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Two Colorful New Maples Resist Bugs, Cold

By Jill Lee
January 5, 1998

Breeders and nurseries who want more from their maples may want to catch the "Red Rocket," a fiery-red maple cultivar just released by scientists with the U.S. National Arboretum. Red Rocket has outstanding cold and disease resistance.

Also new from the arboretum: "New World," an orange-red maple line that is tailor-made for city landscaping. The U.S. National Arboretum is part of USDA's Agricultural Research Service.

Both trees demonstrate resistance to the potato leafhopper, a serious pest of maple trees. In tests, Red Rocket suffered only 2 percent leaf damage when challenged by a hopper attack, compared to 9 to 10 percent leaf damage on a popular commercial cultivar.

Red Rocket thrives in USDA growing zone 3, where temperatures can go as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit. It even appears to grow more rapidly in northern climates, a trait that may be traced in part to the cultivar's origins in northern Minnesota.

Red Rocket's columnar shape and cold resistance make it ideal as a line of defense against high winds or bad weather around barns or livestock shelters. It would also work well as a shelter and screen at park picnic areas or around industrial areas.

New World can thrive in USDA growing zone 4, where temperatures may drop to -30 degrees Fahrenheit. But its best quality is its shading capacity. Unlike most maples, it branches up, then out, similar to an American elm. Its excellent shading and cold resistance make New World ideal for gracing city streets and homes in the northeastern and midwestern United States.

The new cultivars are easy for nurseries and breeders to propagate from softwood cuttings using standard rooting techniques. Cuttings of these releases will be available from the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System. A limited number will be available from wholesale nurseries in 1999.

Scientific contact: A.M. Townsend, USDA-ARS, U.S. National Arboretum, Floral and Nursery Plants Research Unit, Glenn Dale, Md. Phone: (301) 344-4175, fax: (301) 344-3441, nadt@ars-

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