Cultivars reproduced by seeds ?

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Bill, Nov 12, 2003.

  1. Bill

    Bill Active Member 10 Years

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    West Van
    Many people who are devotees of the Rhododendron fail to appreciate that hybrids are the result of a single cross and are propogated from there by tissue culture or grafting.

    Which is why you never see seeds offered for hybrids (intentionally, at least).

    Now I see quite a few seed sellers for Acer palmatum cultivars, and wanted to ask to what degree they are likely to produce true replicas of the original, and to what degree you'd expect varied results with possibly open-pollinated seed stock.

    Even if few are inter-species hybrids, one would think that seeds would be an unreliable way to reproduce the cultivar, and that a percentage would be throw-aways. I have to wonder why someone would pay $5 for a seed packet when they could pay $15 for a tree large enough to see exactly what they were getting.
  2. Elmore

    Elmore Active Member 10 Years

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    North Alabama USA
    cultivars from seed?

    In my opinion these people offering named seed are simply con men. The only way to produce a named cultivar is through asexual propagation. Grafting or rooting. Some may use tissue culture but I have not heard of any being produced this way. These entrepreneurs are grifters not grafters. Playing on ignorance. Seedlings obtained from 'Bloodgood' seed generally have a higher percentage of red leaves. They are not, however, 'Bloodgood'. They are Acer palmatum f. atropurpureum.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2004
  3. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    Vancouver, Canada
    This is really interesting to me. My understanding is that 'Bloodgood' (a vigorous clone, noted for its non-fading dark colour) has now been superceded by the "better" (i.e., darker) "Emperor I'.

    I could be wrong, put I'm convinced that the original 'Bloodgood' is much better than what is sold as 'Bloodgood' today. The reason is that propagators have for years been selling seedlings of 'Bloodgood' under that cultivar name (I know this for a fact). Not surprisingly, someone finds a superior seedling amongst a batch of 'Bloodgood' seedlings and calls it something else (like 'Emperor I').

    Now call me a cynic, but I'll bet anyone of you that in 10 or 20 years, someone will come up with a superior clone to 'Emperor I', and I'll bet it isn't any better than the original 'Bloodgood'. The problem (some would see it as an advantage) is that Japanese maples produce seed from self-pollinations, and the resultant seedlings are (not surprisingly) relatively uniform and much like their maternal parent. Nursery operators love this, because seed propagation of Japanese maples is much easier than any other method.

    The trouble is, there is always inherent variation, even with selfing. When these 2nd generation "bloodgoods" are grown up and seed is taken from them, the resultant seedlings may be quite different, and probably inferior to the original. The other problem is that there's usually a little bit of pollen floating around from other palmatums and eventually, the seedling batches become increasingly less uniform. I guarantee you will find people taking seed of 'Emperor I' and selling the seedlings as though they were clones, and we'll repeat the process over and over again.
  4. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Many times people will buy seed to germinate them, grow the seedlings for a year
    or two and then cultivate out a few plants just to grow on and monitor but what is
    left is usually used almost specifically for grafting material in a specialty nursery.
    In a plantation like set up seed can be gathered from allover the nursery and then
    be in effect recycled to be used as seedlings to use for grafting. I've collected lots
    of Japanese Maple seed just for this purpose.

    In reference to Douglas' comments about Bloodgood I cannot agree more but then
    again he knows what many people do not know in that seedling selections of Maples
    have not necessarily improved an old variety. Is Red Emperor or Emperor 1 better
    than the Bloodgood we had 15-30 years ago? To the people that have not seen the
    real thing for Bloodgood they might believe those 2 cultivars are better than what
    they are seeing in the nurseries for Bloodgood. To those of us that know what
    Bloodgood should be and was and some of us still have our old plants, it will be
    more than tough to try to convince us there is a better form as we will have to see
    it to believe it and to be quite candid, it is not going to happen.

    As far as Trident Maple seeds, the game changes in that a significant percentage
    of the seeds can yield true to parent seedlings. Then again most people do not
    have grafted forms of Trident Maples. If you were to ask me will the seeds off
    my Mino yatsubusa be true, I will doubt it but the seeds from my Simonii (I need
    help with the spelling on this one Douglas as I've not found it in literature) an old
    seedling selection do seem to yield true to parent seedlings. There is another
    seedling selection Semenovi (spelling again - it was listed in the Croxton's
    Maple list from Placerville) that also yields true to parent seedlings. There
    is the strong possibility that both forms are the same but Don Kleim told me they
    were not the same when I asked him about them after we visited the Croxtons.

  5. Dave Burns

    Dave Burns Member Maple Society

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    Fla panhandle
    Douglas and Jim ,Thanks for the good information even if it's not good news. Why not do some grafts from some of the old superior cultivars,and give them the additional desingnation ( 1953,or whatever applies) . make them available to at least Maple Society members. I know I would be interested in preserving them. Might even be a great project for the Maple society to organize. What do ya'll think. Dave.
  6. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Hi Dave:

    You have to know some of the background information that was going
    on during the middle 80's to early 90's to better understand that the Maple
    purists were rather upset at their fellow nurserymen for naming Maples
    that in many cases were forms of another Maple, rather than being a
    bona fide new introduction.

    Plants have always been plagued by lumpers on one hand and separators
    on the other. Is Red Select just a form of Inaba shidare or is Red Select
    truly different? The same scenario also applies to Oregon Garnet and
    Inaba shidare. The purists realized that a lot of the information they
    knew was suspect all because so much could not be proved. Even the
    first introduction of Maples from Japan later became somewhat suspect
    in that what a Maple was originally called did not correspond with what
    others had determined from the venerable books written in Kanji. Even
    Koichiro Wada and Jiro Kobayashi had some problems with the areas
    that they interpreted from those same books. Mr. Vertrees was really
    up against it in his writing his manuscript as he had some real issues of
    the past that he could not prove either but he did ask around just like
    Don Kleim and others did and tried to make some correlations that
    made sense, even if they could not be proven. I know how Don felt
    when he imported in Osakazuki and for years did not believe them
    to be an Acer palmatum. I was present when Koto Matsubara was
    asked what he thought those Maples were and he bowed to the plant
    and said Osakazuki. Even Toichi Domoto also told Don that he felt
    they were Osakazuki but they were Acer japonicums instead of being
    Acer palmatums. I know where those Maples came from in Japan and
    saw the same Maple in Osaka and they were called Osakazuki and they
    were the same plant as what Don and later on Toichi Domoto had.

    I bought an Acer palmatum Osakazuki years ago that I felt was not the
    right plant and so I waited several years and brought in another and
    sure enough my old plant is not what the new one is or is the same
    plant as the other palmatum Osakazukis that I've seen many times

    The dilemma is that the prominent people of the past that really knew
    their stuff for Maples could not always agree on what the proper name
    was for a few of the Maples that were imported. That is one side of
    the coin.

    On the other was the fact that people were growing seedlings hoping
    to see a few Maples that were different enough to introduce into
    the nursery trade. Why, because there was money in it. I remember
    Red Filigree priced to me at $600 a five gallon, just to give you an
    idea of what a new introduction can cost. I brought in the first
    Red Dragon's into California for Don Kleim while they were still
    under quarantine in the US from New Zealand. Don sold the first
    5 gallon Red Dragon in California to a pair of Dermatologists as they
    would not leave the nursery without that plant and made a ridiculous
    offer of $5,000 that was accepted.

    There is money in growing a seedling that can rival or exceed the
    color and form of Bloodgood and many people have tried to select
    a form that was comparable. The problem is and was years ago, was
    that the nursery industry in my mind and others also that Bloodgood
    had become so, pardon this term, "bastardized" that even seedlings
    were being grafted onto root stock and sold to growers as being
    genuine Bloodgoods. The members of the Maple Society know
    what went on for years but there was not much they could do about
    it. The mass merchandizers are the ones that helped ruin things
    for the purists as some of the wholesale growers had mixed varieties
    in their Maples that they were selling to the retailers. I know of
    one leading wholesale grower that has had Tamukeyama mixed
    in with their Crimson Queens for years and in the last few years
    now have Red Dragon also mixed in with the Crimson Queens
    and the Tamukeyamas. People in this forum have bought Maples
    as being one variety and some of us know that they are not what
    those people bought them as being. Do I come out and say to
    someone no, your Bloodgood is not the real deal when I cannot
    see the plant or do I just keep my mouth shut and not discourage
    someone that is starting out with Maples? I will not say a word
    as I feel it is not right for me to be the bearer of bad news as
    I want that person to evolve and learn more about Maples rather
    than tell them and chase them off from buying other Maples.
    I have no vested interest other than trying to help as I am not
    growing Maples for resale. Then again I know what it feels
    like to have others come down on me for buying an antique
    Art Glass piece and be told it was not what I said it was just
    to later tell them to go suck an egg as I was right after all
    but no one had the courage to admit they were wrong in
    what they told me or how they related to me either.

    I am not a member of the Maple Society so I cannot speak
    for them but I've had questions for years that even some of
    the most foremost people of the past in Maples really could
    not answer. My gripe has been and I am not alone in feeling
    this way is that we do not have a solid understanding of our
    "old" Maples yet and we now have many new introductions
    in the last 10 years or so to also try to get a handle on. So
    we've escalated the initial quandary and made it almost a
    situation whereby we may now not know very much about
    the older Maples when we should have started with them
    first and got them under control but those Maples also
    had prominent people in Maples not completely agree
    on what is what and why. Yes, your idea has great merit
    but who will be the ones to track down what is when the
    right people to talk to are no longer around for us?

  7. Re: Question for the Acer Pros

    I've got 7 seedlings under our japanese maple (don't know which kind, but it has green leaves until Fall). If they are true to the parent, I'd like to pot them and encourage them. All are from this year's "crop". Only 2 of the 7 show the nicely serrated edges on longer, more slender leaves--all the others have a basic wide tri-lobed leaf. Is it possible to tell right from the get-go (first set of leaves) that the 2 will be more-or-less similar to the parent and the others "junk"? Or could even the 2 that look promising now "revert", or the other 5 become more parent-like with time? Thanks.
    Oakland CA
  8. Dale B.

    Dale B. Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Atlanta, GA
    Re: Question for the Acer Pros

    Hi Benn,

    My first Japanese Maples were 5 seedlings that I collected from underneath a Japanese Maple outside my office window. I grew them on and was amazed at the variation in these siblings. All of them had similar leaves and all were beautiful trees. Three grew with a single trunk and 2 years later became my first rootstock. One grew with multiple trunks and one is only 18" tall after 8 years and now resides in a bonsai pot. It's hard to tell early. Many have juvenile leaves for a year or two before they put out adult leaves. Most linearilobum seedlings take at least a year to show the trait.

    Grow them out and see what happens. If they are "junk" just try grafting and use them as rootstock.

    Good Luck


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