Propagation of Cretan Silver Bush (Ebenus cretica L.), A Potential New Flower Crop

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  • 1 Dept. of Horticulture, Technological Educational Inst., 71500 Iraklion, Crete, Greece

Ebenus cretica, Leguminosae, is a characteristic endemic plant of the Mediterranean island of Crete. It is a perennial bush up to 1 m tall with composite pubescent leaves and pinky red or purple flowers on 5- to 20-cm-long racemes. The fruit is surrounded by the calyx and contains one seed. The plants grow on rocky hillsides in alkaline soils at an altitude of up to 600 m and flower from April to June. Ebenus has the potential for use as a container or landscape flowering plant, and this study was aimed at finding methods to propagate it either by seed or by shoot cuttings. Seed collected from native plants in late July/Aug. 1992 germinated well (70% to 90%) without scarification in a commercial potting mix. Fifty percent of the seed germinated in vitro between 13 and 25 days, depending on temperature and substrate used. Temperatures of 25 or 30C in light at a pH ≈6.0 favored germination. Removal of the dry calyx coating the seed enhanced germination and emergence. For rooting Ebenus cuttings, several concentrations of IAA, IBA, and NAA were used in combination with different types of cuttings (soft or hardwood, tip or basal, cultivated or wild). Best results were obtained by wounding the base and dipping shoot-tip cuttings (12 cm long) in 600 mg IBA/liter for 16 hours. Significant differences, however, were observed among germination and rooting percentages when seeds or cuttings were taken from different plants due to genetic diversity. Therefore, selection is required for optimal results.

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