By: Allegra Mount, BRN Seed Curator
While the BRN horticulture team collects seed year round for restoration projects, the bulk of the work definitely happens during the fall season. As our monsoons draw to a close, warm-season native plants finish flowering and complete the ripening process on their precious fruit while preparing to disperse it across the landscape. Our focus during the post-monsoon collection season is always set on one kind of plant in particular: native grasses!
Most of our native grasses are warm-season, meaning they do most of their growing, flowering, and seeding during the hot, rainy monsoon season. Our southern Arizona grasslands are unique ecosystems that are valuable to wildlife as habitat, to ranchers as forage, and to the world as a form of carbon sequestration. In restoration, grasses have tremendous value for their ability to grow and establish quickly from seed and hold soil in place on steep slopes. Native grasses also have extensive, fibrous root systems that allow them to withstand periods of drought by staying dormant.
In 2019, our goal is to collect over 200 lbs of seed from native grasses and forbs from over 40 different species! This seed is slated to be used in restoration projects across the borderlands on public lands, as well as being added to our ever growing seed collection. Public lands projects of note include over 150 lbs of seed collection for the Mansfield Mine Restoration Project in the Coronado National Forest’s Santa Rita Mountains, and grass seed collection on the National Park Service’s Coronado National Memorial in Hereford, where we are removing invasive species and revegetating an area that supports the struggling species Pectis imberbis, beardless chinchweed.
The 8-person crew will be working full days Monday-Thursday collecting starting in October; in September, a smaller crew is making collections on specific species like Cane Beardgrass, Bothriochloa barbinodis, that ripen much earlier than other species.
We’re looking forward to a great season ahead! Due to time and staff constraints, we’ve had to postpone our planned seed collection workshop until this winter, but if you’re interested in volunteering with us for seed collection we’d love to have you.
Volunteers should be able to walk on steep, uneven terrain and work in full sun. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in volunteering with us. Otherwise, just get out and enjoy this lovely fall weather and appreciate our beautiful grasslands!
By: Audrey Rader, BRN Restoration Project Manager
Allegra, Randi, and I spent the morning identifying plants in the gently sloping hills of the Wildlife Corridor, still dewy from rainfall the night prior. Over 600 species of native bees, 300 types of butterflies and moths, 14 hummingbird species, and two nectar-feeding bat species call the Madrean Sky Islands home.
Some of these pollinators buzzed around our heads and others flew out from underfoot as we spent our morning cataloging and classifying the region's flora. We are reminded once more of how vital it is to conserve and restore the resources that allow the Sky Islands to host such incredible biodiversity.
We encountered many charming plants, including agaves (Agave sp.) that attract the migratory Lesser Long-nosed Bats (Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuena) and vibrant camphorweed (Heterotheca subaxillaris), whose aromatic flowers even we relished.
After creating a robust list of what plants are available across this bountiful landscape, we'll investigate flowering sequences, diversity, and abundances that could potentially create resource gaps. Then the BRN Native Plant Nursery will grow out and plant species that address these gaps.
The Frances V.R. Seebe Charitable Trust is generously funding us to trek across BRN partner, Wildlife Corridor and National Forest lands to assess existing nectar and fruit resources for a variety of pollinators and frugivorous birds. As always, BRN's goal is to sustain this precious landscape we're so fortunate to call home. The days we spend botanizing with friends is just icing on the cake.
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