thank you rob!

Before the holidays got in full swing I got some pitcher plant seed and seedlings from Rob of The Pitcher Plant Project. Rob is super-enthusiastic about the genus Sarracenia and his blog bounces along with his energy. Check it out!

Rob’s a couple years ahead of me in making his own custom hybrids and has some really cool plants coming along. Here are some shots of the seedlings he sent me.

These first all come from the cross of Sarracenia Bug Bat x Diane Whittaker. This cross combines the seriously snakey-looking hood of S. minor with the frilly hood and wild patterning of S. leucophylla. The plants are young, but you can begin to see what promise they have. You can also see some of the variation that’s possible in a complex hybrid.

Two views of a seedling from the complex cross of Sarracenia ((purpurea ssp. pupurea x jonesii) x (leucophylla x rubra ssp. gulfensis)). All four parents of this hybrid share a rare recessive genetic mutation that prevents the leaves from producing red pigments, leaving this hybrid green green green from chlorophyll. One of Rob’s special interests is in these so-called “anthocyanin-free” (“AF”) plants, and I think they’re pretty amazing too. It really focuses your attention on the architecture of the pitchers.

Even if you’re only moderately technically-oriented you can make a lot of sense out of what’s going on with these AF plants in a paper by Phil Sheridan and Richard Mills, first published in Plant Science and now available online at Meadowview Biological Research Station: [ Presence of proanthocyanidins in mutant green Sarracenia indicate blockage in late anthocyanin biosynthesis between leucocyanidin and pseudobase ]. According to the paper the mutation that makes these plants green is one that affects the final stage in the metabolic pathway that creates red anthocyanin pigments.

And the plants kept going… Here are some first-year seedlings of the cross of Sarracenia Godzuki x ((flava x oreophila) x flava var. rugelli)…

And finally a big pile of seed from some really interesting crosses:

  • S. oreophila “Veined” x Adrian Slack
  • S. (oreophila x Royal Ruby) x Adrian Slack
  • S. leucophylla x Adrian Slack
  • S. (leucophylla x oreophila) x Brooks Hybrid
  • S. (leucophylla x oreophila) x (Ladies in Waiting x Judith Hindle)
  • S. Bug Scoop x Brooks Hybrid
  • S. alata, Texas x flava var. maxima

They’re now in individual bags of damp sphagnum moss in the lower veggie crisper of the fridge. A couple more weeks of the cold treatment and then they’ll be ready to pot up.

If I manage to keep all the plants and even half of the new seedlings I germinate alive I’ll be up to my ankles in hungry young carnivores. To some people this might sound like a 1950s B horror movie, but as far as I’m concerned life doesn’t get much better than that!

Thanks, Rob!

8 thoughts on “thank you rob!”

  1. Woah!!! Awesome! You’re very welcome. Thank you so much for the shout out. Glad the babies are there in good hands! Thank you as well for all you’ve done, and continue to inspire us all with your awesome botanical skills! Thanks again! πŸ™‚

  2. They look amazing! Though no way would there be room in my fridge for plants at this time of year πŸ˜‰ I particularly like the green form, rather other-worldly somehow. How wonderful to not quite know what you will end up with, creating new hybrids seems like plant alchemy, even though I know it is really all about the science. Hope you get a good survival rate!

  3. I have a saracennia plant but I am struggling to keep it going and I’m not sure why. It is in the greenhouse which is kept frost free. It stands in a gravel bed which is kept moist but the leaves are drying out. I suspect I just dont have the right conditions but if you have any suggestions I would welcome them

  4. Hello James…sorry it’s taken me so long to get this name to you but…remember the Dandelion on Steroids from my blog post a while back? Well turns out it’s an oddity from the Canary Islands– Sonchus canariensis.

  5. Hi Helen/Patientgardener!

    It sounds like your Sarracenia is going through dormancy – (totally natural.) Where are you located? They die back to rhizome in the winter and will come back in the spring. I posted a video of a lot of my dead foliage on my blog recently and they do grow for me outdoors just fine. Many growers I know do grow them outdoors and subject them to frost/snow and freezing. They come back fine every year. Hope this helps! πŸ˜‰

  6. Rob, thanks for the kind words–and for all the amazing botanical loot! This might actually work out great for both of us if the plants mature sooner down here where it’s warmer and you can see what a cross is doing.

    Eliza, fortunately I don’t have any pet insects that might be plant food for these!

    Janet, my fridge is only this empty because we went away for the holidays and didn’t want anything turning into a biology experiment. I agree with you about really enjoying the green plants…so simple and elegant.

    fer, this leaf has some potting mix stuck to it from my having repotted it. A new pitcher would have an even more pure, waxy green look to it.

    Helen, Rob was gracious enough to provide some comments about sarracenias, below. I’ve also emailed it to you in case you don’t get it from these comments.

    Loree, thanks so much for the plant ID. The Canary Islands seem to have more than their fair share of weird plants. A trip might be necessary… In the meantime I see San Marcos Growers offers this species!

    Rob (again), thanks for helping Helen out. She’s in the UK, which should be a good climate for this genus, even in this frigid year. And her greenhouse should help them grow more robustly during the warmer months. (The big UK growers seem to use greenhouses for their plants, even though there are several naturalized colonies of plants growing entirely outside, particularly S. purpurea.)

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