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Ryan N. Contreras and Kim Shearer

Cape hyacinth (Galtonia candicans) is a geophytic herbaceous perennial from South Africa. It produces large inflorescences of pendulous white flowers during mid to late summer, followed by capsules filled with copious amounts of seed. The species has potential as a low-water-use landscape plant, but lodging and excessive seed production, which pose a risk of escape or invasion, are issues that should be addressed before marketing. Ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS) is a chemical mutagen known to induce usable mutations including dwarfing and sterility. We exposed seeds of cape hyacinth to increasing concentrations of EMS (0%, 0.2%, 0.4%, 0.6%, 0.8%, and 1%). Increased concentrations of EMS resulted in a linear decrease in seed germination when not exposed to a presoak treatment in water before exposure to EMS. No seedlings survived or were viable to field plant at 0.6%, 0.8%, or 1%. Resulting plants were field planted in 2013 and evaluated during 2014 and 2015. In both years, the inflorescence height at first flower, average seed number per capsule, and percent lodging were reduced in EMS-treated plants compared with controls. In 2015, pollen staining was evaluated and was reduced from 83% in control to less than 3% in the 0.4% treatment. Our study demonstrated that EMS is a viable option to reduce height and decrease seed set in cape hyacinth.