www.mobot.org Research Home | Search | Contact | Site Map  
 
Research
W³TROPICOS
QUICK SEARCH

MO PROJECTS:
Africa
Asia/Pacific
Mesoamerica
North America
South America
Floras
General Taxonomy
Photo Essays
Training in Latin
  America

MO RESEARCH:
Wm. L. Brown Center
Bryology
GIS
Graduate Studies
Research Experiences
  for Undergraduates

Imaging Lab
Library
MBG Press
Publications
Climate Change
Catalog Fossil Plants
MO DATABASES:
W³MOST
Image Index
Rare Books
Angiosperm
  Phylogeny

Res Botanica
All Databases
INFORMATION:
The Unseen Garden
What's New?
People at MO
Visitor's Guide
Herbarium
Jobs & Fellowships
Symposium
Research Links
Site Map
Search

Projects
THE ORIGIN OF GARDEN PLANTS AND THE FSU CONTRIBUTION

Summary


In summary, preliminary geographical analysis shows that the most widespread ornamentals are associated with thirteen centers. Six of them are of prime importance as having provided the world's gardens with about 75% of all ornamental species. The seven remaining centers provided 22,5% of the total species, and are of secondary importance for the garden flora. As can be seen, these two figures do not total 100%. As a matter of fact, the remaining 125 species (2.5%), or perhaps more, are from sites scattered throughout the world and outside the centers described above. Although some of these plants are important to gardening, their amount and concentration in any one location cannot be considered enough to treat them as a separate center.

It is logical to suppose that the significance of any center should reflect its floristic richness, which is true in most cases. For instance, the flora of the Mediterranean is rich and history of its civilization is old that it is not surprising that it has been played an important role. The South African Center has also contributed many garden plants, which reflect the uniquely rich flora of The Cape. In some cases the Center's contribution to world gardening does not always coincide with the richness of its flora. This is especially true with South America. It is also true with FSU. Thus, its flora consists of about 20,000 species, approximately equal to the number of species occurring in North America; however, as shown above, the contributions of these two regions differ greatly.

It is very difficult to assess how many plant species native to the FSU have been involved in horticulture largely because this territory is included in different centers. Four centers are of importance in this respect. 1) The European Center (VII) covers the Carpathians, belonging partly to the FSU territory, and the European part of Russia. 2.) The Eastern Asiatic Center (VII) belongs partly to Russia. Altogether they cover twelve Floristic Provinces, and two of them are situated in Russia (Manchurian and Sakhalin-Hokkaido). 3) The Caucasian-Western Asiatic Center (X) is mainly situated in the FSU. 4) The Central Asian Center (XI) has major portion within the FSU. Some particularly interesting regions among those described above, for example, the mountains of Siberia, are not included in any centre of origin of the ornamentals. Actually, a large portion of the territory is still remains uncovered. The areas which are included are very rich indeed, but do not reflect the richness of the whole flora. Moreover, even regions which are already included contain much more ornamentals than have been appeared into world horticulture. Thus the Central Asian Center, with its 8,000 species and 65 endemic genera, has provided the world horticulture with only 130 ornamental species. The Caucasian Range also has given only 130 ornamentals, whereas there are at least 500 promising plants among its 5,000 species. Most of the territory of the former Soviet Union is the subject for future exploration.

Russian plants can be seen in all the three different groups in world horticulture. Thus, there are some species from the FSU flora in the commercial stock: Tulipa gesneriana, the species which has created "tulip industry," also Gypsophylla paniculata and Iris sibirica. In the second group one can see many plants of Russian origin, among them Colchicum speciosum, Primula juliae and Scabiosa caucasica. Many Russian plants are among the plants of the third group. These plants do not have a large number of varieties, and usually are used in wild gardens.

For many years wild species were considered unfashionable, while the more impressive, large double-flowered plants were considered much more desirable. In the minds of most, wild plants were perceived to be synonymous with weeds and largely ignored in the fields and forests outside cities. Now, at the beginning of the 21th century, the situation and attitude have changed to reflect new interest in wild plants in both natural settings and urban areas. Due to the overall negative effect humans have on their environment and wild flora, an increasing number of plant and animal species are becoming rare and endangered. Sometimes the only way now to preserve plants and protect them from extinction is to grow them in cultivation. Another issue involves preferences in landscaping styles which have changed to reflect a new appreciation of wild flowers and plants as a whole. In many places, not only residential areas, trends in landscaping style are shifting to reflect a new respect for the environment. Bringing this new perspective into the parks and gardens, architects arrange them in wild style, where natural ornamentals are desirable. Many of above recommended species can be used in wild garden.

The flora of FSU can provide many species for future hybridization. This method, although it originated long ago, first began to play a more significant role in the 19th century, and has been predominant since the 1930's, a time of rapid growth in the science of genetics. Historians dealing with plant introduction call our time the "epoch of hybrids." In other words, the current stock of ornamental plants is based primarily on cultivated varieties. That very time the FSU was isolated from the rest of the World, that is why only a few well-known Russian plants were involved in hybridization. Many promising species were unavailable to Western gardeners and that is why they were not used for hybridization. Some results were achieved in the FSU itself, but they remain mostly unknown in the West. There are many ornamental species to be found in Russia which are ideal for breeding, they should be introduced to world horticulture. For example, almost all horticultural classes of tulips are derived from wild species native to the FSU, and there are other species that could initiate new classes of wonderful varietes. Tulipa vvedenskyi, T. korolkovii, T. kuschkensis and a dozen others have never been used for hybridization with other species. Beautiful yellow peonies are represented by four species in the Caucasus. They are highly desirable for hybridization. Lilium ledebourii, one of the most beautiful species of the genus, is unknown in the West and could be involved in hybridization. Lilium monadelphum is extremely cold resistant and can grow in zones 3 and 4. The same recommendation can be made for Hemerocallis middendorfii, a very attractive species native to the Far East, it has never been involved in hybridization. Wild Gladiolus species from the Caucasus are new for horticulture and very promising. Species of Eremurus and their natural hybrids can beautify gardens, and can produce new hybrids. Juno (Iris) are numerous in Central Asia, new to cultivation and very good material for hybridization. Many other examples can be added to prove the statement that flora of the FSU merit special attention. Thus, Russian plants are desirable for both introductionwith future selection and hybridization. The main conclusion is that the contribution of the flora of the FSU does not reflect its richeness so far.

If we review the garden assortment from another point of view, namely, the kinds of life forms we have in gardens, we can see that the plants in the ornamental trade consists of trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. Trees and shrubs used in the Temperate zone are mainly native to North America and Eurasia. Herbs, unlike trees, are able to survive in unfavorable weather conditions. Therefore, their original geographic distribution is much more extensive than that of woody plants, and thus their introduction can be conducted on a larger scale. Perennials are used in the Northern Hemisphere mostly . Numerous perennial species have been introduced into cultivation from North America, many are native to Eurasia and fewer still are indigenous to the Cape Region, South America and Australia. Annual species come primarily from the Mediterranean, followed by South America. North America, Central America and East Asia have each given approximately equal numbers of species. The Cape Region, Anatolia and Middle East yielded many annual species, and many annuals originate in Australia. From the territory of the FSU, gardeners can obtain new trees and shrubs (mostly from the Far East, Central Asia and the Caucasus), new perennials from all over and new annuals (mostly from Central Asia and the Caucasus). Some of these species can be used in unusual areas where extreme environmental conditions prevail, such as very cold winters, very hot summers, or a small amount of precipitation, very dry areas. As is known new species for such conditions are of special importance.

Taxonomic analysis shows that ornamental plants belong to three Divisions: Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms, Angiosperms, about six classes, and a large number of families. For example, 100 families and 1000 genera are represented among the herbaceous species alone. The richest families are the Asteraceae, Liliaceae, Iridaceae, Ranunculaceae, Scrophulariaceae, Caryophyllaceae, and Saxifragaceae. The most numerous species in general cultivation belong predominantly to the genera rockfoil (Saxifraga), primrose (Primula), bellflower (Campanula) and carnation (Dianthus). All these families and genera are very rich in the flora of the FSU, and, therefore, new discoveries can be expected among the common genera as well. Besides, this is a very rich flora, with many taxa that are found nowhere else, with 100 endemic genera and 150 almost endemic (their distributions are almost confined to the FSU) and this flora is in a position to bring many excellent plants into horticulture.

THE ORIGIN OF GARDEN PLANTS
 
 
© 1995-2014 Missouri Botanical Garden, All Rights Reserved
P.O. Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299
(314) 577-5100

E-mail
Technical Support