Pregnant Onion Sexual Propagation

Really, that just means my Ornithogalum caudatum is flowering. Throughout the almost a year I've had the plant, it has made a ton of little "babies" from its bulb (vegetative propagation--offsetting), but it started flowering (sexual propagation) back in late March, right before I disappeared.

After a few weeks of wiggling around like a snake, the spike decided to open its first few flowers! I plan on using a Q-tip to pollinate a few of them and see whether starting from seed is viable and whether the children look any different from mama. The one "baby" that rooted and started sending up a little leaf hasn't done too much, yet, and I'm wondering if the seeds will be more tricky than vegetative propagation. They usually seem to be, although I have read that they are fairly easy.



On Monday, 29 March, I woke up on a dreary day to find this inflorescence peeking out. It brightened up my day considerably!


On Saturday, 3 April, the spike had snaked out a little, lifting its head as if a sleepy dragon freshly awoken from a nap.


By Tuesday, 13 April, the inflorescence had introduced a few dips and bends in its "neck." It seemed every day I came home, it was in some new awkward orientation!


By Saturday, 17 April, the flowers were imminent. I waited patiently for them (I had texted "How long does it take for these things to flower?" to my horticulturalist friend, who had previously said [prior to O. caudatum flowering] "Oh, yeah, I have tons of those at the Arboretum. They flower all the time." Well, he never got back to me about a time frame between inflorescence emergence and flowering, and even if it's mundane to him, it's still exciting to me!).


I only had to wait a few more days, however. Last week, on Tuesday, 20 April, the first flower opened on the spike! Each day, one or two more opens. I currently have about five open. They stay open for about two days, I think, and then they fold back up. They'll eventually fall off, I'm sure, but before they all open, I'm going to pollinate a few and see what the fruit and seed look like.

The curvature of the "neck" is ever-changing, although I don't move or rotate the pot. I find that incredibly interesting--the inflorescence probably isn't a primary photosynthesizer, so if the moving is phototaxic, what's the point? Is it temperature related? There has certainly been amazing variability in that department, lately! I can't find readily accessible information about this online. I'll try to do a more thorough search at some point.

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3 Responses to Pregnant Onion Sexual Propagation

  1. Amazing pictures! This is all the more intriguing since it happened indoors, good job with the q-tip seduction, LOL!

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  2. Erin, it was nice to wake up and have an intimate moment with little Orni. It's a pleasant change of pace from my usual morning routine!

    Amelia, thanks! I particularly like the fourth one, where Orni looks almost predatory. Like a long-necked dinosaur with many teeth. I need to do a post about predatory-looking flowers, although I kind of have already.

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