In a news conference today three of the countries largest growers of ornamental plants jointly announced the release of a new species and cultivar of Magnolia. Bailey Nurseries, Ball Ornamentals and Monrovia are pleased to reveal the results of several years of breeding done in greenhouses and tissue culture labs around the world. This small landscape tree is the first in the Dead Presidents ® series of plants, and is the product of several generations of genetic work with Magnolia grandiflora, five spots and tenners. Named Magnolia moola ‘Greenbacks,’ this small tree is the first plant to produce currency as well as fragrant flowers and cooling shade.
“It took several years to get the perfect combination of the genetics from fives and tens that would reliably produce twenties,” Dr. Michael Dirr, noted horticulturalist and woody plant expert revealed. “In general, currency and members of the Magnoliaceae family tend to be genetically unstable when gene spliced. For many generations of plants we only saw single dollar bill foliage, and most of these were so highly variegated that they’d be useless in convenience stores and vending machines.”
“For several years the early seedlings just didn’t thrive once the plants were taken from the sterile cloning medium and into the landscape,” says Ryan McEnaney, spokesman from Bailey Nurseries. “But then one of our growers hit on the idea of using dirty money in the original cross splicing, and the plants thrived from then on!”
McEnaney reports that work is currently being done to develop other cultivars for the Dead Presidents ® line of trees. “We’ve been very encouraged about the performance of Magnolia moola ‘Yards,’ which produces hundreds,” he says, “and over at Ball Ornamental and Monrovia they’ve seen M. moola ‘Grand’ doing quite well in early trials.” McEnaney doesn’t want to be overly optimistic, but he says that the horticulturalists at Bailey are also working on a blue-flowering hydrangea that leafs out with ten dollar bills. If this shrub proves to be garden worthy, it will be called Endless Sawbucks™.
When we asked Marcia Chapman, at Soares Flower Garden Nursery in East Falmouth, if she thought this plant would appeal to home landscapers, she was positive. “In general my customers don’t want GMO plants in their gardens,” she said, “but I have a sneaking suspicion that this won’t matter when it comes to these Magnolias.”