Biology: what is a cultivar?

Horticulture can lead the amateur to self-tutoring. The tutor discusses the idea of a cultivar.

Cultivar literally means “cultivated variety.”1 In my mind it refers to a plant commonly grown, that you, also, can buy and grow, either as seed or already a plant.

A cultivar may be grown for fruit, beauty or other benefit. However, offspring from its seeds may – but may not – emulate its own qualities. Similarly, the cultivar may not reflect its parents’ traits. It may have been chosen and propagated specifically because, in some desirable way, it broke from its parents’ characteristics.

Seedless grapes or oranges might be examples of cultivars. Apparently, the tree that produces seedless oranges cannot self-propagate by pollination. Perhaps it can be reproduced by cuttings; another option might be grafting. However it’s propagated, the seedless orange tree is cultivated – hence, a cultivar.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

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