NZPPI has received further funding from Auckland Council to extend its investigations into identifying low fertility ornamental cultivars of the Japanese flowering cherry (Prunus serrulata). 

Japanese flowering cherries were due to be banned from sale in the Auckland region from this Friday (September 1st) under the Auckland Council Regional Pest Management Plan.

However, last year NZPPI successfully advocated for the exemption of Prunus Kanzan and Shimidsu Sakura from the plan because the two cultivars were proven to be sterile. This proof was the result of a joint research project between NZPPI, Plant & Food Research, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research scientists, and Hamilton City Council. Several other cultivars were given temporary exemptions while further research was undertaken. These are P.Ukon, Shirotae, Amanogawa, Tai Haku and Kiku Shidare Sakura.

With this latest funding, NZPPI can continue the research work. The next step is the hand cross-pollination of these five cultivars with the wild-type pollen found across Auckland to assess female fertility. For those that set seed, germination trials will follow, using a cold stratification regime appropriate for a cold site in Auckland.

Flowering cherries are a popular street tree in urban subdivisions and developments, as well as home gardens. NZPPI hopes the research commissioning will ensure the trees can continue to be cultivated and sold in the Auckland region. 

For more information:
New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated