Your Plant May Be a Lusus and Sometimes That is a Good Thing

by | Sep 21, 2022 | 0 comments

I’m sure you are wondering what a lusus is and so was I when I discovered this word today. You may have a plant that is a lusus and sometimes it is a good thing. 


A lusus is a “freak of nature”. It is also known in the plant world as a mutation or sport. In the African violet world, these sports are a good thing. 

How It Happens

So how does this lusus or freak of nature happen? It may be a fluke, but some breeders use chemicals, environmental changes, or other techniques to attempt to cause a plant to mutate, because these mutations are sought after by collectors. There may be a greenhouse full of the same plants and one may mutate and stick out from the others. “One of these things is not like the others”. We all know that song, right? Or maybe I’m aging myself. Plant people are always on the lookout for the lusus in the normal. 

African violets

Below is an African violet called ‘Mag’s Standing Ovation’ and my friend Marge Farrand hybridized this plant. She makes the most beautiful plants as you can see and she entered this plant in the Ohio African Violet Show. To register a plant you’ve hybridized with the American African Violet Society, the plant characteristics must be stable, meaning it will show the same characteristics through three generations.

African violet

This is African violet ‘Mag’s Standing Ovation’

Three Generations?

When Marge hybridized this plant by crossing two other plants with desirable characteristics, she came up with this beauty. As she grew this plant, she realized it was a plant that could be registered with the AVSA. She had to grow the plant, take a leaf or in the case of a chimera, a sucker, and grow that plant until it flowered to see if it kept its characteristics. Then she would have to propagate that plant, wait for it to flower and see if the second generation looked the same. This process was repeated one more time to make sure the characteristics of the original plant stayed stable through three generations. This obviously takes time. Then it was registered with the AVSA.

African violet

This is African violet ‘Mag’s Standing Ovation’


When growing a plant and you notice a leaf or flower is different than the parent plant, it may be a lusus or freak of nature, also called a mutation or sport. The plant below is a “sport” of Marge’s plant above. It is named ‘Sport of Mag’s Standing Ovation’. This plant is different than the one above in that it doesn’t have stripes in the flower petals. It is a “sport” of the plant above. They are similar, but the purple stripes are gone and so it has different characteristics.

Stable Characteristics

To be able to register that sport plant, you must do the same thing. Start a new plant, let it grow to the blooming stage, and observe if it is the same. Then repeat that process 2 more times to make sure the characteristics stay the same. Often these sports are as it says, a fluke of nature, and may revert to the original form. In this case, it was stable and registered as a new violet named ‘Sport of Mag’s Standing Ovation’.

African violet

African violet Sport of Mag’s Standing Ovation

These two plants are both equally beautiful and yet different enough to be registered as such. Marge has hybridized two wonderful plants and they are beauties. Which is your favorite? The original or the lusus or sport? 

Have a great week, plant friends!



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