Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mutant flowers in Cupertino!
Good evening, Growers!
Randy in Cupertino is doing ground-breaking research in the area of mutant giant pumpkin vines grown from seeds obtained at workshops:
"Hi Stuart,
I went to your seminar at Yamagami's and got seeds from you. They've grown well, with one interesting feature (I'll call it a mutation): for one of the plants, the sepals in the male flowers are replaced by what are essentially leaves. These are old pictures before the first flowers opened, but they should illustrate things nicely. I've enclosed a couple photos showing this: first, a side by side comparison of normal and mutant buds (these are still immature buds). Second, a view showing several buds on the plant. There are no leaves in the photo--anything that appears as such is a "sepal".
I understand that such changes can happen due to changes at the genetic level (homeotic mutations), environmental factors and possibly viruses. For the genetic angle, one of the most famous examples in insects is one in fruit flies where the antennae are replaced by legs and feet. Luckily such mutations are rare in humans (or more likely, they're not carried to term). Anyway, thought you might be amused by this if you've never seen it. Strange seeds you're passing out! These pumpkins are sure slow to grow. My first female flower opened 15 days ago already, and the fruit only has a circumference of 41 inches.

Since I packed the seeds, I take full responsibility. Next time, I'll pack them farther away from the reactor.

Thank you very much for your update and pictures, Randy!