Tom Molnar will provide an overview of the Rutgers University dogwood breeding program from its start in the late 1960s to today including the development of “hybrid” dogwoods by plant breeder Dr. Elwin Orton to the new color breakthrough yielding the dark pink Cornus kousa ‘Rutpink’ Scarlet Fire® dogwood. He will also provide a glimpse at exciting plants now in the development pipeline.
Tom Molnar is an Associate Professor in the Plant Biology Department at Rutgers University. He obtained his PhD from Rutgers in 2006, and today is responsible for the Rutgers’ program dedicated to research and breeding of hazelnuts and woody ornamental landscape plants. The woody ornamental program is primarily focused on dogwoods including Cornus kousa and Cornus florida and their hybrids, and builds upon decades of previous work at Rutgers started by Dr. Elwin Orton in the 1960s. Tom’s new kousa dogwood cultivar, Scarlet Fire®, exemplifies the programs’ goals to develop and release attractive, high-value plants that incorporate disease resistance, wide-adaptation, and unique colors that are of interest to homeowners and the nursery and landscape industry in New Jersey and beyond.