Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/385

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THE RED SUNFLOWER

In Dreer's Catalogue of 1911 appears the following:

The Red Sunflower, Helianthus cucumerifolius purpureus. A red annual sunflower has long been looked for, and this new hybrid strain seems to be the forerunner of a really bright red variety, containing as it does a large range of colors, from light pink to deep purplish red.

PSM V80 D385 Diagram showing the cross russian and red sunflower.pngDiagram showing the Cross Russian and Red Sunflower, the manner of growth of the progeny in 1911 and the expected result for 1912.

This is a garden variety of the small Heliantlus debilis, which we understand originated in Italy. We purchased seed, which produced good plants, but showing hardly any red, and that of a dingy color. We hear from others that this variety has been a great disappointment, but are told that the originator is still working on it. In any event, it is an entirely different plant from ours.

A famous discovery somewhat parallel to that of the red sunflower is that of the Shirley poppy, which is described in Bailey's "Cyclopedia of American Horticulture" as "the loveliest of all poppies" and "one of the finest contributions to floriculture ever made by an amateur." The Rev. W. Wilks, of Shirley in England, gives the following account of his discovery and development of this poppy. This was written without any knowledge of Mendelism, and can not at once be reduced to Mendelian terms. It is evident, however, that the Shirley is a minus variation (loss of black pigment), and may be expected to behave as a recessive.

In 1880, I noticed in a waste corner of my garden, abutting on the fields, in a patch of the common wild field poppy (Papaver rhæas), one solitary flower the petals of which had a very narrow edge of white. This one flower I marked, and saved the seed of it alone. Next year, out of perhaps two hundred plants, I had four or five on which all the flowers were edged. The best of these were marked and the seed saved, and so on for several years, the flowers all the while getting a larger infusion of white to tone down the red, until they arrived at a quite pale pink, and one plant absolutely pure white. I then set myself to change the black central portions of the flowers, from black to yellow or white, and at last fixed a strain with petals varying in color from the brightest scarlet to pure white, with all shades of pink between, and all varieties of flakes and edged flowers also, but all having yellow or white stamens, anthers and pollen, and a white base. . . . My ideal is to get a yellow Papaver rhæas, and I have already obtained many distinct shades of salmon. The Shirley poppies have thus been obtained simply by selection and elimination. . . . Let it be noticed that true Shirley poppies (1) are single, (2) always have a white base, with (3)