A Cronin Watsonia cultivar

Another old Watsonia cultivar that in my collection is labelled simply as accession 84 is in flower now, with narowly conical pink flowers that hang down like miniature foxgloves. These are unlike any wild Watsonia species, and are not well-adapted for pollination either by insects or by birds.

This is a quite distinct clonal cultivar, and is known to be one of those bred by John Cronin at the Royal Botanic Garden, Melbourne, before 1925. Its identity may never be confirmed, but the most likely candidate is Watsonia ‘Queenstown’ which was decribed as dwarf, lilac mauve (Warner, 1926). The long perianth tube and pendulous flowers, as well as the shape of the floral bracts, point to Watsonia aletroides as one parent. Some of my own hybrids from W. aletroides crossed with forms of W. borbonica or other Cronin hybrids have a similar flower shape.

Description

Medium size perennial, to 130 cm tall, dormant in summer and flowering in spring. Basal leaves 4 -5, to 75 cm long, 33 mm wide, with thin pale green margins. Stem leaves 2. Flowers 18-28 (to 5-6 open at once) on a purplish and glaucous axis plus 1-3 branches. Bract 22-29 mm long, slightly exceeding internode, herbaceous with maroon scarious apical third, dark band and scarious tip, acute to subacuminate, keeled. Bracteole shorter. Perianth warm pink in bud, opening light cool pink [FFB9D0], paling to RHS 73C [FFD5E0] on the inner lobes, deeper and warmer pink RHS 67D [FF85A1] on exterior of lower tube. Perianth tube 45 mm long, the narrow basal part 15 mm long, to 3 mm wide, sharply curved; distal part narrow funnel-shaped, pendulous, 26-29 mm long, 8-9 mm wide at mouth. Outer lobes oblanceolate, apiculate or subacute, 21-22 mm long, 10 mm wide; inner lobes oblong, obtuse, 22-24 mm long, 12-14 mm wide. Anthers below style but facing down, 9-10 mm long, purple with pale purple pollen. Style 6-branched, exceeding anthers and ultimately exserted from the corolla, pale pink. Capsule fusiform, incurved, acute, to 24 mm long. Seeds with 2 short wings, 10-11 mm long, pale brown.

Provenance – gift from Will Ashburner of Hancock’s Daffodil Farm, (his accession number 970518) in March 2000.

Reference

Warner, W.R. (1926) Advertisement in The Australian Garden Lover 1: 392.

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