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Hello fellow epi fans, been intending on weighing in here, but been immersed in home renovations. Just a quick summary, more later:1. I agree with Gabriela, I believe E. davidii EMR 4125 (which has strong incurved well-developed spurs) is confused in horticultural commerce with ecalcaratum. I saw such confusion recently with plants labels as platypetalum which were instead ecalcaratum.
2. I do not agree that ecalcaratum and davidii are one and the same. Nor do I think it is prudent to label a plant that has the traits of ecalcaratum (variably shaped to absent vestigial spurs) as E. davidii "forma spurless", this is inviting more confusion.
3. I will ask Darrell on his thoughts on this.
4. I will show a 2nd gen davidii hybrid that starts going nearly spurless and looking "ecalcaratum-esque".
5. Wim, I'd like to discuss your Liliputian results (looking good, but would like to see whole plant)
6. Darrell stopped by and showed me a mystery Epimedium (yet another Chen Yi one) that is essentially a rhizomatous davidii look-alike with very narrow floral parts (long very slender spurs) with very long stolons, which he believes is probably an Epimedium sp. nova.
Wim, I'm most interested in seeing whole plant views of your Alpha & Beta offspring from Liliputian, to see the plant habit and relative size of flowers to the plant.As you know, I've been working with 'Liliputian' to breed for smaller epimediums. In the long run, I've only made a few selections because I find some traits to be variable year to year, looking for more reliable performers. My best selection so far stands out because of the following: extra compact small size, tiny leaflets, profuse flowers like a miniaturized pink grandiflorum sitting above the foliage. Probably will be tough to propagate as the rhizomes seems congested.This is from 2010 seed on Liliputian (both OP and some hand pollination), selected in 2014 for further eval.The last photo is at early flowering, my pointed finger for scale comparison with tiny leaflets.
Back to davidii hybrids:1. start with these two E. davidii EMR hybrids, on the right is one that looks like classic davidii, but is much better flowering (more prolific) than the EMR form. One the left is a typical result of davidii hybrids, vey small yellow and red or yellow and pink flowers, this one has pinkish-red sepals. 2. same two davidii hybrids in a previous year, the flower difference can be seen better here.3. two hybrids that resulted from growing OP seed of the small-flowered yellow and pink davidii hybrid. Wow, look at what shows up, on the left is a very nice davidii type hybrid but with enlarges white sepals (on the left), but on the right is what looks like E. campanulatum (however that species doesn't have spurs, not even rudimentary ones), but it has vestigial spurs, and not a full set of spur "bumps", sometimes just 1 vestigial spur. Looks more akin to ecalcaratum (although it's a species I do not have, I do have campanulatum).4. closer view of the 2nd gen davidii hybrid that's starting to look like ecalcaratum
Let's have a look....Alpha is a cross between Lilliputian as seed parent and E. grandiflorum 'Mizuhomaru' as pollen parent. 8 cm in tall in flower but 16 cm tall after the second flush. The only things I like are the flower colour and the colour of the young leaves. It grows too tall and flowers under the leaves, which is a big no-no for me. Will see what it does next year though.Forgot to add, that the flowers, when just opening are a lot paler, they go darker as the flower gets older (after +/- 2 days)...see pic of young flowers attached.
Thanks Wim for the commentary on your crosses, you have clear hybridization objectives, and honest assessment of the resulting hybrid characteristics, both pros and cons. How unusual that Alpha starts out light color then deepens with age, one would think it behaves the other way around. That's a cool trait. I would not have occurred to me to use grandiflorum 'Mizuhomura', but perhaps to exploit the uniquely incurved spurs on that interesting cultivar. It's fascinating to see that your Alpha has indeed inherited the tightly incurved spurs. Too bad the flowers are nestled among the leaves.
By the way, I only added Mizuhomaru a couple years ago, but have a hybrid from several years previous that has strongly incurved spurs, not sure where the characteristic came from, I attach 3 photos.
Your Beta has really good flower form and color (influence of epsteinii is apparent), but I see what you're saying about the yellowish foliage color. Epimedium epsteinii does not have the will to flourish here, it barely survives, wish I knew how to please it, I'm thinking it might not be the most hardy of species.
I like that you're putting equal weight in your evaluation process on flowers and foliage, the foliage aspect is so important, your Gamma & Delta show this, thanks for showing the foliage. I do not know either of the grandiflorum cultivars you used, looked up 'Mukawa Genpei' and see that it has that strong pink-white contrast like 'Princess Susan' (I attribute the pollen parent in my liliputian "mini pink grandi" to 'Princess Susan', I use it a lot because it tends to rebloom and I like the flower colors). I've not heard of 'White Winkie' and 'Prince Shrimp', will look them up. Unfortunate name choice with "White Winkie', google winky or winkies to see what I mean :-;
Three photos of a hybrid I selected in 2013 as at least pretty enough to get planted out in my garden, then I re-selected it in 2015 for it's floriferous character and the strong incurved spurs, then in 2016 decided it was good enough to name, because it is so dang floriferous. Has nothing to do with Liliputian, just a side note from your mention of Mizuhomaru.
And now for something completely different, this is from OP seed of E. grandiflorum f. flavescens 'Chocolate Lace'. It has these uniquely puckered oval leaves, dark chocolate color in spring, but still stands out when all green in summer because of the unique leaf shape and "leaf build". I made this selection last year, 2016, it will remain under evaluation for another couple years, and I may use it for further hybridization for better flowering. I have nicknamed it 'Chocolate Morsels'.
When I initially started working with 'Liliputian', I single out some seedlings and planted them out to see how they express themselves growth-wise over several years. 1. One in particular was outrageously floriferous, but it doesn't flower as prolifically every year, thus not to be named.2. Image #2 shows an area planted with selected Liliputian progeny, notice the dark color leaves on one of them, and the ultra floriferous one compared to others.3. Image #3 shows one that I like (but not to be named), with bronzed foliage in good leaf build, and perky white flowers well above the foliage, reminds me of youngianum 'Azusa' in general disposition.4. Epimedium x youngianum 'Liliputian'
Aha, I found my earlier photos when I first realized the "mini pink grandiflorum" was something rather different, I include two photos that really show the scale difference, the epimedium plants on either side have normal sized leaves. From 2014.