Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2003
Publication Date: 4/4/2003
Citation: Pooler, M., Dix, R., Griesbach, R. 2003. Building on success: 45 years of crapemyrtle breeding at the U.S. National Arboretum. HortScience. v. 38(5) pg. 688.
Technical Abstract: The crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia) is a popular shrub or tree with hundreds of named cultivars that offer the grower and gardener diverse combinations of flower color, growth habit, and bark characteristics. Although originally from Asia, the crapemyrtle or ¿lilac of the south¿ has become a mainstay in southern U.S. gardens and represents a significant source of income for both wholesale and retail nursery growers. Some of the greatest strides and most lasting contributions to crapemyrtle improvement came from the late Donald Egolf of the USDA/ARS/U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. As one prominent crapemyrtle wholesale grower said, ¿Our story of crapemyrtle development would be very short were it not for Dr. Donald R. Egolf.¿ By incorporating germplasm from L. fauriei into his breeding program, he was able to develop cultivars that were resistant to powdery mildew. Since the release of `Natchez¿ and `Muskogee¿ in 1978, 20 additional interspecific hybrid cultivars have been released from the U.S. National Arboretum, many of which have set the standard for disease resistance in the nursery industry. In addition to breeding for disease resistance, the current breeding objectives for crapemyrtle at the Arboretum focus on the development of novel flower colors, early bloom, and compact or miniature plant habit. The history and future of crapemyrtle breeding at the National Arboretum will be discussed.