Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Indian blanket
Gaillardia pulchella

More Wildflowers Questions

List of most popular wildflowers in Texas Hill Country from Austin
January 15, 2011 - Can you please tell me the top 10 wildflowers found in the Texas hill country..by numbers, not popularity?
view the full question and answer

Deer Resistant, Fast Growing Groundcover Suggestions for Georgia
April 20, 2013 - Our driveway is 1/4 mile in length and is steep on both sides (one side up one side down). It currently has grass that our contractor planted using seed when we built our house. We are unable to cut t...
view the full question and answer

Growing Texas Bluebonnets in Colorado
February 12, 2009 - I bought bluebonnet seeds from your wildflower center last August when visited Austin. Being a Texas native, I want to enjoy bluebonnets here in Colorado. When do I plant my seeds outdoors? In the gro...
view the full question and answer

Prime wildflower bloom viewing times in Texas
January 31, 2007 - I am planning to drive from Wisconsin to San Antonio in the spring. My schedule is flexible, so I would like to time the trip with the wildflower bloom. I grew up in Texas, but I can't remember when ...
view the full question and answer

When and how to sow bluebonnets in Concho, Texas
May 25, 2010 - Please tell me when I should plant bluebonnet seeds in Concho County, Texas (near San Angelo). I am getting different answers from different sources. Also, can the seeds be strown or do they need to a...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.