27. Sep, 2016

Seed Collection this autumn

This very interesting question came up in conversation recently after a visit to a garden centre.  "What is the meaning or difference between a specie and a hybrid plant?" Reading books becomes extremely complicated so in hopefully easy to understand terms - All plants have been given a botanical name, this name is recognised internationally, as opposed to common names which will vary from country to country.

A specie is a natural plant which has not been artificially altered by means of cross pollination with another plant of the same family and therefore because it is a natural plant there are constant very distinct characteristics which show over the generations, a common parentage, and these plants will reproduce themselves more or less true from seed.

However, a hybrid plant, or cultivar, is that which has been created as a result of cross pollination either naturally in the garden or nowadays more often by human hand.

If a hybrid or cultivar does set seed, and many don't, it will not come true to its parent but will show a mix of characteristics from each parent or favour one parent more than the other - much like humans or animals.

So for those of you collecting seed this autumn, just remember a specie plant will grow more or less true to type as per the mother plant.  A hybrid or cultivar will result in a variation of characteristics from their parents as the parents do not share natural characteristics.  So as an example, Lavendula angustifolia is a natural specie, Lavendula angustifolia 'Hidcote' is a hybrid, a cultivated variety.