Rose breeds deterioration?

intris(6)March 19, 2013

I hope I won't start a heated debate with this, but I saw this topic on hmf and I wanted some input on this forum.

I was browsing through, and I saw a mini-discussion about older rose bush varieties. One individual said that he believed that rose bush breeds deteriorate. For example, a Peace bush produced in the 1950s is of a higher quality than a Peace bush produced in the 1980s and so on.
His logic was that the "cloned" rose breeds deteriorate over a series of years in which they were cloned multiple times. Several individuals who believed this cited sheep and other animal cloning as evidence of this practice. The individual also noted that a rose bush produced in 1960s was of a higher quality than the same breed produced now.

Now, that being said...
I find some difficulty accepting this theory. Of course, you cannot compare a 40 year old bush to a 5 year old bush, the older bush is established with a superior root system. As for DNA deterioration, animals cannot reproduce asexually naturally whereas plants can. Grafting a bud onto rootstalk should be no different than if the bud stayed on the original bush, in my opinion.

What are your thoughts?

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I do not understand the science of it, but I have many times heard that roses which have been cloned not just a few but thousands (or millions?) of time like Peace and other popular roses, have "declined" in commerce.

That is one of the many reasons I like old old roses - they almost went extinct until about 40 years ago, and have been put back into commerce because plants of them have been discovered surviving for many years with no care. in places like the Sacramento Historic Rose Garden in the old Cemetery you can get roses which have only been cloned a few times. They are the recent offspring of old old bushes that were found living in old towns, cemeteries, etc.

In my garden I have several bushes of the bush form of 'Cecile Brunner". One of them is an ancient bush planted, we think, about 80 -90 years ago. It is larger, and blooms way more than the ones I planted myself that I bought about 20 years ago. The old one is about 8 feet tall by 8 feet wide - see picture.

Of course, that doesn't prove anything - hopefully someone who understand the science of this will respond.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 6:48PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

It is also true that many roses which have been in commerce in the U.S. for 50-60 years have picked up a real devil's brew of various viruses.

Those viruses, rather than "clone fade," may be a leading cause of their decline.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 7:45PM
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Yea, but wouldn't viruses infect anything (even old garden roses)? And it's just a coincidence that mass produced roses are also infected?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 8:16PM
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I can see how if weaker growth was used for a budded plant and then that happened a few more times the rose would not be as strong. I have gotten weaker and stronger own root bands from the same nursery. You just have to hope that the nursery is trying to get the best plants they can get to make new copies from.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 8:32PM
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lola-lemon(5b East WA)

i think KMB is right on it that the changes can go both ways.

I think of it like the current plants are just sports. Probably every propagation has some tiny little imperceptible changes that don't amount to anything obvious enough. But do that 30 times, and like a rounding error, it starts to matter. A plant is constantly copying itself (so are we humans) and each copy has a risk of changes (especially under stress of virus like Jeri said, or pollution, or growth stimulators, whatever---). I've read that propagating blind wood may lead to more often to be blind plants- which makes sense. That part of the plant that had that flaw, you don't want to make it a sport, so to speak. But if frost causes the DNA damage- would you know it was there even? I just did burritos of wood that wintered outside.

Like KMB says though- it is entirely possible that the plant could upgrade itself over time. I think my friend's version of Banshee is much nicer than some versions of Banshee I have seen out there.... Parrot tulips are a version of an "upgrade" due to virus.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 8:52PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

Intris -- Do NOT buy the idea that Old Roses are not virused.

For some time, MOST Old Roses in the U.S. have been distributed on their own roots. And many OGR-oriented nurseries have tried their best to obtain VI stock. But this does NOT mean that Old Roses are not infected with virus.

AAMOF, there was a time when only one or two nurseries even offered Old Roses -- and they offered them, budded onto virused Dr. Huey rootstock. That's why all of my plants of the climber known as 'Sombreuil' are virused. They all went through that one nursery.

And I have some small own-root plants of "Ragged Robin" which are virused. They were, simply, propagated from plants that were virused. In my part of the world, they'll still make fine garden roses.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 9:23PM
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catsrose(VA 6)

DNA does not deteriorate, but it does mutate. The number of generations of clones doesn't matter as long as the DNA remains the same. And if the DNA changes, it is no longer the same plant.

A clone is a clone is a clone. If you take 3 cuttings from bush X you will get X1, X2, X3 and they will be identical. However, if X2 develops a virus that changes its DNA and X3 gets hit by cosmic rays that change its DNA, then their clones X22 and X33, will not be identical to X. But! if the DNA of X2 and X3 are modified [in any noticeable way], you would be able to identify it because its own new growth would be altered. In that case you would not clone it as X because it is now Y, ie, it would be a sport.

The more clones produced from X and its clone children, grandchildren, etc, the greater the chance that a mutation will show up and that mutation may be simply a weaker, but otherwise not very obvious, version of X. But, again, you should be able to notice it in the new growth of the plant from which you take the clone.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 11:17PM
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AquaEyes 7a New Jersey

I think there's possibly another explanation. Remember that rose varieties are genetic individuals, and all plants of the same variety are clones. When a new rose is first introduced, that means it's the first time that genetic combination has ever existed in the natural environment. Pathogens and pests have never encountered that unique individual before.

As a rose becomes more popular and is planted abundantly, it comes into contact with more pathogens and pests. The pathogens and pests continue to evolve (i.e. they reproduce sexually), while the rose does not (i.e. they are propagated asexually). Eventually, a pathogen or pest can come about which can now infect or debilitate a previously resistant rose, and if that rose is planted abundantly, those pathogens and pests can spread from garden to garden. A previously resistant rose now is less able to cope with the current population of pathogens and pests. Did the rose deteriorate from over-propagation and now become less vigorous, or did the pathogens and pests finally evolve to crack its static genetic locks and leave it struggling a bit more to grow and bloom?

Another consideration is how the nonliving environment may have changed since a rose's initial introduction. Kim Rupert often discusses how during the height of the Industrial Revolution, a lack of awareness about air pollution allowed for a lot of sulfur to enter the atmosphere, which then rained down and dosed the roses at the time with fungicide. As such, there was no fungal pressure on roses to affect their hardiness. When stricter regulations on air pollution reduced the "sulfur rain", formerly disease-resistant roses started getting fungal diseases. Being as they were clones of roses bred for a different time, they remained static while their environment changed. Did the roses "deteriorate" from over-propagation, or did the roses suddenly have to deal with new things in their environment that didn't exist at the time they were first raised from a seed?

And finally, another point Kim mentioned is how even on an individual plant, one can sometimes find subtle differences from cane to cane. I remember him discussing once a rose which varied in the degree of its flowers' fragrance depending on which cane they grew. These differences are likely epigenetic -- differences in the degree of genetic expression, rather than in the genes themselves -- which can be passed on via asexual propagation much the same way that a climbing or differently-colored sport can be. If nursery owners don't pay attention to the material from which they propagate their plants, they may inadvertently pass on these small differences, giving rise to plants which will vary a bit from the original. In this case, it's not a matter of "copying a copy of a copy of a copy..." which causes the "deterioration" but the passing on of subtle "sports" which were not detected as being different from the original.



    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 11:55PM
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lola-lemon(5b East WA)

Catsrose- I think perhaps the point about a clone is a clone is a clone is a semantic argument that misses the point and moot if you have no way of knowing which cuttings have varied DNA.

Recently in the human genome, it's been determined that what was originally considered unimportant or junk DNA is actually very important regulatory switching. And this switching is impacted by environment. And stress. And it can last a period of time- generations. But the children born of the sperm generated during this change, will carry the switch for a few generations until they may switch it off.
So, as an example, a man goes through a terrible famine, his sperm then is created with a switch flipped that indicates better calorie sparing. Thus, with the same calories, his children and grandchildren will be heavier. 3 generations on, the switch returns to the original position and the children are no longer inclined to be heavy. There was no mutation, just a change in the switch position to change how he body runs.

So, this same thing happens in plants. Not just a mutation. But a biological response is developed within the plant and becomes part of the plant. So, in effect- we can never really "clone" a plant without having some changes occur.

Here is a link that might be useful: Clone history shapes Populus drought responses

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 12:15AM
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AquaEyes 7a New Jersey

Lola-lemon just offered a nice explanation of an epigenetic mutation -- a change in gene regulation and expression without an actual change in the genetic code. I think this is the most likely culprit of the majority of "sports" in the plant world -- especially those that sometimes (or frequently) "revert" back to the original.

Genetic mutations happen randomly, and for the mutation to randomly change back is almost impossibly minute in probability. What's more likely is that a gene will have its "expression-dimmer" turned up or down in a cell, which is maintained at that "setting" in all descendents of that cell -- until whatever triggered the "change in setting" switches back to the "original setting" (i.e. reverts). This can result in a change in phenotype without a change in genotype, yet can still be passed down to offspring (sexual or asexual).



    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 12:37AM
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lola-lemon(5b East WA)

I suppose it is possible that the wonderful parts of Peace were actually temporarily turned on switches that have actually now returned to their normal off positions of the great grandparents? Theoretically, those seeds could have had epigenetic changes that finally reverted??

This post was edited by lola-lemon on Wed, Mar 20, 13 at 1:34

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 1:04AM
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catsrose(VA 6)

As Christopher says, a clone is still a clone is a clone as long as the DNA, including potential switches, expressions and other epigenetic stunts, remains the same. The environment may alter expression, but unless it causes an actual mutation, it has no effect on the DNA. Like diet: you can be thin or fat, have good skin or bad, ulcers or high cholesterol, but it does not effect your DNA.

Clones are taken from cuttings, not from seeds. There is no exchange of genetic material, no "passing on." What you see is what you get. A cutting Is the plant; it is not a progeny.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 8:30AM
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lola-lemon(5b East WA)

OK- I am going to dive down he rabbit hole on this one. note: If someone over their head babbling about genetics bores you-- feel free to just skip this post.

The above article about Poplar clones (from Callus, I believe) discusses that the changes observed are environmental responses and they are not permanent. After 3 generations, the next clones are closer to the original. (Often, in humans, it is assumed an older clone will result in MORE variation, not less).

But here is an article from Science Daily that looks at the fact that plants have a high number of mutations- probably associated with the high rate of plant matter creation. I believe that the seeds would necessarily have the DNA changes that the cane holding them has. (Sidebar- thinking back to what I read on the green rose- I would have guessed, the changes occurred to Stem cells. But, also, it turns out apparently, Callus cells , created from somatic cells in response to wound, are "heterogeneous"-- which surprised me. It's like a plant's response to a wound is creating a genetic change? Apparently, it's very difficult to get an identical clone from Callus cells. (how much change we are talking about, must not be that large or there would be too much instability- but there apparently are changes made to the DNA).

This article hints that these changes aren't probably just mistakes, but could be a evolutionary skill of plants. So, with changes taking place in the canes, the plant is mosaic, with a different dna in its canes- and it would give different seeds too from these canes. And possibly, the callus cells create changes on top of that?? (but I have no idea how much the callus cell in cutting propagation informs the rest of the plant structure. Maybe root cuttings vary more??? Dunno!)

anyway... however or whyever the changes occur, plants have a lot of genetic variation happening as they live and grow. Depending upon the cells (plant, animal, stem, callus) you are cloning- the identical/difference in the "clone" will vary.

But, you know, I am way over my head and I haven't had coffee yet!

The article from Science Daily is written for the non scientist- thankfully!

Here is a link that might be useful: Why plant 'Clones' aren't Identical.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 1:15PM
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Very often, sports in roses don't extend to the sexual level, but remain "skin deep". Breeding with a color sport of a rose usually results in virtually identical results as breeding with the original. Occasionally, there is a sport which extends sufficiently deep to produce sexual differences. New Dawn is one. Unlike its sport parent, Dr. VanFleet, New Dawn breeds repeat flowering climbing seedlings. But, most often, sports are sexually the same as the sport parent. That is why Ralph Moore selected Ferdinand Pichard to work with in hopes of breeding for stripes. It was the only striped rose for which there was no stated parentage, so he theorized it may have actually been a seedling, instead of a mutation. He knew using striped sports to breed for transmissible striping would have likely proved a dead end.

An interesting story, Dr. Walter Lammerts radiated Queen Elizabeth resulting in a white sport, which he gave to Ralph Moore. Both the original and the radiated sport grew at Sequoia for decades. Mr. Moore stated they found first generation seedlings raised from the radiated rose varied from complete failure, through mis shapen seedlings (which proved weak and all died), to seedlings which appeared identical to those raised from the original sport parent. Further seedlings raised from the successful seedlings raised from the radiation induced sport appeared identical to those raised from the original sport parent. While the white color remained stable in the radiated roses for over half a century (perhaps longer, but the plants were bull dozed with the nursery), the seedlings which were not killed by the radiation induced changes were identical to those raised from the un radiated rose.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 2:57PM
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Several years ago while noodling thru member comments at HMF, I happened upon the following remarks by the VERY knowledgeable Robert Neil Rippetoe that seemed to confer a measure of validity to certain of my own conclusions based on observation of roses I've propagated over the years:

". . . (T)here is historical precedent for cultivars improved through selective vegetative propagation.

Wood can be selected over time to improve repeat flowering, smoother stems and other characteristics.

. . . (I)ndiscriminate propagation practices have degraded many well known varieties. Widespread introduction of viruses through budding didn't help.

Roses are plastic over time.

WOOD SELECTION IS THE KEY." (Emphasis added.)

Healthy roses produce robust growth as well as growth that's somewhat "wimpy" -- that's simply the nature of the plant. Even the weaker growth can be rooted or budded. It's been my experience time and again that plants begun as superior cuttings are stronger and more productive than plants produced from weaker wood. With few exceptions, that observation has held true even when the roses reach maturity.

When a variety strikes the public fancy & becomes extremely sought after, producers necessarily use every bit of material they can to meet the demand. And when that popularity extends over long periods of time, it seems apparent that decreasing levels of vigor are inevitable. 'Peace', of course, being a very obvious example . . .

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 5:38PM
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I purchased several body bag roses at Lowe's this season. I justified my purchase because the canes were in really good shape. The "Peace" I purchased had 4 canes 1.5 inches thick. Assuming it was labeled correctly (We'll see when they bloom), I cannot image it being any less of a bush than one on the market circa 1960. I have also seen bushes in body bags at other stores of terrible quality and I'm being generous at that.
Perhaps what you are hitting on is as soon as a patient rose expires, other producers are selling a bush for less...and putting less into the plant selection.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 5:46PM
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Tessiess, SoCal Inland, 9b, 1272' elev

Malcolm Manners mentioned something about this during his presentation at Great Rosarians this year. He referred to it as "decline" though. On one of his slides that focussed on "The possible causes of 'decline'" he wrote, "Perhaps not the same virus as causes mosaic, but", consider "Heat therapy seems to reinvigorate such plants".

I wonder what his opinion is on switches and sports, combined or versus virus removal from heat therapy. Food for thought!


    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 5:58PM
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lola-lemon(5b East WA)

Just wanted to note- in my post referring to Mosaic- I was talking about a genetic mosaic. When the plant has more than one genetic identity within the same plant. (not the virus)

Funny story- so breeders of roses and especially lilies, which take years to bloom, have patience of Zen masters and I thank them for their efforts to bring us new and exciting plants.

...sometimes however fate gets the best of us and despite all our knowledge plays a trick on us that makes all the math junk.

Recently there was a thread about plants of our past and I mentioned my grandparents grew a very tasty (cider at least) apple planted in the 30s that tasted very much like today's Honeycrisp. After some discussion I decided to look it up and see if it was related to my grandparents apple.
The HoneyCrisp was hybridized in 1960 and relesed in 1992 --patented by the University of Minnesota and the parents were registered as Macoun and Honeygold.

Genetic testing in 2004 showed neither of those trees was a parent. It is Keepsake and an unknown cultivar- probably lost. The genetic testing of other trees in the orchard showed another apple had the parents it was suspected to have, but there was a small mutation also. Actually several had small differences, which were of the type which would also be attributed to scoring errors (machine counting into wrong loci?) because of the locations of the changes.

Bower et al used this form of genetic investigation to determine the parentage of several grape varieties in 1999. They were able to determine that certain varieties were true to breed, others were not (3 different plants considered same plant- none were correct- but were other plants) and surprisingly a great deal of their grapes were not related at all and they couldn't determine the parents-- meaning they were probably lost. It makes sense that time marches on with only a certain number of cultivars tended and looked after and that those who aren't in favor will be left behind. Others are taken by disease and misfortune.
It's possible some of these Peace roses are just look alikes. I know I have bought wrongly tagged roses before....

Here is a link that might be useful: Genetic verification of Honeycrisp and other cold hardy apples

This post was edited by lola-lemon on Thu, Mar 21, 13 at 13:00

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 7:24PM
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When I look at old photographs, I notice that that roses back then had better growing conditions. Yes, I can tell by the absence of trees that it was far easier to find a good spot to put your roses back them. But, with the recent storms and all the tree trimming in our neighborhood--the roses along our front walkway that once had insufficient light are now doing just fine!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 9:55AM
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Campanula UK Z8

Gareth Fryer, an English rose breeder has always asserted that there is a distinctive change with the tendency towards decline rather than improvement. As a complete science duffer, I could not discuss genetics in anything but the most witless terms but I can state, with some confidence, that roses do indeed change over time. I was familiar with the climbing HT, Etoile de Hollande since my grandmother grew it....and without doubt, it was definitely more fulsome with a much higher petal count than the current semi-double version doing the rounds.
On the other hand, I can also state with some confidence that, despite many thousands of clones, over numerous generations (although we can subtract a few noughts in Mr.Camps and my personal experience), cannabis strains have been remarkably stable. Northern Lights, for example, is still showing the same vigour and THC levels as it did in the 80s (although, again, there is a popular school of thought which goes down the gradual declining route). The more telling differences occur physiologically - that is, according to other external conditions - how the cutting was taken, what growing medium is being used, what management regime is followed and so on.
Which sort of illustrates the some of the dilemma surrounding this question - when, in the life-cycle of a plant, is the critical moment for assessment of performance? How hard is it to define what constitutes the pure genetic expression.....and what characteristics are results of a particular cultivation practice. (I am certain that the scientifically literate are falling about at my simple-mindedness). Whilst the nature/nurture debate has become something of a cliche, it is rarely settled with any clarity - indeed, I expect this debate will be rumbling on indefinitely.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 7:27PM
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Mutations are much more likely to be degenerative rather than improvements, though the latter does occasionally occur. It's obvious when some major change occurs like a total color shift or a climbing mutation arises from a dwarf type, but many "micro sports" occur frequently and most remain unnoticed. Once those micro sports are propagated and stabilized, it's very fast and easy for them to replace large segments of the population of the affected variety, particularly if only one or two sources are offering the plant.

The New Dawn widely available these days is supposedly less double than it was originally. When Awakening was introduced, it was theorized it was the original and the less double ND was a mutation. Quite a few older modern roses appear to be less double than they were originally.

Degenerative color sports have occurred rather frequently. In the 1980s a muddy colored French Lace made its appearance. The plant seemed identical to the original until it flowered. The blooms were dirty tinged and the difference could easily be detected, especially when mixed with a bed of the original type. I had heard many years ago it cost J&P many replacement plants to rid the market of that muddy flowered variation. Circus mutated to a darker coloration which was introduced as Circus Parade, but there was also a muddy colored, stronger growing mutation which had to be roughed out to prevent further spread. Being stronger growing, it was natural for those selecting bud wood to gravitate to the stronger shoots as much more wood could more easily be collected from them. The same occurred with Angel Face, resulting in the weaker, originally colored type and a much stronger growing, muddier colored variation. The variations are most noticeable when viewed together. Observed individually, you may not know what's wrong, but often they just don't appear "right".

There appears to be at least two variations of Sweet Viven. The original is a semi single flower, but Vintage offers Sweet Vivien as a rather double flower. (see link below). From a reproductive stand point, the more double the flower, the less fertile it usually is. Each increase in petals reduces the number of stamen and anthers, hence pollen. Intensely double forms can completely shield the stigma or even replace it with vegetative growth. From that direction, the more double form would be a degenerative mutation, though to our sense of "beauty", it may be seen as an improvement.

Some strains mutate along a continuum from dwarf to climbing. Iceberg and Mlle. Cecile Brunner are two excellent examples. In a field of hundreds of Iceberg, you can find anything from dwarf plants content to remain at about a four foot size, to more rampant growers easily reaching eight feet all the way to full climbing mutations. Until they mature, I've found the easiest way to predict where on the dwarf to climbing continuum the individual plants may fall is by how prickly each one is. Very smooth canes have indicated plants which remain more dwarf and bushy. The greater the quantity and larger the size of prickles, the thicker, longer and stronger the canes "want" to be. There is a LOT going on under the surface we just never notice, or aren't able to detect. Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: Vintage very double Sweet Viven

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 8:05PM
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lola-lemon(5b East WA)

I think it is interesting Kim to note that the mutational gravity leans toward "worse" plants for us. In that 1) they are less double 2) perhaps not as fragrant

I think to a plant this actually might be an improvement. The more double form is less fertile. The higher fragrance tends to translate to easier to attack by disease petals and etc. I think of the lovely and adorable bulldogs I would love to own but pass on because I know their breathing is compromised by their smashed faces, their joints ache as they age...... we want what we want, but it's not always the best for the organism.

I think the idea of general overall age of the organism really might have more to do with this too. That you just can't indefinitely hope to hold DNA stable forever. And age can lead to decline. I found it amazing that so many of the old grape vines aren't in existence anymore. Time marches on, maybe we are silly to think we can stop it.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 8:41PM
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Many food plants aren't easily available anymore not so much due to their genetic instability as to their lack of being financially profitable. The only way to make a plant type economically worthwhile is to possess a patent on it. Once that patent expires, you need others to take its place to continue the cash stream.

Often, older varieties are less resistant to disease and/or insect infections which may not have been issues when they were widely grown. Here in the west, we have Pierce's Disease, which was discovered near Anaheim in 1892 on grapes. It wasn't a huge threat until Glassy Winged Sharp Shooters, native to the South Eastern US were discovered to have made it across country in 1996. We had older varieties of grapes which could still be grown for a century until the wide spread pest began spreading the fatal disease throughout the susceptible types. We now have fatal diseases in citrus due to the same reason...foreign pests spreading them. Look at what is happening to Oleanders here in California. They were the perfect "weed"...toxic so NOTHING ate them; able to endure rather deep cold and blistering heat; able to exist on relatively little water; requiring virtually nothing to thrive and provide many months of unending color...until Oleander Leaf Scorch arrived, also spread by Glassy Winged Sharp Shooters. It's the Oleander strain of the same bacteria which causes Pierce's Disease, spread by the same insect. There was 12' - 15' tall, 50' long hedge of Oleanders out behind this house from the late fifties until four years ago. They existed on only rainfall and provided an excellent wind and privacy barrier. Over the period of four years, they flat out died from the Leaf Scorch. Oleander hedges all over the valley show the effects of the disease. Some nurseries aren't selling Oleanders any more due to the disease.

Many older fruit and vegetable varieties are much less resistant to bacterial and fungal attacks making them more costly and difficult to raise or even maintain. "Resistant" is a huge marketing word when advertising any plant type. Unless you are insistent upon getting the exact older type you desire, most purchasers opt for "resistant" to diseases and pests over heirloom fruit, particularly when the less resistant cost more because they are more expensive to maintain and produce.

Some aren't kept around because of greater cultural requirements or greater space requirements. For rose standards, IXL was the trunk stock of choice for many decades because it generates tremendous growth of very thick canes very quickly, but it also requires significantly greater room to grow mother plants and is much more susceptible to sun scald than Dr. Huey. IXL makes a better standard in less time, but Huey is the standard stock in use now because it requires less room to produce and is cheaper due to less sun scald loss.

Some are being lost due to climate change. Sweet cherries are now not as successful in the more southern orchards because of insufficient winter chill and too great summer heat, as well as insufficient rainfall. If the heat continues pressing northward, it's entirely possible the high chill requiring types may be lost in favor of less winter chill types because there won't BE orchards with enough cold. Plants and animals are already moving north, taking advantage of the milder conditions where the more extremes used to prevent them success. Kim

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 9:14PM
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In addition to losing ancient foundation stock & seeds in plants, it's a concern with livestock, too. England & Europe have scores of breeds of chickens, cattle, sheep & pigs adapted for small homesteads or severely restricted environments. The Rare Breeds Conservatory tries to preserve these treasures from extinction.

The book RARE BREEDS is a gorgeous picture book of some wonderful representatives of old livestock. There is a Scottish sheep that lives on SEAWEED most of the year, White Park cows that were familiar to the Romans, maybe even the Druids, four-horned Jacob sheep, etc. . Africa & India are also reservoirs of some incredible cattle breeds--gigantic-horned Watusi cows, many races of Zebus ranging from milk breeds to draft animals (In the U.S. we simply call all humped cattle "Brahmas"--the rest of the world recognizes they have distinct races--Nelore, Indu-Brazil, Gyr, etc.)

Sorry for the tangent, but the effort to preserve the precious genetic heritage of endangered roses & livestock (not just the more publicized preservation of wildlife & food crops) is really interesting (at least to me!)

As J. L. Hudson puts it: "Preservation through dissemination"

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 11:10PM
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