Plant Life, pp. 85-87 (1962)
HYBRIDIZING CYRTANTHUS
GORDON MCNEIL,
North Transvaal, Republic of South Africa

It was the late Miss K. C. Stanford of BLOEMERF, Stellenbosch, well known to most readers of HERBERTIA, who first interested me in the possibilities of hybridising the Ifafa Lilies. On a visit to us she showed so much enthusiasm over a particularly fine clump of CYRTANTHUS SANGUINEUS in full bloom that I, there and then, became bitten by the bug. Miss Stanford, on her return home, sent me bulbs of C. obliquus and C. spiralis to use in the experiments.

My first break occurred in 1953 when the seedlings, from a pod of the cream form of C. mackenii pollinated with C. sanguineus, began to flower. Colors ranged from a very pale salmon to the tomato red of C. sanquineus; trumpets, five to nine on a 12" stem, averaged 2 1/2" long by 1 1/2" wide across the slightly reflexed lobes. This F1 selfed gave some very nice plants (Fig.17) ; the flowers are bigger (often as big as those of C. sanguineus); the color range is considerably extended from a very pale pink (the color of trout's flesh) to a dark red; heads are multiflowered on longer stems; the tepalsegs often appear as if dusted with gold (a characteristic of some forms of C. galpinii but not of either C. sanguineus or C. mackenii) there also appeared typical C. sanguineus flowers but streaked with darker red— one green lobed (chimeric, I believe); one with five flowers instead of the usual one or two. etc. Some of these are now in the F3 stage but still show great variation and also a steady retrogression to C. sanguineus. The F2 seeds give the best results. The bulbs are tender and produce few offsets. However another cross (C. parviflorus by C. mackenii x C. sanguineus) has recently flowered and is much more promising as a hardy garden flower. It appears closer to C. parviflorus and C. mackenii in its foliage, hardiness and ability to produce numerous offsets and has most delightful trumpets; 1 1/2" to 3/4" wide; 3 to 9 on a long stem (18"); in color, pastel shades of pink, salmon, tomato red and red.

I have many other hybrids— attempts to get my first break, using C. sanguineus pollen on various colors forms of C. mackenii; on C. o'brienii and C. parviflorus. These most resemble, 1 believe, Mrs. Henry's Cyrtanthus hybrids. Some are very nice and all are hardy.

Of unfiowered crosses I have the following: C. sanguineus x C. obliquus; C. sanguineus x C. tuckii var. viridilobus & the reverse; C. sanguineus x Vallota speciosa; C. sanguineus x Anoiganthus luteus; C. sanguineus x Anoiganthus breviflorus & the reverse; C. sanguineus x C. galpinii & the reverse; C. sanguineus x Clivia miniata & the reverse; and a Vallota x C. obliquus cross from Sweden which should prove a beauty.


Fig. 17. Hybrid Cyrtanthus raised by Gordon McNeiI south Africa.

Apropos the intergeneric crosses, Cyrtanthus & Anoiganthus are very close and differ only in that Anoiganthus has "no tepaltube" (actually from my observation A. luteus has a tepaltube, though short) and in the opinion of Dr. Dyer (see HERBERTIA, 1939) should probably not have been separated; Vallota has the same basic chromosome number as Cyrtanthus, x = 8; Clivia, in the opinion of Dr. Wilsenach of the University of the Witwaterstrand, is related to Cyrtanthus. Another Cyrtanthus (C. thorncroftii) that I am using in the experiments also has, like Anoiganthus breviflorus, "no tepaltube."

Through the kindness of Dr. Ising I have obtained triploid and tetraploid plants of Cyrtanthus, which will flower this coming spring and which I feel sure, will prove outstanding parents; particularly the tetraploids.

I am only beginning. There is an immense amount. of work yet to be done and I hope this introduction to the subject may inspire others with more time to start hybridising the Ifafa Lilies of which there are in Africa (see Dyer— HERBERTIA, 1939) some 44 species. As pot plants they are excellent; also as cut flowers. Many are delightfully scented and a mass planting of C. mackenii in any of its color forms is a joy indeed.