Continuing our tradition of designating one of our priority genera as a theme for the year, we have chosen Phlox for 2014. This genus has been the subject of intensive research and development at the OPGC for the past 4 years and our germplasm collection has expanded from an initial set of 2 accessions 5 years ago, to over 400 accessions of both wild-collected material and cultivars in our current, and expanding collection.
In keeping with our focus on Coreopsis for 2013, we chose to showcase flowers of this genus in our informational trade show booth during the OFA Trade Show, 14-16 July. The booth provides us an opportunity to tell our story to industry stakeholders and to make contacts with visitors from around the world who attend the show. The booth was manned by OPGC staff and students who serve as ambassadors for our mission to provide genetic resources that benefit the industry and scientific research.
The OPGC's focus on Coreopsis for 2013 was featured in an article about this genus that appeared in the March/April 2013 issue of the OFA Bulletin, the official publication of the Association of Horticulture Professionals. The article describes the diversity found in Coreopsis, focusing on the development of the many new colorful cultivars developed by interspecific hybridization. This native North American genus has seen a rapid expansion of new cultivars over the last 10 years highlighting the genetic diversity that can be exploited to develop new products.
Following the selection of Begonia as the first signature genus for the OPGC in 2012, Coreopsis has now been chosen as the focus for 2013. This means that throughout the year various activities will emphasize the attributes and potential of this widespread North American genus. The activities will include presentations to growers and gardeners, articles in the popular media, enhanced content in this website, estensive plantings of the species in the OPGC nursery and general landscape, and increased characterization and evaluation of germplasm.
The OPGC continues to expand a fruitful collaboration with Brazilian institutions. Gabriel Loli Bazo from the Universidade Estadual de Maringa was a visiting scholar in the Seed Biology Program at The Ohio State University during the summer of 2012. Gabriel provided assistance to a variety of OPGC operations during that time. Luis Otavio Rehder joined the OPGC as a visiting scholar in the summer and will remain until January 2013. Luis comes from the Universidade Federal de Lavras. His work involves examination of seed dormancy in Rudbeckia.
The OPGC is the recipient of a University project to demonstrate sustainable management practices. Spurred by a freshman student, Alec Janda, and supported by a grant from the Ohio State's Energy Services and Sustainability program, a rainwater catchment system was installed in the OPGC grounds. This sytems collects rainwater from the OPGC and Horticulture greenhouses and stores it in large bladders.
A story about begonias and the OPGC appeared in the May/June issue of the OFA Bulletin. The story highlights the selection of begonias as the OPGC's signature plants for 2012. It also describes some of the opportunities and challenges associated with managing a germplasm collection that seeks to do justice to one of the most important floriculture crops as well as one of the largest genera of angiospersms.
The genus Lilium is one of the priority genera for the OPGC. A recent article in the Quarterly Bulletin of the North American Lily Society (Vol 66, No. 2) describe some of the work Peter Zale has been doing with the rare panhandle lily. Here's an excerpt from the introduction:
Buckley's phlox (Phlox buckleyi Wherry; also known as sword-leaf phlox or shale-barren phlox) was discovered by Samuel B. Buckley in the early 1800s near White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The specimens Buckley collected languished unnamed as herbarium specimens for many years until E. T. Wherry, the world's foremost phlox taxonomist and naturalist, named it in 1930. In a recent exploration trip by graduate student Peter Zale and OPGC staff, the plant was located in the same general area of West Virginia where it had been originally described and collected.
The principal pollinators for many of the OPGC plants are bumblebees; these workhorses do an excellent job in the often stressful conditions of a cage. Unfortunately, bumblebees do not appear to polliinate phlox so we must enlist different pollinators. In the wild, phlox are primarily pollinated by various Lepidoptera; we have observed hawk moths and swallowtail butterflies working the plants. To enlist butterflies in pollinating our phlox for seed increases, we need insects that are easy to obtain/rear and that work efficiently with phlox.