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Found a cure?

Posted by StefanB8 z7 DC (My Page) on
Sat, Aug 20, 05 at 0:23

For a number of years, I've been nursing along a patch of a lovely, double, blue sweet violet that seemed to be afflicted with a virus (cucumber mosaic perhaps, or viola mottle). Each season the leaves would develop an ugly green-spots-on-yellow-background pattern that obviously indicated the presence of the virus. The virus very likely lessened the plants' ability to thrive to some degree. I was sick over this, not wanting to entirely lose a beautiful variety which seems not to be in commerce here, yet also not wanting to accidentally infect other sweet violets. Hence the plants were somewhat quarantined away from others of their kind, but there was never any guarantee that it still might not spread.

In years with particularly harsh winters (especially when snow cover was lacking early in the season), the patch would have survival difficulties - often only a few crowns would return in the spring to rebuild the colony, and flowers would be mostly or wholly forfeit for the season. In the back of my mind I sometimes wondered if this might somehow help the plants to rid themselves of the virus, but did not seriously believe that it would. That was, until I saw this:

Healthy violets! (yes, my yard is being overtaken with Korean violets, which is both thrilling and frightening, as I'm sure anyone in a similar situation understands).

These several crowns that returned after another hard winter should have symptoms of the disease in the mature foliage, but clearly do not. They look marvellous. A nearby cluster of returnees (the patch was split into three separate clumps) did exhibit the tell-tale symptoms, and was therefore eliminated with the hope that these are, in fact, now free of the virus. Until time supports or refutes my theory, I will remain cautiously optimistic and let everyone know when the verdict is in, so to speak. I hope you will all share in my enthusiasm that an old variety can be rendered vigorous and healthy after a bout with a seemingly incurable disease!

Thank you,
Stefan


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Found a cure?

  • Posted by etii France 8 (My Page) on
    Sat, Aug 20, 05 at 5:46

Hi man !

Beautiful pic, thanks :-)
I would have enjoy to see the foliage with the "variegation" thanks/'cause of to the virus, don't U have anyone ?
About the cure of your violet, don't have any idea: I guess nature can be very surprising, that's why we love gardening :-)
Maybe the aussie mate (come on Rob, don't be shy ;-)) can give a explaination...
I'm trying to give my viola riviniana variegated's virus to an odorata, just for fun and to see the result :-) Torture ?! Well...maybe...wait and see :-)

Regards.
Thierry.


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RE: Found a cure?

Hi Theirry, and thanks!

I looked for a picture of the virus-affected foliage on my computer, but I discovered that those pictures are on a different computer so I can't post them yet. The mottling in my violets is (or was) very different from the kind of variegation you are talking about - very ugly, and not ornamental! I believe that variegation such as your Viola riviniana has is not necessarily the result of viral infection, but rather different layers of leaf tissue, some of whose DNA has been altered to halt chlorophyll production. It is possible that a virus altered the DNA in the first place, but I don't think that the ongoing variegation is caused by a continued virus infection.

There used to be a variegated Viola odorata in commerce that was used as a bedding plant, but I am not certain if it exists anymore... hopefully there will be a healthy, variegated clone discovered again as violets become more popular (knock on wood).

I will attempt to reacquire the photographs I had of virused violet foliage and share them with everyone. The comparison with the healthy plants is striking! I'll ask my parents to look for them today.

Stefan


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RE: Found a cure?

  • Posted by etii France 8 (My Page) on
    Sat, Aug 20, 05 at 15:53

hello !

U have a better knowledge than I about violets :-)
Hope you'll find a pic of the "monster" ;-)

Ci@o
Thierry.


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RE: Found a cure?

Hey, nonsense! I saw your very nice web site, so I know that's not true. I will hopefully have pictures late tonight or tomorrow - until then, pleasant dreams... I'll try to get a picture of the flower, too! It's a beauty.

Stefan


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RE: Found a cure?

Here for your pleasure, pictures of both beast and beauty:


The leaf with viral symptoms


A former clump of violet, with old leaves showing virus


A young plant with neighboring older leaves showing virus


A plant in bloom in the spring, viewed from the side


A flower, closer view


Another close-up of a flower

Thank you!
Stefan


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RE: Found a cure?

  • Posted by etii France 8 (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 22, 05 at 4:56

So gorgeous flowers :-)))) Yummy ;-)))
Thanks a lot :-)

Take care.
Thierry.


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RE: Found a cure?

You're welcome! I only wish you could smell them; the fragrance is divine, sweeter and stronger than any other sweet violet I know. Well, here's hoping they will stay healthy. I will keep everyone posted.

Stefan


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RE: Found a cure?

Hello Stefan!
Thank you for the info on mulch and cuttings/divisions of violets.I will try pine needles.Please-what is a "cold frame"?Also,as far as pegging runners to form new plants,does that work for my new parmas?I noticed that they are long,trailing single type violets.My others are ones that cast seeds and send roots out to form more plants.I am new to parmas and have yet to see and smell the blooms.The picture of your double violet is stunning!Is it a parma-you said it is so sweet scented.Thanks so much and blessings to you!-Violetvamp


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RE: Found a cure?

You're most welcome for the advice, Violetvamp! I know that the pine needles will be just the thing to keep your violets insulated and dry. A cold frame is an inexpensive structure used to keep plants protected over the winter months; it usually involves a wooden frame with some sort of translucent top that you can prop open, all over a shallow pit where you set plants in pots (or directly in the ground, if you like). On coldest days you keep the lid closed, and when it gets warm enough, you just prop the lid open so the plants inside don't cook. Because it keeps out snow and rain, it's the perfect environment for culturing all manner of things (including violets, which bloom during short days as long as it's not too cold for them, so keeping them in a cold frame can give you blooms from autumn through spring in some varieties!).

You'll love the Parma violets, they're really wonderful little treasures. They can be propagated just like other violets that multiply by runners, so pegging will work very well. It's also said that pinching off the runners as soon as they form allows the plant to concentrate its energy on blooms - but you may want to increase your numbers before getting serious about maximum bloom production.

My violet is not a Parma, but is rather an odorata type and as such, is content to survive outside even in zone 4 winters. The flower form and even the fragrance in this so-far nameless cultivar does remind me very much of the Parmas, though. I haven't grown a Parma in a few years (but will return to them very soon, now that I'm living in an apartment and only have room for small potted plants!), but I plan to do a meaningful comparison between their flowers from memory when I get a chance. I don't remember my Marie Louise ever being quite so big as this violet, though, its flowers being typically an inch across.

Take care!
Stefan


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Parmas making seeds ? (- to Violetvamp

  • Posted by etii France 8 (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 26, 05 at 17:08

Hello !

I'm sorry but, U've written: "My others are ones that cast seeds and send roots out to form more plants". Sometimes I do have a bad understanding of English: does it mean your parmas are making seeds violetvamp ?
I thought parmas were not making anyone ( very seldom, like once in a century) !Well well well...
Can someone enlights me pliiiiiiiiizzzzzzz ?

Thierry.


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RE: Found a cure?

Thierry, I think she was referring to other violets (probably odoratas?) when she said that; she mentioned that Parmas are new to her, but that she noticed they send out runners. Unfortunately, they are difficult (but supposedly not at all impossible) to get to form seed, but we must meet that challenge with equal determination to get what little seed we can from them.

Stefan


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RE: Found a cure?

stefan,
thanks for taking the time to share the problems as well as the successes. i have double russian here, john raddenbury, and recently a cyclops clone, all of which seem to have this virus. jr can sometimes produce seed. i intend to collect it this season and try to grow a new clone. fingers crossed! double russian has/had such a wonderful reputation but is a weak grower. it crossed my mind to try to get it put into 'in vitro' culture and try heat induced tip cuttings as they do with strawberries and carnations. it's on my list of things to do!
thierry? dont worry! not all viruses produce variegation and not all variegation is due to viruses! some viruses causing variegation dont seem to harm the plants at all. such a piece of benign extra-nuclear genetic material might be better described as a plasmid rather than a virus...what do you think?
rob...:)


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RE: Found a cure?

  • Posted by etii France 8 (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 31, 05 at 5:11

"such a piece of benign extra-nuclear genetic material might be better described as a plasmid rather than a virus"
:-ppppppp Well well well aussie pleople have really strange manners ;-)...extra-nuclear genetic material: does it make the same with a knife ? ;-) thinking ? What are U talking about: never not ever ;-)
I just wanted to have fun and "create" an odorata variegated ! It can sound naive but what the hell, I made a try ;-) As we say here: " the ridiculous one does not kill", thank godness, or I'll be dead for a long time :-pp

Take care :-)
Thierry.


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RE: Found a cure?

lol!
i thought you might like that one!
normally, the nucleus of the cell contains the genetic material, the chromosomes. there is some genetic material in the cytoplasm of the cell, too. this can be mitochondrial dna and other small parcels of genetic material called plasmids. when a cell divides, only the nuclear material is replicated. the other floating dna can go into either part of the the two new cells. viruses normally insert themselves into the nuclear genetic material and hijack the replication process to reproduce themselves. try running that through babel fish and see what you come up with! (i am trying to help, by the way!)
rob...


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RE: Found a cure?

Stefan-Thank you so much for explaining about the cold frame and how to make new parma plants!I noticed yesterday that my parmas are setting roots here and there on their runners!I pinned down 2 and left others to develop on their own to see how it works.Also,I will get more baby parmas first,then will cut back the runners so I will (hopefully!) get more blooms when the time comes!It is exciting to be exploring new things with violets!_Violetvamp


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RE: Found a cure?

Sorry it took so long to get back here, everyone - I've been so busy and even now I'm tired from planting a new violet I received in the mail! I hope I can bring it back to full health, as it appears they didn't take the best of care of the plants in their greenhouse (leaf spot and very anemic, chlorotic foliage - obviously not the work of a violet specialist!). I'm glad to be able to grow violets on what little window sill space I have, since my other plant passions take up vastly more room and would require that I hold an actual garden here, which I cannot presently afford. Still, there's something exciting about cultivating precious violets just blocks away from the shadow of the U.S. Capitol!

Rob, naturally, I'm only too happy to share my ups and downs in growing violets - and even though I'm sorry to hear you have the same virus floating around your stock, I do feel better for being able to commiserate just a bit. I had also wondered about doing heat treatments and meristem culturing on violets, but then that's well beyond my means! If you do have access to a facility, then it would be a great idea to determine if there are other priority cultivars that need a "cleaning". Perhaps some of the Parmas would benefit from this, too, although surely the French have caught on to this by now. I will be sending good vibes your way for your John Raddenburys to produce viable seed (that's a single, right?). At least it seems that violet cultivars travel internationally with relative ease (perhaps because they're so small?) - otherwise it could be like other plants such as roses, where both bureaucracies and nurseries which are unwilling to deal with foreign customers keep varieties regionally locked more often than not.

Poor, poor Thierry ;-) Unfortunately I understood Rob perfectly, so it's not just an Australian thing... perhaps something terribly important was lost in the translation?? How would we ever really know if it was? :-)

Violetvamp, I'm so glad to hear that your new violets are prospering for you! They'll only get better with time, and your plan to propagate and then sever in order to build the main crown sounds simply excellent to me. Keep us all updated on any exciting developments, please!

Stefan


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RE: Found a cure?

thank you for a great laugh, stefan! we should try not to tease or french friend.....not too much anyway!! lol!

i have (thankfully) never experienced virus going from one plant to another in my collection. john raddenbury is a rare violet and there are a few pretenders. i believe the european one is comptesse ed. du tertre. it's certainly not the same as mine. (another reason to save some seed!) the virus likely reduces it's vigour. my plant died back one winter while i was away and took several years to build up again from cuttings. it may be why it's rare. the french have virus tested some parmas. some strains were clean, others have been cleared in vitro...so the technology exists!

have a great weekend...

rob...


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RE: Found a cure?

Interesting discussion :)

May I chip in...

Well-variegated plants of V. odorata do turn up from time to time. Back in 1996, Kathleen Inman (UK) was kind enough to show me her lovely pale-cream-edged one in her garden. She said she had had trouble propagating it, though. I believe it was Bob Brown (Cotswold Garden Flowers) who told me he had sourced a similar plant from New Zealand; I didn't follow up on that with him, sadly. He mentioned it to me, us both having seen the example Steve Taffler showed at the Hardy Plant Society's Variegated Plant Day in 1997. (Steve died not so long ago, by the way; a great loss; he introduced many good garden plants, such as Tolmiea menziesii 'Taff's Gold'.)
Roy Coombs describes the 1878 cultivar 'Armandine Millet' as "appearing in a bed of seedlings obtained from various crosses. Although originally described as having yellow or golden markings, later descriptions of the variegations mention them as being white or silver." [1981, p.97] Roy also lists 5 other variegated cultivars on pp.51-52, one of which was striped.

As regards inducing variegation in violets (or other plants), given some other variegated plant as a source...
Sometimes it is enough just to rub the leaves together.
Also, I have had variegated V. riviniana seedlings arise spontaneously under a shrub of variegated elder (Sambucus nigra), so maybe even old varigated leaf litter can provide a source? The V. riviniana variegation was a white/green mottling but not very stable.


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