|First to flower and first to set seed - |
seedling from a purple-leaved variety.
|Flower bud abundance|
Except for some hesitant hoverflies, the bees and bumblebees didn't seem all that interested in the flowers at first. I suppose that's what I get for seducing them, right next to the sweet potatoes, with a generous patch of lacy phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia), which is a veritable bumblebee-magnet. For a while I also didn't see any evidence of seed formation, but something has been busy with those flowers, because after returning from a trip abroad and rushing out to the garden today I found some seed pods on the plants that were flowering first (top picture). Bless you, loyal mysterious pollinator. To be fair, now that the phacelia is done flowering I've seen a number of white-tailed and red-tailed bumblebees on the sweet potato flowers. Together with the fact that the diversity of I. batatas genetic material in my garden this season is a lot higher than last year, I'm hopeful I'll get a good amount of seed by the end of the season. Since we're having a fairly average summer so far, with plenty of rain and so far very few really warm days, that would be a significant indication that I am able to get true sweet potato seed under normal environmental conditions here in southern Sweden. A few seasons of that and I might have reliably-flowering breeding material from which to start selecting for early and temperate climate-adapted tuberization. We're not quite there yet, of course, and it seems like temperatures will be staying below 20℃ over the next two weeks. Fingers crossed!
|True sweet potato seed forming|