Sculpted Forms: a New Look for a Favorite Perennial

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Posted by @Char on
The American Hemerocallis Society, the International Cultivar Registration Authority for the genus Hemerocallis, recognizes for registration groups of daylilies with different and distinctive flower shape as Forms. Daylily form refers to the shape or structure of the flower. Currently, there are six distinctive forms of daylilies, single, double, polymerous, spider, unusual form and the newest, sculpted form.

Looking into the beginnings of sculpted forms takes us back to the start of daylily hybridizing. The early cultivars were diploids developed from crosses going back to the species. By the 1960’s with the ability to convert diploids from these early breeding programs to tetraploid, emphasis was placed on the improvements this conversion brought to the genus. The focus of hybridizing was placed on better and more diverse color, larger flowers, stronger scapes and the overall vigor and larger size of the plants seen in the converted tetraploids. The vast majority of early tetraploid seedlings which showed sculpted characteristics were deselected and discarded as undesirable. Despite the efforts of hybridizers to remove these oddities, the ability to pass on these fantastic unique mutations survived in the genes of some plants they did select.

A few of these early tetraploid cultivars exhibited hints of what might be possible with these flower shapes. The cultivars, H. Chittagong (Munson 1973), Doge of Venice (Munson 1982) and Ruffled Dude (Munson 1986) from noted hybridizer R. W. Munson Jr. are said to show sculpted characteristics, but it wasn’t until Anastasia was registered in 1985 by Jeff Salter that the sculpted daylily was noticed. Twenty five years later in the fall of 2010, Sculpted forms were designated as a separate Form of daylily. Sculpted is defined in the registration guidelines as “a Sculpted form daylily has three-dimensional structural features involving or emanating from the throat, midrib or elsewhere on the petal surface”. The form sculpted is divided into three sub-forms to further distinguish between these unique flower shapes.



(Salter 1985)

Life on Bajore

(Hanson 1999)

Anastasia (Salter 1985) displays the creasing and folding of the throat and petal surface described in the definition for the first of the three sculpted sub-forms, the pleated form. The distinguishing characteristic of the pleated form is the longitudinal creasing to each side of the midrib and the wide raised platform of petal tissues in the petal center, starting deep in the throat and moving upward towards the petal tip.

Pleated forms registered in the mid to late 1990’s could be variable in the degree of the pleating. Dear Prudence (Hanson 1994), John Karl Seager (Hanson 1996), Life on Bajore (Hanson 1999) all have a light creasing seen in this time period. As a few hybridizers began exploring the form, the pleating took on several styles. Cultivars Set the Style (Salter E. 2000), Beyond Thunder Dome (Hanson 1999) Betty Harwood (Hanson 2007) and My Little Fool (Rich 2010) have a delicate feminine appeal with wide ruffled petals and a heavyset pleat deep in the throat causing the petals to billow outward from the sides of the crease.






 Beyond Thunder Dome (Hanson 1999) Betty Harwood (Hanson 2007)  My Little Fool (Rich 2010)

Fad Gadget (Hanson 2007), Integrated Logistics (Hanson 2005) and Aqua Tech (Hanson 2009), represent another style, that of a tightly pleated flaring petal.

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Fad Gadget (Hanson 2007)   Integrated Logistics (Hanson 2005)   Aqua Tech (Hanson 2009

Curt Hanson, of Crintonic Gardens in Ohio, has been developing the pleated form for many years. In his newest registrations he has given us yet another style, that of an extreme tightly creased and multiple folded petals which is taking the pleated form to new heights literally. Shown here by Perfect Irony (Hanson 2010), Van Gogh's Ear (Hanson 2012), Mother Upduff (Hanson 2008) and Nude Yoga (Hanson 2010), extreme pleating causes each petal to stand upright in the center of the bloom creating a striking sculptural statement in the garden.

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Perfect Irony (Hanson 2010) Van Gogh's Ear (Hanson 2012)
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Mother Upduff (Hanson 2008) Nude Yoga (Hanson 2010)


The second sub-form is the sculpted relief form. Relief forms have ridges of petal tissues which rise from the petal surface radiating outward from the midrib or along the length of the petal between the veins. Most often referred to as “carving” or “embossing”, the sculpted relief form should not be confused with the thick petals associated with heavy substance or a simple corduroy texture. Using registration information, the relief forms can trace their beginnings to cultivars from the hybridizing programs of Munson, Hanson, Carr, Whatley, Harris, Benz, Salter, Reckamp and others. From these early cultivars several breeding lines developed.

Supreme Empire (Hanson 1996)      

Supreme Empire (Hanson 1996) has been an influential parent producing the cultivars Concrete Blonde (Hanson 1998), Self Absorbed (Hanson 2001), Ashwood's Magic Crystal (Norris 2010), Empire of Desire (Norris 2010) and Song of the Empire (Carpenter 2004). 


Song of the Empire

(Carpenter 2004)




 The “empire” name shows again in the crossing of Childhood Treasure (Salter 1992) with Empire Strikes Back (Salter 1997) which gave us Empire Returns ( Salter 2001), this has been one of the most prolific of the sculpted relief lines. Cultivars such as Fall Frolic (Salter 2002), Carved Pumpkin Pie (Salter 2003), Permanent Impressions (Carr 2005), Groovy Chick (Pickles 2007), Ledgewood's Carved in Gold (Abajian 2007), Keys to the Kingdom (Hansen 2005), The Butler Did It (Kinnebrew 2007), River Ripples (Hansen 2007), Artistically Engraved (Maryott 2012) and Dixie Sweetheart (Hansen 2011) are a few of the cultivars that trace their beginnings to this line.



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Empire Returns (Salter 2001)

   Carved Pumpkin Pie

(Salter 2003)

     Keys To The Kingdom

(Hansen 2005)

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River Ripples

(Hansen 2007)

Dixie Sweetheart

(Hansen 2011)

A third line developed from Sherry Lane Carr (Carr 1993) and America’s Most Wanted (Carr 1997). The cultivars Beyond Riches (Carr 1999), Eloquent Cay (Stamile 2006), Bonnie Holley (Corbett 2005), Lightnin' in My Bloomers (Owen 2010) and Embossed Treasure (Holley 2008) are from this line. R. W. Munson Jr. also provided a line in the relief forms through his Ruffled Dude (Munson 1986). Bas Relief (Stamile 1999), Choctaw Ridge (Pickles 2010), Santa Fe Treasure (Scott 2005), Intaglio Image (Maryott 2008) and Groovin’ (Pickles 2011) all descend from Ruffled Dude. These relief lines and other emerging lines have also been combined and you would find where some of the cultivars mentioned have multiple lines involved.

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Beyond Riches (Carr 1999) Eloquent Cay (Stamile 2006) Bonnie Holley (Corbett 2005)
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Bas Relief (Stamile 1999)      

Lightnin' In My Bloomers

(Owen 2010)


The majority of the early relief forms can be found in shades of yellow or gold. Advancement is being made by hybridizers of the sculpted relief forms, and relief forms can now be found in shades of cream, orange, pink, purple and red with other colors and color patterns in the future. Along with more choices in color, the depth of the ridges is increasing. The play of shadow in the recesses of the ridges makes the flowers of relief forms appear as if they were beautifully carved sculpture.


Tet. Texas Feathered Fancy (Carpenter (2006)



Cristate, the third sub-form is becoming one of the most exciting in the sculpted group. The sculpted cristate form is distinctive for having extra appendages of petal tissue which grow from the midrib or petal surface of a single flower. Cristate forms are often confused with a double flower due to the appearance of fullness in the center of the bloom and this has led to many being incorrectly registered as double daylilies over the years. There are two types seen in the cristate form, the midrib cristate and the surface cristate.

  Southport (Trimmer 2002)



In the midrib cristate these cristations grow along the midrib as seen in 'Southport’ (Trimmer 2002). A few other cultivars with the midrib cristate form include Kevin Walek (Stamile 1998), Double Intricacy ( Lambertson 1998), Ellen Laprise (Doorakian 2005) and Little Miss Lucy (Owen 2010).





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Double Intricacy

(Lambertson 1998)

Ellen Laprise

(Doorakian 2005)


Little Miss Lucy

(Owen 2010)

The surface cristate has multiple cristations which grow from the petal surface to the side of the midrib portion of the petals. A few of the surface cristates recently registered include Greetings Earthling (Falkner 2011), Sigourney (Hanson 2008), Strikingly Dramatic (Maryott 2010) and Texas Feathered Fancy (Carpenter 2006).

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Greetings Earthling

(Falkner 2011)


(Hanson 2008)

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Strikingly Dramatic

(Maryott 2010)

Texas Feathered Fancy

(Carpenter 2006)

One very unique feature of this sculpted form is the variation seen in the shapes of the cristations. The image of Southport shows large ruffled appendages, contrasting with Sigourney which has dense, spiky coral like growths. While the surface cristations of Strikingly Dramatic (Maryott 2010), have a fine delicate look. Although many of the first cristates suffered the fate of deselecting and were discarded, hybridizers are now working with and enjoying them because of their distinctive appearance as seen in the seedlings below.

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seedling C. Rich seedling C. Rich
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seedling C. Hanson seedling F. Manning

Daylilies have long been a favorite perennial of gardeners. Sculpted forms have all the attributes we have come to expect in daylilies, but offer us more choices in our design and placement when it comes to flower shape for the perennial border or bed; whether it’s the delicate ruffled pleated form growing amid strong uprights like crocosmia or cimicifuga, or the extreme upright pleat centered as a focal statement specimen. It could be a grouping of relief forms, echoing the highlights and shadows of carving in your favorite statuary, or the attraction of a cristate form with its variations of cristation enticing you to stop for a closer look.

While hybridizers continue to develop their creative visions for daylilies, the daylily is exploring its own. No longer being discarded for their unconventional shapes, sculpted forms are an expression of the daylily from the daylily. All we have to do is open our minds, discover and enjoy.

PHOTO CREDITS - Images used with permission, unauthorized copying prohibited

Courtesy of Curt Hanson - Betty Harwood, Fad Gaget, Mother Upduff, Nude Yoga, Perfect Irony, Van Gogh's Ear, Supreme Empire, Tetraploid Texas Feathered Fancy and seedling

Courtesy of Dan Hanson - Dixie Sweetheart

Courtesy of Robert O'Neal - Greetings Earthling

Courtesy of Fred Manning - seedling

Images from Charmaine Rich - My Little Fool, Integrated Logistics, Aqua Tech, Song of the Empire,Carved Pumpkin Pie, Keys To The Kingdom, River Ripples, Southport, Ellen Laprise, Sigourney, seedling and seedling

All other images from the ATP database

Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Wow! by LarryR May 1, 2012 9:12 PM 0
Very informative! by fiwit Apr 24, 2012 4:41 AM 3
Great article Char! by daylily Apr 23, 2012 7:04 AM 0

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