PORTLAND, Ore. April 14, 2004. A recent
study of the reproductive ecology of beargrass, a perennial herb
widely harvested in the Pacific Northwest, is helping scientists
at the Pacific Northwest Research Station better understand how
the species could be managed.
The study, led by Nan Vance, a research
plant physiologist at the Forestry Sciences Laboratory in Corvallis,
Ore., found that the
beargrass is pollinated by nearly 40 species of insects, including
pollen-eating flies, beetles, and small bees. It is the first study
to characterize the reproductive ecology and pollinators of the
Beargrass supports biodiversity in terms of the variety of pollinators
it hosts in a habitat that is not generally rich in diversity,” Vance
Beargrass, which typically grows in cool, high-elevation
forests throughout the Pacific Northwest, is heavily harvested
in the floral and craft industries. Its leaves, roots, and flowers
also are browsed by a number of wildlife species.
Vance, beargrass harvesters generally are encouraged to avoid taking
the plant’s flowers, which bloom from May
to June. Her study, she said, may serve as evidence as to why.
We know that beargrass can afford to lose a few leaves,” she
said. “But, it seems it would be good to leave the flowers
Vance, who has done pollination studies in the past
on the mountain and clustered lady’s slipper orchids and
western peony, also is the Forest Service’s representative
with the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign. Vance has
been helping the campaign,
which coordinates conservation efforts of pollinator species, produce
a series of exhibits that will be featured at the U.S. Botanic
Garden in Washington, DC, late next month.
A paper detailing Vance’s
study will be published in an upcoming issue of the American Journal
The Pacific Northwest Research Station is headquartered
in Portland, Ore. It has 10 laboratories located in Alaska, Oregon
and about 500 employees.