Term of Award

Winter 1997

Degree Name

Master of Science

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Department of Biology

Committee Chair

John E. Averett

Committee Member 1

Donald J. Drapalik

Committee Member 2

C. Ray Chandler

Committee Member 3

George A. Rogers

Abstract

Attempts were made to propagate five species in the family Hamamelidaceae by softwood cuttings or seeds. Local populations of witch-hazel Hamamelis virginiana L. and sweetgum Liquidambar styraciflua L. supplied cuttings and seeds of these native American species. Cultivated plants of dwarf witch-alder Fothergilla gardenii Murray were used initially for cuttings. Later, three native populations of this species were located and cuttings were obtained from them. Also, for seed propagation studies, seeds of F. gardenii were obtained from the North Carolina Botanical Garden and seeds were obtained from cultivated plants of two Asian species, winter hazel Corylopsis sinensis Hemsley and Chinese fringe tree Lompetalum chinense (R. Brown) Oliver.

The techniques used were those that could be used by the average amateur gardener. This was done to encourage other amateur gardeners to propagate the native plants of the coastal plain in order to conserve native species and to promote species diversity in landscaping. A comparative study using professional horticultural techniques for softwood cuttings was done for H. virginiana since it is known to be difficult to propagate.

Seed germination results using a combination of warm and cold stratification in a single growing season (1 yr) were: C. sinensis - 100%, H. virginiana - 77%, Li. styraciflua - 1.7%, and Lo. chinense- 52%. Limited rooting was obtained with native Fothergilla (8.3%) and Liquidambar (8.3%) cuttings, but all cuttings of cultivated F. gardenii failed to survive the winter or died in the summer heat. No rooted cuttings obtained from H. virginiana survived the winter although cuttings were taken intermittently from April through August.

Cuttings of Liquidambar were treated with a slurry made from soil collected around the roots of existing plants to supply mycorrhizal fungi. These cuttings thrived after rooting even during the summer heat. Further work is needed to confirm results, but it appears that the native species of this family, all of which lack root hairs, may require mycorrhizal fungi in order to obtain sufficient water and nutrients to thrive after production of adventitious roots or after seedlings are established.

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