Thursday, 9 August 2007


My father often used to tell me of 'sports' that had occurred when the nursery would grow everything from seeds or cuttings. This happens when, for example, one stem of a plant would have a flower quite different in colour or shape than the rest of the plant. This difference was called a 'sport'. For example they named a new hibiscus that they bred from this one stem and, I beieve, it is still available today. It is called Sabrina. This is still a common way for new varieties to be grown and grevilleas are noted for this. It can also happen with seeds.

I have a kind of spinach sport in my garden. For many years I have grown Southern European Spinach - a pale green variety that I first purchased from the original seedsavers, about 10 or more years ago. Every year I have saved some seed and it has become very hardy and robust and readily self-seeds too. One of the self-sown plants I have at the moment is quite different to any I have had before in its leaf shape and vein formation.

You can see in the top photo that the leaf has a central stem with each vein originating from that stem and the leaf is 'tree'-shaped.This is normal.
In the second photo you can see that there is no true main stem but rather the veins fan out all over the place. The leaf is also more squat and rounded. The whole plant of this one is very bush-like with leaves coming out all over the place rather than the usual way of spinach with all leaves coming individually from the base (until it goes to seed).

I am going to try and isolate this plant when it flowers and so have a new type of spinach which I may call 'Bush Spinach' . I don't know if the seeds will come true to type but it is worth a try. Now I will have to read up on isolating spinach. There is always something to learn, even in the spinach patch.
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Maggie said...

My first thought was build a tee-pee around it.
My new seeds-starters handbook states re - spinach
"leafier vegetative males produce pollen that travels in the wind as far as a mile".
However the cook in me says that is a great leaf shape to be blanched then stuffed with lemon zested, herb filled brown rice.
This would then be simmered gently
in an olive oil and garlic tomato
sauce and served with some lemon wedges. Good leaf shape Kate !

Andrew said...

You know, Kate, I'm thinking ever more often about the responsibility we now have to be custodians of rare Australian seeds and veggies. It would be great if you could propogate this one. But it will mean that you (and us) will have to keep it going. I'm learning that there are only a handful of varieties possible to grow in any one garden, and I feel a bit like Noah, selecting two of each species.
I also have a pale green silver-beet, acquired from my son's father-in-law up in Eden Hills. It's a beauty! I've also settled on Syrian Cucumbers as my favourite cucumber.
But I will have to rationalize my seed collection, and leave out some common varieties.
Good work