any fast-growing plants

Hortus hortus at
Tue Apr 15 19:47:51 EST 1997

Library Patron wrote:
> does anyone know of any fast-growing plants that can be used for a
> hormone experiment?

What you are looking for are Wisconsin Fast Plants.
The seeds are sold by Carolina Scientific

go to


Further Information:
Where Did Fast Plants Come From? 

The Making of Wisconsin Fast Plants 

The life cycle of a plant begins and ends with a seed. For a
yellow-flowered plant, whose scientific name is
Brassica rapa, this happens in just five weeks. This plant is a variant
of wild mustard and completes its life cycle
in one fifth the time of its ancestors. It has been selectively bred by
Dr. Paul H. Williams, University of
Wisconsin-Madison Professor of Plant Pathology. 

Dr. Williams had been working to improve the disease resistance of
plants in the family Cruciferae, a large diverse
group that includes mustards, radishes, cabbages and other cole crops.
In order to speed up the genetic research
in the crucifers, he spent almost 20 years breeding Brassica rapa  and
six related species from the subgroup or
tribe Brassicaceae. The end result was a genetic line of small,
prolific, rapid-cycling brassicas. These plants, now
known as "Wisconsin Fast Plants," are a valuable tool that helps to
shorten traditional breeding programs and
aid in cellular and molecular research. Additionally, the Fast Plants
have become extremely useful as a teaching
tool in the classroom since all aspects of plant growth and development
can be easily demonstrated. 

Dr. Williams refined the rapid-cycling brassicas to have characteristics
most suitable for laboratory and
classroom use. He kept selecting seed from stock that met the following

       shortest time from seeding to flowering 
       ability to produce seed at high plant density 
       petite plant type 
       rapid seed maturation 
       absence of seed dormancy 
       ability to grow under continuous fluorescent lighting 
       ability to grow well in a potting mix 

After about 15 years of planting, growing and selecting, his breeding
process had reduced a six month life cycle
to five weeks. Further breeding produced relative uniformity in
flowering time, size and growing conditions and
yet the Fast Plants retained much variety. Over 150 genetically
controlled traits have been recorded and can be
useful in experiments. 

The educational potential for students, kindergarten through college
level, to learn more about plant biology
through "hands-on" explorations with Fast Plants in the classroom led to
the development of the Wisconsin Fast
Plant kits. 

With support from the Educational Materials Development Program of the
National Science Foundation, seed
stocks and growing systems were especially designed for a wide range of
learning activities. This manual
enables teachers of varying backgrounds to easily use Fast Plants with
their students and addresses these broad
educational goals: 1) teaching basic concepts of biology; 2) stimulating
inquiry and problem solving and 3)
bringing new excitement into the classroom.

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