Keep It Simple
Dennis D. MacMullan, New York
While efforts to produce a hardy, good yellow elepidote continue, it might be of interest to examine the directions taken by four hybridizers of note and how the results of their efforts show some significant parallels.
'Hong Kong' - David Leach, North Madison, Ohio. R. catawbiense var. album' La-Bar's White' x 'Crest' Pollen from this plant was sent to Jock Rosenthal in New York by Dr. Leach who felt it better than another of his named yellows, 'Peking'.
'Catalgla' x 'Crest' - unnamed as yet - Ray Kruse, Ft. Salonga, NY. This plant shows the best qualities of both parents. It survived a two-day ice storm some years ago without losing a pip. It has proven to be a good parent for further hybridizing.
'Serendipity' - Basil Potter, Port Ewen, NY. R. yakushimanum x R. aureum Probably the best known of the four plants and the most dwarf. I believe Mr. Potter has improved upon this little gem in recent years.
Treena - Henry Yates, Frostburg, Maryland. Mr. Yates' widow continues to grow (and propagate) this fine plant.
You will note that white catawbiense is a parent in three of the plants as is R. wardii.
Using the following symbols to represent the parents:
A = R. wardii
B = R. yakushimanum
C = R. catawbiense var. album (including various forms)
D = R. aureum
* = 'Lady Bessborough' = R. discolor x R. campylocarpum var. elatum
we find the following:
'Hong Kong' = C x (A x *)
'Catalga' x 'Crest = C x (A x *)
'Serendipity' = B x D
Treena = (C x A) x (A x B)
Each of the hybridizers achieved a high degree of success in their efforts by making uncomplicated crosses with at least one parent a hardy species. Thus, the results of these crosses are reasonably predictable due to the use of species and the resultant limited number of genes involved in the cross. A large population of seedlings with colors varying from white to cream to yellow results. Also, considerable hardiness should be present in a large percentage of the population.
Although the writer is unaware of the form of R. wardii used by Mr. Yates, the Kingdon-Ward form (K.W. 4170) is most desirable should one wish to repeat these crosses (or make similar ones) due to the purity and depth of color without any spotting or blotching. It is the form used by Lionel de Rothschild as a parent of 'Crest'.
'Lady Bessborough' is also a hybrid with both parents being species - as opposed to a plant with parents that are hybrid/species or hybrid/hybrid. This should limit the variance of the seedling population. In spite of the excellence of this plant, it might be well considered to use R. campylocarpum "Hooker's Form" as opposed to var. elatum. Ben Lancaster used Hooker's Form to advantage and claimed that it is "brighter, deeper in color and more compact" than other forms.
While there are deeper yellows than the plants mentioned in this article - and perhaps some that, for their depth of color, are as hardy - the efforts of these hybridizers must be respected. Each man, working independently and in a different area of the country, achieved success by following a common principle - they "kept it simple."