Hybrid Plants

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Botany: Hybrids

By ACS Bookshop UK on October 3, 2018 in Horticulture / Gardening | comments

Hybrids are common between plant species.  They are much more common than hybrids between animal species.

Normally plant hybrids are between species in the same genus.  For example, the English bluebell freely interbreeds with the Spanish bluebell.  Charles Darwin proposed that this means that these two species are the results of populations of plants of the same species that were separated during the last Ice Ages.  Once isolated from each other, they were able to evolve in slightly different directions.  Similar isolations followed by the emergence of new species are often seen on archipelagos such as the Canary Islands and the Galapagos.

Gardeners often reunite closely related species and create great new garden plants.  Hybrids between closely related species in the same genus is one thing.  Hybrids between species in different genera, bi-generic hybrids, are something else.  The Leyland cypress was probably the most infamous of these botanical mongrels.  A new one, x Amarine tubergenii ‘Anastasia’, has been created between two South African bulbs: Nerine tubergenii and Amaryllis belladonna.  The amaryllis has “previous” in this area, hybridising with a few other species in other genera.

Eventually most proposed bi-generic hybrids have now turned out to be regular hybrids between species in the same genus that the botanists have not looked at closely enough.  Time will tell with this new hybrid.

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