Types of Plants
There are several major 'types of plants' to keep in mind when raising any kind of plant for its seed. Each type is categorized by specific and uniform characteristics. These types of plants are categorized as landraces, heirlooms, open pollinators and hybrids.
Landraces are plant varieties that have developed as a result of specific conditions. They can be somewhat variable by plant characteristic, meaning that small differences in plant populations will help some types adapt better to local conditions than other types of the same variety.
Landraces are distinguishable by a certain set of common characteristics but, most importantly, they will breed 'true'.
Any landrace plant of a specific variety will always produce seeds that grow into plants retaining the same characteristics as the parent plant.
Small variations between these plants just about ensures that some will survive regardless of the environmental conditions.
Heirlooms are defined as those plant varieties that have been handed down through the generations and valued for some specific characteristic such as taste.
They are types of plants that developed before the use of modern chemical fertizers and are genetically distinct from the hybrid vegetable in today's market.
The Seedless Watermelon
Did you ever wonder where seedless fruit comes from? I have...
There are seedless grapes and watermelons that I am aware of and probably many more seedless fruit types.
Most of the vegetables we buy in the store are 'hybrids' which are the result of crossing different plant genetic lines.
Normally hybrids can produce offspring but if the cross is between 2 widely separated genetic lines, the offspring will be sterile; which in the plant world means 'no seeds'.
And this is how we get seedless varieties.
Finally we come to the last category; hybrids which are mainly what you find in the grocery store.
They result from the crossing of 2 different plant lines to produce specific characteristics but their main drawback, in my opinion, is that they will not breed true.
Hybrid offspring will show wild variation as characteristics from different genetic lines assert themselves.
In general hybrids tend to have increased disease resistance and better adaptability than landraces and heirlooms due to 'hybrid vigor'. To explain this take the case of a prize racehorse.
I read somewhere that prize racehorses are bred by inbreeding 2 specific champion racehorse lines, each with their specific desired characteristics, for several generations.
Severe inbreeding within each separate genetic line will produce sickly offspring that gradually become 'sicker' with each succeeding inbred generation as more and more 'bad' recessive genes express themselves.
Normally these 'bad' recessive genes are masked through expression of a dominant gene and hidden (this is called the 'genetic load'). Inbreeding means that there are no dominant genes to cover the 'bad' recessives because both parents possess the 'bad' recessive.
Getting back to racehorses, 2 champion lines are inbred for several generations and then the offspring of each inbred line is crossed with each other resulting in 'the super racehorse', so to speak, because 'bad' recessives have been somewhat bred out.
Make sense? This 'super' racehorse is the result of hybrid vigor. And this is why hybrid plants are superior in certain respects.
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