Monday, July 30, 2012

Pensive Tuesday: How Are We Changing Them?

It's hard to believe this little guy is the direct descendant of the mighty wolf. Grrr....

(photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Yorkies are everywhere here. In my neck of the woods, even Yorkies have pet Yorkies. They are absolutely adorable, from the human standpoint. I have no idea what wolves think of them, if they think of them at all.

Now many of us are "domesticating" our favorite plant species as well. Think of roses old and new. How have they changed? Here's the current state of a domesticated Lithops:
As we grow and develop our Lithops and other favorite plants, how are we changing them to make them more desirable and attractive to ourselves (humans)? I do think they are becoming more tolerant of excess water. That's because the only ones to survive from the nursery to the big box store to our houses are usually capable of dealing with a lot of excess watering. The others all rot away before they can be sold. And of course, a lot of them are well-watered once they get to a home as well. So those of us who cultivate Lithops from seeds from our own collections may be encouraging the more water-tolerant versions. Who knows?

And I know I love colors and patterns! I notice Lithops growers have grown some amazing cultivars with beautiful colors and new, unusual patterns. This has happened with most of the plant species we domesticate. Think tulips. New colors and more variegation, that's what we generally go for as we domesticate.

(watercolor "Seashore Abstract" MR 2012)

So my guess for Lithops would be, 50 years from now, we'll see more water-tolerant, colorfully patterned Lithops than what we see now. New colors not seen in nature. And of course, I'm not even getting near the topic of Genetic Engineering in the Cozy Home Garage Lab-- I'm just not there yet.... What do you all think?


  1. Interesting - we also have lots of Yorkies here, and in some cases it seems they rule the house! As for the watering thing, first point, you talk about, is natural selection and that will not influence overnight, but the second point selective breeding & engineering, seems to take over at times, case in point all the Aloe hybrid dwarfs you guys can get - they seem to be engineered to look great as plants with no special flower, and for me, seen one seen them all. Thats me! I told someone it may be more special to have pure plants one day, because they may become rare versus all the hybrids. Snakes are the same - with designer colour snakes!

  2. I've seen a lot of the hybrid dwarf aloes, you're right, they're not that interesting, all very similar. Growing "heirloom" varieties is very big right now, to keep the original lines true for future generations of gardeners. And designer colored snakes? YIKES!! I'm going to have nightmares tonight!

    1. Sorry! Hope you had a great rest! The point, without mentioning it, was that engineering happens over both fauna and flora! Personally I am not so sure about it, but for non-succulent/cacti collectors it is obviously attractive! Seems people buy plants for the house/similar to previous flowers, and when they die, just replace them - nurseries never had it so good. LOL! Makes me wonder where we are going, however. Instant everything!

      Marla, check out an old friends blog, she started a few weeks ago and I think, not 100% sure, but she is also into arts! Do not quote me! LOL! She is a great old forum friend. LT

    2. I agree, I think plants are regarded as too easily disposable these days. Good for large nurseries who cater to large scale consumption, not so good for our souls! Thanks for the blog tip, I'll give it a read!

  3. Genetics is very interesting, but it is so complex on many levels, it is playing god. Making plants and animals tougher is a good thing I think as long as it doesn't harm the specimens, but who defines this though. At the end of the day, it's for the betterment of mankind, but again, how is this defined. For aesthetics, what on earth is that? Some breeding that has gone wrong, eg: harmful to the specimens, this is wrong, but usually it takes mistakes to get to results. We need to ask for permission I think.

    1. Genetics is extraordinarily complex, just ask any breeder who's tried to get Effect X and gets XYZ instead, or absolutely nothing! I suppose in the laboratory, there's a higher intention/success rate, but the rule of unintended consequences always applies. Again, lots of good reasons to grow heirloom varieties no matter what is popular or new at any given time.
      Also, historically, it seems a lot of breeds/cultivars were "by accident"- a "cool-looking" or advantageous quality appeared, and breeders/growers went for it. I don't think anyone thought "Yorkshire Terrier" and it appeared. I suspect, historically, there's been more accident than thought involved!