Chimera Foliage or Variegated Foliage?

A recent e-mail discussion and a conversation I had several weeks prior prompted me to post this. There is increasing interest in variegated foliage and there is confusion if the foliage is a chimera expression or the result of pure variegation and not a chimera expression. I think in many people’s minds one equals the other. But it does not.

Little Stinker Leaf Chimera

The above image is a large plant, almost 12 inches across. The variegation of the leaves is the consequence of a true chimera leaf situation. The below image is non-chimera variegation.

Variegated Leaf (non-chimeral)

So what is the difference? There are several sources. A rather technical explanation can be read and downloaded if interested by clicking here. 

A second explanation (easier to follow) focuses ONLY on chimera variegation with some very nice illustrations that can be reviewed by clicking here.

Simply stated from reading both articles, all variegated plants are not chimeras. The determining factor is how the color pattern is controlled. IF the variegation is the result of gene expression that is positionally dependent instead of variegation that is dependent on the genetics of the multiple genotypes in the plant then the plant is NOT a chimera. You can determine which is your plant by taking a leaf cutting and see what the leaf colors look like while concurrently reproduce a second plant using typical stem propagation (apical meristem).  If the leaf and stem plantlets you produce look the same it is not a chimera.  If on the other hand, the leaf plantlets look different then the parent leaves and the stem plantlet produced plants identical to the parent, then your parent plant is a chimera leaf plant. 

Click on the images above to enlarge.

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