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"And the LORD God made ... trees that were pleasing to the eye ..." Gen. 2:9, New International Version.

"Bonsai isn't just something I do; it's part of what I am." Remark to my wife and daughter.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What a Difference a Cultivar Makes!

     I can't help but be intrigued by the differences that can exist within a single species!

These flowers are almost exactly equidistant from the camera lens.
The flowers in this picture are all serissa flowers. The plants that have produced them are of the same species, Serissa foetida. Both plants are healthy, the blossoms themselves are healthy, and the plants are sited only a few feet apart and get the same care.

The flower on the right is on a Serissa foetida 'Snow Rose." This named cultivar throws double white flowers, like pea-sized double roses -- hence the name. I was unable to find any information on when and where the 'Snow Rose' cultivar was discovered and selected. Like all named cultivars, it is propagated by vegetative methods (cuttings and layers) rather than by seed, to preserve its genetic pattern. (In other words, it's cloned.)

The species doesn't bloom quite as profusely as 'Snow Rose'.
The flowers on the left are on a "species" serissa, a plain old Serissa foetida. The shrub is native from India to southern China and southernmost Japan, and probably into Indochina. A friend told me it is used as a hedge in Shanghai; from the way she said it, I think she's seen it there herself.

This species serissa is one of the trees I have been using in my experiments on the cold tolerance of serissas. It's been allowed to grow freely this summer, and its trunk girth has more than doubled. After the first frost it will get a haircut. For more on my study of serissas and cold, start with this post.

Both the flowers of the species serissa and the flowers of the 'Snow Rose' reflect a truly amazing amount of light. Some of my pictures for this post were taken with camera flash (thanks to the autoflash feature.) I couldn't use those photos: the blossoms threw so much light back to the lens that they washed out their own images! The photo at the top of the post was taken with ambient light only. That allowed the 'Snow Rose' blossom's structure to show up, but resulted in poorer background resolution. You can't have everything!

I'm not a physicist, but I can't help but wonder if serissa flowers reflect a lot of ultraviolet, and if that might be why they show up so brightly in pictures. If so, I wonder how they look to a honeybee?

:-)  :-)  :-)

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