×Gordlinia grandiflora (Theaceae): An Intergeneric Hybrid Between Franklinia alatamaha and Gordonia lasianthus

in HortScience

Franklinia alatamaha Bartr. ex Marshall represents a monotypic genus that was originally discovered in Georgia, USA, but is now considered extinct in the wild and is maintained only in cultivation. Although Franklinia is very ornamental, with showy flowers and crimson/maroon fall foliage, it tends to be short lived when grown as a landscape tree and is known to be susceptible to a variety of root pathogens. Gordonia lasianthus (L.) Ellis is an evergreen tree native to the southeastern United States, typically growing in riparian habitats. Gordonia lasianthus has attractive foliage and large, white, showy flowers, but limited cold hardiness. Hybridization between F. alatamaha and G. lasianthus could potentially combine the cold hardiness of F. alatamaha with the evergreen foliage of G. lasianthus and broaden the genetic base for further breeding and improvement among these genera. Controlled crosses between F. alatamaha and G. lasianthus resulted in intergeneric hybrid progeny. A morphological comparison of parents and the progeny is presented. ×Gordlinia grandiflora Ranney and Fantz (mountain gordlinia) is proposed as the name for these hybrids and is validated with a Latin diagnosis.

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