Hybrid Alums Hall of Fame

Intro | Mum Forms | Hall of Fame | Historic Photos | Exhibit Photos

1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s | 2020s

Hybrids result from cross-breeding two genetically different plants. Hybridization procedures used by Smith horticulture students involve hand pollination of the chrysanthemums. Two plants are selected for desirable characteristics; one is designated as the seed parent and the other chosen to be the pollen parent. To prevent self-pollination in the seed parent, the disk flowers are removed because they contain both male and female reproductive structures. The ray flowers are left intact since they only have female flower parts. Pollen from the anthers of the pollen parent is then applied directly to the stigma of the seed parent. This can be done with the anther itself or using a paintbrush. To prevent subsequent contamination from other pollen, the flowers are enclosed in glassine bags. The plants are then grown until seed can be collected and sown. These new chrysanthemum hybrids flower the next year.
Historically, the annual Smith College Chrysanthemum Show displayed mum hybrids bred by students in the horticulture class. Students crossed mums in the collection, creating new flower forms. Visitors voted each year for their favorites.

To preserve this history, the Botanic Garden has developed the Chrysanthemum Hall of Fame, a photo album of winning mums and their creators. Breeding experiments still continue, and students' hybrids are grown and featured in the show.

Many thanks to the Smith College Archives and the Registrar's office for their help in tracking down students and the history of the mum show. This gathering of known student breeders and their chrysanthemums is now the foundation of a permanent record that will be enlarged and continued.


Newspaper article about student Martha Mercaldi and her hybridization project