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My cherimoya, shortly before it became smoothie fodder.

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July 18, 2008

Variegated Grape Seedling

Just thought I'd pass along an interesting image gallery from an acquaintance of mine, Cliff Ambers (you may recall Cliff and his wife Rebecca from an earlier post on the Norton grape). Cliff runs a pretty impressive amateur grape breeding program as well as a small farm winery in Virginia.

Cliff took a bunch of pollen from a selection of the wild grape species Vitis cordifolia (Cliff seems to be one of this species' champions) and irradiated it with X-rays, then used it to pollinate flowers of 'Chardonel', a hybrid white wine grape. Among the resulting seedlings was this variegated one, though it seems to be out-growing the variegation with time.

Variegated Grapevine (Clifford Ambers)

Variegation or even complete loss of chlorophyll is not uncommon as a result of mutagens, nor is out-growing that variegation. The cells that lack chlorophyll are generally out-competed by the few that do, so there's a tendency for them to be supplanted by their normal brethren. There's also a strong tendency for heavily variegated plants to die outright, since not having chlorophyll turns out to be a pretty bad thing in general for plants (Cliff grafted this one onto another vine, which is probably why it survived what was an almost complete loss of chlorophyll).

Update: Cliff has given me permission to actually post some of his pictures here, so I thought I'd save you all the terrible effort of clicking the link. Here are a few of the images (there are bigger images, and a few more, on the site):

Early leaves of the grafted vine with high level of variegation (actually near-albinism)

Seedling from which variegated scion was taken.

Both images (c)2008 Clifford Ambers and used with permission

Update 2: Since I seem to be posting with insane frequency lately, I decided to put one of these images as the "Image of the Day" (or week or month or however long it turns out...that 'Pixie' grapevine picture lasted close to a year, I think) so that such a cool picture was not pushed off the bottom and lost in the mists of the internet past almost immediately...

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