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Alnus maritima [Marsh.] Nutt. (seaside alder) is a rare species that occurs naturally only on soils that are frequently or constantly saturated with fresh water. The objective of our first experiment was to determine effects of drought and flooding treatments of differing severity on foliar gas exchange, water relations, and development of plants grown in containers in a greenhouse. In a second experiment we examined how the rate of water loss from soil during drought episodes affected the gas exchange and survival of leaves. In the first experiment, changes in soil moisture content, which ranged from saturation to 10% or less by volume across treatments, were associated with altered stem water potential and net photosynthesis. Analysis of the osmolarity of liquid extracted from leaves indicated that osmotic adjustment did not occur in response to drought. Shoot dry weight per plant ranged from over 7 g (only the lower portion of the soil profile kept saturated) to less than 3 g (entire soil profile constantly saturated). Episodes of drought of different severity led to plants with shoots that weighed between these two extremes, and exposure to soils with 10% water or less by volume did not elicit leaf desiccation or abscission. Results of the second experiment suggest that leaf desiccation can result from exposing plants to 10% water or less by volume if the drought develops rapidly in a small volume of soil. We conclude that, despite the niche it occupies in nature, seaside alder may have the potential to be used in managed landscapes with soils that vary in moisture content.

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Genotypic variation and horticultural potential of Alnus maritima [Marsh.] Nutt. (seaside alder), a large shrub or small tree found naturally in only three small, disjunct populations, have not been studied. We examined effects of population of origin and environment on seed germination and the growth and morphology of seedlings. Our first germination experiment showed that 6 weeks of cold stratification applied to half-siblings from Oklahoma optimized germination at 73.2%. When this treatment was applied to multiple half-sib seed sources from all populations in a second experiment, seeds from Oklahoma had a higher germination percentage (55%) than seeds from both Georgia (31.4%) and the Delmarva Peninsula (14.7%). A third experiment showed that growth of seedlings increased with increasing irradiance intensity up to 258 μmol·m–2·s–1, and survival and growth of seedlings from Oklahoma varied with root media. In a fourth experiment, multiple groups of half-siblings from all three populations were grown in one environment to compare variation in growth and morphology within and among populations. Leaves of Oklahoma seedlings were longer (12.8 cm) and more narrow (2.15 length: width ratio) than leaves of seedlings from Georgia (12.0 cm long, ratio = 1.76) and the Delmarva Peninsula (11.6 cm long, ratio = 1.86). Seedlings from Oklahoma and Georgia had a higher growth rate (180.7 and 160.0 mg/day, respectively) than did seedlings from Delmarva (130.1 mg/day), while Oklahoma and Delmarva seedlings were more densely foliated (0.72 and 0.64 leaves and lateral shoots per cm of primary stem, respectively) than those from Georgia (0.46 per cm). These differences indicate both divergence among the three disjunct populations and potential to exploit genetic variation to select horticulturally superior A. maritima for use in managed landscapes.

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Alnus maritima [Marsh.] Nutt. (seaside alder) is a rare, North American species with strong potential for use in managed landscapes. Information on the propagation and production of this species is not available. Our objective was to evaluate the potential for using softwood cuttings to propagate A. maritima, with emphasis on how IBA and plant provenance affect rooting success. Propagation trials were conducted with cuttings from seven trees native to the Delmarva Peninsula and seven trees from Oklahoma. Cuttings from both provenances were collected on 14 June and 23 Aug. Cuttings were wounded; treated with 0, 1, or 8 g/kg IBA; and placed under intermittent mist in a greenhouse for 9 weeks. The highest percentage of rooting (67.9) was achieved for the Oklahoma provenance by using 8 g/kg IBA in June. Across IBA treatments, rooting of cuttings from Oklahoma, 54.8% (June) and 12.4% (August), was higher than rooting of cuttings from Delmarva, 27.1% (June) and 3.1% (August). IBA at 8 g/kg caused a higher rooting percentage than the other IBA rates at both times of the season. More cuttings collected 14 June rooted (41%) than those collected 23 Aug. (7.7%) over IBA treatments. Another experiment involved cuttings from one juvenile, greenhouse-grown seedling from Oklahoma that showed 100% rooting with both 1 and 8 g/kg IBA. Shoot growth appeared more vigorous on rooted cuttings from these juvenile stems than on plants derived by rooting mature tissue collected in nature. We conclude that using softwood cuttings can be an effective way to multiply clones of A. maritima, particularly when stock plants are juvenile and cuttings are treated with IBA.

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Differences in foliar morphology and anatomy of hard maples (Acer saccharum Marsh. and Acer nigrum Michx. f.) may explain contrasting responses to moisture stress of these species. We conducted a 2-year study to examine leaf morphology and anatomy of populations of hard maples indigenous near the 43°N latitude from 94°W longitude in Iowa to the 71°W longitude in Maine. Leaves were collected from shoots exposed to direct solar radiation on multiple trees at each of 24 sites in 1995, and at 36 sites in 1996. Samples collected in 1995 showed stomate frequency on the abaxial leaf surface ranged from 380 to 760 stomata/mm2. Mean guard cell pair width and length were 16 and 17 μm, respectively. Stomate frequency related quadratically to longitude, was greatest for leaves from Iowa, and was negatively correlated with mean annual precipitation of the sample site. Leaf thickness did not vary with longitude and averaged 96 μm. Palisade thickness showed a greater correlation than mesophyll thickness to total leaf thickness. Mesophyll thickness was more highly correlated than palisade thickness to specific leaf mass, which did not vary with longitude and averaged 5.2 mg·cm–2. Analysis of leaves collected over both years showed trichome frequency and lamina area were related quadratically to longitude; the largest and most pubescent laminae were from westerly sites. These studies are being coordinated with greenhouse experiments on responses of seedlings from selected populations to moisture deficits.

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Amur maackia (Maackia amurensis Rupr. & Maxim.) has potential for use in small, urban, or cold landscapes. Although Amur maackia is becoming increasingly popular, plants are currently grown from open-pollinated seed populations, and there has been no selection of cultivars. We have addressed the effects of climate on growth and have begun field trials for selection of horticulturally superior genotypes. In May 1995, a field trial near Ames was begun with 337 plants. These were selected from more than 2000 greenhouse-grown seedlings to represent 32 half-sibling seed groups from 16 arboreta across North America. After two growing seasons, the increase in stem length among seed groups ranged from 3% to 75%. Survival rate did not vary with seed group. In a related study, 30 plants from six half-sibling groups have been established at each of 10 sites in the U.S. and four in Canada to assess effects of location on survival and growth. The influence of seed group on survival after 1 year varied with the trial site location. Survival among combinations of half-sibling group and trial location ranged from 0% to 100% (mean = 54%). Half-sibling group and trial location affected growth without interaction. The greatest growth across locations, an 83% increase in stem length, was shown by seeds that originated from a tree at the Arnold Arboretum. At the 14 locations, changes in stem length over half-sibling groups varied from <0% in Ithaca, N.Y., to 179% in Puyallup, Wash.

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Air temperature and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) effects on relative water content (RWC), rooting percentage, root count, and root mass of unmisted, subirrigated stem cuttings of two taxa were determined. Leaf RWC of `Charm' chrysanthemum [Dendranthema ×grandiflorum (Ramat.) Kitamura] decreased until roots initiated and then increased, was lower for cuttings at 23 °C photoperiod/14 °C dark than for cuttings at 31 °C photoperiod/22 °C dark, and was lower at 193 than at 69 μmol·m–2·s–1 PAR. Neither temperature nor PAR affected leaf RWC of `Dollar Princess' fuchsia (Fuchsia ×hybrida Hort. ex Vilm.), which increased linearly before and after root initiation. Rooting percentage and root count were higher with photoperiods at 31 °C than at 23 °C for chrysanthemum after 7 days and for fuchsia after 10 days. Although all cuttings of both taxa had rooted after 14 days, root dry mass was higher with photoperiods at 31 °C than at 23 °C regardless of PAR for fuchsia and at 69 μmol·m–2·s–1 PAR for chrysanthemum. Propagators wishing to use subirrigation instead of mist, fog, or enclosure can minimize the decline in leaf RWC before root initiation and increase the number and dry mass of roots of chrysanthemum by using 69 μmol·m–2·s–1 PAR and a 31 °C photoperiod/22 °C dark cycle. Root dry mass of fuchsia also can be increased by the use of high temperature, but differences in rooting were independent of changes in leaf RWC.

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The genus Dirca L. (Thymelaeaceae) consists of three species of understory shrubs. Dirca palustris L. is sparsely distributed across eastern North America, D. occidentalis Gray is endemic near the San Francisco Bay, and D. mexicana Nesom & Mayfield is known only in one population in northeastern Mexico. Despite interest in the horticultural use of Dirca, plants seldom are marketed. Difficult propagation impedes production of Dirca. We sought to define protocols that promote uniform seed germination of all three Dirca spp. Endodormancy and paradormancy cause sporadic germination over several years under natural conditions, but endocarp removal, cold stratification, and treatment with GA3 increased germination percentage, speed, and uniformity. Dirca occidentalis was most responsive; up to 94% of seeds germinated after endocarp removal, 24 hours in GA3 at 50 mg·L–1, and stratification at 4 °C for 30 days. Treatments also were effective for D. palustris (up to 68% germination), but seeds of D. mexicana were unresponsive and germinated at 25% or less. Seed treatments should facilitate production of D. occidentalis and D. palustris, but further research is needed to define methods to propagate D. mexicana for horticultural use and for conserving this rare species in the wild.

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Little is known about the reproductive biology of carolina buckthorn [Rhamnus caroliniana Walt. or Frangula caroliniana (Walt.) Gray], an attractive North American shrub or small tree that might merit increased use in managed landscapes. The fecundity and high germinability of seeds of the Eurasian common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica L.), however, have been characterized as factors contributing to its invasiveness. We compared seed germination of these species to ascertain how easily carolina buckthorn could be grown from seed in nurseries and to acquire data for predicting whether carolina buckthorn might be invasive if introduced into managed landscapes. Fruits of carolina buckthorn were collected from indigenous plants in central Missouri, southern Oklahoma, and southern Texas. Fruits of common buckthorn were collected from shrubs naturalized in central Iowa. Seeds of both species were stratified for up to 112 days in darkness at 4 °C; germination at 24 °C in the dark was then evaluated for 56 days. Quadratic functions best described how time of stratification influenced germination value and germination percentage of common buckthorn, whereas these measures of carolina buckthorn were best represented by exponential (value) or linear (percentage) functions. Stratification for 112 days maximized germination value and percentage for carolina buckthorn within the 56-day germination period, but shorter stratifications were sufficient to optimize germination of common buckthorn. While the overall mean germination of carolina buckthorn was 40%, results varied by provenance and ranged from 25% (Missouri) to 56% (Oklahoma). Mean germination of common buckthorn over times of stratification was 71%, and the overall mean daily germination of common buckthorn, 1.3, was 86% greater than that of carolina buckthorn, 0.7. We conclude that seeds of carolina buckthorn are more resistant to germination than seeds of common buckthorn. Our results suggest that plant propagators should cold-stratify seeds of carolina buckthorn for up to 112 days, and suggest that carolina buckthorn has a lower potential to be invasive than does common buckthorn.

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Desiccation damage in ornamental plant species is of particular concern to the nursery and landscape industry. Species in two genera, Acer and Alnus, display fundamental differences in how drought affects leaves. The same soil moisture content that causes foliar desiccation and abscission in Alnus maritima (Marsh.) Nutt. (seaside alder) causes neither response in Acer rubrum L. (red maple). Understanding molecular mechanisms associated with plant response to drought stress can be an im portant factor in developing strategies for improved sustainability in urban landscapes. Our objective was to characterize expression of drought-induced dehydrin genes in leaves of `Red Sunset' red maple (desiccation-resistant) and seaside alder (desiccation-sensitive) in response to dehydration and rehydration. Potted cuttings grown in a glasshouse were subjected to four cycles of drought and rehydration. Stomatal conductance and volumetric moisture content of rooting medium were used to determine when drought cycles ended. During the second and fourth cycles, leaves were sampled for RNA and protein extraction. Dehydrin probes were generated from genomic DNA of both species by using PCR with primers designed from conserved regions in dehydrin genes. Southern blot analyses revealed the presence of dehydrin genes in seaside alder and red maple genomes. Reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR was used to isolate desiccation-induced dehydrin cDNAs from total RNA extracted from drought-stressed leaves. The cDNA clones show 61% to 66% identity at the nucleic acid level with dehydrin genes of soybean, sunflower, radish, and potato. Accumulation of dehydrin transcripts and proteins in leaves in response to dehydration and rehydration are being studied through northern and western blot analyses, respectively. Our results may lead to a rapid screening technique for seedlings with improved mechanisms of drought resistance.

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Shrubs in the genus Dirca are rarely used in landscaping despite their shade tolerance and aesthetic qualities. A trial of 81 plants, 27 of each of three species, was established in 2007 in USDA hardiness zone 5a to evaluate survival and growth. After four winters, survival of Dirca mexicana (89%) was greater than survival of Dirca palustris from Florida (44%) and Dirca occidentalis (41%). Survival of Dirca palustris from Ontario, Canada, was intermediate (56%), but annual stem extension was only 60% that of Dirca mexicana and Dirca palustris from Florida. Surviving plants of Dirca mexicana and Dirca palustris from Ontario showed minimal winter injury, but tips of some stems of Dirca palustris from Florida and Dirca occidentalis were killed. Our data on survival, winter injury, plant health, and stem extension of the California-endemic Dirca occidentalis suggest it will be especially challenging to identify genotypes adapted for use in the Upper Midwest. In contrast, we conclude that another narrowly endemic species, Dirca mexicana, has potential as a new shrub for horticulture. Additionally, our results provide evidence for variation in cold-hardiness and annual stem extension of Dirca palustris. Although over half of plants from Florida had died after the first two winters, no additional mortality occurred over remaining years, and survivors were more vigorous than plants from Ontario. This suggests that exploitable variation in cold-hardiness and vigor exists among and within populations of this broadly distributed species.

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