THE RUTGERS UNIVERSITY WOODY ORNAMENTALS BREEDING PROGRAM: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
Rutgers University and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA, have a long history of woody ornamental research and breeding. At the core of this success is Dr. Elwin Orton, who has dedicated over 50 years of his life to plant genetic improvement. The long list of holly (Ilex sp.) cultivars released includes a number of I. opaca and I. crenata, as well as many interspecific hybrids. Starting in the late 1960s, the program was expanded to include large-bracted dogwoods (Cornus sp.), resulting in the release of the Stellar® series of hybrid dogwoods (C. florida × C. kousa), which have had a substantial impact in the United States where dogwood anthracnose (Discula destructive) and powdery mildew (primarily Erysiphe pulchra) have made growing the native C. florida a challenge. He was also able to incorporate C. nuttallii, the Pacific coast dogwood, into the breeding pool for larger bract size, glossy, dark-green leaves, and a more vigorous growth habit. In addition to continuing work with Ilex and Cornus, in 2000 the program was further expanded to include the genus Corylus (hazelnuts), with a focus on nut production and ornamental qualities. Within Corylus, a wide array of characteristics exists for use in breeding new, widely adapted, disease-resistant, interspecific hybrid plants, including ornamentals with purple and yellow leaves, pink and red fall color, highly dissected leaves, contorted and weeping stems, and growth habits ranging from small shrubs to stately trees, some with peeling bark. An overview of the Rutgers University woody ornamentals breeding program will be discussed with primary focus on the plants released from breeding efforts. The current status of the programs and their future direction will also be covered, where applicable.
Molnar, T.J. and Capik, J.M. (2013). THE RUTGERS UNIVERSITY WOODY ORNAMENTALS BREEDING PROGRAM: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE. Acta Hortic. 990, 271-280
holly, dogwood, Orton, hazelnut, breeding, C. florida × C. kousa