Hybrid Palms- Modifying Nature
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All conventional palm
species begin producing flower clusters once they reach sexual maturity (as fast
as 2 years with some Chamaedorea sp. and
as slow as 40-60 years with Tahina spectabilis).
Some palms are monoecious (having both male and female flowers on the same
tree), while the rest of them are diecious (having male flowers on one tree and
female flowers on a different tree). Some monoecious palms that have been
hybridized are Wodyetia, Butia, Jubaea, Hyophorbe, Syagrus,
Some diecious palms that have been hybridized are Chamaedorea, Rhapis,
A palm seed forms once a
flower (female) receives a grain of pollen from a staminate
flower (male). The period in which the male flowers open and expose their
pollen and the female flowers open to receive their pollen is called anthesis.
Monoecious palms (Right picture)
each produce both male and female flowers on the same tree and are more difficult to hybridize because you have to emasculate
the inflorescence (remove all male flowers) so that the palm
cannot create seed by itself. Then, male donor pollen from
another palm has to be applied to the female flowers in order for them to become
"pregnant" and become a seed (which will grow into a new palm tree). Diecious
palms are easier to hybridize because all you have to do is remove the
inflorescence from a male tree and shake the pollen off onto the inflorescence
on a female tree to create hybrid seeds.
F1 and F2 Hybrids
If a palm tree is
cross-pollinated by hand
and the resulting hybrid seed is
sprouted and grown into a tree, this tree is known as a F1 hybrid. If this
F1 hybrid grows and reaches sexual maturity, it will produce its own seed (if it
is monoecious; see above). If this seed is successfully sprouted and
grown, the resulting tree is known as an F2 hybrid. Essentially, an F2
palm hybrid is one that was grown from seed collected off an existing hybrid.
A hybrid palm (such as a Mule
palm, or xButiagrus), can receive pollen
from a donor that is flowering in close proximity. This creates a
back-cross. For example, a Mule palm is a Butia x Syagrus
(Jelly Palm crossed with a Queen Palm).
If this mule palm produces a flower cluster (inflorescence), it generally cannot
pollinate itself (even though it has both sexes of flowers). Thus, if a
bee carries pollen from a nearby Queen Palm (Syagrus)
and drops it on a female (pistillate) flower on the Mule Palm's inflorescence,
the female flower may grow into a seed. If this seed is sprouted and
grown, the resulting tree would be a Butia x Syagrus x Syagrus.
This new back-cross should closely resemble a
Queen Palm, but still have slight characteristics that resemble a Jelly Palm.
Conversely, the Mule Palm (Butia x Syagrus)
can donate pollen to a third genus such as the Chilean Wine Palm (Jubaea
chilensis) to create a Jubaea x (Butia x
Syagrus), or a Jubutigrus.
picture) A suspected Butia capitata x Cocos nucifera.
If this hybrid is confirmed, it will be
the first time in history the Coconut Palm has been crossed with another genus (Butia).
This could result in a million-dollar cash crop if somebone was to produce it
As long as a group of palm
species are in the same family, they
typically contain a similar number of chromosomes within their genome and thus
can be hybridized with one another. Butia, Syagrus,
are all in the same cocosoid family.
Cocos, Parajubaea, Allagoptera, Lytocaryum, and
Jubaeopsis are also in the cocosoid family and
can be hybridized with each other.
List of known hybrid palm