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Author Topic: Erodium chrysanthum - a long standing myth.  (Read 1959 times)

Ziria

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Erodium chrysanthum - a long standing myth.
« on: December 13, 2015, 08:34:45 PM »
Many years ago I set out to try and obtain a female Erodium chrysanthum, in order to obtain seed of the species as the only form in cultivation was a male. As time went on it became apparent that the Male Form sold in nurseries around the world, was an impostor. The very pale flower colour should have been a warning but as the mistake is so widely spread from catalogues to books and the internet, it initially makes one believe all is true.
 Years ago, Arne Strid of the Flora Hellenica Team in Copenhagen let me have a list of their known sites for the species in Greece, it totalled eleven. These are scattered on a few mountains in the Peloponnese or just north of the Gulf of Corinth, in the area of Central Greece. Several sites were on one mountain in the list; this was Megali Ziria plus Micri Ziria, otherwise known as Mount Killini. The first three years I visited nothing was found, on the fourth visit a few years later we finally came across a very small colony. Strangely, this colony was not on the list given by Arne Strid, so it took the number known from eleven to twelve, although we never found the ones that were. Prior to the fourth visit to Ziria we had changed tack and gone to Mount Parnonas further south in the Peloponnese where two sites were given. We found one but not the other. Further sites have been found by the enthusiasts running the “Greek Mountain Flora” website.
It is probably worth mentioning that on Megali Ziria, Erodium chrysanthum was found growing at over 2000 metres and above the altitude where cushion plants dwelt. They were found in limestone scree conditions that were open to sun but cloud would often envelope them as it swirled around the peaks.
Worryingly, the two colonies we found had hardly any young specimens coming along, a problem caused by goats I think. We found the plants grazed on Mount Parnonas (Parnon) and I suspect any flowers are eaten either in seed or before they reach that point. There is Governmental waffle supposedly affording protection to various scarce plants on Greek Mountains but somebody forgot to tell the goats. A wire mesh fence could be easily erected to keep the offending beasts at bay but I feel nobody really cares enough to bother. These plants are really scarce and need help as of yesterday. More and more goats seem to be pumped in to these mountainous areas in order to increase feta production or whatever. I would imagine collecting seed from isolated plants of the species in cultivation and repatriating it, would be frowned upon.
The meaning of “chrysanthum” is golden coloured, the flowers should be far more yellow than the male form in cultivation. Originally I thought that there may be a correlation with flower colour and the sex of the individual plants. I had heard that females were deeper coloured but having raised quite a number from seed now, I doubt if that is really true. Admittedly, the deepest gold flowered plant I had was female, but they can vary in shade considerably. The foliage of both sexes  is often quite silvery, some plants are exceptional as silver foliaged specimens for the Alpine House.
I will add a couple of links, one gives a deeper insight into the Erodium chrysanthum story and the other points out a mystery with an Erodium hybrid where E. chrysanthum was a parent.

http://www.geraniaceae-group.org/erodium_chrysanthum_forms.html

http://www.geraniaceae-group.org/erodium_x_lindavicum.html


Edit: Sadly neither  of these two links are  still operative.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2019, 01:58:12 PM by Maggi Young »
Sutton Bridge in The Fens

mark smyth

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Re: Erodium chrysanthum - a long standing myth.
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2015, 11:09:40 PM »
These are what I photographed a long time ago in Dublin's botanic garden - 2004
Antrim, Northern Ireland Z8
www.snowdropinfo.com / www.marksgardenplants.com / www.saveourswifts.co.uk

When the swifts arrive empty the green house

All photos taken with a Canon 900T and 230

mark smyth

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Re: Erodium chrysanthum - a long standing myth.
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2015, 11:10:37 PM »
Thanks Ziria
Antrim, Northern Ireland Z8
www.snowdropinfo.com / www.marksgardenplants.com / www.saveourswifts.co.uk

When the swifts arrive empty the green house

All photos taken with a Canon 900T and 230

Ziria

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Re: Erodium chrysanthum - a long standing myth.
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2015, 11:18:43 PM »
Hi Mark, these are hybrids without a doubt. Propagation by seed causes so many problems.
Are there any photos showing the leaves ?
Thanks.
Sutton Bridge in The Fens

Hillview croconut

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Re: Erodium chrysanthum - a long standing myth.
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2015, 11:49:27 PM »
Hi,

This is a fascinating story with a familiar twist. "Goated" Greece is such a tragedy. And with the current politics nothing is going to change soon.

Ziria, have you managed to build a good self sustaining collection of this species?

Cheers, Marcus

Ziria

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Re: Erodium chrysanthum - a long standing myth.
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2015, 11:51:26 AM »
Hi Marcus, I have got a small number and if I raise a few from seed now and then, I have to check each young plant, just in case something has managed to hybridise. I try and keep a small nucleus of the species but I don't think it is worth going into mass production due to little interest in general.
This species of Erodium is fairly specialised and needs an extremely well drained limestone scree to succeed outside but I know it does well in the Alpine House. Under glass with good ventilation there is no problem with summer collapse (Sudden Summer Death Syndrome) often encountered with Erodiums under garden conditions.
The main reason for keeping a small stock is using this species as a parent when raising new hybrids. A good yellow flower and also the very silvery foliage of some clones is a fairly unique combination, crossed with other dioecious species we are starting to make some headway. I have an unusual and quite hardy hybrid between this species and what we have as Erodium guicciardii, named Erodium 'Xanthe' with sprays of yellow flowers over silvery grey foliage. (There is some doubt as to whether the plants of E.guicciardii in cultivation are the true species. I tried to check in Greece but I couldn't find any plants on the one definite site given by some authorities, so I cannot comment at present).
In E. chrysanthum the genitalia should be white to a pale yellow, once orange, red or purple is detected, especially with pollen, then you have a hybrid. A photo of a male E. chrysanthum showing the deepest colour pollen /anthers possible and also one obvious hybrid.
Thanks.
Sutton Bridge in The Fens

Christina Fryle

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Re: Erodium chrysanthum - a long standing myth.
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2019, 12:32:33 PM »
As I could not find any other posts about Erodium chrysanthum I thought I might just as well post an update in this thread.
After seeing Erodium chrysanthum in nature here in Greece yesterday I googled it and realized it is not very common in the wild. I don't know about the sites Arne Strid reported. Perhaps one of them is where we found it - on the western (Messinian) hiking route up to the Profitis Ilias peak in the Taygetos mountains. They were growing in the scree at 2.000 m elevation.
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Flowering plant
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There were many really silvery cushions
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The site - steep scree
« Last Edit: June 26, 2019, 01:40:57 PM by Christina Fryle »
Christina Fryle, Varberg, Sweden/Peloponnese, Greece
Editor of the members journal for STA - The Swedish Society of Garden Amateurs.

 

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