G Prentice wrote:
If a crab apple pollinated a Granny Smith, for example, the fruit produced is just Granny Smith in characteristics, the fruit isn’t affected by the crab apple (smaller size) etc. - is that correct? But if I were to collect the seed from the Granny Smith apples and grow trees from them, the characteristics of the apples on the new trees would be a mix of the granny smith and the crab apple - the apples might be of a size in between a Granny Smith apple and a crab apple?
That's correct. If you had a crab apple pollinate a Granny Smith, the apples would be normal Granny Smiths. You'd have to grow out the seeds to get hybrid characteristics. When people say that fruit is bigger/sweeter due to being pollinated, this is because plants can often tell how many viable seeds are inside a fruit and devote resources accordingly. If an apple is badly pollinated and only has one or two seeds, the fruit will probably be small and misshapen -- the apple tree doesn't want to put lots of effort into feeding just a couple of seeds. If it's pollinated very well, the resulting fruit is more likely to be large, sweet, and well-formed.
G Prentice wrote:
Elaeagnus x ebbingei is a hybrid species, right? I find it a bit confusing that hybrids are given new names that don’t tell you who the parent species are - I.e. ‘ebbingei’. I found one web page that said the parent species are ‘ a cross between E. macrophylla and E. pungens (or perhaps E. x reflexa)’, but otherwise it wasn’t easy to find info’ about this hybrid, which seems strange given how common it is.
Yeah, taxonomy is messy and weird. The "[example genus] x [name]" format always indicates an interspecies hybrid within [example genus]. It is a shame that the name gives no clue as to the parentage. Information can be hard to track down, even for common species.
E. macrophylla and E. pungens are both reported to have 28 chromosomes. I couldn't figure out how many chromosomes E. multiflora has. If it has 28, the odds of it being cross-fertile with E. x ebbingei are much higher. Now I wish I had the relevant plants so I could try the cross!
It looks like Elaeagnus x ebbingei's name is officially Elaeagnus x submacrophylla now, but both names are in use. Confusing.
Named cultivars grown or grafted from cuttings have their advantages (predictable, sometimes fruit earlier, can be a way to propagate a great sterile plant), but in my opinion, growing from seed is definitely worthwhile. If you like the parents, you'll probably get offspring that you like, too. You might get something better than the parents. If you get something you don't like, you can always use it as rootstock for grafting a better plant onto (or just chop it down). If it sounds fun, try it!