hybrids in horticulture

From: Davidogray@aol.com
Date: Sat Feb 13 1999 - 07:22:11 PST

Date: Sat, 13 Feb 1999 10:22:11 EST
From: Davidogray@aol.com
To: cp@opus.hpl.hp.com
Message-Id: <aabcdefg439$foo@default>
Subject: hybrids in horticulture

Will, and list,

William M. Gorum, Jr." <wgorum@softdisk.com> writes:
>Is the propagation of hybrids standard practice in horticulture?
>Are hybrids not such a big deal here? Breeding mutations are one thing, but
>breeding hybrids is totally different altogether from a bird keepers point of

In horticulture, unlike aviculture and the husbandry of endangered animal
species, hybrids are not judged as "bad". First, most plants don't have a
limited breeding lifespan (in the right hands - don't tell those poor VFT at
K-Mart ); individual plants of a rare species can be propagated, tissue-
cultured, and otherwise increased to give the grower more material to breed
with - you can't take a toe off your Spix's Macaw and make a new macaw can
you? One plant can be the parent of hybrid offspring at one breeding and pure
species the next. Second, there is the phenomenon of *hybrid vigor* which
simply is that hybrids between two species or forms are often much more
vigorous and hardy than either parent - I bet you know lots of people who are
taller than their parents, right?. This makes breeding hybrids a worthy and
desirable pursuit. Third, humans do not have complete and utter control of all
life and those sneaky bees sometimes make hybrids when we're not looking.
When a plant in cultivation is rare, growers would normally make an effort to
produce seed of the true species, form, etc. - but sometimes ( as is often
the case with Nepenthes ) plants different enough to cross-pollenate don't
flower at the same time; so the grower crosses the flowering plant with
whatever he/she has flowering at the same time to take advantage of the

As for the very good points raised by Rich Ellis:
>1. Concerns of hybrids escaping into the wild,
>2. The ethics of creating a sentient creature that does not know what
>species it is.
>3. Going through the effort of raising some hybrid creature when captive
>propagation is perceived as an attempt to save genetic material from

1. We've said, hybrids do occur in the wild, and man-made hybrids do "escape"
- but both the ICPS and other conservation organizations condemn intentional
introduction of non-native material. There is no way to stop this from
2. I've never heard a CP complain about being created - let's wait and ask the
first human-chimp cross how he feels about the subject.
3. Sadly, the evidence on reintroductions of captive raised endangered species
shows the survival rate is dismal and that as a strategy for long- term
survival, captive breeding just doesn't work. We have got to save habitat.
 Hope this helps your understanding, and keep breeding those parrots,
David O. Gray

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