The choice of varieties among medicinal plant species is relatively small, compared to other horticultural crops. In Hungary, only poppy (Papaver somniferum) and mustard (Sinapis alba) have several cultivars. Recognising the problem, in the recent years breeding activity has been intensified all over the world, in spite of financial, technical and legal difficulties. The article reports on the results of breeding at the Department of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of the Szent István University, 11 varieties of which has been officially registered till 2000. Main goals of genetic improvement are: increasing of the production capacity of utilised plant organs, enhancement of active material accumulation capacity, improvement of sensory quality and technological properties. The most often applied methods are selection, and recently, cross breeding, the results of which can be measured on new materials of caraway (Carum carvi), hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), marjoram (Majorana hortensis), poppy (Papaver somniferum), etc. Efficacy of breeding work is established by additional, regular research on the genetics, physiology, floral and reproductive biology, chemosyndromes of medicinal plant species.
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