Phrag. x roethianum? Phrag. Rio Mira?

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Ernieg96

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How does one differentiate between these two hybrids of P. hirtzii and P. longifolium? P. x roethianum occurs naturally, so does that mean only plants descending from wild populations can be called P. x roethianum? And plants with a P. hirtzii parent and a P. longifolium parent bred in captivity would be P. Rio Mira, as well as all subsequent (F2, F3, etc) generations?
 

littlefrog

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Couldn't tell you how they are different. But yes to the other parts. A natural hybrid isn't necessarily an F1 - although they could potentially be sterile, it is more likely that as a wild population they interbreed with other x roethianum, as well as back to either 'parent' species. Technically, it is probably _more_ likely they would interbreed with either parent species. Given time, they could evolve into a new species (depending on your taxonomic take, they could already be a new species...). What sets them apart is what sets every other species apart- they look like they are intermediate between two other species. Plants that look more like hirtzii would be classified in nature as hirtzii, even if they had some longifolium genetics. And vice versa.

The nature of the RHS registration system (another equally arbitrary way of classifying things) would have P. Rio Mira x P. Rio Mira = P. Rio Mira, no matter how many times you do it. That is just the way it is set up. P. Rio Mira x longifolium would get another name. It also trusts that people are keeping track of their crosses, and that they are starting with properly named studs. This is a pretty big assumption, but better than nothing.

Which way is better? Neither way. Nature doesn't classify, humans do. It is an artifact of academic training and history. RHS isn't a taxonomic authority, it is a horticultural authority. Nature couldn't care less what we call something. Humans get into arguments about it. It is what we do best.
 

Ernieg96

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Couldn't tell you how they are different. But yes to the other parts. A natural hybrid isn't necessarily an F1 - although they could potentially be sterile, it is more likely that as a wild population they interbreed with other x roethianum, as well as back to either 'parent' species. Technically, it is probably _more_ likely they would interbreed with either parent species. Given time, they could evolve into a new species (depending on your taxonomic take, they could already be a new species...). What sets them apart is what sets every other species apart- they look like they are intermediate between two other species. Plants that look more like hirtzii would be classified in nature as hirtzii, even if they had some longifolium genetics. And vice versa.

The nature of the RHS registration system (another equally arbitrary way of classifying things) would have P. Rio Mira x P. Rio Mira = P. Rio Mira, no matter how many times you do it. That is just the way it is set up. P. Rio Mira x longifolium would get another name. It also trusts that people are keeping track of their crosses, and that they are starting with properly named studs. This is a pretty big assumption, but better than nothing.

Which way is better? Neither way. Nature doesn't classify, humans do. It is an artifact of academic training and history. RHS isn't a taxonomic authority, it is a horticultural authority. Nature couldn't care less what we call something. Humans get into arguments about it. It is what we do best.
Thanks for the thorough response. Hybrid zones in nature have always fascinated me, and watching the lumpers and splitters go at it with each other is always fun! The reason I asked about x roethianum/Rio Mira is that I learned recently that x roethianum gives off a slightly honey-like scent, and was wondering if Rio Mira would also produce this scent or if that is unique to the population of plants designated as x roethianum.
 

littlefrog

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Great question! I don't know the answer, but it would be really interesting to know.

If that scent is unique to roethianum then that might argue that it has a specific pollinator that it attracts. Which (depending on what your definition of species is, there are at least 30 used in different contexts) would suggest it is a 'real' species. I'm _not_ a taxonomist, but it is the kind of thing I'd spend 30 minutes in biology class discussing. Not because the students care, but I think it is cool. :)

I've found scent in phrags to be... frustrating. Not many species with much of a scent, and some plants that I think smell nice other people can't smell at all. For example, schlimii smells like raspberries. To me. And about 50% of the people I tested it on. But not every clone. So there is person to person variation as well as clone to clone variation.
 

MaxC

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Thank you for asking these questions. I think there's a lot of layers to this and Rob hit on some great points and this touches on a post recently by @eds . I am teaching my daughter words and every page has pictures of animals, etc. When we are taught what a zebra looks like it has stripes as a distinguishing feature to differentiate it from other animals. Is a zebra still a zebra if it has no stripes? Maybe this basic way we learn to communicate runs afoul of our current system of classification and is possibly the reason we feel a need to rectify.

There was a rather interesting discourse over P. x brasiliense some years ago about registering crosses using P. x brasiliense and the ethics involved. Since there was no consensus at the time over it being a species/natural hybrid/man-made hybrid but was accepted as species by the RHS for a time it would be ethically fair to register crosses during that period of time. Now P. x brasiliense falls into the natural hybrid category but since there is still to this day no proof of it being found in situ and same goes for P. (x) tetzlaffianum, which could mean that they were man-made hybrids or that all examples have been removed from the wild, or nobody has found them still, how should these species/hybrids be treated? If you were a botanist what value would they have scientifically in their current state? Probably not a lot, but could be the motivation for an effort to find them in nature or prove they are man-made hybrids. Now as a horticulturist it is a completely different story, both plants are pleasant on the eyes and using them to produce hybrids results in desired qualities (holding multiple flowers and branching, yes please!). I think it is safe say we all play in the Horticultural Society sandbox and much of what happens involves an honor system that Rob discussed.

I have a P. Jason Fischer that likely had the seed parent reversed and looks a lot different, much to it's determent, but it's a P. Jason Fischer. Will it win any awards, nope. Is it pretty, in it's own way, sure. Would I rather have a better looking one able to garner awards, you bet. The vendor even offered to send me a replacement when I sent him a picture of the blooms. Point being once we get into crossing plants it gets a little complicated even at an F1 and can get very complicated. Is a P. Sedenii still a P. Sedenii if you use a P. longifolium frma. album or should it have a different name? Especially since the progeny produced will not be uniform in color. By having access to AOS or RHS awards we end up self policing to an extent.

Since we are simply (;)) trying to grow beautiful plants that produce stunning blooms how far do we wade in to the muck? Some of us care about the history of a plant, clones used in a cross, etc. but what if it was a cross with an awarded division that was incorrectly awarded to the wrong species? Does that detract from the beauty or potential for an award? Say a P. caricinum cross that had a P. pearcei parent but has always carried a label of P. caricinum for 30 years. Should it have it's awards voided? I am not sure there is a mechanic to do this even if you are the person the award was presented to for an awarded plant. Let alone a plant that has multiple divisions in circulation or has been used extensively in breeding. Would most sane people give back a FCC or an AM award?

I think until someone puts forth a unified classification based on extensive scientific research for all known species and natural hybrids there will always be room for a subjective psychological/ethical/moral debate. If and when someone does then we can truly tackle crosses and a better way to provide useful taxonomic system to others. For the non-purist and general horticulturist this current system seems to work relatively well most of the time.
 
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Ray

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Well, in most of horticulture, a man-made version of a hybrid that occurs naturally is usually designated with a capital-, rather than lower-case “x” - Phrag. X roethianum.

The fact that the RHS registrar allowed registration of it with another name suggests to me that they didn’t know there was a natural hybrid, or they decided to go their own way.
 

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