Do you know what a hybrid is? A hybrid, in general, is a living being that has genes from two specimens so different that they belong to a different species. It can be natural, that is, it can occur in nature without human intervention, but it can also create one. In fact, currently it is just what happens with plants: we hybridize them to get them to have better genetics.
But how good are hybrid plants? I really think it’s not about them being good or bad; Throughout the evolution of all the beings that today inhabit the Earth, there have been many hybridizations. It is a way that a species can continue to evolve, since its offspring can have very positive parts of two different species. Let us know more.
Let’s talk about genera and species of plants
To understand what we are going to explain later, it is important that we first clarify some concepts, such as genus and species:
- Tribe: in biology, it is what comes after Family and before Gender. It is what is used to group many different genera that share many genes. For example, Mentheae is the tribe of the genera Mentha, Calamintha, or Salvia, among others.
- botanical genus: a genus, in botany, is a group of species that have had a very similar evolution, to the point that they share characteristics and have a similar way of life and survival. For example: a genus would be that of the Prunus, some trees and shrubs among which are the almond tree (Almond) or the Japanese cherry tree (Prunus serrulata).
- Species: the species is within the genus, and is the specific name given to a certain group of living beings that are practically identical to each other. For example, continuing with the previous examples, Almond y Prunus serrulata are two species of Prunus.
Then, what can be hybridized? Well, generally, two different species belonging to the same genus. An example of a hybrid -and also a natural one- is that of the palm tree Washingtonia x filibuster. This species comes from the cross between the Washingtonia will spin and Washingtonia robusaand shares characteristics of each one, such as the thin trunk of W. robusta, and having a greater number of “hairs” or “threads” of the leaves of W. filifera -although they are fewer than those of the latter species -. Also, it is slightly more cold hardy than pure washingtonias.
Another important fact is that hybrids, in their name, must have an “x” after the genus. In this way, we will be able to know, just by looking at the name, that it is a hybrid plant.
In certain cases, plants that have different genera are also hybridized, but belong to the same Tribe.like the Butia and the Syagrus, giving rise to the Butyagrus; or the Pachyveria (Pachyphytum and Echeveria), among others. Well, in these cases the »x» is placed before the genus: x Butyagrus, x Pachyveria, etc. But these are the work of the human being, since he is the one who selects the specimens that interest him, and the one who is in charge of pollinating them.
What is a hybrid plant?
A hybrid plant is one that comes from two species or two different genera which are from the same tribe. The characteristics that the plant resulting from this cross obtains is something that cannot be chosen, but what is clear is that it will have genes from each of its two parents.
Thus, in the hypothetical case -This does not occur in nature and it is not something that human beings do- If a cherry tree was hybridized with an almond tree, for example, what would be achieved? Here chance could give us, for example:
- A tree that resisted drought as well as the almond tree, but with fleshy fruits like cherries.
- A tree that only grew on fertile soil -like the cherry tree-, but with nuts like almonds.
- An almond tree that was capable of resisting frost and snowfall without difficulty, as does the cherry tree.
- A cherry tree capable of withstanding the heat of the Mediterranean without -many- problems, as does the almond tree.
- And many more functions
Examples of hybrid plants
Today the difficult thing is to find plants that are of pure species. Here we show you some:
Leylabnd cypress (Cupressus x leyland)
The Leyland cypress is a natural hybrid, which comes from the cross between Cupressus macrocarpa y Callitropsis nootkatensis. Reaches an approximate height of 20 metersand is an evergreen conifer widely used to create tall hedges in gardens.
Gerbera x hybrida
It is the cross between gerbera jamesonii and Gerbera viridifolia. It is a herbaceous plant that It reaches 30 centimeters in height and produces daisy-shaped flowers of very varied colors.such as orange, red, yellow or pink.
The fuchsia hybrida It is not well known what species of Fuchsia it comes from, but it is the one that is currently sold the most. It is a small evergreen shrub that reaches 50 centimeters in height more or less.and that has hanging flowers. These are bell-shaped, and can be pink, white or lilac.
Shade banana (Platanus x Spanish)
El shadow banana It is a deciduous tree that comes from the cross between oriental plane tree y American sycamore. It reaches 20 meters in height, and has leaves similar to those of maples.which is why it is also known as Plane tree x acerifolia (acerifolia = maple leaf).
Grapefruit (citrus x paradise)
El pomelo It is a natural hybrid that occurs between the sweet orange (Citrus x sinensis) and lemon (citrus maxima). It is native to India, and reaches a height of 6 meters. The fruits look like oranges, in fact they are about the same size, but have reddish flesh..
What do you think of hybrid plants?