Saturday, July 14, 2012

Rescuing Rarities: Update on experimental work with Lilium iridollae

This sea of green may look like a bunch of nondescript seedlings, but are actually seedlings of Lilium iridollae.  These seedlings are the product of seeds started cold and moist as described in the previous blog post about this species.  Although the seeds took much longer to germinate than those started in warm temperatures, a large percentage of them germinated and I was able to pot up about 160 more seedlings.  These plants have made rapid growth and many of them have produced as many as 5 leaves and counting.  The robust growth of these seedlings has allowed me to disseminate the seedlings to experienced growers.  If there is anyone else out there interested in working with this species please contact me.

Here is another view of the seedlings.  Note the red infusions in the new growth. 

Here are some of the seedlings from the seeds started warm.  As previously described, these germinated much quicker than those started cold and some of them have made rather large plants already.  The container in this picture is 4 inches in diameter and is included for scale.  The panhandle lilies are growing much more rapidly this year than last.  These, like most lilies, want a steady supply of nutrients, and when given this, they produce several leaves per season at the seedling stage.  Some of the plants are already producing stolons.

Here is the detail of one of the larger L. iridollae seedlings.  The original seedling bulb is in the middle, and the new growth and stolons off to the sides.  I have a feeling that this plant may produce at least one flower next season.  By the way, I have been repotting several of these seedlings at this time of year, during the growing season, and as long as the roots are not allowed to dry, they don't mind at all.

Here is another view of the same plant.  Despite the thick, contractile roots, these plants remain rather shallowly rooted.  It's interesting to note the partially develop leaf-like structures at the base of the plant.    Some of the develop into mature leaves, but most will remain as is.  Perhaps these are photoreceptors for measuring day length?  Maybe they are just a product of ideal growing conditions?  My other native lily seedlings have not produced this sort of growth, but are healthy and vigorous.  Anyone have any ideas.

Here is a view of one of the more typically sized bulbs.  This bulb is about 1.5 inches in diameter.

I am very pleased with the progress of my work with the panhandle lily.  To add another element to my study and interest in this species, in a few weeks I will be heading to the panhandle to see this species flowering in the wild.  I am majorly excited about this!  Also, I will be able to assess phenotypic variation in the species and mark exceptional populations for seed collection in November.  Also, while conservation of this remarkable species is my primary goal, I have also thinking about how it can be used in hybridizing.  While I have entertained many ideas in this arena, one experiment I would like to try is crossing L. iridollae to western North American lily species and hybrids.  In particular I would like to cross the species to some of the Bullwood hybrids ('Coachella', 'Lake Tulare', 'Lake Tahoe', and 'Rosewood').  Anyone out there growing them and have an extra bulb to spare?

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