Theoretical and Applied Genetics

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 204–217 | Cite as

Genetic-evolutionary studies on cultivated cannas

VI. Origin and evolution of ornamental taxa
  • T. N. Khoshoo
  • Iva Mukherjee


Hybridization has played a dominant and decisive role in the origin of ornamental cannas. This has been made possible by the ecospecific differentiation of the parental species, which implies lack of barriers and a good deal of recombination associated with reasonably high fertility.

Colour differences between species are controlled by a number of genes and their intensifiers, inhibitors, lethals, etc. From recombination in interspecific hybrids of such a wide range of genes, segregating simultaneously and involving complex segregation, arises a wide array of heterozygous genotypes with new colours and colour combinations, releasing much genetic diversity.

Hybridization has also been responsible for transgressive segregation, particularly in length and breadth of staminodia and luxuriance, affecting not only plant height but also flower size. Perhaps the most important single factor responsible for the evolution of ornamental cannas has been the repeated cycles of hybridization which have led to the breakage of size and other barriers; this seems to have been exploited continuously until very large flower size was built up and combined with other useful vegetative and floral characters such as colour and number of flowers per inflorescence, extended blooming period, cold resistance, etc. The efficient vegetative propagation made fixing of the useful genotypes no problem, although they may contain a high degree of heterozygosity and sexual sterility.

Along these lines, Année (hybrids between C. indica and C. glauca) and Ehemann (hybrids between C. iridiflora and C. warscwiczii) cannas came into being in 1848 and 1863 respectively. Although both were a distinct improvement over the original species, they were still relatively small-flowered and major improvements came roundabout 1868, when Crozy, Gladiolus or French Dwarf cannas (C. X generalis Bailey) were released. This group arose from hybrids and back crosses of the first two groups and contains diploids, interchange heterozygotes and autotriploids. When further intercrossing, inbreeding and selection yielded no significant improvement, „new blood” in the form of C. flaccida was introduced. The result was the release of Italian, Iris, Orchid or Giant flowered cannas (C. X orchiodes Bailey) in 1872. These are asynaptic seedless diploids and allo- or segmental allotriploids. By and large, Crozy cannas are the result of exploiting new genetic diversity and transgression, while Italian cannas owe their excellence to the luxuriance accompanying the introduction of C. flaccida.

Next to hybridization, triploidy (14%) has been an important mechanism in the origin of cultivars with thicker, more durable and larger flower parts. The two types of triploids, autotriploids and segmental allotriploids, are distinguishable by their morphological and cytogenetical properties.

It is evident that during the 44 years 1848–1892 the speed of evolution was rapid and its direction governed by the following principles of selection: increase in hardiness, reduction in height, spikes well above foliage, free flowering, erect flowers, increase in flower size, colour diversity, circular form of flowers, increase in thickness of flower parts and durability of flower, self shedding flowers, etc. The result has been the transformation of cannas from simple foliage plants to attractive ornamental flowers.

It is noteworthy that selection for the two principal uses of canna not only involved different organs, but also took place in very different environments. While selection in ornamental canna was for floral parts under a temperate European climate new to Canna, that for starch involved the rhizome in its native habitat. It is interesting that the two different purposes of selection under different habitats have both ended in triploidy: in the ornamentals this has considerably enlarged the flowers, while in the starch-yielding C. edulis it has enlarged the fleshy rhizome but had a very limited effect on the flower.


Large Flower Heterozygous Genotype Transgressive Segregation Cold Resistance Flower Size 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Anonymous: Canna ehemanni. Gdnrs'. Chron. May 12, 594 (1883a).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Anonymous: Canna ehemanni. Gdnrs'. Chron. June 16, 763 (1883b).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Anonymous: Cannas, new dwarf gladiolus-flowered. Gdnrs'. Chron. Aug. 12, 189–190 (1893a).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Anonymous: The florists' Cannas. Gdnrs'. Chron. Oct. 7, 432 (1893b).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Anonymous: Crozy and his cannas. Gdnrs'. Chron. June 5, 362 (1897).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Anonymous: Cannas: The „Italian” or „Orchid flowering” cannas. Gdnrs'. Chron. Jan. 1,2 (1898).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Baker, J. G.: A synopsis of the species of cannas. Gdnrs'. Chron. Jan. 14, 42–43 (1893a).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Baker, J. G.: On the species and garden forms of Canna. J. Roy. Hort. Soc. 2, 178–188 (1893b).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Belling, J.: The behaviour of homologous chromosomes in a triploid Canna. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 7, 197–201 (1921).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Belling, J.: The attachments of chromosomes at the reduction division in the flowering plants. J. Genet. 18, 177–205 (1927).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Buckley, A. R.: Majestic Cannas. Gdnrs'. Chron. March 15, 163 (1968).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Clausen, J.: Stages in Evolution of Plant Species. New York: Cornell Univ. Press 1951.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Clausen, J., Hiesey, K.: Experimental studies on the nature of species IV. Genetic structure of ecological races. Carnegie Inst. Wash. Publ. 615 (1958).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Clayton, J.: Italian cannas. Gdnrs'. Chron. Dec 14, 703–705 (1895).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Crane, H. B., Lawrence, W. J. C.: Genetics of Garden Plants. London: MacMillan & Co. Ltd. 1952.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Crow, J. F.: Dominance and overdominance in heterosis. In: Heterosis, pp. 282–297 (1952).Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Daker, M. G.: Cytological studies on a haploid cultivar of Pelargonium and its colchicine induced diploids. Chromosome 21, 250–271 (1967).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Darlington, C. D.: Chromosome Botany and the Origins of the Cultivated Plants. London: G. Allen and Unwin 1963.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Darlington, C. D., Hair, J. B., Hurcombe, R.: The history of the Garden Hyacinths. Heredity 5, 233–252 (1951).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Dobzhansky, Th.: Genetics of natural populations XIX. Origin of heterosis through natural selection in populations of Drosophila pseudo-obscura. Genetics 35, 288–302 (1950).Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Dobzhansky, Th.: Nature and Origin of heterosis. In: Heterosis, pp. 330–335. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State College Press 1952.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Donahue, J. W.: History, breeding and cultivation of the Canna. Amer. Hort. Mag. 44, 84–91 (1965).Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Grant, V.: The genetic structures of races and species in Gilia. Adv. Genet. 8, 55–87 (1956).Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Honing, J. A.: Canna crosses I. Mededeelingen Landbouwhoogeschool 26, 1–56 (1923).Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Honing, J. A.: Canna crosses II. The chromosome number of Canna glauca, glauca X indica F1 C. aureovittata and C. aureo-vittata gigas. Mededeelingen Landbouwhoogeschool 32, 1–14 (1928).Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Honing, J. A.: Canna crosses III. Plasmatic influences. Mededeelingen Landbouwhoogeschool 35, 3–12 (1931).Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Honing, J. A.: Canna crosses IV. Canna aureo-vittata gigas, a vegetative mutation. Mededeelingen Landbouwhoogeschool 35, 12–16 (1931).Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Honing, J. A.: Canna crosses V. Three balanced lethals and an independent „Conditional” fourth one. Genetica 15, 23–47 (1933).Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Honing, J. A.: Canna crosses VI. Coupling in the factors for the red leaf margin. Genetica 21, 70–87 (1939).Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Honing, J. A.: Canna crosses VII. Two types of Canna glauca with anthocyanin in the labellum, one dominant, the other recessive to pure yellow. Pisum type or Zea type. A question of temperature. Genetica 21, 325–344 (1939).Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Honing, J. A.: Canna crosses VIII. Crosses with „Old purple”. Genetica 21, 277–288 (1942).Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Khoshoo, T. N.: Genetic improvement of ornamentals in India. Indian J. Genet. 28 A, 179–190 (1968).Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Khoshoo, T. N., Mukherjee, I.: A translocation heterozygote in Garden Canna. Genetica 37, 255–258 (1966).Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Khoshoo, T. N., Mukherjee, I.: Genetic-evolutionary studies on cultivated cannas. III: Variation in meiotic system. La Cellule, in press (1970).Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Khoshoo, T. N. Singh, R.: Biosystematics of Indian Plants IV: Portulaca oleracea and P. quadrifida. Bull. Bot. Surv. India 8, 278 to 286 (1966).Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Kränzlin, Fr.: Cannaceae. Das Pflanzenreich 47, 1–77 (1912).Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Legro, R. A. H.: Improvement of flower plants by polyploidy and hybridization. Genetica Agraria 19, 1–22 (1964).Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Lewis, D.: The incompatibility sieve for producing polyploids. J. Genet. 45, 261–264 (1943).Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Lotsy, J. P.: Evolution by means of Hybridization. The Hague: M. Nijhoff 1916.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Mukherjee, I., Khoshoo, T. N.: Nature of triploidy in garden Canna. J. Cytol. Genet. 2, 1–5 (1967).Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Mukherjee, I., Khoshoo, T. N.: Geneticevolutionary studies on cultivated cannas. I: Variation in phenotype. Proc. Natl. Inst. Sci. 36B, in press (1970a).Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Mukherjee, I., Khoshoo, T. N.: Genetic-evolutionary studies on cultivated cannas. II: Pollination mechanism and breeding system. Proc. Natl. Inst. Sci. 36B, in press (1970b).Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Mukherjee, I., Khoshoo, T. N.: Genetic-evolutionary studies on cultivated cannas. IV: Parallelism between natural and induced mutations. Radiation Botany, in press (1970c).Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Mukherjee, I., Khoshoo, T. N.: Genetic-evolutionary studies on cultivated Cannas. V: Intraspecific polyploidy in starch yielding Canna edulis. Genetica Iberica, in press (1970d).Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Mukherjee, I., Khoshoo, T. N.: Genetic-evolutionary studies on cultivated cannas. VII: Taxonomic treatment and horticultural classification. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., in press (1970e).Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Nakornthap, A.: Radiation induced somatic mutations in ornamental canna. The use of induced mutations in plant breeding. Suppl. Radiation Bot. 5, 707–712 (1965).Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Offerijns, F. J. M.: Meiosis in the pollen mother cells of some cannas. Genetica 18, 1–60 (1935).Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Oomen, H. C. J.: Polyploidy in Canna. Genetica 24, 333–386 (1948).Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Pal, B. P.: The Rose in India. New Delhi: I. C. A. R. 1966.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Paul, G.: Cannas. Gdnrs'. Chron. Nov. 25, 647–648 (1893).Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Percy Lancaster, S.: The giantflowered Cannas. Indian Horticulture 12, 30–31 (1967).Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Schwanitz, F.: Untersuchungen an polyploiden Pflanzen. XII. Der Gigas-Charakter der Kulturpflanzen und seine Bedeutung für die Polyploidiezüchtung. Züchter 21, 65–75 (1951).Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Schwanitz, F.: Selection and race formation in cultivated plants. Cold Spring Harbor Symp. Quant. Biol. 24, 107–114 (1959).Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Smith, H. H.: Development of morphologically distinct and genetically isolated populations by interspecific hybridization and selection. Proc. 9th Intern. Congr. Genet. 867 to 870 (1953).Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Smith, H. H.: Fixing transgressive vigor in Nicotiana rustica. In: Heterosis, pp. 161–174. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State College Press 1964.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Sprenger, C.: Sur l'Histoire des Cannas à Fleures d'Orchidées: Dits cannas Italiens. Revue Horticole 1, 446–448 (1901).Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Stebbins, G. L.: Variation and Evolution in Plants. New York 1950.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Stebbins, G. L.: Artificial polyploidy as a tool in plant breeding. Brookhaven Symp. Biol 9, 37–52 (1956).Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Stebbins, G. L.: The role of hybridization in evolution. Proc. Amer. Phil. Soc. 103, 231–251 (1959).Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Stuttgart, H. R. W.: The canna as a decorative plant. Gdnrs'. Chron. July 16, 43–44 (1898).Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Wylie, A. P.: The history of garden roses. J. Roy. Hort. Soc. 80, 8–24 and 77–87 (1955).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1970

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. N. Khoshoo
    • 1
  • Iva Mukherjee
    • 1
  1. 1.National Botanic GardensLucknowIndia

Personalised recommendations