Arisaema Hybridization: How to Cross Pollinate Arisaema

Arisaema Hybridization: How to Cross Pollinate Arisaema

with Tony Avent

By Published January 23, 2023 Updated March 13, 2023

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In this video, Tony Avent shows how to tell the difference between male and female flowers of arisaema (Jack-in-the-pulpit) and how to cross pollinate them. The arisaema mentioned in this video are Arisaema ringens and Arisaema triphyllum.

Video Transcript:

Okay, today it's time for breeding Jack-in-the-pulpits or cobra lilies and this is something we do to create new varieties as we go out and we cross the male and the female. Arisaema provide a little different difficulty than other plants because arisaemas can be male one year, female the next year, male the next year female the next year so the sort of the original transsexual plants. You never can tell, until you go out there, what you're going to have each year, so let's look.

Arisaema can be male one year, female the next

So, the first thing we're looking for is a male to get the pollen. So, we look inside each flower and when you do this enough you can actually begin to tell before you look. There's a female, and I'm going to show you in a minute what I'm looking at, and there's a male. Okay, so the first thing we do is dissect the flower. So, here's my male, so we're going to come in and get rid of all this, because all this part does is just create a place for insects to come. Okay, so we've got rid of that so all we have left now is the sexual organ.

Alright, so if you look down in here, okay see, I'm already spilling pollen, see that's the purple. In some cases, in most arisaema it's white, but on Arisaema ringens the pollen is purple. And then I'm going to dump it out in my hand, so there's all my arisaema sperm. So that's ready to go.

Now, to tell the difference between a female, I just happened to have looked, and this is a female. Now normally I would save all these but just for demonstration we're going to show the difference between the male and the female. So, when you peel it back at the bottom let's compare here, male and female, you see the difference. So, the female is the green one, that's receptive, that's where the pollen goes, and then on the right, these are the male parts and that produces the pollen. So, this would only be good if I left it on the plant and I put other pollen on there. So, I've got my plant now got my pollen dumped out and now let's go find a female of a different type. Now if I wanted to self this, I would have crossed the two together. I would take this pollen and put it on that female but I'm looking to actually make a hybrid today. So, let's go find a willing female.

When they're young and weak, they're males

We've got a female here so let's check let's go in here and look and see what we've got and sure enough, that's a female. So, I'm going to strip away now all the pretty parts that we as humans like.

Now generally the way you can tell - arisaemas, when they're young and weak, they're males. Only when they become strong enough to reproduce, do they switch over and become females. And then if they set seed that takes so much energy the next year they'll revert back to a weak male. So, we've got our... get the leaves out of the way, now this is already a cross that we made years earlier using the North Carolina native Arisaema triphyllum and Arisaema ringens, the one we just looked at from the from China with the hood. So, this is a hybrid itself so we're going to put an extra dose of ringens back on it and we want to give it two parts ringen and one part triphyllum and see what that looks like. Now very few people do arisaema crosses so this is... this is all pretty much new territory. So, we take a brush, and these are good art brushes, and we just brush up some pollen and then we just gradually dust it on. If you're not careful, it'll all blow away. And what you want to do is cover all the stamens all the way around. If you just cover them on one side, it'll often abort. So, it's like painting a picture, so we go all the way around top to bottom and just paint all that pollen on.

Everything's got to be just right to be able to make it happen

And in between each cross you want to clean your brush. You can do that with water or alcohol, that'll get rid of it. So, get all that good pollen, there is a lot of pollen. Many times, you'll have just a tiny bit of pollen and it's very frustrating because you come out you think you're going to make a great cross and either the male is not ready, or the female is not ready, or it's rained and the pollens no good. So, everything's got to be just right to be able to make that happen. And so, once we get that we will then make a tag and we use these very common tags you can buy these online. And we will write on there what we've crossed, and the key is to use a waterproof, light proof pen. It's no good if you use a pen that's waterproof if it's not light proof. Okay so we use deco color paint pens, these are made out of paint, and I've about worn this one out, extra fine one. So, this is our cross of triphyllum so we're going to write triphyllum and this is particular one that we're going to give initials to. We've already crossed it on ringens and then we're going to cross it again and we put ringens and then we always like to put the dates on there. So, today's end of March so we put our dates and then we hang that so that we know this has been done. So, it doesn't matter what comes by after that. once that pollen tube starts to grow you've got your cross. and then what will happen we'll watch this for the next several months, it depends on what the parent is. Ringens typically doesn't mature until October, some will mature as early as July, so each one is very different.

But let's look at one we did a couple weeks ago and see what that's going to look like as it develops.

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