The Pollen Sacs are Missing on My African Violet Flowers. What Happened?

by | Apr 26, 2023 | 2 comments

Pollen sacs are always present on African violets, right? Not always. Have you seen one without them? Would you even notice? What happened to them? Aren’t they necessary?

Pollen sacs on an African violet
This African violet has pollen sacs like most violets

What Are Pollen Sacs?

The yellow parts in the middle of an African violet are the male reproductive parts of a violet. They are held up by filaments. (You can see those on the sides below the yellow sacs in the above picture.)

Pollen Sacs Missing

So why are the sacs missing on this African violet? Are there reasons they wouldn’t be wanted?

LooXo 'Delightful' African violet
The yellow pollen sacs are missing on this LooXo violet

LooXo African violets have no pollen sacs

Optimara, a plant company in Tennessee, was working on these violets for over 10 years before they brought them to market in 2018.

They introduced them to the horticulture world at Cultivate 18′, a large trade show in Columbus, Ohio. I first saw them there. I knew when I looked at them that something was different.

Why no pollen sacs?

So why did they hybridize these violets with no pollen sacs? The biggest factor was a tiny insect called the Western Flower Thrip or Frankliniella occidentalis. What does this tiny insect have to do with removing the pollen sacs?

spilled pollen from thrips
The pollen sac has been eaten by thrips and the pollen spilled down the petals

If you’ve ever purchased an African violet that had “powder” on the petals, you have encountered flower thrips. They love pollen and when they feed on it, the pollen spills out of the sacs and scatters down the petals. If you see this in the store, keep moving.

Optimara made “filantherless” violets

These violets are called “filantherless” violets because they are missing the filaments and anthers or the male reproductive organs. This eliminates the flower thrip, but also protects the violets from botrytis, a fungus that attacts the flowers. Without the anthers, the flowers last longer, giving them a longer shelf life in the stores.

LooXo violet

Why LooXo?

Why are these filantherless violets called LooXo? It is pronounced “looks-so” and the large X represents the female chromosome and they x’ed out the male parts. When people saw them they said they “look so gorgeous” or they “look so delightful” that the name stuck.

The LooXo ‘Gorgeous’ below appears to have the yellow sacs, but that is in fact the ovary of the female reproductive parts.

LooXo Gorgeous
LooXo Gorgeous at the 2018 Cultivate show

Are they as attractive?

I’m not sure I like them as much as the violets with the yellow centers. What are your thoughts? I feel like the yellow centers gives them added oomph and make them more attractive. I do like the one I just bought, though.

The new LooXo violet revealed at the January 2023 TPIE (Tropical Plant International Expo) show is ‘Lisa’. What a GREAT name, right? And its green! I need one and hope I can find one soon. Optimara, you can send me one if you want to……

LooXo 'Lisa' African violet

Have a great week, plant friends!

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2 Comments

  1. kim

    Always interesting! Thanks Lisa

    Reply
  2. Mary

    Okay, I didn’t know what was going on when I noticed my new violet didn’t have anthers. I got it from a local Lowe’s and I was pretty sure they were supplied by optimara, even though they don’t come with the optimara label anymore. It has white flowers, though, and I didn’t see it on their website. The buds look yellowish green, so maybe it’s supposed to be Lisa and it’s just not as green as usual? I don’t know, but the blooms look pretty against the dark leaves.

    Reply

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