Backgrounder/Fact Sheet

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Backgrounder/Fact Sheet

Media Contact:

Barb DeGroot


mailing address: 3675 Arboretum drive, Chaska, MN 55318  Telephone: 952-443-1400  Website:

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Horticultural Research Center


In 1908, the University of Minnesota created the Fruit Breeding Farm on 80 acres near Victoria, Minn., for the purpose of developing hardy apple trees for our northern climate. Each year thousands of trees were judged and eliminated if they did not meet strict standards. Hardiness, disease resistance, flavor, texture, size, appearance, storability, and productivity are traits by which apple trees are still evaluated. The excess of research apples continues to be sold to the public each fall to help support research efforts.

Among the apple varieties that have been named and released are ‘Fireside,’ ‘Haralson,’ ‘Honeygold,’ and more recently ‘Honeycrisp’ and ‘Zestar!.’ Over the years, more than 98 fruit introductions have been made, including apricots, cherries, cherry-plums, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, and strawberries. Wine and table grapes and new hybrid blueberries such as ‘Polaris’ are recent introductions.
In 1967, the Fruit Breeding Farm was renamed the Horticultural Research Center (HRC) to reflect the increased diversity on 230 acres. Additional activities include the breeding of landscape plants, including ornamental grasses, plant cold-hardiness research and restoration ecology research. Thirty-nine new trees and shrubs have been introduced, including the ‘Lights’ azalea series, ‘Northwood’ maple, and ‘Northern Sun’ forsythia. The wetland ecology project started the successful Spring Peeper Meadow wetland restoration project in 1995 and uses Arboretum wetlands and former wild-rice research paddies for innovative research.
In 1985, the HRC was administratively merged with the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (located 1 mile to the east of the research center). The combined unit continues to remain an important research arm of the Department of Horticultural Science at the University.
Fruit Breeding Program

Dr. Jim Luby currently directs the fruit-breeding program at the HRC, which is actively breeding apples, blueberries, grapes and strawberries, plus a selection of other species. New blueberry cultivars from the program led to the development of new commercial plantings in Minnesota and other parts of the country with similar cold climates. The apple cultivar ‘Honeycrisp’ combines cold hardiness with outstanding fruit quality and has been in strong demand at licensed nurseries across the country and is increasingly attracting international interest. The grape research program has been pivotal in expanding the local wine industry with introductions such as the ‘Frontenac’ red wine grape, which is now the most commonly grown grape in Minnesota.

Plant Breeding Program

The woody landscape plant-breeding program is based at the Arboretum and is headed by Dr. Stan Hokanson. Current research includes breeding cold hardy, disease resistant deciduous azaleas and shrub roses, development of improved shade trees and small-scale shade tolerant trees, and the development of new woody landscape plants derived from plant material native to the upper Midwestern United States.

The Horticultural Research Center is located 1 mile west of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum on Hwy. 5 in Chanhassen.

Fruit Cultivar Introductions Developed at the

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Horticultural Research Center

Malus Apple

‘Minnehaha’ 1920

‘Folwell’ 1922

‘Wedge’ 1922

‘Haralson’ 1923 winter, tart, culinary

‘Beacon’ 1936 early fall, hardy, red

‘Prairie Spy 1940 winter, culinary

‘Minjon’ 1942 fall culinary, red

‘Victory’ 1943 fall, tart, juicy

‘Fireside’ 1943 winter, sweet

‘Redwell’ 1946 late fall, hardy, red

‘Oriole’ 1949 summer, striped, tart

‘Lakeland’ 1950 fall, culinary

‘Regent’ 1964 winter, red, high-quality eating

‘Honeygold’ 1969 late fall, sweet, crisp, yellow

‘Red Baron’ 1969 fall, red sweet

‘State Fair’ 1978 early fall, red, tart

‘Sweet Sixteen’ 1978 fall, sweet, unusual flavor

‘Keepsake’ 1979 winter, long storage life

‘Honeycrisp’ 1991 fall, crisp, juicy, well-balanced, good storage

‘Zestar!’ 1998 early fall, excellent flavor

‘Chestnut’ 1946 fall, excellent flavor, dense texture

‘Northland’ 1957

‘Centennial’ 1957 early fall, hardy, good flavor

Prunus Apricot

‘Moongold’ 1960 hardy, golden yellow

‘Sungold’ 1960 hardy, yellow with red blush
Vaccinium Blueberry

‘Northblue’ 1983 hardy, half-high habit, large fruit,

high yield

‘Northsky’ 1983 hardy, low-growing habit

‘Northcountry’ 1986 medium-low growing, excellent


‘St. Cloud’ 1990 moderately high habit, good yield

‘Chippewa’ 1996 hardy, half-high with sweet berries

‘Polaris’ 1996 half-high with highly aromatic

firm berries; bright orange-red foliage in fall

Prunus Cherry

‘Orient’ 1949

‘Northstar’ 1950 hardy, semi-dwarf, pie cherry

‘Meteor’ 1952 hardy, pie cherry

Prunus Cherry-Plum

‘Zumbra’ 1920

‘St. Anthony’ 1923

‘Nicollet’ 1925

‘Deep Purple’ 1965 deep purple color
Ribes Currant

‘Red Lake’ 1933 large cluster of medium fruit, red

‘Cascade’ 1942
Ribes Gooseberry

‘Como’ 1922

‘Welcome’ 1957 large fruit

‘Manitou’ 1923

Vitis Grape

‘Red Amber’ 1944

‘Moonbeam’ 1944

‘Blue Jay’ 1944

‘Bluebell’ 1944 hardy, early maturing, juice grape

‘Swenson Red’ 1978 red table grape

‘Edelwiess’ 1978 white table grape, disease resistant

‘Frontenac’ 1995 red wine grape

‘La Crescent’ 2001 excellent white wine grape

‘Frontenac gris’ 2004 white mutation of Frontenac. Disease

resistant, white wine with peach flavor.
Pyrus Pear

‘Parker’ 1934 large fruit, good quality

‘Bantam’ 1940

‘Golden Spice’ 1949

‘Summercrisp’ 1987 early, medium-size fruit, crisp skin
Prunus Plum

‘Elliot’ 1920

‘Monitor’ 1920

‘Red Wing’ 1920

‘Tonka’ 1920

‘Underwood’ 1920 early ripening, good flavor

‘Anoka’ 1922

‘Mound’ 1922

‘Winona’ 1922

‘Goldenrod’ 1923

‘Hennepin’ 1923

‘La Crescent’ 1923 yellow plum, sweet, tender skin

‘Waconia’ 1923

‘Newport’ 1923

‘Mendota’ 1924

‘Radisson’ 1925

‘Superior’ 1933 large fruit, very productive

‘Ember’ 1936

‘Redcoat’ 1942

‘Pipestone’ 1942 large red fruit, juicy

‘Redglow’ 1949

‘South Dakota’ 1949 seedling of native P.americana

‘Alderman’ 1986 large fruit, firm skin
Rubus Raspberry

‘Latham’ 1920 large fruit, productive, red variety

‘Chief’ 1930

‘Itasca’ 1965

‘Redwing’ 1986 fall bearing, productive

‘Nordic’ 1987 hardy, productive

Fragaria Strawberry

‘Minnehaha’ 1920 June bearing

‘Minnesota’ 1920 June bearing

‘Duluth’ 1920 Everbearing

‘Chaska’ 1922 June bearing

‘Easypicker’ 1922 June bearing

‘Nokomis’ 1922 June bearing

‘Deephaven’ 1922 Everbearing

‘Burgundy’ 1943 June bearing

‘Evermore’ 1945 Everbearing

‘Arrowhead’ 1946 June bearing

‘Earlimore’ 1958 June bearing

‘Trumpeter’ 1960 June bearing, hardy

‘Northland’ 1982 June bearing, hardy, developed for zone 3

‘Mesabi’ 1996 June bearing

‘Winona’ 1996 late June, large, flavorful, disease-resistant

Landscape Plant Cultivar Introductions Developed at the

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Horticultural Research Center

Rhododendron Azalea

‘Northern Lights’ 1978 hardy, pink flower, variable

‘Pink Lights’ 1984 hardy, light pink

‘Rosy Lights’ 1984 hardy, rosy pink

‘White Lights’ 1984 white

‘Spicy Lights’ 1987 Cinnamon orange

‘Apricot Surprise’ 1987 light orange

‘Golden Lights’ 1986 golden

‘Orchid Lights’ 1986 lavender

‘Lemon Lights’ 1996 lemon yellow flowers

‘Mandarin Lights’ 1996 introduction, bright orange

‘Northern Hi-Lights’ 1994 bi-colored, creamy-white, yellow upper petals

‘Tri-Lights’ 2002 marbled pink and white flowers with yellow blotch

‘Lilac Lights’ 2002 medium pinkish-purple, dark speckles upper petals

‘Candy Lights’ 2002 clear light pink, pale yellow streaks upper petals

Prunus ‘Newport’ ornamental plum 1923 purplish-red leaves, flowering

Cornus sericea ‘Isanti’ dogwood 1971 compact form

Forsythia ‘Northern Sun’ 1982

Cornus sericea ‘Cardinal’ dogwood 1986

Lonicera ‘Freedom’ honeysuckle 1986

Prunus nigra ‘Princess Kay’

ornamental plum 1986 flowering

Viburnum ‘Emerald Triumph’ 1994

Exochorda serratifolia ‘Northern Pearls’

pearlbush 1995

Lonciera ‘Honey Rose’ honeysuckle 1996

Cornus hessei ‘Garden Glow’ 2002

Pinus banksiana ‘Uncle Fogey’ jack pine 1971 prostrate, drooping habit

Acer rubrum ‘Northwood’ red maple 1980

Aesculus ‘Autumn Splendor’ buckeye 1980 red fall color

Acer rubrum ‘Autumn Spire’ red maple 1992

Cercis canadensis ‘Northland Strain’ redbud 1992

Gymnocladus dioica ‘Stately Manor’

Kentucky Coffee Tree 1996 male, upright

Phellodendron ‘His Majesty’ cork tree 1996 male selection

Pinus resinosa ‘Wissota’ dwarf red pine 1996

Maackia amurensis ‘Summertime’ 2002

Sorbus ‘Patio Pride’ 2002

Acer X Freemanii ‘Firefall’ 2002
Flowering Crabapple Trees

Malus ‘Flame’ 1934 pink flower buds, white flowers, bright red fruit

Malus ‘Sparkler’ 1945

Malus ‘Radiant’ 1957 red flower buds, deep pink flowers, bright red fruit

Malus ‘Vanguard’ 1963 bright rosy pink flowers, red fruit

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