‘M77’ Ornamental Miscanthus sinensis

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  • 1 Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, University of Georgia, Tifton Campus, 2360 Rainwater Road, Tifton, GA 31793

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‘M77’ (PP30,402), a perennial Miscanthus sinensis ornamental grass with significantly reduced seed production, was approved for release by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in 2016. We evaluated ‘M77’ at Tifton and Blairsville, GA, in comparison with M. sinensis var. gracillimus. Genotypes were evaluated for inflorescence and leaf height, canopy diameter, inflorescence length and number per plant, leaf length and width, and seed set. Data for each variable were subjected to analysis of variance, and Fisher’s least significance differences at P ≤ 0.05 were used for mean separation.

Miscanthus sinensis is a vigorous grass native to Asia that is used as an ornamental and for biomass production. This species can be quite invasive (Meyer, 2004) because of its high seed production under various environmental conditions and especially at higher elevations (Meyer and Tchida, 1999). A broad range of morphologically variable ornamental cultivars has been released (Smith et al., 2004). Efforts have been made to reduce seed set and viability in various Miscanthus cultivars. Research has shown that triploid genotypes produce less seed (Ranney and Touchell, 2016; Smith et al., 2004). Others have shown that certain cultivars produce nonviable seed (Rounsaville et al., 2011).

Origin

During the Summer of 2005, Dave Dagan with Emerald Coast Growers in Pensacola, FL, visited our red/purple ornamental Pennisetum grass breeding program in Tifton, GA. He mentioned the need for a seed sterile Miscanthus cultivar because most Miscanthus cultivars have greater seed set at higher elevations, which tended to make this genus invasive. Emerald Coast Growers sent to us germplasm (which we designated M90) of Miscanthus sinensis var. gracillimus. Unprotected roots of 59, 44, and 49 plants were irradiated with 4-, 8-, and 12-Kr, respectively, of Cobalt 60 radiation and transplanted into a field nursery at Tifton, GA, on 21 Apr. 2006. On 9 Aug. 2006, 37 and 1 plants survived the 4- and 8-Kr treatments, respectively. Seven plants from the 4-Kr treatment had tillers with reduced seed set. One plant, 4-22-1-1, had tillers with no seed set. A sterile culm from 4-22-1-1 was designated M8-4 in 2008 and observed for seed set through 2009 at Tifton, GA. In 2010, M8-4 was designated as M8 and planted at Blairsville, GA. That year, M8 averaged one seed per inflorescence at Tifton (plant designated M8-4 in 2008 and 2009) and produced no seed at Blairsville, whereas the Miscanthus control produced numerous seed at both locations in nonreplicated tests. The seed sterile plant at Blairsville (elevation 594 m) was designated M77 and tested at Tifton (elevation 114 m) and Blairsville in replicated tests from 2012 through 2015. Tests consisted of five and three single-plant replications arranged in a randomized complete block design at Tifton and Blairsville, GA, respectively.

Description and Performance

The objective of this project was to develop a seed sterile Miscanthus sinensis. ‘M77’ (Supplemental Figs. 1 and 2) is a radiation-induced mutant of M90 (Miscanthus sinensis var. gracillimus), the original irradiated cultivar. Height of the ‘M77’ inflorescences were significantly shorter than those of M90 in four of the seven tests (Table 1). Height of the leaf canopy of ‘M77’ was significantly shorter than that of M90 in three of the seven tests (Table 2). Canopy diameter was significantly narrower for ‘M77’ compared with M90 in only two of the six tests (Table 3). This appeared to be associated with the year of establishment. There were only small differences in canopy diameter between the two cultivars following the year of establishment and, as expected, plants tended to become more robust as they became older. Differences in inflorescence length appeared to be small between the two cultivars and significant only in two of the five tests (Table 4). ‘M77’ usually had fewer inflorescences than M90, but this trait was significant in only two of seven tests (Table 5). Inflorescence number varied greatly from plant to plant, which was probably because of environmental effects. Leaf length and width were similar for ‘M77’ and M90 (Table 6). However, leaves of M90 were significantly longer than those of M77 at Tifton in 2013. Mature plant color for ‘M77’ was Green 143A according to the Royal Horticultural Society color index (Royal Horticultural Society, 2007).

Table 1.

Height of inflorescence of two Miscanthus sinensis ornamental grasses (‘M77’ = experimental and M90 = var. gracillimus) grown at two locations in Georgia.

Table 1.
Table 2.

Height of leaves of two Miscanthus sinensis ornamental grasses (‘M77’ = experimental and M90 = var. gracillimus) grown at two locations in Georgia.z

Table 2.
Table 3.

Canopy diameter of two Miscanthus sinensis ornamental grasses (‘M77’ = experimental and M90 = var. gracillimus) grown at two locations in Georgia.

Table 3.
Table 4.

Inflorescence lengths of two Miscanthus sinensis ornamental grasses (‘M77’ = experimental and M90 = var. gracillimus) grown at two locations in Georgia.

Table 4.
Table 5.

Number of inflorescences on two Miscanthus sinensis ornamental grasses (‘M77’ = experimental and M90 = var. gracillimus) grown at two locations in Georgia.

Table 5.
Table 6.

Leaf length and width of two Miscanthus sinensis ornamental grasses (‘M77’ = experimental and M90 = var. gracillimus) grown at two locations in Georgia.

Table 6.

The data show (Table 7) that seed set was greatly reduced for ‘M77’ compared with M90 and statistically significant for all years tested. In 2015, we also tested 75 and 12 clones of ‘M77’ at Tifton and Blairsville, respectively, for uniformity and seed set. All were sterile and uniform (as expected). Although ‘M77’ sets a small amount of seed, we wanted to know how many of the seeds produced actually germinated. In 2015, we tested the germination of seed harvested in 2014 from both Tifton and Blairsville (note: a very large number of inflorescences of ‘M77’ were harvested at Tifton and Blairsville to obtain enough seed to determine seed germination of this cultivar). Seeds were stored in small Kraft envelopes in a threshing shed for 6 months. Seeds were then planted in steam-sterilized soil and allowed to germinate for 45 d. During the germination period, the seeds were subjected to random wet and dry periods. Seedling emergence was rated at three dates during this period. None of the seed produced at Tifton germinated and only 32% of the seed harvested at Blairsville germinated (Table 7), further reducing the invasive potential of ‘M77’, especially needed at higher elevations.

Table 7.

Seed set on two Miscanthus sinensis ornamental grasses (‘M77’ = experimental and M90 = var. gracillimus) grown at two locations in Georgia.

Table 7.

Availability

M77 is a patented cultivar by the University of Georgia. A field planting of breeder material for ‘M77’ is maintained at the University of Georgia, Tifton Campus. As a protected cultivar, M77 can be produced only by nurseries licensed by the Georgia Research Foundation. ‘M77’ will be marketed as SCOUTTM .

Literature Cited

  • Meyer, M.H. 2004 Miscanthus: Ornamental and invasive grass. HortScience 39:792 (abstr.)

  • Meyer, M.H. & Tchida, C.L. 1999 Miscanthus Anderss. produces viable seed in four USDA hardiness zones J. Environ. Hort. 17 137 140

  • Ranney, T.G. & Touchell, D.H. 2016 Miscanthus sinensis grass named ‘NCMS1’. USPP26387P3

  • Rounsaville, T.J., Touchell, D.H. & Ranney, T.G. 2011 Fertility and reproductive pathways in diploid and triploid Miscanthus sinensis HortScience 46 1353 1357

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  • Royal Horticultural Society 2007 RHS colour chart. 5th ed. Royal Hort. Soc., London

  • Smith, M. V., Horn, M. & Christy, S. 2004 Miscanthus sinensis named ‘Gold Bar’. USPP15193P2

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Contributor Notes

We appreciate the University of Georgia Research Foundation and Georgia Seed Development for financial support. We also appreciate the cooperation and/or assistance of Larry Baldree, Leanna Leach, and Jacob Kalina, and discussions with Dave Dagan, Emerald Coast Growers in Pensacola, FL.

W.W.H. is the corresponding author. E-mail: whanna@uga.edu.

  • Meyer, M.H. 2004 Miscanthus: Ornamental and invasive grass. HortScience 39:792 (abstr.)

  • Meyer, M.H. & Tchida, C.L. 1999 Miscanthus Anderss. produces viable seed in four USDA hardiness zones J. Environ. Hort. 17 137 140

  • Ranney, T.G. & Touchell, D.H. 2016 Miscanthus sinensis grass named ‘NCMS1’. USPP26387P3

  • Rounsaville, T.J., Touchell, D.H. & Ranney, T.G. 2011 Fertility and reproductive pathways in diploid and triploid Miscanthus sinensis HortScience 46 1353 1357

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Royal Horticultural Society 2007 RHS colour chart. 5th ed. Royal Hort. Soc., London

  • Smith, M. V., Horn, M. & Christy, S. 2004 Miscanthus sinensis named ‘Gold Bar’. USPP15193P2

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