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Should Nymphaea mexicana be
Pod or Pollen Parent?

Article and photos by Pairat Songpanich, Thailand
Edited and translated by Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat, Thailand
Click images to enlarge

Whenever I am looking for yellow hardy hybrid waterlilies, I always think of Nymphaea mexicana, because most of its progeny are yellow, followed by orange and then some other colors. I wanted to know how best N. mexicana could be used, as a pod or a pollen parent, with regard to fertilization, size of seed, number of seed, percentage of germination and survival, and seedling color. The following reports the results of crosses from April 2003 to March 2005. 

Using N. mexicana as a pod parent, I made 32 crosses. Pollen parents were N. 'Perry's Fire Opal', N. 'Gloriosa', N. 'Madame Wilfron Gonnère', N. 'Mayla' and N. 'Tan-khwan'. All combinations were successful and one pod from each combination was obtained. Percentage of fertilization of pods was 15.6. See Table 1 (will open in a new window).

Using N. mexicana as a pollen parent, I made 27 crosses. Pod parents were N. 'Fabiola', N. 'Pink Sensation' , N. 'Perry' s Fire Opal', N. 'Odorata Luciana', N. 'Madame Wilfron Gonnère', open-pollinated seedlings of N. ' James Brydon', N. 'Gypsy', N. 'Charles de Meurville', and N. 'Vésuve'. I got 13 pods from all crosses for 48.1 percent fertilization success. No fertilization occurred in crosses with the seedlings of N. 'Gypsy', N. 'Charles de Meurville' and N. 'Vésuve' while more than one seed pot was obtained from maternal parents N. 'Fabiola', N. 'Odorata Luciana' and N. 'Perry's Fire Opal'. With N. 'Fabiola' five pods were obtained but germination was very low. See Table 2 (will open in a new window).

Comparative results using N. mexicana as pod and pollen parent in Table 3 show that pod formation was almost double when using N. mexicana as pollen parent. Four times more seeds were obtained when using N. mexicana as pod parent but germination was two times lower. Survival of seedlings of N. mexicana pod and pollen parents were 30.2 and 2.9 percent respectively. A possibility might be that the size of seeds of N. mexicana as pod parent was much larger than other pod parents. Thus there were more nutrients to serve the seeds during germination. Table 3 (will open in a new window).

Theoretically progeny of N. mexicana reciprocal crosses are similar if both parents are of pure lines. Of the crosses presented here, only N. mexicana is pure-line but the opposite parents are hybrids so offspring are more variable. To use N. mexicana as pod or pollen parent is up to you!

Variation of progeny when using N. mexicana as pod parent
Variation of progeny when using N. mexicana as pollen parent
Variations of N. mexicana open-pollinated offspring

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