Page 1
(The Early Days)

My first real attempt at breeding auriculas began in the spring of 2001. Until then I had grown named varieties and dabbled with raising seedlings from seed obtained from the Society seed exchange. Inspired by those colourful ragamuffins (Derek Parson's new stripes) and as a Stoke City supporter, I decided to have a go at breeding red and white stripes - bright but with better form.
The best stripe of this type I had to breed from was Marion Tiger. Border Beauty would have been my first choice to cross Marion Tiger with but I did not have a plant with available young pips to make a successful cross. As better form was an aim I decided to make the cross with a couple of quite vigorous red self seedlings, expecting to improve the paste and reintroduce striping in the second generation, as these characteristics were understood to be recessive.
Marion Tiger was crossed with a seedling from Red Admiral both ways and as a sort of insurance as a pollen parent with a seedling from Royal Mail.

The crosses worked and seed was harvested in late summer 2001, with far more seed being produced from the Marion Tiger - Red Admiral seedling crosses than the Marion Tiger - Royal Mail seedling cross.

Marion Tiger
Marion Tiger
Marion Tiger
Marion Tiger
Marion Tiger
Marion Tiger
Marion Tiger
Marion Tiger
Marion Tiger
Marion Tiger
Seedling from Red Admiral
Seedling from Red Admiral
Seedling from Royal Mail
Seedling from Royal Mail

As you can see the seedlings are quite similar, the first has a better tube and the second a truer red colour.

The seed was stored in a glass jar in the fridge until it was sown in late January 2002. I had previously had minimal success with germinating auricula seed. This time I used a good seed compost and surface sowed the seed. I covered the seed tray with a plastic transparent cover secured by strong elastic bands and in about a month the seed started to germinate. They seemed as easy as mustard and cress if a little slower. They were pricked out late (due to other demands on my time) into small cells to grow on.

In early February 2003 they were potted on into 9cm square plastic pots that you can fit 15 to a standard seed tray. Due to the lateness of doing these simple tasks I did not expect many to flower in the spring of 2003 and was pleasantly surprised when a fair proportion started putting up trusses in April.

The expectation was that the seedlings would all carry the recessive gene for striping that would not be seen in the first generation seedlings and paste of a quality similar to that of Marion Tiger. The striping and the better paste should reappear in about a quarter of the second generation seedlings. With a few second generation seedlings having both desired characteristics. That was the theory anyway. First generation seedlings would be selected using normal florist criteria.

Here are some pictures (sorry may be slow to load - 142k !!) of some of the first seedlings to flower. There are a further 20 seedlings of the red self type similar to the ones shown, plus a few fancies.

Seedlings 2003

Which seedlings do you think are worth keeping?
Which crosses would you make?

Contrary to recommended practice I did not keep a note of which seedlings came from each cross, but you can in this case tell (from the leaves and ground colour) with some ease which self was the parent. Seedlings 5, 14, 15 and 19 are from the Marion Tiger - Royal Mail Seedling cross.
Up to now, and there are many more seedlings to flower, the crosses involving the Red Admiral seedling are far superior.
Let us look at a few characteristics to see what we can deduce about the genetics.
I did not expect as much variety to appear in the first generation. More variation (some good - some bad) can be expected in the second generation, when recessive genes combine and therefore hidden traits emerge.

Thrum and Pin. (Note thrum is dominant)
Only seedling 19 of the pictured seedlings is pin eyed.
All parents, MT(Marion Tiger), RAS(Red Admiral Seedling) and RMS(Royal Mail Seedling) are thrum.
MT x RAS resulted in 100% thrums in 49 seedlings. Therefore at least one of the parents must be pure thrum.
MT x RMS gave 3 pins in 14 seedlings. Therefore both parents are mixed thrum and pin.
Therefore RAS is the one that is pure thrum.
In the next generation using only thrum seedlings:-
(MTxRAS) x (MTxRAS) should produce on average only a few (4 to 5%) pins.
(MTxRAS) x (MTxRMS) should produce on average about 17% pins.
(MTxRMS) x (MTxRMS) should produce on average about 25% pins.
So whatever new seedlings are used to produce the second generation, we can expect some pins - with (MTxRAS) likely to be the better parent. Pin eyed plants are disqualified if shown and if used for breeding greatly reduce the yield of seedlings capable of being shown. Pin x pin always produces 100% pins and should rarely if ever be contemplated.

The tube. Close inspection reveals at least 4 different types of tube geometry.
Best is a round tube with a nearly invisible small raised rim. Seedlings 3, 4, 7, 11, 13 and 18.
Next is a round tube without the raised rim. Seedlings 1, 2, 6, 8(but too large), 9, 10, 12 and 17.
Worst are the crenellated types 5, 14, 15 and 19. All MT x RMS seedlings. Presumably dominant forms from RMS.
So MT x RAS seedlings are again superior.

The paste.
The quality of the paste is uniformly fairly good, variations however exist in shape of the boundary between the paste and the ground. These forms are generally poor. There are two main types, one like Marion Tiger (sharp division but not round) and the other like the parental seedlings (nicely round but with some flashing of paste into the ground). For red and white stripes the second type will be more difficult to see and is therefore more acceptable. Seedlings 2, 4, 6, 11 and 13 (all RAS seedlings) are a little better than the others but some of form shown could be cultural.

The pip outline.
One of Marion Tiger's strengths is the generally circular outline that for a stripe shows only a little nibbling. Both RAS and RMS have smooth petal edges.
There are two main types of seedling, self and edged-fancy.
Of the self type a suprising proportion are significantly notched. The edged-fancy types are about on a par with Marion Tiger with seedling 13 being the best. Seedling 12 displays at least a tendancy to striping.
I suspect the wire edge of Marion Tiger physically masks dominant genes that would normally cause notching.
All edged-fancy types appearing so far are greys or whites rather than greens. White is best and green would be worst.

Ground colour.
I would classify the parents as MT - maroon, RAS - crimson and RMS - scarlet. The seedlings are in most shades of red, plus brown (seedlings 12, 13 and 17) yellow and black (dark red). For my purposes I would rank the colours from good to bad in the order scarlet, crimson, maroon, brown, black and yellow. Note that the red/brown self seedlings from MT x RAS show undesirable shading.

Pip flatness.
All seedlings are reasonably flat the ones in the pictures that do not appear flat are just immature and have not opened fully yet.

Which seedlings do you think are worth keeping?
Which crosses would you make?


Seedlings 5, 8, 10, 14 and 15 were readily discarded having little merit and serious faults.

The only red self with unnotched petals (seedling 3) was kept.
Edged-fancy seedlings with good tubes (seedlings 1, 6, 12 and 13) were all kept.
All those kept were crossed with each other, a real Pot Pourri.

Seedling 2 was not wanted (a little shaded and notched) but as it was vigorous and bright Viv decided to grow it as a border (Local name - Columbo).

What to do with the unflowered seedlings? I think the only thing do with them is to follow Derek Parson's practice and throw them away.

Local name - Columbo

(Was shown as a border seedling in 2004, but did not win a card. So was not kept. Its main fault is that the form is too close to a self.)

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