Naming Techniques for Plant Varieties – For Easy Organic Farming

By: liza252 | Posted: 13th March 2009

Dreaming of a small garden on the patch behind your house? Also, you want to start eating organic and make a small difference to this environment?

Here's some help on putting together plants and their names to make things easy.

Now, if you go to a nursery and ask to buy a daylily, the grower will point out that there are many kinds of daylily. Do you want one that's yellow, red, orange, or multicolored? If you say "yellow," she may point out that she carries Stella d'Oro, Hyperion, or several others. It all comes down to the variety name, called the cultivar by horticultural professionals. Cultivar is a contraction of "cultivated variety" and is the name of the particular plant.

Naturally occurring wild plants are named by their genus and their species: The naturally occurring form of broccoli is Brassica oleracea, with Brassica being the genus and oleracea the species. There are many different kinds of wild brassicas. Each kind is given a species name (in other words, a specific name) to differentiate it from others in its genus.

Over the years, growers and horticulturists have selected especially delicious or prolific strains of Brassica oleracea that come true to seed—meaning that if their seed is planted, it will produce the same strain as its parent. These are called open-pollinated varieties. Among types of broccoli, De Cicco, Italian Green Sprouting, and Umpqua are such open-pollinated varieties, and you might find them listed in catalogs like this: Brassica oleracea ‘De Cicco'. "Heirloom varieties" are open-pollinated forms of crops that have been passed down through generations of home gardeners because of their high quality.

Horticulturists and plant breeders will often cross one open-pollinated variety with another to combine desired characteristics, producing hybrids, also known as crosses. These can be patented. If you plant hybrid seeds, you'll get the hybrid that the breeders intend. But if you let the hybrid plants go to seed and then plant those seeds, the subsequent generation will revert to a fairly random genetic mixture of the parents' characteristics, rather than more of the hybrids. Among broccoli, popular hybrids include Green Comet, Packman, and Premium Crop. Horticulturists use the symbol × (a cross) to denote a hybrid, so you might see a seed catalog with the following listing: Brassica × ‘Packman'. Usually, however, seed catalogs forego all the botanical details and simply list plants by their cultivar names.

An easy way to think of these distinctions is to visualize a slot machine where the little windows with lemons and cherries and liberty bells represent a set of genes. Pulling the handle is like planting the seed. Wild plants will almost always produce the same pictures in the windows every time you pull the handle. So will open-pollinated varieties. Hybrids will produce the desired lineup of pictures only on the first pull of the handle. A second pull (equivalent to planting seed produced by a hybrid plant) will scramble the pictures, and you won't be able to say exactly what you'll get.
Now that you are familiar with names of different plants, you can also use your fruits of labor to make some yummy organic recipes !
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Tags: contraction, hybrids, broccoli, different kinds, genus