Leaf Chimera African Violets

Little Stinker

About six months ago I purchased my first leaf chimera African violet, “Little Stinker”. (I wonder about the back story on the unusual name). I must admit as my focus has been on chimera blooms, I have had no experience with leaf chimera African violets. As I propagated a few from this plant pulling off suckers, I have noticed ever so slight variations in leaf patterns between the parent and plantlet. It just so happens that in the January/February 2020 African Violet Magazine, on page 19, a question was submitted. Question“Can leaf chimera plants change over time? I have seen plants of Harmony’s Little Stinker that look very different from each other.” The response was yes. That leaf chimeras can shift over time. In some ways but to a lesser impactful way, this happens with the blooms of chimera African violets. I posted about the bloom variation sometime ago. If interested click here.

Also not too long ago I had a small sucker of my Yukako mutate to form a plant with chimera leaves. It is not as symmetrical or as strikingly different as seen in Little Stinker but never the less they are chimera leaves. Click on any of the images to enlarge.

New Leaf Chimera African Violet Mutated From Yukako

Sport Of Yachiyo Tabata

I have been growing Yachiyo tabata for a while and it is generally a very stable chimera African violet, in that stem culture after stem culture I know the probability is very high that the plantlet that will be produced will be a representation of the parent plant. Below is a typical Yachito tabata. Some times it has six petals usually five.

What I find so interesting and appealing about these blooms is that every single bloom is different. Some have a pink and blue fantasy with few blue stripes, some have more and the patterns in each bloom on the same plant are different. Sort of like snowflakes. Each is different. The other day one of the plants I produced by a stem culture bloom surprised me in how it bloomed as is seen below.

Yachiyo tabata Sport

Note where the purple and pink fantasy colors occurred on the standard Yachiyo as compared to this one. Where it was pure white on the typical Yachiyo tabata we now have the purple and pink fantasy. And where that fantasy existed on the standard Yachiyo is now pure white. The patterns reverses position! I already put this stem into tissue culture and we will see what we can get from it. It should be noted on the flower stem that this bloom came from an initial bloom first appeared that was a mess. It looked a bit like this bloom and a bit like the standard. I put the plant on the side to discard. But before I could send it off to the mulch pile this bloom appeared. So I am not certain of the outcome but we will not know unless we try by culturing the stem and seeing what the blooms look like. We should have an outcome in about 9 months (August /September time frame).

Leaf Color Change In Humako Sweet and Neptune’s Jewels

Humako Sweet
Humako Sweet – Click to Enlarge Image

Back in July of this year, I had a number of Humako Sweet’s that I had grown from flower stem via tissue culture but they were not blooming and the dark green leaves were turning reddish. In some cases, the reddish color was giving away to almost a transparency of the leaf. See leaf A as compared to leaf B below.

Humako Sweet Leaves – Click to Enlarge Image

Plants were not wilting but growth appeared slow. There was no visible sign of a fungus or insect infestation or even its presence. My attention then turned to perhaps a virus infection. Was it the ” Impatiens necrotic spot virus” or for that matter one of the others that impact African violets? But the one odd thing that stood out was the leaf color change was only impacting two different plant varieties. The leaves of Humako Sweet as shown above and the leaves of my Neptune Jewels which are a lighter green leaf illustrated below. Leaf C is what all the leaves were changing to on the Neptune Jewels while Leaf D is the normal color.

Neptune’s Jewels Leaves – Click to Enlarge Image

What was happening? Do I submit leaves to viral analysis? All the other plants appeared fine, although I admit glowing slower than normal.

It just so happened that I attended a local Gesneriad meeting. There was a taped presentation from the National Gesneriad Society. About 3/4 through the presentation they showed a plant whose leaves were reddish and parts almost transparent while other leaves turned yellowish. The presenter noted that at first viral infestation was expected but that in reality, the true root cause was the temperature of the room it was growing in was very cool. At that moment it all came together!

I grow my plants in the basement of my house. It was July and it was hot outside and the air conditioning was running. The basement had the ductwork running through the ceiling of the basement and there were a number of vent openings that would cool the basement that was naturally on the cool side. I immediately purchased a thermometer and noted that the temperature in the evening would get down to between 16-18 degrees centigrade.

I closed the vents in the basement from the air conditioner, and within a few days temperature was in the 22-25 degree centigrade range and has been maintained in that range. All the red and yellow leaf color changes have stopped forming on the younger leaves (which are all green now) and remain green as the leaves mature. Only on the older leaves is the issue seen. But as the older leaves die off, evidence of the problem is disappearing. So I guess Humako Sweek and a Neptune Jewels are good indicator plants when the growing area is getting too cool. Their leaves turn colors like trees in autumn.

Changes in Chimera Blooms is First Reflected in the Leaves

Very recently I used a tissue culture method to propagate Neptunes Jewels. In the past, I was able to generate numerous plants all true to the parent as illustrated below. (Click on the images to enlarge them)

Neptunes Jewels
AVSA Reg# 9179 2/3/2003 – Lyndon Lyon Greenhouses/Sorano

What was interesting is as the plants developed the true Neptune’s Jewels plants retained the green leaf pigment (top and bottom of the leaf. Two of the plant’s leaves developed darker green leaves with red underleaf pigment. I knew these two plants were going to bloom differently and they did. Below is the first plant with dark green leaves that bloomed. Note the change in leaf color that was the tip-off that the chimera had sported.

The First Sport of Neptunes Jewels

The second plant in the batch to sport also had dark green leaves with red underleaf pigment.

The Second Sport of Neptunes Jewels.

The bottom line is as you are propagating chimera African violets, the first very reliable clue that one of the plants will not be genetically true will be the observation that phenotypically the leaf color, shape or texture has changed.

Maybe We Have A Double Chimera!?

As first discussed in my June 2019 post, a couple of my Yukako’s sported into what appears to be chimera leaves. Referring back to the image of June 1st you can see the dark green outer rims of the leaf and the lighter green inner section. See the image below.

Chimera Green Leaves

The above image was taken about 4 months ago and it was prior to and blooms developing. The initial blooms were very cupped and I really did not pay much attention assuming it would be a dark purple as I have seen before. The plant is bigger and the blooms are now more developed as this image was taken a few days prior to this posting. Click on the image below to enlarge it.

Sport of Yukako

Now if you closely examine the bloom it appears to be a chimera bloom.

Bloom of Chimera Leaf Sport of Yukako

Note the dark almost black petal edges (A) and the lighter purple center stripes (B). It does have that pinwheel look. The bottom petal which is not fully extended and pointing outward even has this coloration all be it not as pronounced. It will take time and a couple of generations (and years) to see if this is all genetically stable and truly a double chimera. Click on the images above to get a clearer and larger image.

Kilauea-Vintage Chimera African Violet

As you see more and more new chimera African violets, many with large double blooms in a wide array of colors and shades (oftentimes not very stable between generations), I have come to notice that the old standards are seen less and less and increasingly more difficult to find. Kilauea is one of them. Hybridizer Eyerdom (Reg# 6808 1/15/1988) this vintage chimera plants is a perfect example of the “vintage” chimera African violets. Simple in bloom structure and pattern yet distinct and complex in that the patters like snowflakes vary from bloom to bloom.

Kilauea (bloom just opened) Click to enlarge

The above image is of a newly opened bloom of Kilauea. Below the bloom is several weeks old. This is one durable plant that appears very staple genetically. As mentioned above every single bloom is different.

Chimera African Violet Kilauea Bloom

It should be noted that the blooms of Kilauea are very 3 dimensional in that the bottom petal (as in the above picture) sticks out about 30 degrees from the rest of the bloom into a different plane. The two side petals are flat and 90 degrees to the ground and the two top petals are forward about 10 degrees. So how did I get this all in focus? I took 13 pictures and using “Helicon Focus 6” software overlayed them keeping only the focus parts of each image, then combining them resulting in the above image.

Not A Chimera African Violet!

This month’s theme is “Not A Chimera”.    Earlier this year I was looking to purchase Rob’s Mirriwinni.  I found a site on eBay that was selling one.  The picture on eBay of what the bloom looked like was correct but was a picture of the parent plant, not the plant for sale.  I purchased the young plant. Well after a few months it bloomed.  And bloomed some more and the below image is what ALL the blooms looked like.   

Not Rob’s Mirriwinni

For reference (below), this is what the blooms should look like.

Rob’s Mirriwinni

I contacted (e-mailed) the seller and asked a simple question with choices.  Was the plant I purchased propagated from a sucker, a stem or a leaf?  The response was immediate and direct.  The response read…” from a leaf cutting”.  Well as we know you can NEVER, EVER produce any chimera from a leaf cutting.  I will not be doing any further business with that propagator. And maybe I need to start asking the propagation method question before I place a bid.

Now regarding an unrelated plant, I saw (Vat Car Goroh). This plant caught my attention and I thought immediately, this must be a chimera.  But it is not.   It is a standard African violet.  It is a beautiful plant with variegated leaves and many of the blooms look like this.  I actually propagated this plant (below) by a leaf cutting.

Vat-Car Goroh

Neptune’s Jewels~ A Sport of It

Sport of Neptune’s Jewels

In the process of doing tissue culture to produce some chimera African violets, I noticed an actively growing tissue callus on the stem. It produced a small plant. I knew it was not going to be a chimera as only plantlets produced in the apical meristem region will produce a true chimera African violet. But I was curious as to what the bloom would look like of this strongly growing plantlet coming out of this callus tissue. The plant bloomed and the image is above. What is so stunning to me, was this bloom is nearly identical to a sport of Neptune’s Jewels that formed in late 2015, which I liked but died before I could reproduce it. The size of the bloom is the same although the number of spots seems a bit less. This is actually the link to the post I made in 2016 when the original sport bloomed. Click Here

Well now I have the same question I had back then. 1) is it a chimera or not? So I will propagate this by both stem and leaf cutting. If it blooms as in the picture above from leaf and stem propagation, it is NOT a chimera. But if it blooms true only via stem propagation then it very well may be a new chimera. We shall see.

A Double Chimera African Violet?

Yukako is an outstanding plant with its purple blooms and distinct green stripes. The leaves are medium green, plain to slightly quilted. Now that said below is a Yukako that I removed as a sucker from a nice mature plant blooming true. Initially, the leaves were standard and it looked like it would be a standard Yukako. Then I noticed the crow leaves it was producing was not standard for Yakako. In a few months, the below plant developed. Note the chimera leaves.

Yakako plant with mutated chimera leaves

The underside of the leaves shows the red edges associated with the dark green upper part or top of the leaves.

Underside of the chimera leaf

An interesting point to note is that at the base of the plant is growing the last original green leaf that was part of the non-chimera leaves prior to the mutation occurring.

At the time of the writing of this blog, early May, there was a bloom stalk forming. Now what I am very curious about is what will the bloom look like? Will it be a standard Yukako bloom? Will it be different but still a chimera bloom? Or will the flower structure revert back to a normal African violet?
We will see. My prediction is that the bloom will, with a high probability, be different as I see this all the time with chimera African violets. The leaf is lighter green or darker green than the original chimera plant and the bloom characteristics change, usually losing the chimerism. But not always. ————–Just prior to posting the plant bloomed—————————————

Well, I am unsure if this is the bloom of a chimera. I suspect it is not but I do see darker purple stripes. If it is the result of chimerism remains to be seen. At this point propagation of leaves and flower stem will tell the story if this is leaf chimerism with bloom chimerism, or the bloom is not chimerism. I suspect the flowers are not. Results to follow.

Is this bloom typical of a Chimera?

Party Fun is Back (the chimera African violet that is).

Hybridizer Lyndon Lyon Greenhouses

In conclusion to the post I made in Oct 2018 where I removed from a bag the chimera African violet “Part Fun”, the three plants depicted all doing well. One plant is in bud, one plant has bloomed (above) and the smallest is just growing at this point. The above is the first bloom of the plant. Click on the image to enlarge it. To review the past blog that has resulted in the saving of this and other plants plant from the ravages of a fungal infection just click here.

Also as a footnote, the patterns of Party Fun are NEVER the same. This image was taken from the same plant, just another adjacent bloom. One petal is completely purple here.

Yachiyo Tabata or (Blue)

Yachiyo Tabata Bloom #1
Yachiyo Tabata Bloom #2
Yachiyo Tabata Bloom #3

Yachiyo Tabata is an amazing chimera African violet. Each bloom is different. If you looked at 100 blooms each would be a little different then the other as you can see in the first two images. The variability of the blue blotches and streaks and on occasion there near absence on some blooms are as variable as snowflakes. No two are ever the same regardless if the blooms are from the same plant concurrently or from different Yachiyo Tabata plants. Now the interesting part. The above images are all Yachiyo Tabata all taken as suckers from the same plant. But as you can see on bloom #3, it is all blue. And in fact, every single bloom on this plant is blue with no hint of pink! This plant apparently sported. Now that said there is on the market a Yachiyo Blue. I have owned them in the past and on Google Images you can see images of those that I and others have posted in the past (the link will take you to the images). Those images are phenotypically identical to the above bloom #3. So the questions are, did Yachiyo Blue originate from Yachiyo Tabata? Or did Tabata sport from Yachiyo Blue? Which came first? As these plants are not part of the AVSA database there is no history to address these questions.

African Violet Powdery Mildew

Click on image to read and see the details.

Winter time for the growing of African violets presents a unique problem of Powdery Mildew. Why? In a recent and always informative newsletter “Growing Tips” this topic was discussed. Specifically, according to the author of the article, the issue is that the temperature of the leaves lags behind the temperature of the air. When we grow in colder climates this effect is more pronounced during the winter months. It starts during the day when the temperature in the growing areas will increase. Not just in general terms of typical daytime temperature increases, but with the added impact of the heat generated by the grow lights. The growing area is generally warmer during the day. As warmer air will extract and retain more moisture, in the evenings the temperatures will cool and as the leaves lag behind the room temperature decrease and are a bit warmer than the air temperature, water will then condense on the warmer leaves. This is an excellent environment for the growth of Powdery Mildew. So how do we address this issue?

There are several options. 1) The use of Spectracide Immunox. 2) If you want to avoid chemical treatments I presented a method I used several years ago using diluted Clorox.
Click here to see how you can eradicate powdery mildew on infected plants in 10 minutes.

3) The best option is to avoid this problem in the first place! The question is then how? Well the only way to eliminate the risk is to remove the spores that travel in the air. And what the author of this article did was use a small electrostatic air cleaner that also had a UVC lamp that sterilized the air. The author stated that he saw no powdery mildew on his plants while last year he did see a small amount.  

The following link allows you access to this excellent and FREE newsletter “Growing Tips”. Just click on the link and start enjoying this helpful African violet e-mail. AVSA Growing Tips and Tricks

Sport Of Granger Sugar Frost

Historically, I have seen some of the chimera cultivars sport with more frequency than others.  One that has always been stable for me, as I have propagated many from stems is Sugar Frost as seen below.

I recently produced 6 plants using a tissue culture stem propagation technique. What was so atypical is that of the 6 plants produced, 3 plants from that batch sported. Initially, those 3 that sported looked perfectly normal as they all grew their first set of leaves with the light green color (standard in Sugar Frost leaves) on both top and bottom (first rosette of leaves) [Leaves “A”].  But on all second rosettes of the 3 that sported the leaves were darker in color on the top and the underside of the leaves, which are normally 100% green, had red blotches [Leaves “B”] on the underside of the leaf.  The next rosette of leaves, the underside was uniformly dark red and the top of the leaf retained the dark green appearance [Leaves “C”].  Images are seen below.

Seeing the red leaf color is totally atypical in Sugar Frost, which indicating to me that the blooms would not be true to the parent plant as reflected in the top image.  Below is an image of the bloom which just opened up.  

As mentioned above, I had 3 such sports all appeared concurrently with the last batch of Sugar Frost that was produced.   Makes we wonder if this was pure coincidence or there was some environmental or chemical stimulus I inadvertently exposed them to that caused this to happen.  The other two plants had flowers and are exactly as the image above. Also, click the following link to see an up to date collection of images I have made of chimeras and the sports they produced. https://chimeraav.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Chimeras Gone Wrong Sports Ver 3.pdf

Ford’s Pinwheel Revisted

About 2 years ago my collection was devastated by a fungus. Of those that survived was a single Ford’s Pinwheel (J. Ford). So I repotted and it grew. It grew like none of the other chimera African violets. Frankly, it did not bloom but sent out suckers like you would not believe. I never saw anything like it. I had over a dozen suckers in 2 months and I started to wonder if the suckers would be true to the parent. The suckers just kept coming instead of the blooms and I just kept repotting them. Finally, the parent plant started blooming as well as the suckers. All the suckers were totally true to the parent plant. In fact, the blooms were large and as chimera African violet blooms do, they will over time fade with age. This is not the case with Ford’s Pinwheel blooms. The blooms actually darken with time as is evident on the image below. The bloom to the right bottom is the oldest (over one month and is the darkest while the youngest (front and center bloom) is the youngest and lightest. I now have an abundance of healthy, blooming true Ford’s Pinwheels ready to be given as gifts, for trading, and for sale come this spring. On this image, I went out of my way with the lighting to make sure I captured the true color and I believe I captured that.

The image above may appear a bit distorted, but click on it and you will get the correct perspective.