New shrub discovered at TTU released

A new shrub well suited to a variety of landscape uses was recently released to nurseries thanks to Tennessee Tech University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Center.

The 'Duet' Beautyberry, with variegated foliage of medium green with distinct yellow margins, was selected in 2000 at Tennessee Tech by Gary Bachman and Edgar Davis. It was then tested and released by Sandra Reed, an employee of the U.S. National Arboretum stationed at the Tennessee State University Nursery Research Center in McMinnville.

"This mutant variegated pattern was first noticed at Tennessee Tech and cuttings were given to us for testing," said Reed. "The U.S. National Arboretum has a long history of developing woody, ornamental plants, and we have a mechanism in place to have plants evaluated by industry."

'Duet' was tested by 32 evaluators across the country for its commercial merit, cold hardiness range, cold and heat tolerance, disease and insect resistance and invasiveness.

'Duet,' which is suited for use as a background plant in a shrub border, a specimen plant, a deciduous hedge or screen, or a mass planted in larger areas, is disease and insect tolerant, making it ideal for a low maintenance landscape. The small, rounded shrub produces clusters of small, white fruit in late summer.

Nurseries are now being allowed to start propagating the plant and selling it at the wholesale level. Reed says she expects 'Duet' to be available by retail in the next couple of years.

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