Wednesday, September 29, 2010

You Never Know What You Are Going to Get

Plant genetics can take some surprising turns, even when one doesn't crossbreed plants on purpose. A few days ago, I posted a picture of the lovely Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, (New England Aster) that popped up in my garden unbidden last year.

Volunteer Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

Well, I collected some seeds from that plant last fall. They produced several seedlings, only one of which I managed to plant in my garden (or so I thought).

The result was this:

Blue and pink Asters. In person, the flowers on the right are a deeper shade of pink without the hint of purple seen in the photograph.

As far as I can tell, this is only one plant with two different colored flowers, though it is remotely possible that there were actually two seedlings that came up too close together to notice (or separate) when I was planting them. While I would find the former really cool, (and really surprising) if there are indeed two plants here, the all seeds still all came from the one blue-flowered original. Asters are much beloved by bees and butterflies, so I'm sure that open-pollination contributed some genetic diversity to my plants.

At any rate, I'm going to collect seeds again this year, from the original plant, and from the both the blue and pink flowers here, and see what happens.


College Gardener said...

Very pretty. I had a volunteer New England aster come up in my parents' garden in Michigan this year and at first I had no idea what it might be. We let it grow, though, and it has flourished, rewarding us a with an impressive show of pale purple flowers when most other plants in that part of the garden were well past their prime.

Julie said...

What a beautiful surprise! I love what nature can do! Amazing.