Breeding and development of new ornamental plants from North American native taxa

J. Ault*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

5 Scopus citations


Perennial plant production and landscape utilization have increased steadily in recent years. The demand for new and varied herbaceous ornamental plants has likely never been greater. There has also been an increased interest in gardening with native plants due to concerns of nonnative plants potentially becoming invasive. In recognition of these trends, a program was initiated in 1995 to develop new ornamental crops from herbaceous taxa indigenous to North America. The program's goal is to develop through interspecific hybridization and selection, hardy perennial plants well adapted to the climate and landscape conditions of northern Illinois (USDA Hardiness Zone 5) and the Midwestern United States. Genera were selected based on four criteria: 1) including species indigenous to the Midwest; 2) including species or cultivated forms accepted by the gardening public; 3) potential for interspecific hybrid development based on the taxonomic and horticultural literature; and 4) minimal prior development of interspecific hybrids, or development was not with adaptability to the Midwest as the primary goal. Both wild collected germplasm and cultivated plants from nursery sources have been utilized. The target genera include Asclepias (milkweed), Baptisia (false indigo), Echinacea (purple coneflower), Liatris (blazing star), and Penstemon (beardtongue). Hybrid combinations that have been produced include Asclepias [tuberosa × purpurascens]; Baptisia [australis × leucophaea], [australis × sphaerocarpa], [sphaerocarpa × alba], and [(tinctoria × alba) × australis]; two and three species crosses with Echinacea angustifolia, E. laevigata, E. paradoxa, E. purpurea, and E. tennesseensis; two and three species crosses involving Liatris aspera, L. ligulistylis, L. pycnostachya, L. scariosa, and L. spicata; and numerous Penstemon hybrids. Several of these hybrid combinations have not been previously reported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationXXVI International Horticultural Congress
Subtitle of host publicationElegant Science in Floriculture
PublisherInternational Society for Horticultural Science
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9789066052383
StatePublished - Sep 1 2003

Publication series

NameActa Horticulturae
ISSN (Print)0567-7572


  • Asclepias
  • Baptisia
  • Echinacea
  • Liatris
  • Penstemon
  • Plant selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Horticulture

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