USDA Forest Service

Pacific Northwest Research Station

Pacific Northwest Research Station
333 SW First Ave.
Portland, OR 97204

(503) 808-2100

US Forest Service


News Releases: 2004

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Study Makes Strides in Understanding Ecology of Beargrass

USDA Forest Service
Pacific Northwest Research Station

Portland, OR: April 14, 2004


Source: Nan Vance, (541) 750-7302
Media assistance: Sherri Richardson-Dodge, (503) 808-2137

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 species.

“ Beargrass supports biodiversity in terms of the variety of pollinators it hosts in a habitat that is not generally rich in diversity,” Vance said.

Beargrass, which typically grows in cool, high-elevation forests throughout the Pacific Northwest, is heavily harvested for use in the floral and craft industries. Its leaves, roots, and flowers also are browsed by a number of wildlife species.

According to 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 alone.”

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 of Botany.

The Pacific Northwest Research Station is headquartered in Portland, Ore. It has 10 laboratories located in Alaska, Oregon and Washington and about 500 employees.

US Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station
Last Modified: Monday,01August2016 at10:13:41CDT

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