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Conservation and sustainable use of wild species as sources of new ornamentals

Heywood, V.H. (2003) Conservation and sustainable use of wild species as sources of new ornamentals. In: International Symposium on Sustainable Use of Plant Biodiversity to Promote New Opportunities for Horticultural Production Development.

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Abstract/Summary

While only about 1-200 species are used intensively in commercial floriculture (e.g. carnations, chrysanthemums, gerbera, narcissus, orchids, tulips, lilies, roses, pansies and violas, saintpaulias, etc.) and 4-500 as house plants, several thousand species of herbs, shrubs and trees are traded commercially by nurseries and garden centres as ornamentals or amenity species. Most of these have been introduced from the wild with little selection or breeding. In Europe alone, 12 000 species are found in cultivation in general garden collections (i.e. excluding specialist collections and botanic gardens). In addition, specialist collections (often very large) of many other species and/or cultivars of groups such as orchids, bromeliads, cacti and succulents, primulas, rhododendrons, conifers and cycads are maintained in several centres such as botanic gardens and specialist nurseries, as are 'national collections' of cultivated species and cultivars in some countries. Specialist growers, both professional and amateur, also maintain collections of plants for cultivation, including, increasingly, native plants. The trade in ornamental and amenity horticulture cannot be fully estimated but runs into many billions of dollars annually and there is considerable potential for further development and the introduction of many new species into the trade. Despite this, most of the collections are ad hoc and no co-ordinated efforts have been made to ensure that adequate germplasm samples of these species are maintained for conservation purposes and few of them are represented at all adequately in seed banks. Few countries have paid much attention to germplasm needs of ornamentals and the Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center in conjunction with the USDA National Plant Germplasm System at The Ohio State University is an exception. Generally there is a serious gap in national and international germplasm strategies, which have tended to focus primarily on food plants and some forage and industrial crops. Adequate arrangements need to be put in place to ensure the long- and medium-term conservation of representative samples of the genetic diversity of ornamental species. The problems of achieving this will be discussed. In addition, a policy for the conservation of old cultivars or 'heritage' varieties of ornamentals needs to be formulated. The considerable potential for introduction of new ornamental species needs to be assessed. Consideration needs to be given to setting up a co-ordinating structure with overall responsibility for the conservation of germplasm of ornamental and amenity plants.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences
ID Code:10774
Uncontrolled Keywords:wild harvesting, germplasm conservation, wild species, national collections, heritage varieties
Additional Information:ISBN 9789066058965 ISSN 0567-7572

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