Split Personality

Victoria amazonica flowers with first and
second night characteristics the SAME night

by Kit & Ben Knotts - Click images to enlarge

In our nine years of tracking every Victoria flower in our ponds, we have never seen one with a split personality! In October of 2006, we had three V. amazonicas that were both male and female on the same night. One half of each had the characteristics of a first night flower and the other half those of a second night flower.

October 17: Even though our water temperature was 70F to 80F (39C to 44C), we had several coolish cloudy days and V. amazonica 03A12 Knotts seemed to wait a day from the bloom schedule it had been on. The afternoon of October 16, it wasn't fragrant and its thorns were still in the water, both signals it wouldn't open that night. The next morning it had one sepal and three petals open, as if it couldn't decide whether to open or not. They were on the side opposite the sunset, the way V. amazonica typically opens the first night. By late afternoon more petals on that side were opening and were a little bit pink. The other side was still mostly closed and white. By 9 pm, it was evenly divided pink and white.

Because we were planning to send the pollen ring to Dave Brigante in Oregon for use in his breeding program, we removed and brought most of the ring in the house. Only a few anthers, those on the pink side, were dehiscing pollen. We put the ring back outside where it was warmer and ended up leaving it out overnight (sometimes V. cruziana will ripen with more time). By the next morning, only the side with the pink petals showed any pollen. The pod did produce some seeds. 

October 18: "The White One", V. amazonica 05A19 Presnell, didn't look as if it would open. The next morning one sepal was open and it was fragrant all day. At 10 pm it was open on one side, a second night flower with pollen dehiscing from the anthers. The other side of the flower was first night, pure white with no red on the inner petals, no opening of the paracarpels, no anthers shedding pollen.

Nectar (stigmatic fluid), sometimes seen in V. cruziana, was present, the first time we've ever seen it in V. amazonica. It produced a substantial number of seeds, surprising in that V. cruziana flowers with nectar rarely produce seeds.

The next flower from the same plant, on 54F (30C) and 58F (32C) nights, opened normally.

October 25: After those few cool nights, our temperature rebounded and the water was about 70-80F (39C-44C). V. amazonica 04A21 Knotts opened two sepals and a few petals by the morning after the first night, was fragrant all day and split characteristics that night. The pod produced seeds.

During this period, V. 'Adventure' and V. cruziana produced flowers with normal opening patterns, as did V. amazonica after these three.  

WGI ONLINE Journal Table of Contents

Water Gardeners International
Home | Join WGI | Members' Exclusive | Gateway to Water Gardening