Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mount Doom

(Sdlg# POINWUT7)

48" scapes - 4.5" flower - 5 branches - 30 buds - Midseason - Dormant

Bright cherry red trumpet, slightly darker red band above chartreuse throat, white midribs, cherry red stamens and pistil, obverse of sepals dark cherry red, obverse of petals bright cherry red half way down, then bright yellow, with white midrib.

I will discontinue carrying Mount Doom as a regular stock item in 2022. For more information, see this post.

Named for the mountain of fire where the one ring was forged by the dark lord Sauron in Tolkien's epic Lord of the Rings, Mount Doom is a very interesting flower, showing pattern and visual interest on the back of the petals and deeply pigmented sepal backs that reminds one of the mountain spraying fire into the sky. This flower produces an interesting visual effect, especially at sunset, when the flowers literally glow like lanterns as the setting sun shines through them. Visible at a distance, it beckons like a volcanic explosion, making use of the trumpet shape and often upright flowers to showcase the showy backs.

The effect is at its strongest when the plant is grown in full sun. In shade the effect on the backs of the petals and sepals can be more muted and new divisions are also more muted in appearance, becoming more strongly pigmented as the clump establishes. I think this is a very interesting new direction with great potential: ornamental fronts and backs of both petals and sepals. The potential for combination with other phenotypes is vast.

The seed that became this plant was bred by Mike Huben. It's parents are the old Stout cultivar 'Poinsettia' as pod parent and Mike's 2015 introduction 'Way Up There' as pollen parent (Way Up There is from Arterial Blood by Huben as pod parent crossed to Pit of Despair by Brian Mahieu as pollen parent), so while it derives from Mike's breeding and is part of my selection program, we also have to credit both Brian Mahieu and A.B. Stout's original program for this plant, as well. Mount Doom shows that even old things like Stout's Poinsettia still have interesting genes to offer to modern breeding programs. Mike sent me a group of seeds from various crosses in the spring of 2011 and amongst them was a packet of seeds from Poinsettia x Way Up There. Mount Doom was the best plant and also turned out to have the best flower of this group. I consider Mount Doom to be a true breakthrough.

Pit of Despair

In addition to the amazing flower, Mount Doom is also an excellent plant with nice foliage that is senescent (dormant) and is attractive. It is a fast increaser that handles division well and recovers quickly. It forms a large clump with a high scape to fan ratio. The scapes are tall and well branched with many buds when established and blooms for a long period. It is extremely impressive at clump strength and is a beautiful plant in the landscape.

Mount Doom is very fertile both ways and I have produced many seedlings from it. The numerous pods have dark pigmentation and the scapes have mild dark pigmentation - just a flush where the sun hits the scapes, and not full dark scapes. I have gotten some seedlings with dark scapes from self pollinating Mount Doom and I think its potential for dark scape breeding is also an interesting and worthy direction to pursue. I have since made many crosses in this direction, but have not seen flowers from those seedlings yet.
Mount Doom shows moderate rust resistance, but its moderate level has been very consistent over the five years of my rust screening project. The seedlings are variable for rust resistance, except when Mount Doom is bred to very resistant cultivars that have shown breeding value for rust. In such instances, Mount Doom has thrown a few rust resistant seedlings.