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 Seeds and Seeding Questions

Winter-interest plants in Wynnewood PA
July 11, 2010 - Could you please suggest flowering plants that provide winter interest after drying out (ie with seed pods or interesting dried flower heads)? I'm looking for something that grows in full sun. Thank ...
view the full question and answer

How to make a lawn into a prairie in Arlington, Texas
September 15, 2010 - I am removing lawn grasses in order to start a native prairie meadow. After grass removal, I'll put down 1/2" of compost. I will broadcast wildflower seeds on the compost. If I mulch after broadcas...
view the full question and answer

Different colors of Argemone spp. from McAllen TX
March 16, 2014 - I took pictures of at least 5 colors of pricklepoppy today. Is this common to have so many colors in one area? How do I harvest the seedpods and when is the best time to do so?
view the full question and answer

Red pods on Canna Lilies from Windsor VA
July 21, 2013 - What are the dark red pods on my canna lilies?
view the full question and answer

Planting Muhlenbergia capillaris (Gulf muhly)
October 27, 2011 - Is it too late to plant Gulf Muhly seed in North Texas (October)?
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