are average size, in the second most common color.3 They're in the middle of the pack as far as thrips damage, too -- not the worst I've seen, but thrips have definitely visited.

Both the best thing and the worst thing I can think of to say about the foliage is that it is completely adequate: thrips don't bother it much, but it's not an interesting color, size, or texture.

I mean, considering the beheading and all, I think Betty's doing fine, but she's not a keeper. The best thing she had going for her was the early blooming, and it turns out that she can't even do that well enough to be worth keeping.


1 Anthuriums will usually resprout when cut back, though they fail to do so just often enough that I hesitate to do it unless I really have no other options.
2 I hadn't really developed my system for identifying which plants were in which pictures yet, and I think I either relied on my memory and got it mixed up that way, or I got momentarily confused between 0058 and 0059, wrote down the wrong one, and then perpetuated the error with the blog post.
3 I don't mind red/yellow. Anything's better than pink/pink. But I've seen a lot of red/yellows already:

Top row, L-R: 0026 "Peaches Christ," 0034 "Alaska Thunderfuck," 0059 "Bijoux Tuit," 0063 "Audrey Quest"
Second row: 0076 "Bob Humbug," 0088 "Charlotte F. Babylon," 0125 "Anya Wei," 0179 "Katie Boundary"
Third row: 0223 "Patty Cake," 0238 "Rudy Day," 0243 "Sal Monella," 0245 "Sawyer Ad,"
Bottom row: 0257 "Summer Bederth-Enuthers," 0264 "Trey Lerpark," 0280 "Jujubee," 0282 "Dave Trading"

And that's not even all of them.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Pretty picture: Phragmipedium Sergeant Eric 'Timberlane' (?)

Ugh. This mess again. So when we saw this plant previously, in 2012, I was assured in the comments that the correct spelling was "Sargent," which was taken from the name of the pollen parent (Phragmipedium lindleyanum var. sargentianum). But Google disagrees, as does the orchid registry, and while I could ordinarily overlook one or the other of those sources, I find it hard to argue with both of them at once. So we're going with a different spelling this year. Surely one or the other must be correct.

This is also the plant that led to the "Please do not post pictures of my plants unless you ask my permission" weirdness in 2014. At one point, I thought that I'd figured out (from IP addresses and publicly available membership info for the Illowa Orchid Society) who, specifically, had left the message, but after coming up with a guess, I kind of let the matter drop, because I didn't see anything to be gained by trying to track the person down and explain to them that public things are public.

But then other things happened, and I thought, well, maybe it's not who I thought it was, since that person punctuated their comment in a similar way as the "please do not post" person. Also, the plant in this photo was on a table that belonged to someone other than the person who I'd decided had left the "please do not post" note. So maybe "please do not post" and "I own this plant" are the same person.

On the other hand, plants get sold or traded, and I don't have the impression that Phragmipedium S~rg~nt Eric 'Timberlane' is a particularly rare plant; more than one show exhibitor could own one. And ellipsis-only is a maddeningly common Midwestern punctuation style, for reasons I have investigated, but don't expect to ever comprehend fully.1 So "please do not post" could have been anybody connected with the show at all.

Worst of all, the plant this year was a completely different color than the one from 2012, so it seems to me like one or the other had to have been misidentified. Image search makes me think that the red-orange one from the 2012 picture is the "real" one, but it's also possible that the cross is variable, or that image search is showing me pictures of other S~rg~nt Eric clones, or something like that. One never really knows, with orchids. So: I don't know how to spell it, I don't know who owns it, I have negative personal associations, and I'm not sure it's even the same plant as the 2012 picture.

So you know what? Next time I see this plant at a show, I'm going to keep walking. Or. Um. Either I keep walking, or I'm going to flip the fuck out and start gnawing on the stem, grunting and frothy-mouthed, until someone throws me out of the building. This particular orchid is just too confusing and upsetting. You win, "please do not post" person. Never again will my camera steal this orchid's soul away from you. Phragmipedium S~rg~nt Eric 'Timberlane' is dead to me.

Phragmipedium Sergeant Eric 'Timberlane' = Phragmipedium Eric Young x Phragmipedium sargentianum (Ref.)


1 The consensus at MetaFilter seems to be that it's only supposed to indicate a pause, and that people only do it in informal writing so what's the big deal. Along with some suggestion that ellipses apparently strike some people as "friendlier" than periods and commas. Which is . . . fine? I guess? But we already have punctuation marks -- several punctuation marks -- that indicate pauses, so I'm not sure why we need to borrow a different punctuation to do this, especially not one that has specific and rare uses in indicating that someone's letting a sentence trail off, instead of bringing it to a decisive stop ("'Oh," said Tiffani, and sighed, 'but I'll surely see Brandon again, someday. . . .'"), or in indicating that words have been left out of a quote ("'Cause if you liked it, then . . . put a ring on it"). My main problem with the nothing-but-ellipses style is that my brain still tries to read all the ellipses as either trailing-off or omitted-words ellipses, so e-mails written this way always sound in my head like William Shatner talking into a cell phone with poor reception. (Try reading it that way yourself: "So...about my don't know what kind of plant it seems to be rotting...what should I you think it can be saved...") Which is not friendly or informal at all. (Also see languagehat's comment in that thread.)
I suppose this footnote sort of comes off like a joke, so just to be crystal-clear: when I get e-mail like this, I absolutely do take it as hostile, like you're trying to make yourself difficult to understand on purpose to annoy me. Whatever you think you're sounding like, you're coming across as William Shatner, on a cell phone, in 1993, driving into a tunnel.