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  • Author or Editor: Jessica D. Lubell-Brand x
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While japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii DC.) is an acknowledged invasive plant naturalized throughout the eastern and northern U.S., the danger posed by its popular horticultural forms is unknown and controversial. This work analyzed the reproductive potential and seedling growth of four ornamental genotypes important to the nursery industry. Fruit and seed production was quantified in 2001, 2002, and 2003 for multiple landscape plants of B.t. var. atropurpurea, `Aurea', `Crimson Pygmy', and `Rose Glow'. The average number of seeds produced per landscape specimen ranged from lows of 75 and 90 for `Aurea' and `Crimson Pygmy' to 2968 for var. atropurpurea and 762 for `Rose Glow'. Seed production relative to canopy surface area for `Rose Glow' was similar to `Aurea' and `Crimson Pygmy' and all three cultivars were less prolific than var. atropurpurea in this regard. Cleaned and stratified seeds from var. atropurpurea, `Crimson Pygmy' and `Rose Glow' showed an average greenhouse germination rate of 70% to 75%, while `Aurea' yielded 46% germination. A subpopulation of seedlings from each genotype accession was grown further outdoors in containers for a full season to ascertain seedling vigor and development. The vigor of 1-year-old seedlings, as measured by dry weight of canopy growth, for progeny derived from `Aurea' (0.70 g) and `Crimson Pygmy' (0.93 g) was significantly less than var. atropurpurea (1.20 g) and `Rose Glow' (1.33 g). These results demonstrate that popular japanese barberry cultivars express disparate reproductive potential that, after further study, may be correlated with invasive potential. Some popular commercial cultivars may pose significantly less ecological risk than others.

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Winged euonymus [Euonymus alatus (Thunb.)] is an important landscape shrub that has demonstrated its potential to be invasive in numerous states across the central and northern United States. Nine cultivars were evaluated for their potential to produce fruits and seeds in a randomized, replicated field planting. Seeds from all cultivars were evaluated for germination rate and initial survival in a deciduous woodland. Seeds collected from ‘Compactus’ were also sown in five natural environments (full sun meadow, edge of woods, moist woods, dry woods, pine woods) to determine which habitat types support its germination and establishment. Seed production for cultivars varied from 981 to 6090 seeds per plant. The dry deciduous woods and pine woods were the only environments that supported significant germination rates that could be as high as 37.8%. Seedling survival was at least 77% in the deciduous dry woods and at least 55% in the pine woods. In the first replication, establishment rates for cultivars in the dry deciduous woods ranged from a low of 6.5% for ‘Odom’ Little Moses™ to a high of 42.5% for ‘Monstrosus’. In the second replication, all cultivars achieved over 30% establishment and most exceeded 40% establishment. An estimate of the annual seedling contribution per plant per cultivar was calculated by combining seed production data with establishment data for each cultivar. This estimate was predicted to range from 588 to 3763 and therefore none of the nine cultivars evaluated should be considered non-invasive based on our findings. Our findings show that germination and seedling survival rates are high for E. alatus and because the species is long-lived, cultivars will likely have to be completely seed-sterile to be considered non-invasive according to demographic models.

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Comptonia peregrina is a desirable native ornamental plant for challenging landscapes, but it cannot be produced using conventional softwood stem cuttings. We demonstrate that C. peregrina can be successfully propagated using young shoots (6 to 8 cm in length) recently emerged from rhizomes taken as cuttings. Although significantly more cuttings rooted using intermittent mist (99%) than propagation dome (70%), cuttings under propagation domes had greater shoot counts. Due to the drier and warmer conditions under propagation domes, cutting shoot tips were killed, which relieved apical dominance and stimulated lateral budbreak. Cuttings rooted under propagation domes produced plants having greater height, width, and size after 90 d than cuttings rooted under intermittent mist. Treatment of cuttings with talc-based rooting hormone at 3000 and 8000 ppm indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) significantly improved rooting percentage and shoot count over untreated cuttings. Cuttings treated with 8000 ppm IBA produced the most roots. Container plants grown from cuttings and pruned to 7 cm in height produced twice as many shoots as unpruned plants. Using cuttings taken from young shoots (6 to 8 cm) produced from rhizomes, 3000 or 8000 ppm IBA, and intermittent mist nursery growers can achieve rooting percentages for C. peregrina above the 80% benchmark preferred for commercial plant production.

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Interest in native landscape plants to support pollinators has increased. Most native plants sold by nurseries are cultivars, and some consumer and conservation groups question the suitability of native cultivars to support pollinators. In 2017 and 2018, insect pollinator visitation was quantified for six native shrub species and one or more cultivars of each species (Aronia melanocarpa, A. melanocarpa ‘UCONNAM012’ Ground Hog®, A. melanocarpa ‘UCONNAM165’ Low Scape Mound®, Clethra alnifolia, C. alnifolia ‘Hummingbird’, C. alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’, Dasiphora fruticosa, D. fruticosa ‘Goldfinger’, D. fruticosa ‘Pink Beauty’, Hydrangea arborescens, H. arborescens ‘Annabelle’, Kalmia latifolia, K. latifolia ‘Sarah’, Physocarpus opulifolius, and P. opulifolius ‘Monlo’ Diabolo®). Insects were identified into 12 categories (Apis mellifera, Bombus spp., Andrenidae, Halictidae, Megachilidae, other bees, Lepidoptera, Syrphidae, other flies, wasps, Coleoptera, and other insects). The number of inflorescences and insect visitation was similar for C. alnifolia and its cultivars, and the compact cultivar Hummingbird had the greatest floral density. A. melanocarpa had more total visitors of Andrenidae than both of its compact cultivars because it was larger and produced more inflorescences. Compact Aronia cultivars and the straight species were mostly similar for Andrenidae visitation when compared on a per-inflorescence basis. D. fruticosa had more visitors of Bombus spp. and Megachilidae than both of its cultivars. These insects may have been less attracted to ‘Pink Beauty’ because of its pink flower color and ‘Goldfinger’ because of its wider flowers, which result from it being a tetraploid. H. arborescens ‘Annabelle’ had one-third the number of Bombus spp. visitors as H. arborescens because ‘Annabelle’ produces >50% fewer fertile florets. P. opulifolius ‘Monlo’ attracted more syrphids than P. opulifolius possibly because flowers contrasted more strongly with the reddish purple foliage of ‘Monlo’ than with the green foliage of the straight species. Insect visitation was similar for K. latifolia and K. latifolia ‘Sarah’. Based on this work, we determined that native shrub cultivars are not universally less or more attractive to pollinators and must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

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Feminized hemp seed producers often use selfing to maintain a strain name; however, selfing may lead to inferior plants for cannabidiol (CBD) production. Using three different hemp strains as parents [Candida (CD-1), Dinamed CBD, and Abacus], two outcrosses [Candida (CD-1) × Abacus and Dinamed CBD × Candida (CD-1)] and one self-cross [Candida (CD-1) × Candida (CD-1)] were conducted to produce feminized seed. Progeny from the self-cross were significantly smaller and had less yield than outcrossed progeny. Selfed progeny were variegated and highly variable for total dry weight and floral dry weight. Discriminant analysis of principal components (DAPC) using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) separated the three progeny populations and showed that outcrossed populations clustered closer to the maternal parent, possibly the result of a maternal effect. Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) indicated that most variation (74.5%) was within populations, because the progeny from all three populations are half-siblings of each other. The selfed progeny population had lower expected heterozygosity (He = 0.085) than each of the outcrossed progeny populations (He ≈ 0.10). These results suggest that selfed progeny may demonstrate inbreeding depression resulting from enhanced expression of homozygous recessive traits. It may be beneficial for feminized seed producers to use outcrossing instead of selfing to generate feminized seed for CBD production.

Open Access

Hyperhydricity of shoots initiated in vitro, poor shoot extension, inability of shoot cultures to maintain good growth over an extended time, and unsuccessful ex vitro rooting have limited the development of a commercial scale micropropagation system for hemp (Cannabis sativa). We present a culture initiation method that prevents shoot hyperhydricity using vented-lid vessels with 0.2-µm pores and medium containing agar at 1% (w/v). To optimize shoot multiplication in vitro, a control medium (medium A) and four treatment media (medium B, C, D, and E), with varying inorganic nutrients and vitamins were tested. Control medium A consisted of 1× Murashige and Skoog (MS) with vitamins plus 3% (w/v) sucrose, 0.5 mg·L−1 metatopolin, 0.1 mg·L−1 gibberellic acid, and 0.8% agar (w/v) at pH 5.7. The four treatment media differed from the control medium as follows: medium B, 2.5× MS with vitamins; medium C, 1× MS with vitamins plus added mesos [calcium chloride (anhydrous), magnesium sulfate (anhydrous), and potassium phosphate (monobasic) nutrients]; medium D, 1× MS with vitamins plus added vitamins; and medium E, 1× MS with vitamins plus added mesos and vitamins. Medium C and medium E produced more microcuttings than the control at 6 weeks after the initial subculture with shoot multiplication media and all other treatments at 9 and 12 weeks. Shoots grown on these two media displayed optimal extension and leaf lamina development; however, they exhibited slight chlorosis by 12 weeks after subculture with shoot multiplication media. In a separate experiment, medium E was supplemented with ammonium nitrate at 0, 500, 1000, or 1500 mg·L−1, and cultures grown with 500 mg·L−1 produced the most microcuttings and exhibited the best combination of shoot extension and leaf lamina development. We provide a method of prerooting microshoots in vitro that has resulted in 75% to 100% rooting ex vitro in rockwool. Using 10 recently micropropagated plants, ≈300 retip cuttings (cuttings taken from new shoots from recently micropropagated plants) were harvested over 10 weeks. The average weekly rooting was more than 90%. Retipping can produce nine-times as many plants in a similar amount of floor space as stem cuttings derived from traditional stock mother plants. The micropropagation/retipping method proposed can be a more efficient way to generate clonal liner plants for commercial-scale production.

Open Access

There is demand for micropropagated Cannabis sativa liner plants, because they are uniform, vigorous, and pathogen free; however, availability is limited because of challenges with in vitro culture decline and ex vitro rooting. Ex vitro rooting success of microcuttings was evaluated for ‘Abacus’ and ‘Wife’ when cultures were 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18 weeks old from initiation. Microcuttings of ‘Wife’ harvested from 6, 9, and 12-week-old cultures rooted at or above 80%, but rooting declined to 50% and 30% for 15- and 18-week-old cultures, respectively. Rooting for ‘Abacus’ remained relatively constant between 47% and 70% for microcuttings harvested from 6- to 18-week-old cultures. ‘Wife’ plants grown from microcuttings, stem cuttings, and retip cuttings (cuttings taken from new shoots on recently micropropagated plants) had equivalent total shoot length, number of shoots, and flower dry weight, whereas micropropagated ‘Abacus’ plants had less shoot length and flower dry weight than plants from stem cuttings. However, when micropropagated ‘Abacus’ plants were provided an extra week of vegetative growth to reach an initial size equivalent to stem and retip plants, all plants performed the same. Propagation method did not change cannabinoid content for both ‘Abacus’ and ‘Wife’. Retip cuttings of ‘Abacus’ and ‘Wife’ rooted at 76% to 81% without rooting hormone, which is comparable to rates reported for stem cuttings of C. sativa treated with rooting hormone. Propagators should consider retipping to expand their liner production, because retips root well and possess the same desirable attributes as micropropagated plants.

Open Access

Micropropagation of hemp (Cannabis sativa) is constrained by problems with hyperhydricity and culture decline of microshoots. These problems can be reduced by increasing agar and nutrients in the media during micropropagation stages 1 and 2, respectfully. Performance of microshoots of ‘Abacus’ and ‘Wife’ hemp cultured in Driver and Kuniyuki Walnut medium (DKW) for 15 weeks (6 weeks of stage 1 + 9 weeks of stage 2), with subculturing every 3 weeks during both stages 1 and 2, or in Murashige and Skoog with vitamins medium (MS) for 6 weeks (stage 1) followed by Lubell-Brand Cannabis medium (LBC) for 9 weeks (stage 2), with subculturing every 3 weeks during both stages 1 and 2, was evaluated. In a separate study, microshoot performance of ‘Abacus’ and ‘Wife’ in MS for 3 weeks (stage 1) followed by LBC for 6 weeks (stage 2), with subculturing every 3 weeks, using boxes (Magenta GA-7) with lids featuring a vent with a diameter of 10 mm and a pore size of 0.2 µM or using microboxes (Sac O2 O95/114 + OD95) with lids featuring a filter (Sac O2 #10) were evaluated. Shoot multiplication rate (SMR) and explant height were greater for ‘Abacus’ in LBC than DKW. For ‘Wife’, SMR at 9 weeks was greater in LBC, as LBC provided more nutrients and water than cultures had received in MS initially during stage 1. Culture medium did not influence ex vitro rooting success, which was 75% for ‘Abacus’ and ≥ 90% for ‘Wife’. Microboxes resulted in greater hyperhydricity of shoots and a lower ex vitro rooting percentage than boxes. For cultivars that are highly prone to developing hyperhydricity, like ‘Abacus’, the microboxes were not adequate to control this condition.

Open Access

We investigated the role of an ornamental, purple-leaved specimen of Japanese barberry in a local invasion using parentage analysis. We focused on a landscape plant of B. thunbergii var. atropurpurea in Willington, CT, that was first established at least 30 years ago. We genotyped every barberry plant found within a 92-m radius of this individual. In contrast to feral populations that are distant from residential or commercial plantings, 14% of the 43 feral plants in our sample had purple foliage and 30% were found growing within 16.5 m of the focal individual. Parentage analysis identified seven plants (five purple-leaved and two green-leaved) as descendants of the focal individual. Five of these descendants are likely first-generation offspring and two are likely second-generation seedlings. In addition, one plant was identified as a backcross between the focal plant and one of its offspring. Our results show that purple-leaved Japanese barberry used in residential landscapes can contribute to plant invasions, at least under some circumstances.

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