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Violet chasmogamous seedpods - an unusual year ?

Mike Hardman mike at ionia.demon.co.uk
Tue May 21 11:04:05 EST 1996

A friend, Peter Robinson, and I have observed this spring in the UK a high 
percentage of chasmogamous [see below for explanation] violet flowers being 
fertilized and giving rise to seedpods.  We have observed especially VV. odorata, alba, 
riviniana, reichenbachiana, and glabella, though these species partly reflect what we 
have easily to hand.  We are casting about worldwide for others' observations and 
knowledge on the matter; our reference materials (apart from Gregory 1912) say 
little more than 'rarely set seed'.  We know some Viola species *do* regularly set seed 
from chasmogamous flowers; it is the others we are most interested in, especially V. 

Do you know anything ?  (eg. botanical literature, or first-hand)
Have you looked this spring ?  (please, please do so and report back;
   even negative observations can be useful; please include species name if you can)
Are you a commercial grower ?  (comments from your particular viewpoint welcome)
Do you suspect this is not unusual, just under-documented ?

Thanks in advance,
Mike & Peter

Chasmogamous flowers have fully developed petals and are open to pollination by 
external agents, as opposed to cleistogamous flowers which have vestigial petals, do 
not open, and are self-pollinated.
Many species of viola produce chasmogamous flowers which wither without being 
fertilized, but the plants later produce insignificant cleistogamous flowers which 
reliably produce much seed.  It is possible to see a seed capsule and mistakenly think it 
arose from a chasmogamous flower (for various reasons); the best way to be sure is 
to observe individual flowers over the course of several weeks, or to see a seedpod 
with the remnants of full petals still attached.

Mike Hardman, International Violet Association; Hampshire, UK  01252-316649

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