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Arboretum--Still Beautiful at 75
By Alfredo Flores
May 29, 2002
The U.S. National Arboretum, celebrating its
75th anniversary this year, has some impressive numbers to show for
three-quarters of a century in the nations capital.
Each year, more than half a million visitors from all parts of the world
come to view the 9,000 different kinds of plants growing inside the
arboretums 446 acres in Washington, D.C., showing that the arboretum is a
valuable facility for both research and public education. More than 250,000
visit virtually, through the World Wide Web, to ask questions about
the arboretum and gardening.
Scientists in the arboretums
Floral and Nursery Plants Research
Unit use classical breeding, genetic engineering, molecular biology,
entomology and virology to solve horticultural problems encountered by industry
professionals as well as by recreational gardeners. Topping the list of
industry needs is finding hardy plants that are resistant to diseases and
Researchers recently used a technique called polymerase chain reaction to
confirm the presence of plum pox virus, detect different strains and assess
their potential damage to host plants. This virus is of great concern to the
stone fruit industry that includes plums, peaches, apricots and nectarines.
Developing elm trees resistant to Dutch elm disease and preserving the
historic Yoshino cherry trees that ring Washingtons Tidal Basin are two
of the arboretums best-known recent accomplishments. But over the course
of its history, the arboretum and the Agricultural Research Service, which
administers the arboretum, have introduced more than 665 new plant releases and
have secured 13 patents and two Environmental
Protection Agency biopesticide registrations.
A more in-depth article about the arboretum appears in the May issue of
Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agricultures primary scientific research agency.