The National Arboretum Is 16-Time Gold Medal Winner

A flowering crabapple called Adirondack, introduced by the U.S. National Arboretum, has won a top award from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Adirondack was awarded the society’s 2002 Gold Medal Plant Award. It’s the latest of 16 Gold Medal winners introduced by the 446-acre arboretum over the years.

Pennsylvania nurseryman J. Franklin Styer began the award program in that state in 1978 to alert homeowners to superior new woody plants that they might otherwise overlook. Since then, similar programs have spread to many states, with Georgia being one of the first.

Adirondack is a near-perfect crabapple. It’s a narrow, upright tree that eventually reaches 18 to 20 feet, with excellent disease resistance and abundant white flowers in spring. The fruits are small, orange-red and persist into late autumn.

The late arboretum scientist Don Egolf developed most of the 16 winners, including Adirondack, five viburnum varieties, and six crape myrtles. Egolf began the arboretum’s crape myrtle program in 1959. He also developed Chickasaw and Pocomoke, two recent introductions and the first and second, respectively, in a new series of miniature hybrid crape myrtles. Other recent arboretum introductions include two disease-tolerant American elm trees, Valley Forge and New Harmony; the Betsy Ross lilac; and two new red maples, New World and Red Rocket.

Arboretum researchers are also developing new hemlock, alder and hackberry varieties. The arboretum, based in Washington, D.C., is operated by the Agricultural Research Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency.

Source: Don Comis, USDA--ARS

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