A blog for the environmental horticulture production community.
New Cultivar of Tung Tree 'Anna Bella'
Tung tree 'Anna Bella' picture with permission from Timothy Rinehart USDA-ARS
I came across this new sterile variety of tung tree (Vernicia fordii) while reading through a USDA-ARS report. The flowers are stunning and thought it might make a great candidate for local niche production. The tung tree is from China and was produced in the Southeast US for the production of tung oil. An oil that has a great property of drying when applied. Non-sterile tung trees are considered a Category II invasive which means they are slow to get started in changing the landscape (as opposed to a Cat I invasive which takes over). Tung trees can grow to 40 foot and have a smooth bark. They are deciduous and poisonous and can cause allergic reactions. The flowers appear first before they set leaves. Specimens have been located in Central and North Florida according to UF's Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/node/31
The cultivar 'Anna Bella' was collected and housed in the germplasm collection at the Thad Cochran Southern Horticulture Research Laboratory in Poplarville, MS. If you were on the International Plant Propagation Society Southern Region Meeting a few years back this was one of the tour stops. There were no records of the cultivar in production so with the efforts of Timothy Rinehart they trialed the plant and released it to the industry. The nice thing about this cultivar (other than the amazing flowers) is that it is sterile and produces no viable fruit. So no need to worry about invasiveness and fruits in the yards.
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