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Thread: Nep. sex?

  1. #1
    boomfiziks1's Avatar
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    I'm sorry that this is such a newbie question. But how do the neps reproduce? [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/new/smile_m_32.gif[/img] Okay, I'm a science teacher and my parents did have that "birds & bees" discussion with me.

    The other day I saw an advertisement for a female ventrata (or maybe it was a ventricosa). What I'm wondering, are there male nep plants and separate female nep plants? Do the male and female exist on the same plant? What do the flowers look like...if there are any. Are there separate male and female flowers or are the male and female "parts" within the same flower? Are hybrids sterile...I've never heard of a crossing of a hybrid with the neps.

    So if anyone could please discuss the "birds and bees" of the neps...I'd appreciate it. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/new/smile_m_32.gif[/img]

    Have a great day!
    Dwight

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    Hi boomfiziks1,

    Yes, neps do have male & female. They're not hermaphrodidic (butchered that spelling, I know I know).

    Also, the popluations are not 50/50. I think it's more like 70/30 in favor of the female plants (though it could be the other way around). This would make sense evolution wise, at least, as one male could simultaneously fertilize several females.
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    Actually, Schloaty, it's the other way around. It is estimated that 70 percent of Neps in natural habitat are male. This may vary with the species. For example, N. 'Viking' has shown about 10 percent of the population is female, so there are even fewer plants producing seed than the typical Nep population. In cultivation its purely random chance, but there are more males than females, and a fine female plant is prized for making hybrids.
    Dwight, there are many fine Nepenthes hybrids around, some of them dating back to the late 1800's. These old classics are commonly referred to as Victorian hybrids, and would include such fine plants as N. Mixta, N. Dyeriana, N. Mastersiana, N. Chelsonii, N. Tiveyi, N. Coccinea, N. Morganiana and bunch of others. Also, there are a number of natural hybrids such as N. trusmadiensis, N. hookeriana, N. trichocarpa, N. kuchingensis and others.
    Today, there are some great hybrids being made, and at the forefront would be Geoff Mansell in Australia.
    Nepenthes hybrids exhibit true hybrid vigor, and are often easier to grow than their parents, and exceeding them in pitcher size. As an example, one sibling from the hybrid of veitchii x bellii produces pitchers bigger than either parent.
    Individual plants are either male or female. Hybrids are not sterile, and some breeding has been done up to five generations now.
    As schloaty said, they are not hermaphrodites. The only way to sex the plant is to wait for it to bloom. Also, they retain their gender. A male plant will not suddenly bloom as a female or vice versa.
    The ventrata you saw advertised as a female is most likely the one that most Nep growers consider a weed. She's a great beginners plant, and will rapidly reward the grower with a display of pitchers. Also, alas, she is sterile. Sterility can occur in Nepenthes, or seemingly so, but this could be a question of ploidy. So far, no one has done chromosome counts on Nepenthes to determine if particular clones are diploid, triploid or tetraploid. I'm sure there are natural tetraploids out there just like in other plant families.
    Another common question is when do they bloom. To put it simply: whenever they feel like it. Some exhibit seasonal preferences, others don't. Sometimes a shock will cause them to flower, such as a sudden night temperature drop or increase in light intensity. Some bloom several times a year, others once a year and yet others very rarely or never.
    Also, the flowers have a peculiar odor, having been described as smelling like everything from Fritos corn chips to sweaty leather shoes. Once you smell, you decide...
    [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/new/smile_n_32.gif[/img]

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    Let me ask a related question, especially as it applies to hybrids.
    There seems to be widespread opinion that which parent is which sex makes a difference as far as the resulting offspring. That is a male species A crossed with a female species B will produce offspring different looking from the female A and male B cross.
    What evidence is there that this is true? Could what we see be simply variation due to parents of different genetic background rather than the role of the parental sexes?
    If the parental sex matters, what is the mechanism? My genetics knowledge is mostly mammals where each parent provides 50% of the genes and as far as I know, the sex of which parent is which does not matter as far as the offspring. Someone who deals with inbred mouse strains or something of that nature would know more.


    Thanks
    Bob H

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    Geoff Mansell of Exotica Plants claims it makes a noticeable difference. The evidence would be Geoff's twenty years experience making Nepenthes hybrids.
    Also important is selecting good breeding stock. Superior clones(cultivars) used in making the hybrids results in superior offspring.

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    I would like to add to the hybrid question regarding different parents used reverse would make different-looking offspring.

    In mammals, look at dog mixes. A German shepherd female bred with a doberman male looks different than a doberman female bred by a German shepherd male!

    Nepenthes crosses are also different too. I have N. truncata x ventricosa (female is ventricosa, male is truncata) that looks night and day different than the reverse cross. My truncata x ventricosa plants are larger and somewhat lankier than the reverse, with pitchers closer to truncata. My ventricosa by truncata seedlings are more compact with pitchers favoring ventricosa, in shape, color and even the ventricose waist.

    Does anyone else seen this phenomenon before?

    I will try to post pics showing this difference later!

    M
    Morticia:\"Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc, 'We would gladly feast on those who try to subdue us.' Not just pretty words. but words to live by!\"

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    Tony Paroubek's Avatar
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    I would expect some differences depending on which plant was the seed parent/pollen parent. Unfortunately in Nepenthees we can't make reciprocal crosses with the exact same parents! Perhaps some of the difference that shows up when you see these crosses made both ways is that different plants behave differently in their expression. So unless you have the cross made in both ways 5 or 10 times each and have 100+ plants of each cross to compare, it is really hard to say that simply the order of the cross is the issue. I have seen alot of variation even within one cross where one individual will look much more like one parent and another will look much more like the other... so go figure! hehe

    TOny
    Is that a Nepenthes in your pocket or you just happy to see me?

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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]I have N. truncata x ventricosa (female is ventricosa, male is truncata)
    I thought the seed bearing plant is supposed to be listed first?

    So you would have a N. ventricosa x truncata

    Dunno if I am right on that, but I thought thats what I had heard.
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