5 March 2020

IPPS SR 45th Annual Meeting Speaker Profile: Dr. Michael Dirr


Dr. Michael Dirr

Dr. Michael Dirr
President, Chestnut Oak Farm
Partner, Premier Introductions, Inc.

Program Details: In Search of the Next Great Tree (For the Southeast)

Fascinating sport...Searching for the next great cultivated tree. The time and expense to breed a new tree introduction is close to prohibitive. Keith warren worked magic over the 40-year career at Schmidt nursery with maple, cherry, snowbell, crabapple, and oak introductions. Drs. Ranney and Werner, NCSU, have contributed mightily to the palette of southeastern trees, especially redbuds. Great breeders/selectors live in the future and, endowed with the sixth sense, develop/discover trees never thought possible. Today, we travel north to south, east to west, in pursuit of the next great tree.

Bio: Bachelor and Master’s, horticulture, the ohio state university; PhD, plant physiology, the University of Massachsetts; Assistant and Associate Professor, University of Illinois; Professor, now Emeritus, the University of Georgia; director of the University’s botanical garden; taught landscape plant taxonomy, propagation, and introductory horticulture; received the major College and University teaching awards; mentored and advised undergraduate, Master's and PhD students; published 50 scientific articles, over 400 popular and trade articles, and 10 books, with the manual of woody landscape plants, 6th edition, the major teaching and nursery reference tome in the US; Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs (2011) includes 3600 photos and textual descriptions; introduced 200 trees and shrubs into commerce with 29 patents granted during the Georgia tenure; received the inventor of the year award from the UGA Research Foundation in 2009; Fellow, National Academy of Inventors, 2015 (first ornamental plant breeder ever inducted); started a plant breeding company (Plant Introductions, Inc.) with two partners in 2006 and sold it to Bailey nursery, St. Paul, MN in 2015 with 61 patented plants; new breeding company, premier plant introductions, initiated 1-1-2020 with same partners; The Tree Book, from Timber Press, was published in May, 2019; currently working on a revision of my 2004 Hydrangeas for American gardens; enjoy noble trees, travel, hiking, gardening and family; life is great!

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