Thermal analysis of Forsythia × intermedia `Spectabilis' flower buds had previously detected the occurrence of low temperature exotherms (LTE) during freezing. The LTE apparently resulted from the freezing of supercooled water and corresponded to the death of the florets. The genus Forsythia encompasses a wide array of species and interspecific crosses ranging in flower bud hardiness and floret size. The ability of buds to supercool, the relationship between the LTE and flower bud hardiness, and the extent to which floret size affects both were studied in flower buds of the following Forsythia species: F. × intermedia `Spectabilis', F. × intermedia `Lynwood', F. `Meadowlark', F. suspensa var. fortunei, F. `Arnold Dwarf, F. europaea, F. giraldiana, F. × intermedia `Arnold Giant', F. japonica var. saxatilis, F. mandshurica, F. ovata, and F. viridissima. Flower buds used for thermal analysis were also used in subsequent size determinations. Hardiness evaluations were conducted using controlled freezing tests, and the sampling interval defined using the temperature range of the LTEs. Initial evaluation indicated a high degree of correlation (α>.50) between mean LTEs and mean killing temperatures. The Forsythia genus, with its broad range of bud hardiness and size provides an excellent system in which to study the mechanisms of supercooling. Thermal analysis of cultivars which exhibit LTEs can accurately assess bud hardiness with minimal plant material.
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