Bradley McCarson, South Carolina

Single Chinese not sterile after all?

January 9, 2018

Categories: American Daffodil Society, Autumn Blooming Daffodils, Breeding, Bulb Information, Classics, Daffodil Enthusiasts, Daffodil Types, Fertility, General, Growing Daffodils, Hybridizer, Hybridizing, Seedling, Seeds, Species, Winter Blooming Daffodils

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There are scientific journals out there that say  N. Tazetta ‘Chinese sacred lily’ or ‘Orientalis’ is sterile. This is because the plant is triploid with 30 chromosomes and this causes pollen to not germinate on the stigma and few viable embryos according to

My friend Bill Welch the Tazetta expert has succeeded in obtaining viable seed pods from this variety.

Bill asks, “So who is going to tell me that Chinese Sacred Lily is sterile?  I’ve grown offspring from it before, and I guarantee these carefully pollinated (and repeat pollinated) pods have plenty of real cargo…anyone in China want to comment on this?”

Bill mentioned that if you pollinate three days in a row on the same floret you’re more likely to get viable seed and also the other key element is: “a temperature of at least 80 degrees (27 Celsius) as the high during those 3 days is ideal, certainly anything under the 70s is hopeless.” It seems like repeat pollination and temperature is the key to make this “sterile” variety fertile. Please share any comments or ideas.

Further information shows we must differentiate N. Tazetta subspecies lacticolor from Chinese sacred lily as they’re not the same. This is why Daffseek lists that N. Tazetta subspecies lacticolor as fertile with offspring yet ‘Chinese sacred lily” is supposed to be sterile.  Lawrence explains further below in the comments section.

4 responses to “Single Chinese not sterile after all?”

  1. Lawrence Trevanion, Australia Lawrence Trevanion, Australia says:

    Hi Bradley,

    I’ve been reading your posts with interest.

    The plant you are referring to was introduced to me as ‘Orientalis’ (and also ‘Chinese Sacred Lily’). It is triploid (30 chromosomes), which is the reason for its sterility, and it is quite unlike the diploid species that is the parent of the ‘Autumn’ series. When you mean the triploid I think it is best to use a name such as ‘Orientalis’ or ‘Chinese Sacred Lily’. I prefer Orientalis because it is shorter.

    I think ‘sterile’ is best understood as a relative term such that it makes sense to say – Orientalis is sterile but it sometimes sets seed.

    I have tried Orientalis and Double Roman pollen many times but can’t claim much success. I don’t live in a tazetta climate so there is no prospect of Orientalis setting seed here. The Taztep x tazetta seedlings (probably 31 chromosomes) have workable fertility and may prove to be useful parents.

  2. Bradley McCarson, South Carolina Bradley McCarson, South Carolina says:

    Hi Lawrence,

    First I must say that I admire your hybrids very much  and I appreciate your insight. I see now that daffseek doesn’t really differentiate  between the diploid species and the triploid variety  ‘orientalis’ and
    Bill’s plants are the ‘orientalis’ variety prone to sterility yet with his special methods seeds can be obtained.

  3. Bill Welch says:

    A couple days ago I flowered for the first time a seedling from pollen of the ‘Constantinople’ form of Double Roman, crossed onto Autumn Colors. It has that same delightful and unique Double Roman/Chinese Sacred scent, and resembles the typical Double Chinese. I am very pleased to see it has abundant very nice powdery pollen, as the only other double I have bred previously in the Autumn Colors group is a small, otherwise not very special plant that resembles just a semi double variant of typical wild bicolor N tazetta.

    Best wishes,

    Bill the Bulb Baron (William R.P. Welch)


    William R.P. Welch, 1031 Cayuga Street, Apt B, Santa Cruz, CA 95062, USA (831) 236-8397

  4. Bradley McCarson, South Carolina Bradley McCarson, South Carolina says: