NDSU’s Woody Plant Breeding Program Releases New Tree Selection

DEVILS LAKE – Hyland Guard Mountain Pine (Pinus uncinata ‘GuarDak’) is the latest woody plant selection introduced by the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station and the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Research Foundation. It is a unique, cold-hardy, narrow, pyramidal evergreen conifer that will reach a higher mature height than currently available mugo pine (Pinus mugo) cultivars.

The germplasm for this version began in 1972, exactly 50 years ago, with a single selection of seedlings from a population of Pinus uncinata collected from the Hrubý Jeseník mountain range of the Eastern Sudetes in the northern region of Moravia. near the village of Rejvíz in the Czech Republic. This region consists mainly of native spruce and mountain pine. The seeds were acquired in the fall of 1971 from the University of Agriculture and Forestry Mendel (Brno, Czech Republic) and were collected from a single mature tree growing at the arboretum in Nový Dvůr (Oslava, Czech Republic ). The original tree was 8 meters (about 26 feet) tall. This accession has been designated at NDSU as TS72212.

The rated tree grew for 49 years at the NDSU Dale E. Herman Research Arboretum to a mature height of 8 meters with a canopy spread of 1.8 meters. This is a cold-hardy selection of Pinus uncinata that survived without damage in USDA climate zone 3b at -37 degrees Celsius. This selection is a two-needle pine with a forest green needle color and is not considered disorderly with regard to cone loss because the seed cones are quite small, 30 by 40 millimeters.

Nursery production trials at Oregon Pride Nursery in the USA have shown that Hyland Guard grafted plants are upright with a soft forest green needle color without winter burn. Propagation is by lateral grafting on erect seedlings of Pinus mugo or other compatible pine species.

About the NDSU Woody Plant Breeding Program

Hyland Guard Mountain Pine is the 61st woody plant release of the NDSU Woody Plant Breeding Program led by NDSU Professor Todd West. The program has served the Northern Great Plains for more than 65 years, beginning germplasm trial evaluations in 1954. In 1974, NDSU purchased 80 acres near Absaraka, North Dakota, and established the farm NDSU Horticultural Research Center. Trial plantings began immediately this fall. This research farm provides ideal horticultural soil for evaluation and breeding projects for North Dakota. Approximately 45 acres of the farm are used for the evaluation, selection and breeding of woody ornamentals.

The central part of the research farm is a 35-acre parcel known as the Dale E. Herman Research Arboretum. Named after NDSU Professor Emeritus Dale E. Herman, who developed the program for nearly 40 years, the Research Arboretum is the largest collection of woody ornamentals in North Dakota and the northern Great Plains. It is a valuable resource for teaching, research and educational use.

NDSU woody plant introductions are currently propagated for sale by commercial wholesalers in Australia, Canada, England and 35 nurseries in 14 of the United States. This project introduced 61 superior woody plants for production and sale with increased disease tolerance and winter hardiness for landscapes. The program’s first introduction in 1986 was a flower bud-resistant Forsythia hybrid, ‘Meadowlark’, which was a collaborative version with South Dakota State University, Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum and the Station of US Department of Agriculture North-Central Regional Plant Introduction.

In 2012, several breeding programs were launched, focusing on the hybridization of magnolia, lilac, maple and the mutagenic selection of several shrub species. NDSU’s Woody Plant Breeding Program also serves as the northern site for the American Rose Trials for Sustainability (ARTS), launched in the spring of 2014.

The objectives of the NDSU Woody Plant Improvement Program are the selection, evaluation, and introduction of hardy superior woody plants for the landscaping industry.

Ryan H. Bowman