Cultivar – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Horticultural Terms Glossary

What is a cultivar?

A cultivar is a cultivated variety of a plant that has been selected and bred by humans for specific desirable traits. These traits can include characteristics such as color, size, taste, disease resistance, and overall performance. Cultivars are often developed through selective breeding or hybridization to create plants that exhibit unique qualities not found in their wild counterparts.

How are cultivars different from species?

While species refer to groups of organisms that can interbreed and produce fertile offspring, cultivars are specific varieties within a species that have been intentionally bred for certain traits. Cultivars are not naturally occurring in the wild and are the result of human intervention through selective breeding or hybridization. Cultivars can vary widely within a species, showcasing a range of characteristics that make them distinct from other varieties.

What are the characteristics of a cultivar?

Cultivars can exhibit a wide range of characteristics that set them apart from other varieties within a species. These characteristics can include unique color patterns, flower shapes, fruit sizes, growth habits, disease resistance, and overall performance in different growing conditions. Cultivars are often selected for their ornamental value, productivity, flavor, or adaptability to specific climates or soil types. These traits make cultivars popular choices for gardeners, farmers, and landscapers looking to enhance their landscapes or improve crop yields.

How are cultivars developed?

Cultivars are typically developed through a process of selective breeding or hybridization. Selective breeding involves choosing plants with desirable traits and crossing them to produce offspring with those same traits. This process is repeated over several generations to stabilize the desired characteristics in the resulting cultivar. Hybridization involves crossing two different plant species or varieties to create a new cultivar with a combination of traits from both parents. Both methods require careful selection, observation, and testing to ensure that the resulting cultivar meets the desired criteria.

What are some examples of popular cultivars?

There are countless cultivars available for a wide range of plant species, each with its own unique characteristics and qualities. Some popular cultivars include:

– ‘Big Boy’ tomato: A popular cultivar known for its large, meaty fruits and excellent flavor.
– ‘Knock Out’ rose: A disease-resistant cultivar with continuous blooms and easy care.
– ‘Honeycrisp’ apple: A crisp and juicy cultivar known for its sweet flavor and long shelf life.
– ‘Blue Lake’ green bean: A high-yielding cultivar with tender pods and a classic green bean flavor.
– ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangea: A reblooming cultivar that produces flowers throughout the summer months.

These are just a few examples of the many cultivars available to gardeners and growers looking to add diversity and unique traits to their landscapes.

How are cultivars named?

Cultivars are typically named using a specific system that includes the genus, species, and cultivar name. The cultivar name is often written in single quotes and can be descriptive of the plant’s characteristics, the breeder’s name, or the location where it was developed. For example, the cultivar ‘Big Boy’ tomato is named for its large fruit size, while the cultivar ‘Knock Out’ rose is named for its disease-resistant qualities. Naming conventions for cultivars are standardized to ensure clarity and consistency in the identification and classification of plant varieties.