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Old 11-23-2011, 02:19 PM   #1
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Default Some important cultivars?

Food for thought? What do you think about this perspective.

Native Plant Cultivars That Are Good For Wildlife

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“One case in which cultivars are not only justified but a necessity is when the native species is going extinct because of an introduced invasive pest. I am all for creating cultivars of elms, American chestnuts and hemlocks. That is probably the only way to save them from Dutch elm disease, chestnut blight and hemlock woolly adelgid.”
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And the third is that it DOES matter that we maintain a genetically diverse gene pool of native plants. Different plants react differently to pathogenic threats, so it is important that we not overplant any single species and especially important that we not overplant any single cultivar of a species. There are many native plants that, for all intents and purposes, exist in the horticultural trade as a single widely planted cultivar. Viburnum dentatum ‘Blue Muffin’, Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’, Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’, Crataegus viridis ‘Winter King’, Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’, and so on. Seeking out and planting straight species or, at least, a variety of cultivars, seems like wise insurance.
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Old 11-23-2011, 02:37 PM   #2
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Great points, Gloria. Thanks for sharing.

I'm very interested in planting the straight species...however, I'm sad to think that we may need to create cultivars to save hemlocks.

We have several elm trees growing in the yard. One or two are quite mature. I've seen two "middle-aged" elm trees die in the past four years. Those that are alive seem to be thriving. I'd like to believe that those that have survived this long have a natural immunity and will continue to pass these genes to some of their progeny. I'd like to believe that hemlocks will do the same--but this is just hope at the moment...although I do remember hearing a theory that dogwoods would die out in our lifetime, and I'm thinking that is not the case.

As for the American chestnut, from what I understand about the process, they will be, genetically, predominantly the American chestnut with only the genes necessary to provide immunity to the blight. That kind of hybridizing, I guess makes sense to me...but I'd still prefer the straight species to survive.
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