Morphological and morphometric characteristics of Cornelian Сherry (Cornus mas L.) in natural conditions of the Crimean Peninsula
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Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas L.) is a valuable fruit and ornamental plant in the Cornaceae family. This is a promising frost- and drought-resistant crop, undemanding to growing conditions. Fruits and leaves of plants are rich with biologically active substances which allows them to be used in pharmaceutical, food, liquor, and other industries. In the natural non-cultivated communities on the Crimean Peninsula the species is represented by a wide variety of forms that are promising for study from the point of view of botanical and breeding research. There is practically no information in the scientific literature about the characteristics of cornelian cherry for the most common places of its growth on the Crimean Peninsula, regarding the morphobiological features and patterns of development of cornelian cherry plants, which determines the relevance of research. The purpose of this work was to study the intraspecific variability of cornelian cherry plants within natural coenopopulations under varying ecological conditions in the foothill, mountain, and South Coast of the Crimea in order to identify the most promising forms for further breeding research. The results of a three-year study (2017 to 2019) revealed differences in the life form of plants, in the timing of fruit maturation, in the shape and color of the leaf and fruit, and in their metric parameters. Promising forms of plants with the largest fruits (an average weight from 1.65 g to 1.81 g) and a low percentage of endocarp - from 10% to15% (Form 1 - CP I, CP II, CP V, Form 2 a - CP IV) can be recommended for further breeding research.