En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - December 13, 2005

From: Fort Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: General Botany
Title: Possible reasons for yellow heads for Indian Blanket
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I had Indian Blanket flowers that had almost pure yellow heads. Will the seeds of these flowers produce plants that will have yellow flowers?

ANSWER:

The short answer is—"Possibly, but probably not." Here are four simple explanations for the all-yellow flowers and the possible outcomes for the next generation:

1. The set of instructions (the genes) that determine color, or pattern of the colors, was altered only in the flower petals and not in the egg or pollen cells the flower produced. Thus, the change would not be hereditary since it wouldn't be passed on to the next generation in the seeds.

2. There was a recessive mutation (meaning both the pollen and the egg must have the mutant gene) sometime in the past that was passed down unseen until a pollen grain and a egg cell, both with the mutation, combined to produce a plant with the solid yellow flowers. If these plants self-pollinated, then you certainly should get all yellow flowers; or, if the egg cells from these plants received pollen with the same recessive mutation from another plant, all the flowers should be yellow.

3. It was a dominant mutation (meaning that only the pollen OR the egg cell needed to have the mutant gene) that caused the all-yellow variant. In that case, you might expect to see ~1/2 the seeds of the all-yellow plants producing all-yellow flowers.

4. Sometimes a component of the environment, such as soil chemistry or composition, can affect how genes are expressed; so, you might or might not see yellow flowers in the next generation.

Those are relatively simple explanations; but, in reality, genetics of flower color (indeed, most genetics) is not usually so simple. In many cases it is the interaction of many genes, often combined with environmental influences, that contribute to the final product of flower color and pattern. Several generations of controlled crosses might be able to determine the correct explanation.

This is probably a lot more than you wanted to know. So, in short, you'll just have to wait and see if you get more all-yellow Indian blankets (Gaillardia pulchella).
 

More General Botany Questions

How to determine the gender of wax myrtles from the WFC?
February 08, 2010 - Mr.Smarty Plants, have the wax myrtles that are up for sale at the Center's Spring Plant sale been sexed? I need a male plant. How can the sex be determined when the plant is young? Or can it?
view the full question and answer

Least common flower color
June 14, 2008 - What is the least common flower color in the world?
view the full question and answer

Plants addicted to caffeine
February 28, 2009 - Im doing a science project on if plants can get addicted to caffeine, but coffee in general and i was wondering what materials you need to figure that out.
view the full question and answer

Definition of what constitutes a native plant
January 23, 2007 - Hello, I am doing research concerning "native plants" for the Northeast. I am "befuddled" as I am finding conflicting definitions for what constitutes a native plant. Do you have a good definiti...
view the full question and answer

Do the male or female dogwoods have berries?
June 11, 2013 - Does the male or female dogwood have berries?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center