Wednesday, 28 November 2007

More polyploidy in Cannas

Fertility
Fertility in Cannas is affected by the chromosone number, and the following table and comments were published by Dr Khoshoo following his research in India in the early 1960's.


Tillering capability
As a rule, triploid cultivars tend to have fewer tillers (underground rhizomes) than diploids, although 'Roi Humbert'', a triploid, is an exception. In general, the diploid cultivars have rather large but relatively narrow leaves in comparison to the triploids. The leaves in triploids are thicker than in diploids.

Flowering Period
Being a perennial plant, Canna has the potential to bloom throughout the year, however, under the hot subtropical conditions, as found in its native environment, most of the elemental species and cultivars are unable to bear the heat in the hottest month or so. For the remaining period, weather conditions being suitable, both elemental species and cultivars show a variable response. In the main diploid cultivars will flower for nine months while triploids will flower for 10 months. Tetraploids have the potential to flower for longer periods.

Flowers
Canna 'Wintzer's Colossal', photo courtesy of Malcolm McFarland

In the main, the sterile cultivars have larger flowers than those that are fertile. Triploids in general have larger flowers than diploids. The largest triploid, C. 'Wintzer's Colossal', has a flower diameter of 21cm, not quite as large as the early nurserymen alleged in their catalogues, but nevertheless a large flower.

Conclusions
The phenotype transformation from wild to the cultivated condition has involved reduction in plant height, change in form and colour of leaves, spikes well above the foliage, free flowering, erect flowers, increase in flower size and colour diversity, increase in thickness of flower petals, durability of flowers and self-shedding capability.

Diploids
Studies have shown that over 80% of cultivars are diploid. The majority of these belong to the Crozy group which are rather small in size but produce an abundance of relatively large flowers.

Triploids
Triploids make up about 15% of cultivars and the properties of them varies dependant on their horticultural species (x generalis and x orchoides). The use of those garden species names is pertinent, as Dr Khoshoo was applying L. H. Baileys' definitions to them.

Tetraploids
Stray tetraploids have occurred, but the slow growth and lack of fertility has meant that these are freak exceptions.

It is speculated that triploidy appears to be the highest effective level of polyploidy achieved in ornamental canna. This is also true of cannas yielding starch (C. discolor). Perhaps cell size increases to an optimum at this level and higher levels, as well as aneuploid progeny, are not possible because of total seed sterility. Therefore, unlike hyacinth, also a vegatively reproduced ornamental, unbalanced progeny is not possible with canna.

References

Origin and Evolution of Cultivated Cannas, T.N. Khoshoo and I. Guha (Neé Mukherjee)


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