A Variegated Chimera

As you look at the image below your first thought may be there is no variegation. The first 3 rows of leaves are devoid of any chlorophyll. Finally on the forth row of older leaves you see they have developed the chlorophyll and variegation, hence the ability to produce food for this plant and survive. (Click on the image to enlarge)

This was a chimera African violet( chimera flower) that was given to me that had moderate amount of variegation, nothing very special. I propagated it using my standard method (tissue culture) and placed it in a 2 oz plastic cup to grow. As the space in the standard growing stands (with fluorescent lights) was all occupied I place the new plantlet under some LEDs that I use to grow plants that require a bit more light. I currently have a small avocado tree growing under it.

Typically I grow the African violets under a light intensity of 3,000 to 5,000 lux. Under the this LED the lux is about 10,000. I have grow other African violets (non-variegated) under it in the past with no negative impact to the plant and saw normal growth. As 20,000 to 30,000 lux would be consider the light intensity of direct sunlight 10,000 lux does not seem unreasonable. So why the total lack of chlorophyll on this variegated plant?

I am not certain if this is a true sport of the plant I propagated hence the white leaves or it is a reaction (as African violets have) to light intensity that is too great for them. In those cases they begin to produce carotenoids. Carotenoids are yellow, orange, or red pigments (in this case in the leaf), that protects the plant from the adverse or deleterious impact of a the light intensity that is too high for that specific plant type.  They do this by absorbing the light energy for use in photosynthesis, and providing photo-protection by a quenching process. Now I am not certain that this is the case here but it is a possibility. Or this is just a sport with an excessive amount of variegation. I will move the plant to the standard growing area of the florescent lights and what happens two months or so will clarify the story. We shall see.

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