What is a cultivar and what is its importance?

Cultivars are improved plants

Leucospermum cultivar (L. glabrum × L. tottum ‘Scarlet Ribbon’). // Image – Wikimedia / Flying Freddy

Have you ever read or heard about cultivars? These are the ones that, in general, have characteristics that make any of us do not hesitate to buy them, namely: large flowers and / or with shapes or colors that stand out, adult dimensions larger or smaller than those of the species. original, a greater capacity to produce many fruits, a better resistance to the climate and / or some type of soil …

But What exactly is a cultivar? A genetically modified plant? Does it give seeds? If you are curious to know everything about him, in this article you will find the information you are looking for.

What is the definition of cultivating?

View of a Japanese maple cultivarView of a Japanese Maple cultivar

Acer palmatum var amoenum cv Sanguineum // Image – Wikimedia Commons / KENPEI

The term cultivar has two meanings: one, the best known, is the one that refers to the sowing of seeds to have new plants; the other, however, is not known much but it is just as interesting.

Focusing on the topic at hand, it is a plant that has been artificially selected to maintain one or more of its characteristics after reproduction. It is also a cultivar when two pure species hybridize for the first time.

Do cultivars produce seeds?

One of the doubts that arise when we buy especially exotic or rare plants is whether they will ever give seeds. And it is that when they are cultivars they often never do it, and if they do, it is possible that they are not viable. What is this about?

It turns out that If this plant is the result of a cross between two pure species, and belongs to the first generation (F1), we will see that it produces fruits with seeds normally. A clear example would be the Washingtonia “Filibusta”, which is a natural hybrid of the Robust Washingtonia and the Washingtonia will spin.

But, if we want to multiply by seeds the cultivars of, for example, Lilium, such as Lilium ‘Stargazer’ we will not be able to do it, since they can only be multiplied by separating the bulbs.

Another example of crops that do not produce viable seeds are all those that have been genetically modified by some technologies.like the GURT, which is the English acronym for Group of Use Restriction Technologies. These are colloquially called Terminator Technology, and in fact numerous groups (farmers, environmentalists, indigenous tribes and even some governments) oppose it for its important and serious drawbacks, which are:

  • Cannot save seeds for new crops. That is to say, the farmer is forced to buy new ones each season, since those produced by these plants will not germinate, with one exception: that they are seeds of the T-GURT type (the first ones are of the V-GURT type) which to germinate they need an ‘activator’ to be able to sprout.
  • It is impossible to save money on seeds. And also, if you want to have the same harvest each season, you will depend on companies that are dedicated to modifying seeds through technology.

What is the economic importance of a cultivar?

A cultivar is a genetically modified plantA cultivar is a genetically modified plant.

Prunus lannesiana cv. Kawazu-zakura // Image – Wikimedia Commons / Σ6

Cultivars are made and recorded for commercial purposes. As we mentioned at the beginning, the objective is to improve one or more characteristics, and to ensure that they are maintained over time, for what? To generate sales of course, and the more the better.

But also, it must be taken into account that the use of the cultivar has legal effects. In other words, the name cannot be registered as a trademark, and both the brand name and the cultivar name must be registered at the same time. Once patented, the company has the exclusive right to market it for 20-25 years.

Do they have to receive special care?

Usually not. A cultivar really has to be cared for in the same way as a hybrid or even a pure species. Now, if it had variegated leaves for example, it would be highly recommended to protect it from the sun since these plants do not usually support direct sunlight as they have less chlorophyll (green pigment, essential for photosynthesis to take place).

What did you think of this topic about cultivars?

What is a cultivar and what is its importance?

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