SUCCESSFUL INTERSPECIFIC HYBRIDIZATION BETWEEN Kalmia angustifolia VAR. caroliniana (SMALL) FERNALD AND Kalmia latifolia L.

in HortScience
Author:
J.R. BallingtonHorticultural Science Department, Box 7609, N.C. State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7609; jim_ballington@ncsu.edu

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The genus Kalmia L. is endemic to North America. Kalmia latifolia is the best known species in the genus. It is a rounded evergreen shrub to small tree that ranges from northern Florida to New England. Flower color varies from white to pink, but at lower elevations in the southeastern U.S., pink flowers quickly fade to white. It is a diploid species with 2n = 2x = 24 chromosomes. Kalmia angustifolia var. caroliniana only occurs in the southeastern US. It is a thin upright evergreen shrub to 1.5 m tall. Flower color is either light pink or rosy purple, and the flower pigments appear to be heat stable. It is also diploid. Kalmia latifolia has not crossed readily with any other Kalmia species to date, but a small number of hybrids have been produced. The objective of the present study was to intercross K. angustifolia var. caroliniana with K. latifolia to attempt to develop color stable pink flowered Kalmia hybrids for warm climates. The crosses were made at Cary, N.C., from late April through mid May and included two clones of each species. Only one parental combination was successful and involved a rosy purple form of the former species. With this cross 15 mature seed capsules resulted from 38 pollinations. Numerous seedlings initially germinated, of which about 15% were albinos. Only 38 seedlings survived to transplanting. Thirty seedlings remain relatively vigorous 8 months after potting and are phenotypically intermediate between the parents. Their potential will depend on their ornamental characteristics once they reach maturity.

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