I had heard about Marcelle's Crinums before,
but didn't know exactly what that meant until recently. Now
I know, it stands for excellence in Crinum breeding. Marcelle's
Crinums are some of the most spectacular hybrids of recent creation.
She supplies plants for some of the most prestigious gardens
in the country.
I visited part of Marcelle's breeding program
recently. She has 2 breeding areas in East Texas, Crinums
grow to blooming size fairly slowly and they are large plants.
So Marcelle needs a lot of room to store her germplasm and
to grow out her seedlings for evaluation. At first I estimated
the plot I visited might have 500 Crinum plants. After walking
through it I thought there might be as many as 1,000. By
the time I had seen the front gardens, the propagation chambers,
the back gardens, and the "way back" gardens I decided
there were over 2,000 plants, plus hundreds of seeds in various
stages of germination.
I understood from Marcelle that she has been
interested in Crinums for more than 40 years. During that
time she has gathered and evaluated many species and clones for
use in her breeding program. She has slowly collected the
very best starting materials. For instance, she uses C.
bulbispermum in some of her breeding efforts. But, no regular
C. bulbispermum would do, she uses plants that have the largest
flowers with the best color, constitution, substance, and floral
exuberance. It is a maxim in plant breeding that one must
begin with the excellent materials-weak-flowered parents will
tend to produce weak-flowered offspring. Marcelle has demonstrated
again that this old rule still holds true, her seedlings are the
She has had spectacular success by incorporating
C. scabrum and C. bulbisperumum into her efforts. That is
good for us here in the Houston area because these plants do well
in this part of the world. There is no way to list all of
the Crinum species and cultivars that I saw on my visit, just
as there is no way to fully describe Marcelle's devotion to the
project and knowledge of the genus.
I did borrow some photos from her breeding
portfolio, and post them below. These are representative
of the quality and success of her breeding efforts.
Burgundy Seedling No. 4: one of Marcelle's
creations with a very deep color and many flowers. This
photo does not adequately display the rich deep burgundy color,
but it does give a sense of how many flowers the plant thrusts
up. Crinums can be shy bloomers, but not this one, it has
2 scapes opening at the same time, each with 15-20 blooms.
'Margie Brown' is another of Marcelle's creations.
It is a spectacular C. scabrum hybrid. This photo
captures just a bit of the vibrant color and vitality of the flowers.
Seedlings: It would be hard for me to
choose among these various unnamed seedlings. As I recall,
these are siblings from a specific cross, each one is genetically
distinct, and many blooming here for the first time. Marcelle
has the tough (but delightful) task of choosing which are best
and using in her ongoing efforts to produce the perfect Crinum.
In my opinion, she has produced many perfect Crinums.
Joe J. Shaw, Ph.D.
" I am a former associate professor of
Botany and Microbiology at Auburn University, Alabama. I left
there in 1998 and now work in the field of human Genomics, but
I remain very much interested in plants. "
Posted in the Gulf Breeze Garden Forum, July