Polytepal Daylilies

An usual single daylily possesses just three petals and three sepals. Together, the sepals and petals of the flower are referred to as tepals. Hence, polytepals, as the name implies, are daylily flowers having more than the archetypal number of tepals. In fact, it would be much easier to consider the flowers in their correct perspective, provided botanists had overturned the letters and called this type of flowers "polypetaled" - an expression that would be easier to comprehend. The first thing that strike most people when they see these flowers is that they contain additional petals compared to the three petals contained by the standard single daylilies.

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A typical daylily flower comprises four whorls or layers - petals, sepals, stamens and the pistil. Generally, each whorl of a daylily flower contains a typical number of sections - for instance, a standard daylily flower comes with three sepals and three petals. Characteristically, another two stamens of the flower are connected to each petal, one of these is attached to the middle of the petal, while the other stamen is joined with the edge, increasing the total count of stamens to six - which is considered to be the regular number of stamens in a daylily flower. Each daylily flower contains just one pistil. However, when you examine the pistil closely, you will notice that it is segregated into three parts. Briefly speaking, the archetypal daylily flower is actually a "three-part thing", as all the different whorls of the flower part are dividable by three.

A modified leaf, sepal forms the outermost part of the four whorls of any flower, including the daylily. Collectively, the sepals of any flower are known as the calyx and it serves to protect the inner parts of the flower, especially when it is in its bud form. Generally, sepals are green hued. However, in a number of flowers, such as the orchid and lily, they bear the color of the petals and sometimes people may even confuse them to be petals. Flowers of a number of plant groups, such as the anemone and the marsh marigold, do not have any sepal. Similarly, at the base of flower head of the plants in aster family they have little green hued leaf-like structures, but these are not sepals. These structures are called bracts. In this case, the sepals are transformed into a ring of minute white hairs on the flower's ovary. Sometimes, the sepals are also fused to form a tube-like structure around the petals' base. The flowers of the plants in the mint family are an ideal example of this structure.

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Although it may seem to be incredible to many, petals are also modified leaves surrounding the flower's reproductive parts. Usually, the petals are brightly colored and sometimes come in unusual shapes. Their main function is to draw pollinators to the flower. Collectively, the petals of any flower are known as a corolla. Generally, another set of leaves called sepals accompany the petals. Collectively, the sepals are called calyx and they are found just under the corolla. Together, the corolla and the calyx form the perianth. In some cases, it is quite difficult to differentiate between the calyx and corolla and, thus, they are collectively known as tepals. Some plants that have tepals include the genera like Tulipa and Aloe. On the other hand, flowers in the genera like Phaseolus and Rosa possess prominent sepals and petals that can be distinguished easily.

While the petals of flowers pollinated by animals are generally the most eye-catching part of a bloom, plants whose flowers are pollinated by wind, such as grasses, either do not have petals or even when they are present, they are very small and inconspicuous.

The stamen is the male reproductive part of a flower and they produce pollens which are used for fertilizing the pistils - the female reproductive part of any flower. Flowers may self-fertilize, but usually they are pollinated by animals, insects, wind, and even water. After the fertilization process is complete, the pistil develops a fruit, whose seeds possess the potential to grow into a new plant. In fact, most of us are familiar with stamens as well as the pollens carried by them, as the stamens have a propensity to be noticeable structures of any flower. This is mainly because the flowers are keen to ensure that their pollens are spread as far and wide as possible. In this way, not only the genetic material of the species is perpetuated, but also ensure their survival.

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When you observe a flower, you will find that its stamens are located at the center, among the petals. In nearly all instances, the stamens encircle the flower's pistil and the plant generally employs various techniques to avoid self-pollination, wherein the pollens of the same flower fertilize its pistil. The stamens as well as pistils of a number of plants are produced on different flowers, sometimes even on different plants. This actually reduces the chances of self-pollination greatly.

As discussed above, the pistil of a flower is its female reproductive part, which is meant for being fertilized via pollination to ensure that its ovules develop into fertile seeds, thereby enabling the plant to proliferate itself. Generally, the seeds develop within a fleshy stratum of substance, which is commonly called a fruit. Pistils are positioned within a plant's flowers and they are found in various shapes as well as sizes. They are purposely adapted to the requirements of various plants as well as different conditions. Then again, pistils may also be positioned in a variety of ways within a flower. While some pistils are found buried deep inside a plant, there are others that are protruding.

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However, all these change in polytepal flowers. This is primarily because the basic number of petals and sepals in polytepal flowers increases from three to four, five, or sometimes even more. In flowers where the basic segments of the polytepal flower has been increased from the standard three to four, each bloom part will come in multiples of four. As a result, the flower will have four sepals as well as four petals. As the flower contains four petals, each of them will have their typical two stamens - making the total number of stamens in the flower eight from the normal six. Even the pistil of such a flower will have four chambers instead of the regular three. While it will be difficult to distinguish that the pistil has an additional chamber, the seed pod will clearly show the four chambers. Provided you allow the pistil to pollinate, the flower to develop seed pod, and let the seed pod to become mature, you will be able to see clearly that the ripened seed pod contains four seed chambers, instead of the regular three found in single daylilies.

Many people often mistake polytepal daylilies to be double daylilies, because both these types of flowers have more than the usual number of petals of a single daylily bloom. In the case of double daylilies, the number of petals or petaloids is increased by including additional layers or whorls of the petals or by stamen modification. However, each whorl of petals will still comprise just three petals, while the stamen whorl can still produce just six petaloids. On the other hand, polytepals are developed by completely different means. For instance, polytepals do not add any petaloid tissue to their stamens. At the same time, polytepal daylilies come with only one layer or whorl of petals. Rather than increasing the number of petal whorls, polytepal daylilies alter the number of petals in the same single layer or whorl.

It is worth mentioning here that everyone does not have a liking for polytepal daylilies. In fact, several hybridizers consider polytepals to be the "ugly ducklings" of the single daylilies. This is mainly because polytepals having four petals have a propensity to appear as square flowers, which does not have much aesthetic appeal for several people, including daylily enthusiasts. Nevertheless, it needs to be borne in mind that currently polytepals are in the infancy of their development and breeders are working on them to make them look much better and more attractive.

The petals of nearly all polytepals do not possess sufficient width and refinement. However, this is typical in the case of all breeding efforts, particularly in their initial days. In addition, all the polytepal daylily cultivars that have been made commercially available thus far are diploid; however, some exceptions do exist. Currently the hybridizing efforts as well as breaks by all serious breeders take place at the level of tetraploids. In fact, the absence of even a single easily available tetraploid polytepal daylily has hindered all hybridizing efforts critically to this date. Nevertheless, there are many tetraploids that sometimes produce polytepal flowers. Meanwhile, hybridizers are trying their best to transform diploid polytepals into tetraploid polytepals.

Today, several hybridizers look forward to seeing polytepal blooms become further attractive, as the features of the modern daylily flowers are being bred into this type of flowers. One main goal of the hybridizers is to create daylilies with five petals, with a view to give the flowers a more rounded and complete look, which is possible for five petals to bestow.

Hybridizers working with the standard single daylilies also aim to increase the width of the petals of polytepals. They are working to give these flowers a rounder form and when polytepals will have five petals it would immediately impart a further rounder form to the blooms. When the flowers will have additional petals, other aspects of the blooms like fancy margins of the petals will turn out to be more striking. As of now, the prospects for polytepal daylilies can only be envisaged. Creating polytepal double would statistically augment the number of petals of a flower and, at the same time, make the blooms appear fuller. As a result, polytepal spiders will be having extra hanging tendrils and hence appear increasingly similar to spiders.


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