Not long ago some of us started keeping Anubias ‘Frazeri’ which we suppose was created by Mr. Edwin Frazer. Well I tried to google who Edwin Fraser is. My search in the Internet didn’t bring any results: no email, no address, no account on Facebook or Twitter… There was only a mention that Edwin Frazer was the breeder of some Anubias hybrids and then …at the foot of the page I saw a fax number that must have belonged to Mr. Frazer. “Come what may!” I said to myself and sent a fax to the number.
To my surprise next morning I got an email from Mr. Frazer. It was the moment of truth for many Anubias fanciers in Russia: we discovered the history of the mysterious Anubias ‘Frazeri’!
Mr. Fraser – he lives in Brisbane (Australia) and creates new hybrids of different species – was rather embarrassed about the Anubias ‘Frazeri’: “It is a name given to one of my hybrids by a Florida nursery…”
Then the Australian described how he had been working at this hybrid:
“The plant is an old hybrid I made many years ago by crossing an old form of A. barteri with A. congensis ( which is now A. heterophyla I think). I did a number of Anubias pollinations in the late 1980s and 1990s at a time when I was producing new cultivars of Dieffenbachia. I was doing this primarily to raise Dasheen Mosaic virus free plants as this disease is not usually passed through the seeds. I did a lot of crosses of A. nana and A. barteri including many that had been collected in the wild by Holger Windelov of Tropica Nursery. Mostly I crossed the plants back on themselves as I was trying to get clean varieties for tissue culture. All the A. nana and A. barteri were full of disease, both bacterial and viral, and very difficult to clean up for tissue culture. The results were superior varieties which we sold large numbers of tissue culture produced plants to Tropica and some of the Dutch, Singapore, Japanese and Florida aquatic nurseries. A. 1705, a form of A.barteri is one of these that was very popular and most of the A. nana sold now would have originally been from these plants. As well as selfing these species I did some crosses and A. frazeri is one of those. I have since done a number of newer hybrids, which you can see on our website piscesenterprises.com.”
I posted his answer on the Russian Anubias forum (http://www.tropica.ru/forum/index.php?showforum=35) and it caught the interest of forum members. They asked a wide range of questions concerned Mr. Frazer’s work, but he chose only this one: “Your description of the variety 'Lisa' contains the pictures of its parents - A. afzelii & A. 'Congensis'. How can you explain that ‘Lisa’ has a cordate leaf base, though the parents don’t have this feature?”
Here is the answer of Mr. Frazer: “There is a lot of variability in the progeny of the F1 crosses with the Anubias "species". This would not normally be expected and I am not sure of why it is so. The fact that there is a very large variability in the wild material probably has something to do with it. Another possibility is that the species we are working with are already hybridized. Unfortunately as there is no accession data with the species I worked with they can only be treated as "horticultural varieties" from a taxonomic point of view. I found the same applied to many of the Dieffenbachia crosses I made, with quite large variations in leaf shape, size and color patterns. Other possibilities are pollen contamination, but I think this is most unlikely as I remember we had a large range of seedlings to choose from rather than two different types.”
As you can see, our mystery is solved, but the world of Anubias has still many of them.
The author of this note: Alexander Grigorov.
Photos: Dmitry Loginov and Edwin Frazer.