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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Washington, D.C. » National Arboretum » Floral and Nursery Plants Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #333077

Research Project: Evaluation and Genetic Improvement of Woody Ornamental Landscape Plants for Disease and Pest Tolerance, Non-Invasiveness, and Ornamental Traits

Location: Floral and Nursery Plants Research

Title: Good genes – using germplasm and breeding to create new plants at the U.S. National Arboretum

Author
item Pooler, Margaret

Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2016
Publication Date: 12/13/2017
Citation: Pooler, M.R. 2017. Good genes – using germplasm and breeding to create new plants at the U.S. National Arboretum. Acta Horticulturae. 1185:1-6.

Interpretive Summary: The U.S. National Arboretum (USNA) is a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research and education facility with a mission of enhancing the economic, environmental, and aesthetic value of ornamental and landscape plants through long-term, multi-disciplinary research, conservation of genetic resources, and interpretative gardens and exhibits. Established in 1927, the Arboretum is part of the Agricultural Research Service, which is the principal in-house research arm of the USDA. The mission of the Arboretum emphasizes collections and germplasm, which are displayed on its 446 acres in Northeast Washington, D.C. as well as housed in a Repository in Beltsville, MD. The collections emphasize wild-collected material and original-source cultivars, displayed in a stimulating and aesthetically pleasing environment that welcomes visitors. The USNA has released over 650 new cultivars of woody ornamental plants, including Glenn Dale azaleas, cold hardy camellias, disease resistant crapemyrtles and American elms, diverse viburnums, hybrid pyracantha, magnolia, hibiscus, red maples, lilacs, flowering cherries, and hollies. All of these plants illustrate the importance that genetic resources have on addressing disease and pest problems and bringing new plants to the landscape. This paper provides a case study of how plant exploration and evaluation led to the development of disease-resistant plants (crapemyrtles), and the importance of germplasm collections in addressing new disease threats (boxwood). Some of the superior trees and shrubs that were developed more recently at the National Arboretum are also highlighted.

Technical Abstract: The U.S. National Arboretum was established in 1927 and occupies 446 acres in Northeast Washington, D.C. Its mission is to enhance the economic, environmental, and aesthetic value of ornamental and landscape plants through long-term, multi-disciplinary research, conservation of genetic resources, and interpretative gardens and exhibits. With an emphasis on collections, germplasm, and breeding, the USNA has released over 650 new cultivars of woody ornamental plants, including Glenn Dale azaleas, cold hardy camellias, disease resistant crapemyrtles and American elms, diverse viburnums, hybrid pyracantha, magnolia, hibiscus, red maples, lilacs, flowering cherries, and hollies. All of these plants illustrate the importance that germplasm has on addressing disease and pest problems and bringing new plants to the landscape. This talk will provide a case study of how plant exploration and evaluation led to the development of disease-resistant plants (crapemyrtles), and will showcase some of the past and future trees and shrubs from the National Arboretum.