As my Japanese Morning Glory seedlings continue to grow, I’ve observed an interesting thing. The difference in the development of the first leaves of mutant system parentwood plants (the ones that produce seed to perpetuate the system) is dramatic. One mutant system labeled Q0402 has as its defining plant (or plant of appreciation), a plant with sterile white feathered flowers. Another feathered flower system is labeled Q0426 and it has blue flowers. The primary genetic difference between the two systems, besides the color and structure of the flower, is the presence of the Blown (B) gene in the Q0402 system. The dominant Blown gene modifies the growth pattern of the leaf. The Japanese often refer to the characteristics of the Blown gene as “forest wind”. I can only imagine that this is alluding to the effect a strong wind has on a leaf’s position and possibly a resulting quaking action…similar to the aspen leaf as it shows its lighter colored underside in the wind.
Here is a picture of the Q0402 seedling showing the first leaf in an upsidedown position. The underside of the leaf is actually facing up. This leaf position is not as pronounced on the mature plant.
This picture of the Q0426 seedling shows what we think of as a normal position of the developing leaf. The top surface of the leaf is facing up. The curled edge of the leaf is a characteristic of this system and has been carefully selected for by the Japanese. This upward curled leaf is often referred to as “holding”, or one that can hold water. This trait is very exagerated in the plant of appreciation which is sterile and has the feathered flowers. The shape, position and configuration of the leaves on these plants was as important as the flowers to the early developers.