Heirloom Bulbs & Garden History  •  Living Treasure from the Past


Oct
23
2019

No More Wrong Bulbs?
Pheasant’s-Eye Genome May Help

If you’ve ever had the maddening experience of planting something you really wanted and then waiting months for it to bloom only to discover that it’s actually something else, this news is for you.

Scientists in England have succeeded in mapping the entire genome of the chloroplast of Narcissus poeticus, the pheasant’s-eye narcissus.

In case your botany is rusty, chloroplasts are the part of a plant where photosynthesis occurs, and this DNA mapping – one of very few that have been done in the Amaryllidaceae, the family which also includes snowdrops, snowflakes, sternbergia, crinums, clivia, agapanthus, onions, garlic, and amaryllis – is expected to prove valuable in multiple ways.

For gardeners, the hope is that it will eventually lead to a method for identifying daffodil cultivars in bulb instead of bloom.

As one of the study’s authors Dr. Alastair Culham of Reading University says, “The technology used in this project … will be both practical and affordable for routine use within the next 10 years. As a keen gardener I have sometimes been disappointed to find special bulbs I’ve planted in the autumn have turned out to be less-good varieties when they flower in the spring. Better management of the supply chain and the ability to authenticate dormant bulbs should stop such mistakes in the future.”

Although it may not entirely end misidentified bulbs, Dr. Culham’s project is definitely a step forward, and we look forward to future developments. In the meantime we’ll continue doing everything we possibly can to make sure every bulb you get from us is EXACTLY what you ordered.

Here at OHG, that’s in our DNA.