Caladiums (Caladium × hortulanum Birdsey, Araceae Juss.) are tropical ornamental aroids often used as potted plants or for providing color in the landscape. The propagules used in pots or landscapes are tubers, the underground storage organ of these plants. More than 95% of the caladium tubers used worldwide are produced in central Florida (Bell et al., 1998). Large-scale commercial production of caladium tubers in Florida began in the late 1940s. Since then, the field planting acreage has increased to ≈526 ha (Deng et al., 2005). Like in other flower or bedding plant crops, one of the propelling forces for the growth of the industry is introduction of new or improved cultivars. In response to the industry's demand, the University of Florida initiated a caladium breeding program at its Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Bradenton, FL, in 1976. Since then, this breeding program has led in development and release of new cultivars for the caladium industry.
‘Cranberry Star’ (Fig. 1) is a new cultivar with a unique combination of leaf and tuber characteristics that make it ideal for use as a potted plant or for growing as an accent or border plant in shady landscapes. It produces numerous bright white leaves with green main and secondary veins that are similar to leaves of one of the most popular cultivars, ‘Candidum’, yet ‘Cranberry Star’ has numerous bright purple spots on its leaves. Tubers of this cultivar are multiple-branched, and de-eyeing is not required even when forcing in small containers (11.4 cm in diameter). This trait can help growers save time and costs in preparing tubers for pot-forcing (Evans et al., 1992; Harbaugh and Tjia, 1985). In addition, ‘Cranberry Star’ had significantly higher tuber yields and value when compared with other popular commercial cultivars that were in tests for 2 years. All these characteristics should benefit growers producing tubers and marketing potted or bedding plants as well as consumers and landscapers using ‘Cranberry Star’.
‘Cranberry Star’ was derived from a cross between a lance-leaved caladium selection C35a and a white fancy-leaved (heart-shape) caladium seedling UF-85245 (Fig. 2) and evaluated initially in 2001 as UF-75-37. Plant C35a was selected as the female parent because of its bright leaf spots, whereas UF-85245 was selected because of its plant vigor, large number of leaves, bright white leaf color, excellent tuber yield, and resistance to fusarium tuber rot. C35a was derived from the commercial cultivar ‘Gingerland’ and UF-85245 from a cross between ‘Aaron’ and ‘Candidum Junior’. Ancestry of ‘Gingerland’ and ‘Aaron’ is unknown, but ‘Candidum Junior’ is believed to be a field mutation of ‘Candidum’ (Wilfret, 1993). Tubers were propagated on fumigated EauGallie fine sandy soils at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma, FL, and were treated with hot water (50 °C for 30 min) for nematode control (Rhodes, 1964).
Bell, M.L. , Wilfret, G.J. & Devoll, D.A. 1998 Survey of caladium tuber producers for acreage of cultivars grown Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 111 32 34
Deng, Z. , Harbaugh, B.K. , Schoellhorn, R.K. & Andrews, R.C. 2005 2003 survey of the Florida caladium tuber production industry Fla. Coop. Ext. Serv., Inst. Food Agr. Sci., Univ. of Fla 1 June 2007 <http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/EP258>.
Evans, M.R. , Wilfret, G.J. & Harbaugh, B.K. 1992 Caladiums as potted and landscape plants IFAS, Univ. of Fla. Agr. Ext. Serv. Circ. 1060
Geraldson, C.M. , Overman, A.J. & Jones, J.P. 1965 Combination of high analysis fertilizers, plastic mulch and fumigation for tomato production on old agricultural land Proc. Soil and Crop Sci. Soc. Fla. 25 18 24
Rhodes, H.L. 1964 Effect of hot water treatment of seed tubers and soil fumigation for control of root knot on yield of caladiums Plant Disease Reporter 8 568 571