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Hybrids (was E. cordifolius)
CK, from Singapore asked Dwight why anyone would discourage hybridization of
I can't speak for Dwight, but I have to agree with his (Dwight's) comments
about amateur produced hybrids entering the marketplace through trades.
Hobbyists (and frequently professional botanists) have a hard enough time
identifying the particular species or variety a particular plant belongs to
without the added confusion of random crosses to deal with. Large commercial
outfits like Tropica DO experiement with hybridization, but they test all of
their hybrids for suitability for aquarium growth before they release them
onto the market, and I'm pretty sure that they destroy all those hybrids
which fail to meet their criteria. I doubt many/any hobbyists doing kitchen
table hybridization is likely to be as careful to ensure that only the very
best results from any such crosses manage to infiltrate into wide
circulation. The potential for damage (with plants) doesn't really affect
the aquarium trade (if it doesn't grow well in an aquarium, people won't
want to buy it...) but there does exist a potential problem for natural
ecosystems should any of these hybrids make it into wild habitats where they
could survive and possibly out-compete valid native species.
Hybridization, if done responsibly, can produce some wonderful results but
it can also lead to confusion and a lessening of species-specific traits
which are worthy of appreciation in their own right. As an example (moving
from plants to fish), look at Swordtails and Platies, common enough in
aquarium trade. Hybridization has allowed the variability of color and
pattern commonly found in Platies (X. maculatus and X. variatus especially)
to be moved over to Swordtails (X. helleri), but in the process the
magnificient "sword" of the male Swordtail has, in many cases, been reduced
to a mere shadow of its former glory. It is _very_ difficult to find
Swordtails which are 100% pure X. helleri within the pet trade today.
Specialist groups such as the American Livebearers Association have whole
sections devoted exclusively to the maintenance of pure lines of the various
species and frown on random hybridization. The various Killifish groups are
equally adamant about the maintenance of pure lines.
I realize that none of this is probably going to discourage the casual
amateur from attempting such croses (in either fish or plants), but I would
hope that if they do so, they prevent the hybrids from entering either the
hobby or natural ecosystems.