Petrokas, R. and Pliūra, A. 2014. Persistence of Progenies of Wild Cherry (Prunus avium L.) at Northern Limit of Natural Distribution Range in Transfer to Lithuania. Baltic Forestry 20(1): 58-69.

The aim of this study was to analyse the possibility of enriching the local population of wild cherry (Prunus avium L.) with introduced material capable to withstand rigorous environmental conditions. Progenies of wild cherry from nine European countries were tested in northern marginal site of species’ distribution range. Persistence of progeny in relation to transfer to new environment refers here to the height loss due to frost damage and to the certain variability among morphological traits. The progenies were evaluated at two and three years of age in the provenance nursery trial in central Lithuania. F-ratios and significance of provenance and block fixed effects, Pearson and Spearman correlation coefficients, Tukey comparison lines for LS-means of provenances were estimated for set of traits: tree height at the end of the vegetation period and in the next spring, tree diameter, tree height to diameter ratio, the diameter of strongest branch or side stem, branch diameter to tree stem diameter ratio, and autumn over-coloration of shoot tips, leaf gland length in relation to petiole width, leaf gland colour.

The analysis of variance of most traits revealed that the effects of provenance, block, and provenance by block interaction were statistically significant and indicates a presence of genetic differences in populations’ general performance and in ecological reaction norms. Very weak correlation between tree height and tree branchiness ratio gives an indication of breeding possibility of fast growing trees while retaining relatively slim branches.

Independent samples t-test and Levene's test for equality of variances approved the relationship between tree morphology parameters and leaf gland characters of survived saplings. Determination of changes in morphology of wild cherry survivors showed that induction of gland pigments is not subjected to stress.

The autumn over-coloration of cherry shoot tips was considered as stress indicator in this study. The more damaged tree tips were in autumn, the less tree height was next spring.

It was found strong and significant correlation between gland number and hardiness zone index at populations' origin locations (r = 0.60, P = 0.03). Positive correlations between the maximum number of glands and hardiness zone index, tree height in spring of 2011 and longitude were moderate but not sufficiently significant.

In general, wild cherry reproductive material from Poland and Austria may be candidates for further testing for the potential introduction of the most fitted populations to Lithuania.

Key words: Prunus avium, wild cherry, introduction, persistence, growth, morphology.