Hibiscus Rosa-sinensis - Genetics


Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is one of many plant genera with a genetic characteristic known as polyploidy, in which there are more than two complete sets of chromosomes, unlike most other species including human. Polyploidy is a condition where the phenotype of the offspring may be quite different from the parent, or indeed any ancestor, essentially allowing possibly random expression of all (or any) of the characteristics of all the generations that have gone before. Because of this characteristic, H. rosa-sinensis has become popular with hobbyists who cross and recross varieties, creating new named varieties and holding competitions to exhibit and judge the many resulting new seedlings and often strikingly unique flowers. To add to the genetic opportunities, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis has been successfully hybridized with the cold-hardy Hibiscus moscheutos and several other North American Hibiscus species, producing cold-hardy hybrids (see cold-hardy Hibiscus cultivars).

Often the progeny of these crosses are sterile, but some are fertile, further increasing the complexity of variability and the possibility of a virtually unlimited number of eventual Hibiscus rosa-sinensis varieties. This further attracts the hobbyists, who have created local and international associations, societies, publications, and manuals to further this hobby, which is practiced with these tropical plants worldwide, including indoors in cold climates.

Pod parent One offspring Another offspring Example: two crosses of 'King Kalakua' and 'Mystic Pink'. The photographs demonstrate that the flowers of the offspring plants have virtually no color characteristics of the parent plants, and few of the physical characteristics.

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