This project is the first in Australia or overseas to address the breeding of eucalypts for the cut stem sector of ornamental horticulture. All currently existing cultivars were developed for amenity horticulture, and are not suitable for the new and expanding trade in cut stems with buds, flowers or gumnuts. Experience with other crops has taught us that superior cultivars with the traits required by the consumer are essential to maintain a competitive advantage on international markets. With the eucalypts, we, as Australians, are in the unique situation of having the full range of germplasm at our disposal. This offers an outstanding opportunity to the new fledgling eucalypt stem industry. The University of Adelaide’s approach of interspecific hybridisation combines superior characters from different species, often with the vigour associated with some hybrid combinations. Vegetative propagation methods are essential to capture the precise combination of superior characters, and are adapted to the selections of interest. All selections have a postharvest vase life sufficient to deliver to export markets. The University of Adelaide study has developed twelve superior selections with outstanding characteristics of stunning buds and flowers. While it will be some years yet before this material can be proven under cultivated conditions, the resource secures the future of the cut stem industry in Australia, with the promise of superior adapted cultivars for the future.
Published December 2004