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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Hey, Who Turned My Peristeria Yellow?

This was a surprise. The sort of thing that happens in your dreams (especially if you are a plant breeder), but only rarely in real life: a novel color form in a batch of seedlings.

Last August, Ron Determann and I scooped up a handful of nearly identical, near-blooming-sized Peristeria guttata seedlings at Carter & Holmes. Peristerias other than elata are not common in the trade so I was delighted to add some fresh genetic stock to our two existing accessions of guttata.  Naturally, I expected them to be the typical color form, white with red spots. Pictured above is one of the siblings which flowered in January. About two weeks ago, I noticed that one of the others had unusually light colored buds.

Apart from this surprising event, it seems like the genus Peristeria is in need of some taxonomic work. In our own collection of Peristeria, we have at least one individual whose identity is suspect, but the literature on Peristeria is pretty thin. In the mean time, I've selfed our yellow accession (with some of the future offspring earmarked for Mac Holmes). My experience selfing our peristerias cautions me that we've got maybe a 50/50 chance of a successful outcome -Peristeria capsules resulting from selfings often abort part way through their development.


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