Friday, June 15, 2007

The "Ugly Duckling"

Remember the Hans Christian Anderson tale of the Ugly Duckling, in which a cygnet finds itself somehow in with a brood of ducklings, all of whom mock the cygnet for being ugly? And then one day the cygnet grows up to be a beautiful swan, and all the ducks envy it.

Well, I have a plant from a batch of P mlokosewitschii seed which performs a similar feat each year.

Here it is in bud. A rather humdrum, grubby colour showing. (Ignore the flash of pink on the right margin!)

And here it is the next day, just opened.

Same day, side view of both the flowers the plant had this year. The one on the right is a bit further along than the other. In the background, some normal mlokosewitschii's.

Day 3, and we're starting to see something a bit more exciting developing.

Day 3 still, side view.

And a close-up of the right-hand flower.

Then the weather intervened in the form of a heavy rain and wind-storm overnight. Wretched timing...

So this is day 4, and the right-hand flower has been destroyed.

But the weather was not done yet, and overnight another storm or the same one backtracking (which happens in NS more than one would care to imagine) attacked my peonies.

Day 5, the ragged remnants.

Usually I can expect a flower to last at least a week before it falls apart... Heck, the pollen sacks hadn't even opened yet!

I presume this plant to be a hybrid due to the fading red tones, but for all I know it might also be a natural variation within the species. Foliage is purely mlokosewitschii in form. The seedlot from which it (and the proper yellow one behind it) was grown was collected from my own plant, open-pollinated in my garden with the possibility of P anomala or P veitchii pollen getting involved.


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Leo

I seem to recall that Mloko is regarded as notoriously "promiscuous", and will accept pollen from just about any Peony. That is just a theory, or my vague memory of a theory.
Is this the plant which gets named as P. x chamaeleon, or does that have a different origin? I think Chamaeleon is not regarded a "good name", just a catch all name for a group of hybrids which do arise spontaneously.
Nice plant, none the less - with or without a name.


Leo said...

Thanks Denis,
I've had a look around at P. x chamaeleon and P. x chameleon and this is not an easy question (or at least, answering the question isn't easy!). Technically a named cross like that has to be of specific parentage (Halda says mloko with daurica (syn. triternata etc)) but it seems that in common useage it is being used to mean mloko with anything pink/red. And is chameleon the same as chamaeleon? maybe, maybe not. Normally reputable plantsmen are using the modern spelling instead of the older or more latinate form. I found only a few useful pics of it on the web, at Carsten's site, and mine bears no resemblance to his; but maybe that is the whole point of the "chamaeleon" moniker. Conclusion: inconclusive...