|MadSci Network: Botany|
Apparently not if some discretion is used and any obviously inferior plants that occasionally appear in the cloned population due to mutation are rogued out. In fact, some clones, such as 'Red Delicious' apple will occasionally produce mutant branches (called sporting) that can give rise to new and superior cultivars. Many fruit tree, rose, and flower bulb clones are well over 100 years old. I'm not sure which plant is the oldest clone in cultivation. Several fruit cultivars from the 1600s still exist. The 'Barlett' pear is said to have originated in 1765 under the name 'Williams' Bon Chretien' but some think that the 'Barlett' pear may have even originated before 1600. Tulips 'Zomerschoon' and 'Duc van Tol' supposedly date back to 1620. According to Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest wild plant clone is the triploid kings lomatia or kings holly (Lomatia tasmanica) at 43,600 years. It is not known for sure if the plant has remained genetically identical all those years but a 43,600 year old fossil leaf appears identical to living specimens. Quaking aspen clones are thought have survived over one million years (Mitton and Grant, 1996). References Apple Sports Concerning Trees and their Fruit THE HISTORY OF BARTLETTS Tulips 'Zomerschoon' and 'Duc van Tol' Kings lomatia (Lomatia tasmanica) Mitton, J.B. and Grant, M.C. 1996. Genetic variation and natural history of quaking aspen. BioScience 46:25-31.
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