Sunday, January 6, 2008

Rutgers Dogwood Breeding Program - Venus Dogwood

I recently attended the Northeast branch meetings of the American Society for Horticultural Science at Rutgers University in NJ. There was a great presentation on the breeding programs at Rutgers in the ornamentals area. The following is a new release from the Dogwood breeding program that you all should watch for in the future from nurseries.

Cornus x ‘KN30-8’ Venus®
U.S. Plant Patent No.PP 16,309

Cornus x ‘KN-30-8’ Venus® is an advanced generation interspecific hybrid involving germplasm of Cornus kousa and C. nuttallii. Plants of this hybrid are distinguished by their exceptionally large, white floral bracts, superior winter hardiness, good tolerance of drought conditions, and high resistance to the incitants of Powdery Mildew and Dogwood Anthracnose.

Venus grows very vigorously as a dense tree branched low to ground with upright branches which form a rounded head wider than tall. Heights of 5.48 meters and a spread of 6.55 meters have been reached in 20 years.

The original seedling (age 20 years) has been field tested for 18 years and has been completely winter-hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness Map Zone 6a.

Hybridized by Dr. Elwin Orton in the Woody Ornamentals Breeding Program at Rutgers' Cook College and and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, the Venus® dogwood is one of the end products of a schedule of interspecific hybridization of plants of Cornus kousa x C. nuttallii initiated in May, 1973. Cornus nuttallii is native to limited areas of the Pacific Northwest and Western United States.

With some plants reaching a height of 70 to 75 feet in areas of the Columbia River Gorge, C. nuttallii is the giant of the large bracted dogwoods. Due to the absence of any report that plants of C. kousa and C. nuttallii were cross fertile, the challenge was to produce interspecific hybrids that possess the desirable traits of both species and would grow well over a wide range of soil and climatic conditions.

Many different plants of C. kousa were hybridized with plants of C. nuttalli in 1973. A limited number of seeds were produced and they germinated in the spring of 1974. Most of the seedlings flowered after seven to nine years, and in 1983, a superior F1 seedling selection was hybridized with a plant of C. kousa ‘Rosea’. Subsequently, the “best” among the progeny from this cross was propagated and plants distributed to cooperators in New Jersey, Tennessee and Oregon for intensive evaluation.

A plant patent is pending under the cultivar name ‘KN30-8’ and the plants will be marketed under the trademark Venus®.
From the Rutgers University website. Go to this site for more information

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