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

Wednesday - June 26, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Seeds and Seeding, Wildflowers
Title: Why Did Gaillardia and Aquilegia Changed Color?
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

Both a Gaillardia pulchella and two red columbines bloomed normally last summer, but this summer the Gaillardia's petals are all yellow and one columbine is white and the other is yellow. What caused this change in the flowers? I don't think research has produced gene therapies to change flower colors. The soil is the typical east Austin soil. Is this common?

ANSWER:


Yes, although not frequent, it is not uncommon for Gaillardia pulchella and Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) to hybridize with other related family members nearby and result in seedling offspring that bloom in a different color.

Here’s a comment from our website about this situation: Aquilegia canadensis readily hybridizes with the popular Southwestern yellow columbines (A. chrysantha, etc.), yielding some striking yellow-and-red color combinations in the flowers. To maintain pure strains of any Aquilegia species and prevent hybridizing (which A. canadensis will readily do), keep different species widely separated - not a surefire protection, but reduces the likelihood.

And lastly regarding Gaillardia pulchella, since it is an annual and reseeds the next year, the result may produce seedling variation and occasionally the three-cleft rays are solid orange or yellow.

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern red columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

Golden columbine
Aquilegia chrysantha

Firewheel
Gaillardia pulchella

More Wildflowers Questions

Mutation in bluebonnets from Elgin TX
April 16, 2013 - What causes bluebonnets to mutate..grow as if three or four are combined into one flower on one very flat, wide stem. I have these in my yard; they are beautiful! I have taken several pictures.
view the full question and answer

Will a gift of bluebonnet seeds grow in Massachusetts?
July 06, 2009 - I recently received a gift of bluebonnet seeds and would like to know if they are suitable to grow in Massachusetts. We live in Zone 5. If so, would they be considered an annual due to our hard winter...
view the full question and answer

Possible tax exemptions for wildlife management
August 07, 2006 - I am interested in finding out whether there are state grants to help land owners grow wildflowers on otherwise unused portions of their properties. Would you happen to know whom I should contact or w...
view the full question and answer

Where can white prickly poppy be viewed en mass from Baton Rouge LA?
January 16, 2013 - Does the center feature the native White Prickly Poppy? When is prime blooming season? Can you give me some specific locations in the area where the plant can be seen en mass and photographed? Thank...
view the full question and answer

Best planting time for wildflower seeds in Texas
September 08, 2006 - My husband bought a large amount of wildflower seeds at the Ladybird Johnson's Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas several months ago, but neglected to ask when to plant them. Some were Bluebonnets a...
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