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Blond Zucchini?

Green Zucchini

As long as I’ve known zucchini, it has been a dark green squash like the young one in this photo.

To some kitchen gardeners, the existence of blond zucchini is no surprise (though calling it “blond” is probably not normal). In my experience, whether store-bought or homegrown, zucchini is a dark-green squash. It never occurred to me there might be other shades of zuke, and I really didn’t care.

Until this summer.

You see, on one of five zucchini plants growing from commercially-package seeds, a squash developed that is very light, creamy green rather than zuke green. Of course, while writing this, I can’t find the seed packet. It was a late-season purchase to fill a hole in my vegetable production; I planted zukes in August because they grow and mature so quickly.

I do know it was a generic zucchini seed package. It named the variety and mentioned nothing about mixed colors. So… either the plants from which the seeds were harvested were open-pollinated and grew next to blond zucchini OR the seed that produced my blond zucchini experienced a random mutation.

My zucchini experiment

What does an overenthusiastic gardener do when faced with an oddity such as a zucchini of a different color? This gardener lets the stupid squash mature so the seeds become viable. I’ve several questions:

  1. Is blondness a dominant or a recessive trait? In other words, in a cross between a plant to produces dark green fruits and one that produces blond fruits, will there be more blond offspring or dark green offspring?
  2. Whatever color is dominant, can I coax more blond zucchini from this family line? You see, I hand-pollinated the flower from which the blond squash emerged. I used a male flower from a plant that produces dark green zukes. I didn’t know I was pollinating a blond zucchini plant (the leaves and stems look identical).
  3. If I can produce further blond zucchini plants, can I isolate seeds that will always produce ONLY blond zucchini? If so, I’ll have a unique variety of zucchini developed right here in my own garden.

Blond Zucchini

One of my zucchini plants produced a blond fruit! Granted, it’s hiding under leaf stems, but you can clearly see its color is creamy light green rather than the mottled dark green of my other zucchinis. I’m going to try to create a line of blond zucchinis. This is going to be fun.

To answer these questions, I’ll harvest the zuke when frost is inevitable. It should be pretty mature by then. I’ll collect seeds and start some indoors very early in the spring. Those should mature quickly enough that I can harvest seeds from the spring crop to start a mid-summer crop; with a decent growing season I can get two successive zucchini plantings in a season.

The first planting will be of seeds from only this zucchini. I’ll try to pollinate each plant using its own flowers. If that’s not possible, I’ll be cross pollinating from plants that may carry the blond gene so I’ll have a decent chance of seeding more blond squashes. Perhaps by the end of the 2017 growing season I’ll have a reliably blond line of zucchini descended from the freak in this year’s zucchini patch.

What fun! (And, my wife rolls her eyes.)

http://www.smallkitchengarden.net/plant-vegetables/blond-zucchini

4 Responses to “Blond Zucchini?”

  • KCTomato:

    If you pollinated the light squash with a dark one, the result of the next generation should be dark. Dark is dominant. Allow that next generation (2015) to “self-pollinate” and in 2016 you may start to see some light ones again.nnI say “may” because I am not exactly sure of the inheritence of that specific trait. nnC. pepo skin color traits are not exactly straightforward. There can be multiple genes which result in skin color. nnIt could be that the light skin trait was a mutation. It could also have been an errant seed that found its way there during the processing or packaging stage. Dumber things have happened.

  • KCTomato:

    Oh to your third question. nDepends.nnIf that is a mutation, it kind of depends on the mutation kind as to whether it is “stable” and could continue to pass on that trait (did you only see 1 blond fruit? Or where there several others on the same plant?)nnIf the trait is recessive, and stable, you should be able to sustain it **provided you prevent it from being pollinated by some other C. pepo squash**.nnThat means it would need to be self pollinated only (pollen from its sister plants would be okay once you stabilize it). After awhile it would be best to grow out a good sized population of the same blond fruits and allow them to only pollinate each other. This is because (outbreeding) crops squash like squash will suffer from inbreeding depression if it keeps receiving pollen from the same exact plant. Explaining the why of that is a little more than I care to go into here but suffice to say it should be done. nnA could reference for understanding “outbreeding” would be Carol Deppe’s book “Breeding Backyard Varieties”.

  • Mark:

    Cool! Good luck with the madscience. I think the key will be repeated selfing and blocking against outcrossing.

  • How was the taste/flavor and in what type of recipe did you use it?

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