Interview with Kylie Bucalo, Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Research Assistant 

February 20, 2018

We sat down with Kylie Bucalo, PRE screener and Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Research Assistant, to talk about her work with PRE and the 2017 Farm Bill.

PlantRight: What would you like the regional horticulture community to know about your PRE work, and why is this important?

Kylie Bucalo: That PRE can be a tool to use when considering new cultivars and species for production or large scale planting. As a Botanic Garden we hold a level of responsibility when it comes to our display gardens. We need to carefully plan and assess what is put into these areas, as we know visitors look towards institutions such as ours for horticultural knowledge, trends and ideas.  Similarly, commercial horticulture holds some of the same responsibilities to their customers, and their local community.  As a “first point of access” for many home gardeners the nursery and horticulture industry has an onus to provide sound, relevant, high quality material.  Involving PRE in their decision making process may increase their knowledge about the species and cultivars they choose to produce and sell, and meet requirements for due diligence during early phases of evaluating material for production.


Click image to view evaluation PDF of Nandina domestica ‘Firepower’ — Image by University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Click image to view evaluation PDF of Ligustrum sinense ‘Sunshine’ — Image by Brighter Blooms

PlantRight: If you could pick 1 PRE evaluation to illustrate the above, what would it be and why? 

Kylie Bucalo: How about two? Nandina domestica ‘Firepower’ and Ligustrum sinense ‘Sunshine’.  

Both of these evaluations show how using PRE on a regional scale can prevent the selling and production of a very invasive parent species, and instead provide a choice of a less potentially invasive sterile cultivar. PRE cultivar screening can also direct the industry to areas where further research or trials are needed to assess fitness and fecundity of said cultivars.  




PlantRight: Have you and your team found anything particularly meaningful about this project?

Kylie Bucalo: That each evaluation is regionally focused. I think it is important for audiences to understand that each evaluation was done by skilled individuals for a particular state that they are familiar with. These people were chosen for their ability to obviously research well, but also because they either are themselves or have access to people who are intimately involved in industry/plant conservation/plant production within that state. Each evaluator AND the organization they supported has a deep interest and passion in finding the best way to evaluate a species or cultivar for its potential to be invasive as it directly impacts the work they do every day, and impacts the region that they work and live in. 

Atlanta Botanical Garden