Report of the Third International Conference on Genetics, 1906
Hybridising at the Antipodes
H. H. B. Bradley
Sydney, Australia

Narcissus

Near Sydney the blooming season is generally about April to June for Polyanthus varieties, June to October for trumpets, July to October for Poeticus; generally speaking, the weather from April to July is fairly showery, August less so; September and October variable, often with very hot drying winds; and this seems to influence the setting of seed. Many of the Polyanthus set seed freely without artificial pollination: the early trumpets are the same; the incomparables and late trumpets are bad seed-bearers, while the poeticus varieties are uncertain, sometimes setting freely, at other times badly. On the other hand, on the mountains where the season is later and the climate moister, such varieties as Emperor and Sir Watkin set seed on nearly every bloom that is not cut; with me Sir Watkin has never seeded, and it has always been hard to get seed from Emperor by different crosses; in this case, of course, the flowers from which pollen was taken were cut early and kept indoors so as to get dry pollen.

Working trumpets with pollen of polyanthus, I got any quantity of good Tridymus, which here are hardy; I used such varieties as Duchess of Albany, Grand Monarque, and Soleil d'Or on Countess Annesley, Princeps, M. J. Berkley, &c.: all of these crosses gave Tridymus and nothing else; but using Paper White many of the seedlings were polyanthus, the others being Tridymus with white perianths and white or pale lemon corona.

Crossing Paper White with pollen of trumpets, the result was only polyanthus, many being merely repetitions of the Paper White seed-parent, while others were slightly improved forms of the seed-parent.

*In a letter received from Mr. Bradley in October 1906 he says:—"Please add a note. I spoke too hastily on the experience of one year's flowering only, when the pips were certainly, as stated, much fewer in number than in the seed parent. This year (1906) this has been entirely changed, and some of the heads have as many as twenty-three pips each. Generally the stamens are biseriate like the seed-parent, but in one of them the stamens are equal in length to Incomparable."—Ed.

Working such polyanthus as Apollo and Gloriosa with pollen of Incomparabilis John Bull, the seedlings so far are only polyanthus, some very much improved in size of perianth, and slightly (very little) lengthened corona, but lessened number of pips* to a head, while others were very poor degraded polyanthus with small pips and small heads; but in some of these degraded forms the colour influence of the pollen-parent was evident; in these cases the colour of the perianth, which in the seed-parent was white, in the seedling was yellow. In most of these crosses the 'grass' is more like that of Incomparable, and the flower spathe appears almost simultaneously with the grass, opening when the grass is about 6 inches long. Curiously enough, these seedlings were all so much earlier in blooming than either parent that comparison was impossible; these seedlings flower in May, while the parents do not bloom till July; on the other hand, Tridymus seedlings were all much later than the parents. Trumpet seedlings are generally earlier than their parents in blooming.

Hitherto all Tridymus seedlings have proved sterile, no matter what the cross may have been.

Odorus, so far, has given no seed, and its pollen is hard to get; but I have two seedlings from this cross, one from a bicolor which gives a charming Tridymus midway between the two parents, the other a self-yellow Tridymus equally intermediate.

In crossing narcissus, where the bloom of the seed-parent is not required for other purposes, I cut the bloom with a short stalk, cut away the perianth and corona and remove the pistil: this leaves a sort of paintbrush, so to speak, with which it is easy to dust the pistil of the seed-flower with pollen; but if the pollen bloom is also to be used for seed, I cut from it the filaments of the anthers as long as I can, and then take one of these with a pair of pliers, and so dust the pollen on the pistil of the seed-bloom. In working blooms of polyanthus I split the lower side of the tube of the intended seed-bloom before the pollen is free, and then remove the anthers. Splitting the lower side leaves the perianth and tube as a protection from the sun for the pistil.

Up to the present the blooms are all worked where the bulbs are growing out of doors, and none have been covered or otherwise protected.

Some of the Leedsii and Barrii varieties are bad at seeding, while others set freely—Barrii Siddington sets freely, while from Barrii Conspicuus I have had only two pods of seed in twenty years: these were both twin flowers crossed with poeticus ornatus, also twin flowers, and both were lost through bursting unexpectedly. Maria Mag. de Grafff seeds freely, while from Minnie Hume it is hard to get any seed.

Fig. 107.—'John Bain' crossed with pollen of Odorus rugulosus. Fig. 108.—Seedling from 'M. J. Berkeley.'
3 1/2 inches across; pollen parent unrecorded; perianth white; trumpet pale sulphur changing to pure white.

 

Fig. 109.—Another Seedling from 'M. J. Berkeley.'
3 7/16 inches across; out of the same seed-pod as fig. 108, but quite distinct; white.
Fig. 110.—'Princeps' crossed with pollen of
Johnstoni 'Queen of Spain.'

Hippeastrums

One of my first attempts was with pollen from a beautifully coloured white heavily striped bloom of the old style, rather narrow in gape and divisions of the perianth. This pollen I worked on a red flower, and also on a Vittatum variety; and amongst about 350 seedlings there were only three red individuals, the seedlings taking strongly after the pollen-parent. Pollen from these I worked on various hybrids which I had procured from Messrs. Veitch, but I only obtained repetitions of the pollen-parents. Then, again, using pollen from these seedlings on to the Veitch hybrids, the next generation was practically the same, showing a marvellous prepotency in the original pollen-parent.

By choosing suitable parents I have had no difficulty in breeding brilliant reds with a clear white edge to every division of the perianth; but to do this I have had to use some of the old varieties; and though I have worked the broad-petalled varieties with this pollen, and have retained the marking, the blooms, on the other hand, retain the form of the pollen-parent to a large degree.

Seeing that the top division of the perianth is always the largest and best coloured, I generally use the anther, the filament of which is adnate to this division; whether this be the reason or not I do not know, but the progeny generally have more equal divisions to the perianth, and the bottom division is greatly improved.

On the other hand, with a view to getting as white a bloom as possible, I use the bottom division (generally all white) from the white red-striped varieties; and in the seedlings the flowers have much less colour; but the shape of the bloom is spoilt, the divisions being narrow.

With us most hippeastrums are garden plants doing well out of doors; but H. pardinum is a greenhouse plant, in fact is often grown in a hothouse; it is, however, very potent as a pollen plant, and using its pollen on red-coloured Veitch hybrids I have raised what is practically a hardy H. pardinum, which has stood out of doors and flowered fairly well for two or three years.

My hippeastrums (with exception of H. pardinum) are all garden varieties, and so contain the blood of many ancestors; hence it is impossible to expect any precise results; still, in working, I hope for a result in some of the progeny partaking of both immediate parents, and it is remarkable how often the result is as sought, notwithstanding my rough methods.

Here my method is similar. I cut off an anther with its filament, holding the filament; there is no difficulty in dusting the pollen on the pistil of the seed bloom, and here, again, the blooms were never covered or protected in any way.

Gloriosa

G. Plantii grows like a weed here out of doors, increasing very fast both from the tubers and from seed; but under the same conditions G. superba is difficult, and in ten years I have only had two blooms, so I conceived the idea of getting a G. superba with the constitution of G. Plantii by crossing G. Plantii with pollen of G. superba and succeeded in the first attempt. Most of the seedlings took after G. superba in habit, colour of stem, and foliage, and the blooms also, though perhaps not quite so large; a few were repetitions of G. Plantii; these latter were fertile, while those taking after G. superba have so far been sterile, though they have been blooming for five years and have been tried with pollen of G. superba, G. Plantii, and G. Rothschildiana. All of these seedlings are quite hardy and do well out of doors, flower freely, and increase rapidly from the tubers.

Here my method of working is to cut off an anther and holding this in a pair of pliers to touch with its pollen the pistil of the bloom to be impregnated. In this case, again, the blooms were not protected in any way.

Liliums

L. speciosum roseum x L. auratum gave progeny but little differing from the seed parent; this progeny crossed again with L. auratum gave a great variety running from pure white though L. s. roseum up to L. s. rubrum; many of the white seedlings were highly papillose upon the inner surfaces of the divisions of the perianth and then to the extremities of those divisions; and while there was not one L. auratum among all the seedlings, all of them showed the parentage strongly in the foliage. Unfortunately I imported about this time some lily bulbs which must have had disease, and so saturated my garden with lily disease that I practically lost every lily I had. Method of crossing is the same as with Hippeastrum.

Sporting

This a subject allied to hybridisation, probably the cropping out of a latent effect of the hybridisation of an ancestor, and it seems that with either old age or ill-treatment there is a probability of such a sport. Thus from an old plant of La France rose I have had sports, both Mlle. A. Guinoiseau and Duchess of Albany; from Princess Alice carnation under similar circumstances have sported both white and pink selfs, and these sports have been readily fixed by taking off cuttings high up on growths showing the sport; so also with chrysanthemums.

Graft Hybridisation

I have only commenced this, so cannot say I have achieved any results; but I will mention two things that happened in my garden. A twenty-five year-old rose Ethel Britten budded on American noisette developed from the neighborhood of insertion of the scion a shoot that had a bloom which puzzled some of our best rosarians, who, not knowing what it was, pronounced it midway between the two (stock and scion); and an old neglected plant of rose Souvenir de M. Métral budded on American noisette developed three shoots from about the insertion of the scion. These grew as American noisette stems, thorns, and foliage for a foot or eighteen inches, and then in response to a little kindly treatment all the shoots continued as Souvenir de M. Métral, and eventually bloomed true to that variety.

Bigeners

I cannot say that I have had much success with hybridising between two genera—certainly I raised two bulbs by crossing a Crinum with pollen of a daffodil. At first the foliage gave great promise, being bivarious, but gradually in one it changed and became turbinate as in the seed-parent—the other is about midway in habit of foliage; but the bloom of both is merely Crinum, and both are thus far sterile though they have bloomed for several years, and have been worked with pollen of both parents. The Crinum parent is a most prolific seed-bearer. Another attempt was Hymenocallis calathina x Crinum (? variety); the result is a much dwarfened H. calathina which blooms seldom, and the staminal cup is often split. During many years this bulb has produced but one seed; this last season. Another attempt was Pancratium (sp.) x a daffodil; the result was a quantity of seed which came up freely, but gradually died out, so that the third year saw the last of them, and this without any of them blooming.

Attempts to cross Hippeastrum with pollen of Sprekelia failed, though I have had pods of seed from this cross filled with apparently good seed; but none of it would grow. On the other hand, I have among seedlings of Hippeastrum which had fertilized themselves, some which seem to approach Sprekelia in form of bloom and in the grouping upwards of the five upper divisions of the perianth, while the bottom division is long and straight.

Amaryllis Belladonna x Lycoris aurea gives a plant generally like A. Belladonna: the flowers are smaller and have the wavy divisions of perianth of a Lycoris, but not to the same extent.

Calostemma luteum x Pancratium maritimum gave a quantity of fertile seed, and the seedlings are growing strongly, but none have flowered yet, so it is uncertain if the cross has taken. Curiously, several of the seeds developed two plants, and one seed gave three plants from the one seed.

These notes would be incomplete were I not to mention the names of other local workers in this field. Amongst others G. H. Kerslake, of Potts Hill, who has done much work amongst chrysanthemums, cactus-dahlias, bouvardias, &c.; H. Selkirk, of Killara, amongst daffodils &c.; A. Clark, of Essendon, Victoria, with daffodils; T. Godwin, of North Sydney, with orchids; L. Buckland, of Camperdown, Victoria, with daffodils.


Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales for the year 1901, 26: 791 (1902)

Most of us admired the beautiful Hippeastrums raised by the late Mr. Burton Bradley. His son, Mr. H. H. B. Bradley, has obtained a solid reputation with Narcissus, and for some account of his work my readers may refer to his paper already quoted. He tells me that his father left no record of what he did with Hippeastrum, and with regard to present work, he writes, "What I have done with other flowers is immature; perhaps if I live another twenty years I may have something to say about it."

Fred Johns's Annual, Mainly a Biographical Record of Australasia's Prominent People (1914) p. 18

BRADLEY, Henry Houghton Burton, President of the Board of Trustees of the Australian Museum, Sydney, an authority on Australian spiders; b. at Sydney. A solicitor. Is Honorary Secretary of the Horticultural Society of New South Wales, and one of the most distinguished horticulturists in Australia. He specialises in Narcissus and Hippeastrum. A first-class authority on genetics.

The Australian Encyclopædia - Volume 2 - Page 306 (1926)

H. B. B. Bradley of Sydney raised a new strain of Hippeastrum, breeding and culling them rigidly over a period of 35 years; he also, by crossing Crinum Macowni with C. magnificum, produced the finest hybrids of this genus yet raised.