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Mario R. Morales, Elizabeth Maynard, and Jules Janick

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Mario R. Morales and James E. Simon

`African Beauty', a new ornamental camphor basil cultivar, was developed through three cycles of selfing and selection from USDA accession PI 500942, originally collected in Zambia, Africa. `African Beauty' was field-evaluated and compared with PI 500942 (the original population), PI 500954 (another accession from Zambia), a camphor cultivar from Companion Plants, and three other related lines in 1997 and 1998. Most commercial camphor basils are tall (50 to 60 cm), late-flowering, and unattractive. Our goal was to develop a new cultivar that had a short stature (≈40 cm), an early flowering, and an attractive appearance. The outcome was `African Beauty', which has the following characteristics: plant height: 30 to 35 cm, plant spread: 50 to 55 cm, leaf length: 6.3 to 6.7 cm, days to flower: 76 days, inflorescence length: 25 cm, essential oil yield: 3 mL/100 g dw. The essential oil of `African Beauty' is also highly aromatic, with 72% camphor, 12% camphene, and 9% limonene. The plant is a fast-growing, semicompact aromatic plant that produces small leaves and large quantities of long and slender inflorescences that, when fully developed, curve at the tip like the tail of a cat. Blooming usually lasts from 20 to 25 days, when the plant looks most beautiful. `African Beauty' is an attractive ornamental that would be excellent as a garden border plant, or as an indoor potted plant.

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Mario R. Morales and James E. Simon

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Liangli Yu, Mario Morales, and James E. Simon

Hydro-distilled essential oils from fresh and dry leaves and fresh and dry flowers of `Sweet Dani', a new ornamental lemon basil (Ocimum basilicum) cultivar with potential as a source of natural citral, were analyzed by GC and GC/MS. The essential oil contents were 0.18%, 0.19%, 0.30%, 0.28% w/w on a fresh weight basis of fresh and dry leaves, and fresh and dry flowers, respectively. Oils from leaves and flowers differed significantly in content and composition. The major constituents in dry leaf oil were neral 21.8% and geranial 33.5%. The major constituents in dry flower oil included: nerol 11.5%, neral 12.9%, geraniol 7.6%, and geranial 17.7%. Nerol (1.6%), and geraniol (0.4%) were very low in dry leaf oil. As citral is a combination of neral and geranial, the relative leaf and flower citral content is 55.3% and 30.6% of the total oil, respectively. Linalool and octanol were detected in flower oils only.

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Ali O. Sari, Mario R. Morales, and James E. Simon

Low and erratic seed germination presents a major production problem in the medicinal plants that collectively are called echinacea or purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia and E. pallida). In this study, nine seed lots of each E. pallida and E. angustifolia from a wide variety of commercial sources and germplasm collections were collected and treated with a solution of 1.0 mm [144.5 mg·L-1 (ppm)] ethephon (2-chloroethylphosphoric acid) to determine whether ethephon would sufficiently improve seed germination to be used by industry to improve the quality of echinacea seed. Applicationof ethephon increased seed germination in both E. pallida and E. angustifolia seed lots regardless of seed sources. The increase in germination by ethephon in eight seed lots of E. pallida and four seed lots in E. angustifolia were statistically significant compared to the nontreated control seeds. The increases in germination were also significant across seed lots for both species. Average germination increases across all seed lots were 1271 and 29% for E. pallida and E. angustifolia, respectively. Average germination of ethephon treated-untreated control seed lots was 76% to 27% and 79% to 62% for E. pallida and E. angustifolia, respectively.

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Ali O. Sari, Mario R. Morales, and James E. Simon

Echinacea pallida, one of the three medicinal Echinacea species native to North America, is generally wildcrafted, and low and uneven seed germination are obstacles to its widespread cultivation. Nonstratified E. pallida seeds were treated with 2500, 3500, and 4500 mg/L GA3 to increase seed germination. Treated seeds were directly germinated at 25 °C and 25/15 °C (14/10h) or stored at 5 and 10 °C for 4, 8, and 12 weeks before germination at the same temperatures. Seed germination across treatments was higher at 25 °C (19%) than at 25/15 °C (14%). Application of 2500, 3500, and 4500 mg/L GA3 significantly increased seed germination rate and total seed germination of nonstratified seeds of E. pallida and resulted in 44%, 50%, and 63% total seed germination, respectively, while untreated control seeds germinated at only 9%. The effect of GA3 as a germination stimulant increased with cold storage, with maximum germination (83%) occurring after seeds were treated with 4500 mg/L GA3 and an 8-week cold storage period at 10 °C. The effect of cold storage periods of 4, 8, and 12 weeks and cold storage temperatures of 5 and 10 °C on seed germination were generally similar. Seeds collected from the upper rows of the seed heads germinated significantly higher (10.6%) than those collected from the lowest seed rows (2.4%).