March 18, 2011

Sinningia 'Tomorrow'

Part of a series highlighting some plants shown at The Gesneriad Society's 2009 Convention in Washington, D.C.

Entry No. 164, Sinningia 'Tomorrow', exhibited by Peter Shalit.
Commentary by Kyoko Imai.

This is by far the entry I remember most:

Sinningia 'Tomorrow'

It has a couple of traits I happen to like - a stocky habit and a visible tuber. An additional characteristics that make this plant stand out are the upward-facing flowers, which I think are just perfect for a plant that caters to humans - easy to see, easy to pollinate, and a nice profile:

Sinningia 'Tomorrow'

The coloring of the flower and the markings inside are also distinctive:

Sinningia 'Tomorrow'

After finding only limited information on the plant online (here and here), I asked Peter about the plant. It turns out we were very lucky to see this in bloom in Silver Spring, MD. As you can see below, it can have a long dormancy and has a determinate flowering habit.  Also, it traveled a long way to that Convention - we can add to the human-friendly characteristics the ability to travel on its side for several hours at a time!

Here's a summary of Peter Shalit's commentary on this plant:
The parentage is:

  S. 'Bewitched' x (((S. cardinalis 'Skydiver' x S. bulbosa) x self) x S. conspicua)

The {(S. cardinalis 'Skydiver' x S. bulbosa) x self} was a white peloric selection.

I grew S. 'Tomorrow' for several years before naming it. After entering it in local shows several times I decided to release it. It is far from perfect but is pretty unique so I felt others might want to grow it.

Its positive features:
  • flowers are very peloric (stand straight up) and the limb is flared;
  • very interesting and unique flower coloration: orange on the outside, purple on the inside
  • nice stiff stocky habit
  • makes a nice interesting tuber
  • very long-lived; the plant at the 2009 Convention was at least 10 years old
But its negative features:
  • often a long dormancy period
  • not that floriferous
  • determinate; each crown makes 8-10 flowers max and that's it
Neutral features:
  • it makes no pollen - i.e. is male-sterile  (this can be an advantage when hybridizing)
Sinningia 'Tomorrow' is heterozygous for the yellow-flowered gene from the Sinningia conspicua.  [What is the significance of this little sentence?  Read on.]

About the yellow flower color: in my experience the yellow color of S. conspicua is a standard recessive gene. So: S. conspicua x 'Bewitched' = all offspring have orange flowers. The yellow gene is there but the effect is hidden by the dominant gene for orange flowers. Then if this is backcrossed to S. conspicua, 50% have yellow flowers. They all get one copy of the yellow gene from S. conspicua, but only half of them get the yellow gene from the other parent; and to have yellow flowers, they need two copies of the yellow gene. Or if it were selfed, 25% would have yellow flowers.

With Sinningia 'Tomorrow', when crossed back to S. conspicua, half the progeny have yellow flowers. It is pollen-sterile so does not self, but is female-fertile. I have hybrids derived from it that have yellow peloric flowers and am working further with those for more colors, larger flowers, more flared limb, more floriferous, less dormancy, propagate by seed. The peloric gene is recessive which makes it a little harder.

I cannot thank Peter enough for the detailed responses to my questions, and for sharing some of the care and planning that goes into a hybridizing program.

A couple of further reading suggestions: