Propagating the Rare Cherry Trees of Vancouver

Discussion in 'Vancouver Cherry Blog' started by Douglas Justice, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    A number of us involved with the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival thought it would be a good idea to try to propagate some of the rarest of Vancouver's cherries (see lists, below), as most are older specimens that are deteriorating at an alarming rate. Our goal in this project is to maintain the diversity of flowering cherries (and an often overlooked part of our disappearing cultural heritage) in Vancouver.

    Because of Canada’s strict plant health import regulations, flowering cherries are exceptionally difficult to bring into this country. In the case of more obscure cultivars (all of those listed below), it is essentially impossible, without an enormous investment of many years and considerable money to do so. In other words, if we were going to save this valuable resource, we’d better do it ourselves, and right away.

    With permission from the Vancouver Park Board, we took cuttings of some of these plants in parks and on streets, starting in 2009. At the same time, we engaged the propagation manager of a local wholesale nursery, who generously offered up his facilities and expertise for their propagation.

    In general, rooting stem cuttings is most successful when the stock from which the cuttings are taken is healthy, vigorous, juvenile (i.e., not “flowering shoots”), and perhaps most importantly, pest and disease free. Unfortunately, nearly all of the rarest cherries in Vancouver are diseased and moribund, and not surprisingly, the condition of the cuttings was not ideal. We didn’t expect many to root. Nevertheless, we made collections of cuttings over two successive years, and there were some notable successes. Tragically, however, this collection was mostly destroyed (and their labels lost) in a greenhouse collapse at the nursery in the winter of 2010/11.

    Undaunted, we started to collect cuttings again in 2011. Using the facilities and skilled staff at UBC Botanical Garden Nursery, we made some limited headway with rooting. These plants are still small, but they are alive and labeled, and they will be planted out when large enough. And we will continue to take cuttings until we either root them all or run out of material.

    A related, adjunct propagation project has also been undertaken, under the auspices of the joint UBC-BCIT Biotechnology Program. Students in that program are learning micropropagation (tissue culture) techniques using, among other plants, a small number of rare cherry cultivars. As with conventional propagation techniques, plants that are weak, disease riddled, and without abundant green tissues, are extremely challenging to work with in tissue culture. Still, this is another tool in our toolbox. We are confident that one way or another, we can save these valuable plants.

    Once our plants are successfully propagated and growing, we will start to look at reproducing them and putting them back into Vancouver's landscape. Traditionally, at least in North American nurseries, the vast majority of flowering cherries are grafted. For the past forty years or more, the rootstock of choice has been a vigorous selection the European sweet cherry (Prunus avium). The reason nurseries propagate cherries this way is essentially economic. It is the most efficient and cost effective method. Unfortunately, some cultivars—in particular the slower growing ones—are short-lived, disease prone and often unnaturally ugly when grafted on this stock. For these reasons, a secondary project will be undertaken at the UBC Nursery that will determine appropriate, cultivar-specific propagation technique(s). This will involve exploring a range of propagation protocols, so that we can eventually move away from grafting on Prunus avium rootstocks. Anyway, that’s the plan.

    Rare Cherries:

    Vancouver City property:

    Afterglow (3 trees) Prince Edward, between 61st & 62nd
    Atsumori (2 trees) 14th W of Wallace, and Lagoon Dr., near Pitch & Putt
    Fudan-zakura (1 tree) Nanaimo Street S of Parker
    Hosokawa-nioi (1 tree) Seaforth Park
    Jo-nioi (1 tree) VanDusen Botanical Garden
    Jugatsu-zakura (5 trees) Centennial Park, 43rd & Yew
    Kizakura (3 trees) Stanley Park Pitch & Putt
    Ojochin (1 tree) Japanese Memorial, Stanley Park
    Oshima-zakura (2 trees) Kits Park tennis court
    Shujaku (2 trees) Ted & Mary Greig Garden near Stone Bridge, and 20th & Wallace
    Stellata (HR MacMillan Planetarium)
    Yama-zakura (1 tree) Killarney Park, Raleigh at 46th
    Yokihi (5 trees) 48th between Columbia & Yukon, and 45 & Larch

    Vancouver Private property:

    Ichihara-tora-no-o (1 tree) 57th & Fraser
    Ito-kukuri (1 tree) 54th & Wales
    Sendai-shidare (4 trees) 22nd & Balsam, Comox E of Chilco and Haro & Chilco
    Surugadai-nioi (1 tree) 12th between Granville & Fir

    Richmond Private Property

    Korean hill (5 trees) 7251 Minoru Blvd.
    Shosar (3 trees) Minoru Blvd between Lansdowne and Alderbridge
    Ito-kukuri (3 trees) WorkSafe BC, Westminster Hwy

    University of British Columbia

    Taki-nioi (1 tree) Nitobe Memorial Garden

    Douglas Justice
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    The trade down here has been offering a percentage of ornamental cherries grafted onto Gisela series rootstocks for years. Until deformed by crowding and cut down I had an 'Accolade' resulting from such a combination growing here for some years. It seemed to have quite good vigor yet was dwarfed.
     
  3. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    How different is the effect of Gisela (GiSelA) compared with that of 'Colt'? Many of the grafts in UBC's cherry orchard are on 'Colt'. I would call it a significant dwarfing effect. Something intermediate might be interesting. I'm not against grafting—I'm just tired of seeing all of the problems that arise with grafting (particularly top-grafting) on poorly matched under-stock.

    I'd still like to see if we can grow cherries on their own roots—at least to see the vigour, size, shape, disease resistance, floriferousness and longevity of the various cultivars when un-grafted. At least then we could decide whether there was any advantage, other than economic, to grafting them.
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Don't know how the rootstocks compare. Do believe 'Kanzan' and 'Snofozam' have both been produced commercially from cuttings.
     
  5. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    I'm not surprised. I remember from my old nursery days (early 1980s) in Richmond that Lang's Nursery sold 5-gallon 'Accolade' and 'Pandora' produced from cuttings. And I recall a visit to the wonderful Grand Ridge Nursery in Issaquah where they propagated Prunus x subhirtella cultivars from root cuttings. I also understand that in Japan, propagation of P. x yedoensis 'Somei-yoshino' is traditionally by cuttings.
     
  6. wcutler

    wcutler Renowned Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    What about this potted 'Whitcomb'? I suppose it could be grafted at the root level, but there's nothing visible. It's a very nice-looking tree (and should be in bloom next week). [Edited Feb 15 by wcutler: I've added two photos with a hint of the blossoms]

    And last year I posted a good-sized 'Whitcomb' from Ferndale, WA that doesn't appear to be grafted. I called it "the best 'Whitcomb' I ever did see".
     

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    Last edited: Feb 15, 2012
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    'Whitcombii' gets much bigger than that, aren't there multiple bigger ones known in Vancouver, and shown here in the past? Fully developed ones are something like 40' tall and more across, with trunks more than 8' around. One in Monroe, WA was measured as being 55' across during the 1990s.
     
  8. wcutler

    wcutler Renowned Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I thought we were talking about trees developed on their own rootstock. I think all the old 'Whitcomb' we've posted have been on P. avium stock (and have looked pretty sad too). Was the one in Monroe on its own rootstock?
     
  9. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Probably. You can see a photo of its trunk on page 37 of Van Pelt, Champion Trees of Washington State (1996, University of Washington, Seattle). If the tree is still there it is right off the street. The cultivar has more horsepower than 'Autumnalis Rosea', as do a small number of P. pendula var. ascendens seen down here.
     
  10. wcutler

    wcutler Renowned Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    The only thing I can see on gmaps street view is on the other side of the street, next to the fence. The book shows it obviously branched way low, with huge limbs. I've never seen anything like that here. That would certainly support Douglas's suspicion that grafting, or at least high grafting, does nothing for the vigour or longevity of the trees.
     
  11. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Yes, from this it appears the tree is gone. The house with the new hedge looks like the one to the left in Bob's picture.
     
  12. wcutler

    wcutler Renowned Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Well, so much for longevity. But then, it could have been around 80 or 85 years old.
     
  13. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    The whole scene looks different, as though new people came in and cut a bunch of things down. Not that most Prunus aren't inherently short-lived as well (the ages claimed by Japanese sources for favorite landmark specimens there are more or less preposterous), whether or not grafted or diseased.
     
  14. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    Re: Hastings-Sunrise

    [Edited by wcutler Feb 23, 2013: I've copied this from the Hastings-Sunrise Neighbourhood Blog, where it was an appropriate response to a posting of the trees under discussion. It's also an appropriate follow-up to previous postings in this thread.]

    Because of its rarity in Vancouver, and its overall declining condition, this 'Fudan-zakura' was on my hit list for propagation this year. With permission of the City of Vancouver, I collected a number of twigs early this February to give to the BCIT Biotechnology program to use as a tissue culture subject. With any luck (actually, quite a bit of skill and perseverance), we will have a plants of this unusual cultivar growing on their own roots in a couple of years. I also collected 'Shujaku', 'Hosokawa-nioi' and 'Kiku-zakura' this year. When I delivered the cuttings this year, the Biotechnology instructor, Keith Turner, presented me with a couple of dozen 'Ito-kukuri' ex-plants from successfully tissue cultured material that I supplied in 2011. This program of propagating Vancouver's rare cherries is a collaborative initiative supported by UBC Botanical Garden, the Park Board and BCIT Biotechnology.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 23, 2013
  15. sgbotsford

    sgbotsford Active Member

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    As someone who is new to tree culture:

    If both cuttings and tissue culture work best when on disease free, healthy stock, why can't you bud graft onto a suitable stock, raise up a decent size tree for further work?

    I'm sure there must be a good reason why this hasn't been mentioned.

    Educate me.
     
  16. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    It's a good suggestions to bud-graft a bunch of new plants to produce vigorous material. We've been pruning to stimulate vigorous, vegetative growth in the existing orchard at UBC. To be honest, I felt that if we could just get one plant of each cultivar rooted, we could then produce material for root cuttings, stem cuttings and tissue culture. If we fail at this, we may have to resort to grafting to maintain the stock of the rarer cultivars.

     
  17. wcutler

    wcutler Renowned Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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  18. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Contributor 10 Years

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