The acaule project

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tnyr5

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Location
Pennsylvania, USA
I've been watching a large stand of Cyp. acaule grow on the mountain behind my town for several years now. I've always been content to let nature take its course, but thanks to a really nasty winter last year and some jerk gouging a 4-wheeler path right through the middle of the colony, their numbers are dwindling. So, this year, I've decided to give them a little help. I figured it's better to do outcrosses than self/sib the few remaining plants, so I searched around at locations far from "my" colony.
Interesting observations: I've found them in two habitats.
The typical place I find them is near the summits of our low (barely 1000ft) mountains, in very sandy (looks to be finely crushed granite) soil with a bit of forest loam. Mountain laurel and lowbush blueberry are good indicator plants, as these higher elevation clones don't seem to prefer certain trees as much as the next ones. These are almost always single growths. Out of the thousands of this type I've seen, only once did I find a three-flowered clump. For the purposes of this post, let's call these type 1.
The second type grows near the base of mountains in rich woodland and prefers to grow under/near conifers, especially fir trees. This type seems to clump much more readily, and I've found plants with up to six flowers. We'll call these type 2.

Here's what I chose for pollen parents (all measurements in cm)
#1 (type 2) apologies for the blur, damn mosquitoes
20150517_185823.jpg

Ns 8.2 x 8.2
DS 1.5
Synsepal 1.8
PW 1.2
Pouch 5.2v x 2.6h
I picked this clone for its wide petal spread, nice pouch color, and relatively vertical dorsal.

#2 (type 2)
20150517_194555.jpg

Ns 7.6 x 8.1
DS 2.0
Synsepal 2.2
PW 1.3
Pouch 6.5v x 3.8h
Don't let the measurements fool you, this is a massive, intensely colored flower. This one was a clump of 3 stems.
#3 (type 1)
20150520_174831.jpg

Ns 7.1 x 8.8
DS 1.2
PW .9
Synsepal 1.5
Pouch 5.5v x 2.5h
This flower is interesting, it's smaller and paler than the other two, but of all the Cyp. acaule I've ever seen, this is the first one I can call "flat". The dorsal sticks straight up and is on the same plane as the petals.

And, just for fun, here are some of the big clumps I saw. I passed them over for pollen because the flowers were inferior.
20150517_193220.jpg

That's it for now. I'll update when I choose the pod parents.
 
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Interesting to see the variations, Tony! I'm guessing that the fair amount of variation is due to the environmental differences.

I'm not sure what you mean by "better" or "help", but are you trying to get seeds and grow them for yourself? From the biological point of view, plants can show lots of local adaptation. There are studies showing that the adaptation could occur within a couple hundred meters. So breaking the local adaptation by introducing genes from different populations could be unwelcome (by plants' view point).
 
Brings back memories of visiting large populations of these at Franconia Notch in NH. It really is an impressive site. I recall seeing darker than average ones and some albas.
I would imagine they are still there in good numbers.
I also chose to pollinate some. I couldn't help it.
 
Interesting to see the variations, Tony! I'm guessing that the fair amount of variation is due to the environmental differences.

I'm not sure what you mean by "better" or "help", but are you trying to get seeds and grow them for yourself? From the biological point of view, plants can show lots of local adaptation. There are studies showing that the adaptation could occur within a couple hundred meters. So breaking the local adaptation by introducing genes from different populations could be unwelcome (by plants' view point).
Hrmm, interesting thought; I hadn't pondered that. Seeing as how I've already got the pollen, I'll use it, but I'll cross a few of the remaining plants to each other as well. Better safe than sorry.
If I were going to make a cross to send to a lab and grow for myself, I'd cross #2 with #3, but I don't know how I feel about taking seed pods from the wild.

Even if I could, this is central PA, where people will steal your flowers off your front porch during church on a high holy day. They'd just drive right over it.

What a sight!
If only I had your camera skills, Dot!

Brings back memories of visiting large populations of these at Franconia Notch in NH. It really is an impressive site. I recall seeing darker than average ones and some albas.
I would imagine they are still there in good numbers.
I also chose to pollinate some. I couldn't help it.
Neither could I lol. I've never yet seen an alba, totally jealous!
 
Here's the results of my pollinating trip. I found a couple very interesting flowers tucked away in a spot I'd never explored.
#4
20150523_144623.jpg

NS 8cmH x 9V
crossed with #2

#5
20150523_151301.jpg
This is one of three HUGE flowers I found. All 3 were similar. I crossed the other two with each other.
NS 10.2cm h x 8.4cm v
This was crossed with #1

#6 Unfortunately, my jittery hands broke the flower off the stem while pollinating. Still, it was the darkest flower I found by far, & worth seeing. I put the pollen on other dark flowers nearby.
20150523_152108.jpg


#7
20150514_183455.jpg

The only clumping plant I can find in this population.
Smaller, ns about 7 x 8, but pretty.
Crossed with #3.

Now, for the interesting ones that I promised.
I found two very odd-colored flowers growing in the middle of the regular ones.
20150523_151138.jpg

20150523_153231.jpg
They are more similar than the pics show; it was hard to work with the lighting.

Both of these have very pale pouches and really pretty gold colored sepals & petals. They're also smaller in stature than the normal ones, and the leaves are a noticeably lighter shade of green. I selfed the bigger one. That could be interesting!
 

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