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Keywords: Micropropagation, Acer palmatum

PAL Question:

Do you have any information about micropropagation of the Japanese maple?

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I found a series of replies to a question like yours on the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden's online forum.

An article formerly available online from the Oregon Association of Nurseries states the following:

"Keeping up with the demand for 'newness' means learning about and trialing different propagation techniques. That's where tissue culture, or 'in vitro micropropagation,' has been used as one propagation tool of many in the tool chest, said Gayle Suttle of Microplant Nurseries Inc. in Gervais, Ore. The company focuses on shade trees and shrubs. "No technique will dominate," Suttle said. 'What's going to work for the industry is, number one, focusing on quality and, number two, efficiency. If you sacrifice quality for cost, then you lose.'

"Micropropagation helps many nurseries get a jump-start on production of new items, improve the reliability of plant performance and start with clean stock. In the area of woody plants, micropropagation has had a particular impact on the nursery industry, allowing growers to cut the time needed to establish mother blocks and meet production demand, Suttle said. Also, there are some plants where branching is hard to come by, and micropropagated plants tend to branch more. 'If you can grow a plant by seed, there's nothing that beats throwing a seed into the ground,' she said.

"But there are plants for which normal propagation has problems -- the seed source is unreliable or unavailable, a graft is incompatible with its scion, budding problems arise in the field or roots fail to form on cuttings. Micropropagation fits as one way to keep growers successful and efficient.

"'Twenty-five years ago, there was a fear that micropropagation was going to take over the world,' Suttle said. 'That's never been a concept that's panned out. The industry is such a variable industry, with different people doing things differently. The goal is to be successful. You can save all kinds of money, but if you have a rotten plant, no one's going to buy it. Customers may buy a cheap plant one year, but if the quality is not behind it, they won't be back next year. They'll be looking for something else.'

"It was plant health and survivability that drove Dieringer Nursery Company toward organic growing practices nearly 13 years ago, and those goals keep the nursery from fully jumping into use of tissue culture. The company grows rhododendrons, relying mostly on vegetative propagation with a small smattering of grafting and an even smaller sample of plants produced via micropropagation.

"'Every couple of years we will bring in some tissue culture to evaluate the plant under our growing procedures, we'll get a new variety and it comes in by tissue culture,' said Jeff Dieringer, president of the Hubbard, Ore.-based company.

"The advantages of propagation by cuttings over other methods are exact replication of desired genetic characteristics and the more rapid time frame to finished product compared with starting from seed. Nearly all of the hundreds of thousands of rhododendrons Dieringer nursery handles in a year are grown using vegetative propagation, while maybe only a couple hundred are started from in vitro micropropagation.

"'It's a way to introduce a plant, but we don't get tissue culture starts and turn them into production plants,' Dieringer said. 'We watch that plant, its habits under our growing condition for three to four years to see if it exhibits normal growth. We do vegetative cuttings then, if they don't exhibit any juveniles.'"

The Miller Library has several titles on micropropagation in general, but I did not find anything specifically addressing use of this method with Acer palmatum. A good general text with several chapters on in vitro culture is A Color Atlas of Plant Propagation and Conservation by Bryan G. Bowes (New York Botanical Garden Press, 1999).

Season All Season
Date 2007-06-23
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December 12 2014 11:33:49