Numerous cultivars of Japanese flowering cherry (Prunus subgenus Cerasus) are recognized, but in many cases they are difficult to distinguish morphologically. Therefore, we evaluated the clonal status of 215 designated cultivars using 17 SSR markers. More than half the cultivars were morphologically distinct and had unique genotypes. However, 22 cultivars were found to consist of multiple clones, which probably originate from the chance seedlings, suggesting that their unique characteristics have not been maintained through propagation by grafting alone. We also identified 23 groups consisting of two or more cultivars with identical genotypes. Most members of these groups were putatively synonymously related and morphologically identical. However, some of them were probably derived from bud sport mutants and had distinct morphologies. SSR marker analysis provided useful insights into the clonal status of the examined Japanese flowering cherry cultivars and proved to be a useful tool for cultivar characterization.
2012 by JAPANESE SOCIETY OF BREEDING