Japanese Morning Glory “Princess Project”

Of all the variety available in Japanese Morning Glories, I am especially attracted to the variegated leaf types and particularly the extreme contrast shown on the strains typically called Beni Chidori, Cameo Elegance or Minibar Rose.

Beni Chidori 2007

Beni Chidori 2007

These strains have smaller stature throughout – smaller flowers, growth habit, and leaves. The leaves are three-lobed and have a distinct shape that some of the online translators call plover. This I believe refers to the shape of a flying bird called the plover. If the stem were the head, then the side lobes would be the swept back wings and the center lobe the tail. I am intrigued at the way individuals of the Japanese culture name various attributes of plants after other things they observe in nature. That in itself is a whole other topic!

In 2006 I purchased a small growing variety labeled Q0777 on eBay. I soon learned that these “Q” numbers were reference numbers for strains of Morning Glories maintained by Kyushu University in Japan. My Q0777 plants were indistinguishable to me from the Beni Chidori,Cameo Elegance and Minibar Rose strains I grew as well. All the flowers are magenta/pink with white throat and a small, variable white margin. The white margin varies from just a small dot of white at five uniform places on the perimeter to a more pronounced, but still usually incomplete white margin. This leads me to believe that these named varieties are commercialized versions of the Q0777 strain. (Edited note: Subsequent research shows that Q0777 is actually a selection from Sakata seed…..”[sakata] seed and seedling ” crimson [chi] [do] [ri]”, princess characteristic”.

As I researched these small statured plants, I learned that geneticists speculated that these characteristics are caused by a then un-named gene often referred to as hime in many of my internet translations. Hime, I learned later is translated as princess. The Kyushu Japanese Morning Glory website now identifies the gene involved as the recessive tiny (tn).  Most informal references to these plants by the geneticists use the term “princess characteristic” and call the pronounced variegation “crystal variegation”. I will use these terms in my discussions.

From this pack of Q0777 seed, one plant (322-125-01) grew much larger than the others, as a normal Japanese Morning Glory. It had normal wild type leaves that were variegated and pink/red Blizzard flowers.   Here are my Journal Entries on Daves Garden for this plant.

322-125-01 F1 Q0777 x unknown

322-125-01 F1 Q0777 x unknown

  I made the assumption that it was a hybrid between the Q0777 and some other red Blizzard flowered Japanese Morning Glory and segregated the seed it produced for further testing. This was the beginning of my princess project.

The plants resulting from this naturally occurring F1 hybrid opened my eyes to the possibilities of this princess factor. The other parent of the cross was obviously also a large flowered Japanese Morning Glory as the segregation of the F2 plants grown showed combinations with the various large flowered genes, primarily retracted (re) and dragonfly (dg). My desire in this project is to produce princess plants with the variety of leaf shapes, flower forms, colors and patterns found in the Japanese Morning Glory.

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