----- Original Message -----
Sent: 04 July 2001 15:08
Subject: What's a sport?
discussion about 'June' and 'Loyalist'/ 'Fire and Ice' brings up some
interesting questions. I think we need to talk about what's a sport, and
what's a selection.
Not all hosta
are very homogenous in appearance. Here in America, we get used to the idea
that a bottle of Pepsi or a McDonald's hamburger will taste the same no matter
where or when we get it. These products are intentionally made that way, for
marketing reasons. On the other hand, if you buy peaches or strawberries,
you'll find that there's a big difference between the good ones and the ones
that taste like newspaper. The main area that we see a range of difference in
hostas is margin width. The next time you visit a nursery, look at the
'Francee' and the 'Wide Brim'. The 'Francee' margin is very consistant from
leaf to leaf and plant to plant. Very rarely do you see anything that stands
out as wider. Occasionally you'll see different colors appearing in the
center, and these are rightly called sports. Now look at the 'Wide Brim'. They
are all over the map when it comes to margin width. What's more, they seem to
stabilize into clumps with the margin width they came out of the TC lab with.
Some have wide margins (and given the name, these are probably the
as-registered ones), and some have narrow margins. Some are in-betweens, and
some have a mix of widths in the same plant. 'Wide Brim' has a wide range of
most interesting thing here is that the wide (or the narrow) ones can settle
out and keep growing that way. If you want a nice wide-margin specimen, and
you have a bunch of large multi-division plants to pick from, take one with a
wide, even margin on every leaf. This plant will continue to stay
wide-margined, even if you split it up and pass it around. The same applies to
stable-looking narrow-margined ones. Are either of these sports? I say no,
because no new tissue has appeared. Both can be found within the range of a
normal batch of 'Wide Brim'. The fact that they can stabilize doesn't make
them sports because they are not different genetically, just a stabilized
selection from the normal range. If a new color appears on the plant, or the
margin disappears, or the white moves to the center, or it turns streaked, or
even if it starts putting out double flowers, it would be a sport. If there is
a change in ploidy, it would also be a sport. But if the margin-width varies
considerably in a plant, and you pick out one with a nice wide margin,
it's a selection.
I was at a local
nursery looking at the first batch of 'Loyalist' last year. Some had small,
narrow white centers, and others were all center with hardly any margin.
Needless to say the ones with a lot more green grew a lot faster than the
ones that were 90% white. This is probably the explanation for the pictures
Luc sent. One batch was propagated from a narrow margined individual, and one
from a wide-margined one, and they've settled down that way. The same sort of
thing appears to be going on with 'June'. If a wide-margined one is chosen for
TC, a wide-margined batch results. Neither it or the narrow-margin forms are
sports, just different selections from a variable population.
'Wide Brim' example, let's say that the first batch was variable in margin
width. Two TC lab owners come shopping and one picks a wide-margined one and
the other picks a narrow-margined one. Both take their plants home and
propagate them and both forms hold fairly true. Once the original batch is
gone and the new ones hit the market, we have a debate on our hands about
which is the true form. We have two different-appearing strains of the same
plant, and can see that they are not "identical". What we don't see is the
original batch and its variability. I say they are both 'Wide Brim', just
different selections of it, and that hostas are more like strawberries
than McDonald's hamburgers.