Pacific Plant Promotions: Report on the Premiere Offering

By: Kathy Musial

Kathy Musial is curator of living collections at the Huntington Botanical Gardens where she has worked for more than twenty-five…

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Deppea splendens. Author’s photograph

Deppea splendens. Author’s photograph

The premiere offering of Pacific Plant Promotions occurred from May to July 2000, with 164 orders filled. In the Pacific Horticulture article (April 2000), I noted that seven clones of Deppea splendens had so far been located, representing the known extant germplasm. After that article was published, it was decided to give each clone a cultivar name to keep better track of them. In keeping with deppea’s origin, we chose Spanish given names, each beginning with a successive letter of the alphabet corresponding to the informal clonal designation that had already been assigned. The plants distributed as part of this offering were the three Huntington Botanical Gardens clones, now called D. splendens ‘Agustin’, ‘Bartolome’, and ‘Cristobal’. The remaining clones have not yet been named.

We have also since learned that pollination experiments conducted at the Mildred E Mathias Botanical Garden at UCLA and at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden were successful. The conclusion from the initial experiments at Rancho Santa Ana is that the plants are not self-compatible; subsequent cross-pollinations (between clones) succeeded. The Mathias Garden reported that two clones were crossed and the first seed capsules appeared twenty weeks later on both parent plants. The seeds turned out to be viable, with ninety-eight percent germination. With this success, ex-situ conservation (away from the natural habitat) is more promising, so plans at the Mathias Garden are to establish a breeding program to expand the existing gene pool. Furthermore, recent conversations with Robert Bye, Director of the Botanical Garden of the National University of Mexico, may lead to the reintroduction of Deppea splendens into its native habitat in southern Mexico.

We want to thank all who participated in this first step in our distribution program. Your comments are always appreciated; we’re still on the learning curve and will continue to make improvements in the program as needed. With future offerings, a culture sheet will be provided, and we hope shipping will be smoother. Deppea, unfortunately, turned out to be more fragile than anticipated, so shipping will require more careful attention with future offerings. Beginning with July 2001, we will also shift the two annual offerings to the January and July issues of Pacific Horticulture, so that plants will be available and shipped during the more favorable spring and fall seasons. Watch for our third offering, again from the collections at the Huntington Botanical Gardens, in the April 2001 issue of Pacific Horticulture.