Here's another clone that has been overgrown by surrounding plants in the collection for years. I only noticed this plant about two weeks ago when I saw some gigantic lids emerging from this plant. In previous years, the lid was normal sized, but due to overall great weather this year, this plant produced two medium sized traps that have gigantic, oversized lids! The original mother plant was from seed straight from the wild via the ICPS distribution project from Barry Rice, so no hybridization was involved. What a bizarre beauty!
S. alabamensis 'Giant Lid' ICPS AL001, Photos taken 8/16/13:
Here's a top view of the lid with my thumb for scale. For those of you familiar with S. alabamensis, they don't form the biggest traps, but this lid is just outrageous:
And here's the same exact plant, but notice how the lid is "normal" in size. It used to always produce traps like this until recently:
One last photo for fun-the bronze color adds a nice touch:
WANT! That is an amazing plant. Mike, have you ever thought about crossing it with the red throat clone?
My view is that not everything should be crossed as a matter of course. Personally, I think too many crosses are made in cultivated Sarracenia based on the simplistic fact that we can. Due to that practice, increasingly we are beset by endless intermediate non-entities that more often than not do little to expand on an exceptional original parent. Or, put another way, taking a striking clone of a species and crossing it with another representation of the species so often delivers up a half-strength version of the stunner that to me is a of little value.
Seems to me, that the first thing many want to do when in possession of a new plant is cross or hybridise with it. 'Cross fever' goes double with the most striking clones, particularly named cultivar hybrids. Now I know it is the result of progressive breeding itself so some may poke a stick at me for saying so, but take Mike's Elaine Wang clone for example. I have zero doubt that many would take that clone and try to "improve on it" - or another - by breeding with it. Elaine Wang is what it is, exceptional and, for the traits it represents, can't be improved upon. Certainly not by a bunch of middle of the road outcomes. I am aware of two big growers who went down this track and their collections became nothing but an unstimulating mass of indiscriminate generic crosses and hybrids that overwhelmed the true foundation from whence they sprang.
As boggrower says, the alabamensis in question is an amazing one. But I strongly disagree with the suggestion to cross with it. Particularly as a wild derived example, it stands on its own two feet and doesn't require something similar to dilute the impact its uniqueness. As I say, its only my view and certainly not coming anywhere close to telling people what to do. But I think there are way too many generic load of old nothing clones out there that are of very little value (I know, I made my share in the eager newbie past).
Guess what I'm trying to say is, at some point there actually is an end game reached with certain clones and happiness they exist should be the simple result. I reckon plenty will disagree, and fair enough. It's a intensely subjective subject. But that's my arguement any ways....
Ironically, I agree with you to an extent. I know what you mean about being overloaded with so many similar looking plants, that even the unique ones blend in. With me, I don't usually try to improve on exceptional plants. I hybridize to create additional exceptional plants. Also (this is just the bio-nerd in me) I like to see how the genes play out in offspring. I am constantly amazed of the bizarre traits that pop up in cultivation that never seem to make it in the wild. But to each his own.
I agree also Earl, especially when it comes to species as I like to keep them for their purity of form shape and color they naturally have. I have made quite a few hybrids in order to come up with something completely different and only will culture it with a cultivar name if it is distinctively worthy. You will get diversity in the wild happening naturally sure, but just seems so wrong to bastardize a species from completely different locations to make a "nice plant". Down the line when the cross label is lost, confusion starts when a real Sarra nut is trying to put a location to a copper topped Rugelii flava. Subtly playing with a species genetics, in my opinion, devalues the plant in a collection.
A marvellous clone of alabamensis. What height did the summer pitchers reach Mike?
I have been saying (droning on) for years how precious these site collected species plants are....By all accounts, the species plants of sarracenia found in the wild may be lost within the next 20 years. Meanwhile we play Frankenstein with them for our pleasure today and will mean nothing in time to come. I figure that our homemade plants must now clearly outnumber the wild populations. But what history does that provide us? Like a zoo keeper who has the last 10 African Plains Lions and the last 10 Bengal Tigers and decides a brid between them would be an interesting experiment. The site collected sarras we hold in our collections are akin to Noahs Ark animals. The genetics will forever be lost but for our preservation. I figure we are zoo keepers of soon to be extinct populations. My intention is to preserve them, not to play with them.
I hope I don't stir up too much controversy here and I really don't want to highjack this post. I think all of you do have some really good points but when a tag is lost, so is any location data for any Sarracenia pure or otherwise. At that point even pure ecotypes would be hard to ID and match with a specific location. And if you are focusing on population level conservation, any plant that you are not 100% sure of probably shouldn't be introduced into a natural population. Once the foreign genes work there way into a population, you can't really take them back out. That is one reason the meticulous record keeping is so important, and why I record the location data for any plants I obtain if it is available to me.
Also, any organism in captivity is effectively no longer natural. Firstly, gene flow is severely restricted to the small population size often encountered in most collections. This of course means that random genetic mutations, not common in the population, could become much more common in captivity. Unless, of course something is occurring like pollen acquisition of wild individuals. Additionally, plants in cultivation do not go through the same evolutionary pressures that wild plants do, ie drought, competition for space, ect. The best form of conservation is always conserving plants in situ. But this isn't a perfect world and I still agree that a good deal of conservation can be done in cultivated collections as a worst case scenario back up and my be crucial to saving the rarer Sarracenia in what I hope is the distant future. Once again, that is why I catalog my plants as best I can and donate what I can to local botanical gardens or other conservation orientated individuals and organizations
One last thought for the road. The scenario with Sarracenia isn't as bleak as a "last ten individuals" scenario. If it was, I defintely would be focusing all my efforts on keeping the pure ecotypes going. But as it stands, there are plenty of them in collections, I am not aware of too many reintroductions occurring and most growers only have a limited amount of space to grow in. So, focusing ones efforts entirely on pure ecotypes doesn't really seem to be warranted at this stage of the game. Plus a few pods being used for hybridizing doesn't mean that other blooms can't be designated for ecotype specific pollination.
I hope no one takes my comments as criticisms or anything harsh. I just really enjoy talking about conservation and the issues it faces. And if anyone wants to continue the conversation, I would be more than glad to start a new thread on the conservation area.
Last Edit: Nov 13, 2014 2:10:12 GMT -5 by boggrower
Boggrower, you are right: the discussion on this subject will always be interesting and the interaction of thoughts is, as ever, valuable. You make some excellent points and I'm certain no scientific minded person takes any criticism from them. Hell, there is nothing more valuable than keeping a debate fluid. As is so often the case, the answer is no doubt somewhere in the middle.
And hey, actually I think I'm responsible for the highjacking of the thread
Summer pitchers were no more than 30cm tall. Fall pitchers can be taller, but not always.
Absolutely fantastic topic everyone! I had a great time reading through so many insights and opinions. Fortunately, plants in the wild still outnumber what we have in cultivation. I've recently seen a site in Mississippi that has easily over a million plants, and that's just one site.
In a nutshell, I think the following is objectively true: a hybrid can be made anytime, and takes more or less than 5 years to reach maturity. The genetic diversity that exists in the wild took 10's of 1000's of years to make, so with the relatively little time we have on this earth, the best benefit Sarracenia can get from man kind is to preserve it's current genetic diversity. The diversity in the wild is drastically shrinking ever year, and even today, sites are still being destroyed.
I do see value to having people maintaining genetically diverse populations in cultivation, as each site has very unique genetics that may not exist in neighboring fields. Here's some examples:
Here's S. rubra ancestral in the wild barely hanging in there in Taylor Co, GA around 2003:
As of 2011, this site is completely gone, not a single plant. It's now a thick, dense forest. Had material not been introduced into cultivation, these unique genetics would forever be extinct. Unfortunately, insufficient material was preserved in cultivation, and now we only have a few clones in existence.
S. flava var. ornata/rugelii Bulloch Co, GA: As of August 2013, this site was completely destroyed and is now filled with buildings and roads. This may have been where the black veined flava originated. Again, if genetically diverse plant material wasn't preserved in cultivation, this unique population would be lost forever.
S. minor var. okefenokeensis Ware Co, GA, as of 2011 in the wild:
Had material not been preserved in cultivation, these genetics would have been lost forever. here's what's left, and a few other growers likely still have different clones from this site:
S. rubra ssp. gulfensis (radiotower site), this is what's left of it as of 2011, not a single plant in existence in the wild:
Here's a sample of what's left from the above site, all in cultivation. I have about 15 different clones, and others may still have some different clones as well:
Again, had genetic material not been preserved in cultivation, these unique genetics would be extinct forever.
These examples above are barely a fraction of all the sites that were recently destroyed, so I do see urgency in having growers focus on preservation of populations with location data. This is the key to the future of these plants, since preservation on private property isn't likely going to happen.
Let me be very clear: I'm not endorsing going out and digging up plants! It's always prudent to work with experts and botanical institutions if you want to get involved with preservation efforts. Always assume that a site will live on; many in the past did more harm to sites than help by digging up plants.
Here's the real threat Sarracenia in the wild face today: Imagine you inherit a 50 acre parcel worth $10 million dollars, but it has some Sarracenia on it. Are you going to retire and sell the lot, or work the rest of your life and try to preserve the property? This is the eventual situation with most private parcels left in the wild. Of course, us plant nuts are going to preserve the land, but history shows the average human could care less about these plants when it comes to large sums of cash.
Great work Mike. And, you make some excellent points, many that I agree with. That Taylor Co. site is a sad one indeed.
Let me tell you, that photo of your Ware Co minor material is one of the best photos I've seen of the species, period. That depiction of such a body of plants, all vibrantly at the same stage of growth, in that light is Fantastic!
The results in question are arguably pretty cool looking things. That's nice, but they are 100% not what they, outside of knowledge of the project, seem to be in respect of wild genetics they appear to represent. Obviously, they would be an appalling re-intro of flava anywhere. In dog breeding terms, they are mutts. As indeed are all of Canis lupus familiaris.
I managed to get a couple of the Taylor Co. rubras..... The alabamensis that started this thread is a fantastic looking plant for sure, and I'm kind of hoping my seedling plant show something like that
As for the other topic that's sprouted here, I'm a bit in the idle of the road. I love to have location data and specific preserved genetics, and keep many plants that are exactly so. At the same time, I haven little shame in making crosses, both inter-and intra-species, and think the results are amazing, but I know well enough to keep things separate and well labeled, and always pass on any info I have of such.
Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do.
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