Monday, September 14, 2020

Progress with Arilpums

by Tom Waters

When I wrote my previous blog post on arilpums early in 2019, I had to focus mostly on history and theory, as I did not yet have much to show from my own seedlings. That has now changed, and the current state of this project is even better than I had dared hope.

As explained in the previous post, arilpums are arilbreds dwarfs that come from crossing pure arils with the dwarf bearded species Iris pumila. If the aril parent is a tetraploid, theory says the resulting arilpums should be fertile amphidiploids, a sort of arilbred analog of the SDBs. They thus have the potential of ushering in a whole new "fertile family" of miniature arilbreds.

Waters Q025-01

This spring, I bloomed two arilpum seedlings, both prolific two-year-old clumps covered in bloom. The first, Q025-01, from 'Merlin's Magic' (a selection of Iris stolonifera) x P002-05, a pumila seedling of Armenian origin, has a dainty Regelia look and some nice veining. The second seedling, Q053-01, from 'Tadzhiki Bandit' x 'Sudden Butterflies' is larger and huskier, with flowers reminiscent of tall arilbreds with Regelia ancestry, such as 'Stars Over Chicago' or 'Saffron Charm'.

I also had good bloom this year on an arilpum seedling from

Waters Q053-01

George Hildenbrandt, GH-11-4-2, from 'Dunshanbe' x 'Hidden Dragon'. This is a charming dark arilpum with nice aril-like flower form.

Hildenbrandt GH-11-4-2

The remarkable thing is that all three of these seedling produced seed for me this year when crossed with other arilpums. In my previous post, I mentioned that earlier hybridizers working with arilpums had found them to be infertile as pod parents. That is clearly (and thankfully!) not a general rule! Here are my successful arilpum x arilpum crosses this year:

Q053-01 x Aladdin's Gem gave 38 seeds
Q025-01 x Q053-01 gave 9 seeds
GH-11-4-2 x Q053-01 gave 23 seeds
GH-11-4-2 x Aladdin's Gem gave 3 seeds

These are not huge seed yields, but they are certainly adequate for continued breeding. I am quite optimistic that a number of the second-generation seedlings from these crosses will be fully fertile, and it will be possible to line breed arilpums without having to constantly go back to the difficult aril x pumila initial cross. This will also open up arilpum breeding for hybridizers who live in areas where either arils or pumila are difficult to grow.

Next spring should offer even more excitement, as I have more than 30 arilpum seedlings from various crosses that will be blooming as two-year-old plants. I got a sneak preview of one this spring,  Q066-08, from 'Tadzhiki Bandit' x P018-02, a pumila seedling originating from the Caucasus mountains. It looks for all the world like a miniature rendition of its aril pod parent, giving a rather more "onco" impression than others mentioned in this post. It has not yet been tested for fertility.

Waters Q066-08

All this has been an exciting vindication of a breeding project motivated mostly by theoretic possibilities rather than concrete experience. I'm now confident that arilpums have a bright future ahead.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...