The bright red fruit of Rohdea japonica, the Japanese sacred lily, are showy all fall and winter so we wait to collect them until after our Winter Open Garden and Nursery so our guests can enjoy them and realize that this is another ornamental aspect of Rohdea. The fruit are worn by these plants like a scarlet jewel amongst the evergreen foliage in all its variations: plain green, white or yellow margined, splashed with white, and leaves that can be curled or crested or some combination of several of these characteristics. Juniper Level Botanical Garden grows many species of Rohdea and some appeared to be hybrids between Rohdea japonica and Rohdea chinensis. JLBG has given these suspected hybrids the name of Rohdea x japensis. Today a large cluster of fruit was found on a plant of Rohdea x japensis ‘Uptight’. The individual fruit were full sized but not quite as plump as normal Rohdea japonica fruit. An initial squeeze of one fruit proved that there were no seeds within the red skin of the fruit. Normally Rohdea japonica has 1 or 2 or occasionally 3 seeds about the size of an English pea, but translucent like a tapioca pearl. Subsequent investigation found zero seeds in the approximate 30 fruit collected from this plant of Rohdea x japensis, leading us to be ever more convinced that this plant is indeed an interspecific hybrid. Now hybrids between species are not always sterile like the classic example of the mule, the sterile hybrid between a horse and donkey, but sterility would not be expected if the parents of this individual Rohdea were the same species, either both R. japonica or both R. chinensis.

Rohdea x japensis fruit vs. Rohdea japonica

The Rohdea collections at Juniper Level Botanic Garden consists of 10 species with 2 varieties, 6 undetermined, 1 nothospecies and 1 undescribed in addition to 276 clones. The seed of Rohdea is one of many species that are collected from the JLBG gardens for nursery production. None of the cultivars of Rohdea come true from seed but it has proven to be most worthwhile to sow it for a significant number show the varied variegations and leaf forms of the parents.

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