[Trillium-l] Trillium erectum x flexipes

Fern Hill fernhill at voicenet.com
Tue May 17 15:14:06 CEST 2011

Russ - it is dangerous to encourage me!

First the choice between the ideas of how the Shenk's Ferry or more generally the Susquehanna trillium complex arose can be made only when more data becomes available (sounds about like a typical science guy, doesn't it.).  By this I mean a detailed genetic or detailed phenotype analysis of these popuations.  The result must be compared with a statistically valid analysis of populations agreed to be good representatives of the species.  By statisitically valid I mean analysis of more than one plant in a population and more than one "type" population.  Since there are notable phenotypic variations within native populations, there must be a corresponding variation in the underlying genetics or variation in gene expression.  Without such a solid base of reliable data, discussions of hybrid vigor, petal form and color, and the like are bound to reflect the experiences of the discussors as much as the observed population's variation.

As to "hybrid vigor" in a natural population - I doubt that it is observable.  At least as I understand "hybrid vigor" it applies to f1 generation individuals.  It is swamped by the inherent variation produced by normal outcrossing in a standing population of variable individuals.  However, fundamental changes such as polyploidy can make permanent changes in plant size, shape, and vigor - but polyploid plants would not be generally considered "hyrid".  I have heard of no confirmed cases of polyploidy in North American trillium.

Often in natural trillium populations plants will be seen that are larger and appear more vigorous than most.  When I have seen this - it was associated with a particularly strong mycorrhizal association.  In a recent observation the fungal partner produced a mycelium that I could see without magnification.  With a little magnification it appeared to link the surrounding shrub roots to the trillium roots and thus may give this particular plant the advantage of energy flowing to it from surrounding shrubs.  In any discussion of "hybrid vigor" in natural populations I believe that the status of the root system and its mychorrhizal companions must be evaluated before accepting hybridity as THE cause of the plant's size.

John Gyer  Clarksboro  NJ  USA

  ----- Original Message ----- 

  From: The Grahams 
  To: Trillium Enthusiast Discussion List (and other Woodland plants) 
  Sent: Monday, May 16, 2011 11:39 PM
  Subject: Re: [Trillium-l] Trillium erectum x flexipes

  On May 16, 2011, at 8:00 PM, Fern Hill wrote:

    My gracious - I am beginning to go on near as long as Richard used to.

  So? Do go on.

  I should have read your message before responding to Jim's... WE now know what you both understood of what Dick Lighty thought and a bit about the appearance of the Trilliums and the geology and the history of the area they grow in.

  BUT what do YOU two think about these Trilliums you have seen and grow in your gardens? Are they hybrids more than they are species diversity?

  Do natural hybrids of erectum and flexipes occur? If they do what is the distinction from species diversity we have been hearing about from others?

  The only erectum I have grown have had tiny flowers...even as mature plants.

  All Best,

  Russell Graham, Purveyor of Plants, Salem, OR, Zone 8 (7)


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