[Trillium-l] Trillium Hybrids in New Zealand and musings

t00lie at xtra.co.nz t00lie at xtra.co.nz
Fri Jan 30 01:22:49 CET 2015

Quote from Russ Graham 
“For example, there are several outstanding gardens in NZ that have what they consider to be hybrids BUT there is NO history of the origin and few if any deliberate (controlled) crosses being made and they do not share "plants" outside the country. Plus, recent  awarenesses of the HUGE variability in the western sessiles has some of the growers in NZ reconsidering "some" of their thoughts about some of what had been considered a hybrid...”

Howdy all

I'd like to expand a little on Russ' comments above …..

I know of no one here in NZ ,(within the NZ Trillium Group or elsewhere),making any deliberate 'controlled' crosses .That's to say it's not happening however if it is I think it will be on a small scale .

Possible reasons being ….....

Firstly ---the total population of NZ is approx 4.5 million folk and while statistics show gardening here is one of the highest recreational past times and our local Trillium group has had a very successful existance since its inception 13 years ago ,the reality is that membership ,including overseas, totals less then 200 members, of which about a half attend the yearly get togethers. Sure there will be other NZ folk who grow and seek Trilliums however in my opinion we are not talking about numbers large enough to sustaine a living/return for a potential Trillium breeder in the NZ market .

Secondly ---I can't locate the postings on Trillium L however I can remember that Stewart Preston ,(He was the 'Mr Trillium' in NZ back in those days ),ceased exporting cut Trillium flowers to the USA after 9/11 because of the increased freight costs/delays involved with inspections .

He also offered 100 double grandiflorum divisions on this list to be sent overseas ,if I remember correctly ,at $30 US plus freight ,(although at that time he was capable of receiving a lot more 'dosh' locally).....I also remember responses from overseas that the combined price appeared a bit high and I don't know if anyone ever took up on the offer so the price to freight plants overseas would be a factor .

So that leaves enthusiast  NZ growers ,a few of whom have a small ‘ backyard ‘nursery as a side line . Of course there is always going to be a wish list for a number of the many unusual colour patterns of Trilliums being grown here in NZ .Unfortunately only a small number of these become available from time to time from divisions and are quickly snapped up by NZrs .

Thirdly --- The frequency of some of these colour patterns occurring from seed in NZ ,coupled with the fact that seed is actively shared around is maybe another reason why there doesn’t seem to be a need over here to make deliberate controlled crosses …..


From a personal point of view it is interesting that once I started to grow a number of the Eastern species such as T.erectum , flexipes , rugelii and sulcatum mixed all together in beds I then started to get some colour patterns in subsequent seedlings similar to what Fred Case commented on in his 'publication' as a result of his “controlled hand pollinated “ and “spontaneous garden hybrids” ….which he had also observed in the wild where some of these species overlapped, so although I've never seen Trilliums and their variability in the wild I'm more than happy to call some of my Eastern seedlings ,hybrids although trying to ‘pin down’ their parents is not without difficulty.   

I’ll post a collage of recent examples of what I have of these that could be considered garden hybrids …..as well as a photo of a plant that was gifted from a NZ friend  of a spontaneous seedling that could just about be Cases' 'twin' plant that he shows in plate 10, as T.erectum x T.flexipes .

The Westerners are a bit more problematic for me because I have never seen any written account of any experiments on them along the lines of Cases’ findings  above however my presumption is that if you were to make controlled crosses between Western sessile species that overlap then hybrids will appear. 

 As an example I have seen.raised, as well as purchased,chance garden variations of coloured plants ,red ,maroon and also purple ,all with a white based flare that have a resemblence to what Case suggests are T.chloro x albidum, plate 43.I’ll also show some examples.

Also another photo of mine ,a seedling Westerner that has very narrow petals ,similar to what is found in T angustipetalum however with a significant cream basal flare …….

This leads me then to thoughts on the NZ Trillium seed gene pool and why there appears to be such an occurrence of wonderful plants raised from seed here, (back in Nov last I posted a collage of that Trillium diversity as an example),that I have not seen recorded in the wild despite the huge variability in the Western sessiles .….. I suspect, but have no evidence other than my comments/experiences above, that growing ‘compatible’ species close together in a garden situation has resulted in hybrid blood here and when that seed eventually flowers and is again exposed to other hybrids along the way, the potential for the frequency of different colour/ leaf forms is increased.

It would be great to have a 'history of the origin' for plants as Russ has commented  ,to help identify what is a hybrid bearing in mind however that if left to nature the plants and pollinators ,(whatever they are !), don't read the books ...smile.


A little bit about 'sharing' plants overseas .

I have sent Trillium divisions to Ireland ,Sweden and England however once some of my plants started showing fungal issues that have been recorded previously overseas in some Westerners I thought it prudent to stop immediately. 

However I still continue to 'share' Trillium rivale plants, which in my garden appear free of any disease, with overseas contacts on a very small scale in return for seed swaps.

Previously Stewart P. sent plants overseas to such people as Janis Ruksans in Latvia.

Hopefully some of the List members will find some of my ‘long winded’ musings and experiences valid , however I’m no expert so I could be well off the mark ! …..Smile.


As an aside it is lovely to see Edith Dusek's name mentioned in a recent link regarding double grandiflorums .I understand she gardened in Graham ,Washington and supplied Stewart P. with seed, unfortunately my memory is a bit hazy and I cannot remember what he told me regarding whether the seeds were wild collected or harvested from her own garden,(or a combination of both)……. 

A search of her name on the internet revels a number of plants that bear her name,she must have a wonderful gardener to have received such an honour. 

Cheers Dave.

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