WDC011: Mountain and Southwest Regional Evaluation and Introduction of Native Plants (from wera_temp2161)
- October 01, 2007 to September 30, 2008
- Administrative Advisor(s):
Stephen D. Miller
- NIFA Reps:
Statement of Issue(s) and Justification:Issue(s) and Justification:
Water is one of the most limiting resources for crop production and landscape management. The problem is magnified in the Mountain West and Southwestern region, where recurrent drought cycles, rapid urbanization, unprecedented population growth, and climate change are straining water resources (1). Stakeholders in this region consistently cite yard and garden issues as extremely important, and home and commercial landscape irrigation accounts for the greatest proportion of non-agricultural water use in the Mountain West and Southwestern states (2). Expansion of native-inspired landscapes in urban settings is considered a regional priority. Some Western regional native plants have edible features such as berries or roots, and edible landscaping is part of the existing culture in many areas of the West. Use of regionally adapted native horticultural crops, including edible and ornamental landscape plants, can lower water use and decrease demand for limited water supplies (3). The market for regional native plants is expanding rapidly, and even traditional nurseries and growers are responding to this demand by producing and selling regionally adapted native plants. Some growers have selected and are marketing a limited number of named varieties. The source of these plants varies widely, however, and most native plant species and selected varieties have not been evaluated independently and objectively for their tolerance to landscape conditions or for their adaptation to the varied climates across the region.
The factor that most limits the widespread use of native plants by landscape professionals in Utah (4) and much of the Mountain and Southwest region is lack of plant availability. Unless information is made available from coordinated evaluations of these plants across state borders, demand for Mountain West and Southwest regional native plants will always outpace supply, and use of native plants on a large scale is unlikely to occur. Coordinated evaluations will open up the market so that growers can produce plants on a larger scale and retailers can expand to markets in neighboring states.
Some Western universities have begun limited scale evaluation programs, and these programs have resulted in identification of plants that are adapted to local climatic conditions (5,6). Evaluation of native plants over broad bioregions, and along elevation, latitudinal, and precipitation gradients, was cited as a significant need by Colorado landscape designers in a recent survey (7). A coordinated effort among Mountain West and Southwestern universities will identify those plants capable of wider environmental adaptation, and will facilitate rapid access to information about the adaptability of selected native plant species, benefiting growers, retailers, and ultimately consumers.
As a result of regional collaboration, information on plant species and selections will be packaged for dissemination to producer, landscaper, and consumer audiences in an efficient and consistent manner. The result will be a concerted and collaborative effort to evaluate plants over a climatic range of the Mountain West and Southwestern region, and to open up the market on a regional rather than state-wide basis to improve marketability and availability of selected plants.
- Coordinate the process of evaluating and introducing native plants that show promise for water and resource conservation in nursery crop production, in landscape systems, and for niche horticultural use on a regional basis.
- Collect, share, and disseminate information about heat and drought tolerance, cold-hardiness, ease of production, invasiveness potential, and limits of environmental adaptation of evaluated plants to the scientific community; to growers, retailers, and landscape professionals; and to the public.
Procedures and ActivitiesCandidate native plant species will be identified by collaborators and stakeholders in individual participating states. Plant species that are common to some or all states will be evaluated reciprocally, based on their native origin, across the region. Species unique to a region(s), or selections from those species, will be evaluated at sites in which their horticultural and sustainable qualities are likely to be expressed, and/or where a potential market exists. Plants will be evaluated for at least three years at participating sites in the Mountain and Southwestern region.
Each university evaluation program will be responsible for establishment and maintenance of trial sites, and will reserve the rights and privileges that may accrue from selection and introduction of named varieties. Plant materials will be distributed either in the form of origin-specified seed or as liner plants, along with propagation instructions and recommendations for cultural practices and planting location (e.g., sun vs. shade). Plant characteristics that will be evaluated include heat and drought tolerance, cold-hardiness, ease of production, invasiveness potential, and limits of environmental adaptation. At the discretion of the committee, some plants also may be evaluated for susceptibility to insect or disease damage at some sites.
The coordinating committee will meet annually to distribute candidate plant materials, share results of plant evaluations, and make recommendations for plant use and adaptability. A subgroup of this committee will be established to develop and disseminate propagation, production, and maintenance protocols to the nursery and landscape industry for plants deemed worthy of regional use.
Expected Outcomes and Impacts:
- Coordinated and systematic evaluation and introduction of regional ornamental and edible native plants.
- Consistent message delivered regarding the adaptability and stability of characteristics of selected native plants over the climatic range of the Mountain and Southwestern region.
- Wider market as a result of regional evaluation and dissemination of collective information, leading to greater availability of selected native plants.
- Strengthened industry due to opening of potential new markets and availability to credible information about selected plants.
Project Participation:Include a completed Appendix E form
Information on appropriate use, propagation, production, and maintenance of selected plants will be integrated into appropriate university courses and master gardener programs, and will be made available to the horticulture industries and to the public. Information will be disseminated by individual group members by way of classroom lectures, extension publications, oral presentations at horticulture and industry meetings, and through web resources. Efforts will be made to provide language-appropriate educational opportunities in regions where such issues exist. Results will be reported to the scientific community in the form of peer-reviewed journal articles.
Standard description: ("The recommended Standard Governance for multistate research activities includes the election of a Chair, a Chair-elect, and a Secretary. All officers are to be elected for at least two-year terms to provide continuity. Administrative guidance will be provided by an assigned Administrative Advisor and a CSREES Representative.")
Literature Cited:(1) Western Governors: federal research dollars for climate change should focus more on adaptation. News release by Western Governors' Association, 3 May 2007.
(2) Kjelgren, R., Rupp, L, and D. Kilgren. 2000. Water conservation in urban landscapes. HortScience 35: 1037-1040.
(3) McPherson, E.G. 1990. Modeling residential landscape water and energy use to evaluate water conservation policies. Landscape Journal 9: 122-134.
(4) Hooper, V.H. 2003. Understanding Utah's native plant market: coordinating public and private interest. Utah State University, Logan, M.S. Thesis.
(5) Mackay, W.A., George, S.W., Davis, T.D., Arnold, M.A., Lineberger, R.D., Parsons, J.M., Stein, L.A., and G.G. Grant. 2001. Texas Superstar and the Coordinated Educational and Marketing Assistance Program (CEMAP): how we operate. HortTechnology 11: 389-391.
(6) Anella, L.B., Schnelle, M.A., and D.M. Maronek. 2001. Oklahoma Proven: a plant evaluation and marketing program. HortTechnology 11: 381-384.
(7) Potts, L.E., Roll, M.J., and S.J. Wallner. 2002. Colorado Native Plant Survey - Voices of the Green Industry. Native Plants Journal 3: 121-125.
s:/H. Paul Rasmussen
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