Celebrating Wildflowers News Current Year (2014)

February 2014

Rocky Mountain Research Station Scientist First to Define Blister Rust Resistant Allele in Limber Pine

Posted February 13, 2014

Infection spot types on limber pine needles following artificial inoculation with Cronartium ribicola.
Infection spot types on limber pine needles following artificial inoculation with Cronartium ribicola.

Limber pine (Pinus flexilis) is being threatened by the lethal disease white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola), expanding bark beetle pressure, and climate change in mountain environments. In a recent publication in the journal Phytopathology, Forest Service researchers report on the first of a series of studies using individual families to examine complete resistance to white pine blister rust and its inheritance in limber pine.

Read more about the RMRS scientist's definition of blister rust resistant allele in limber pine (PDF, 216 MB)…

Complementary Conservation of Wild Cranberry

Posted February 5, 2014

Vaccinium macrocarpon, wild cranberry.
Vaccinium macrocarpon, wild cranberry, in John's Bog, Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee.

Wild cranberries, from which cultivated cranberries are derived, have been chosen as the first test case for a program to conserve the crop wild relative both in their natural environments (in situ) and in gene banks (ex situ) where they are available for use in research, breeding, and restoration. The large-fruited cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is the commercially important species, while the small cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos) is a close relative. The wild populations contain genetic diversity that may not be found in the cultivated varieties and could be important in breeding new varieties that can adapt to a changing climate and other environmental stresses.

Read more about complementary conservation of wild cranberry…

January 2014

Success Story: White River National Forest Develops Sources of Genetically Local Grass Seed

Posted January 28, 2014

Looking down rows of planted grasses that are the source of seeds.
First step seed increase accomplished with the Lucky Peak Nursery.

The goal of the White River National Forest Native Plant Materials Program is to facilitate the collection and propagation of local native seed and make them available through the commercial seed industry to land management agencies and private land owners at quantities needed for large-scale restoration. In 2009, 2010, and 2011, The White River National Forest was awarded national funds to help accomplish this goal. After a five year effort that involved the development and utilization of multiple agreements and contracts to accomplish seed collection and seed increase, genetically local seed for two grass species (slender wheatgrass and mountain brome) are now available for purchase on the commercial market.

Read more about the White River National Forest's development of local seed sources…

Pawnee National Grassland Receives Its First Pollinator Garden

Posted January 27, 2014

Aster, a native plant in the sunflower family that attracts pollinators on the Pawnee National Grassland. Note the small pollinator insect on the right flower.

Noble Energy established a pollinator garden on the Lillifield Pipeline as part of their restoration work last fall. The fenced area was hydro-seeded with plant species native bees and butterflies favor and will help provide a space for these pollinators to thrive. The Pawnee National Grassland is located in northeast Colorado east of Fort Collins, Colorado, and serves as an important reserve of native short-grass prairie formerly abundant along Colorado's Front Range. This project was a cooperative effort between the oil and gas industry and federal agencies.

Read more about the Pawnee National Grassland's pollinator garden…

Moonwort Madness in the Rocky Mountain Region

Posted January 27, 2014

Forest Service employees searching for and marking locations of moonworts.
Forest Service employees searching for and marking locations of moonworts on the Black Hills National Forest. Photo by Daryl Mergen.

Over the last 15 years, as Forest Service botanists in the Rocky Mountain Region combed National Forest Service land conducting rare plant surveys encountered small, mysterious fern-like plants. The name of this interesting plant group is the moonworts (Botrychium, subgenus Botrychium). As more plants were discovered in project areas, an all-out effort to clarify species and rarity was needed to make informed management and conservation decisions.

Read more about Moonwort Madness in the Rocky Mountain Region…

I Am A Mushroom Hunter

Posted January 15, 2014

Each fall, mushroom enthusiasts flock to rainy Girdwood, Alaska, to pick all the choice edibles they can eat. But some hunters would prefer their favorite mushroom patches be kept quiet.

Kate Mohatt is an ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service and one of Girdwood's local mushroom experts. In the video, “I Am a Mushroom Hunter” of the “Indie Alaska” series, published by Alaska Public Media, she shares tips about how to avoid poisonous mushrooms on a fungi hunt, and how to enjoy one of the northern-most mushrooming destinations in the world.

Also, learn more about fungi from Kate Mohatt, in the video “The Mushroom Maven of the Chugach National Forest” from the Alaska Teen Media Institute (ATMI) on Vimeo.

A “Rarest of the Rare” Species

Posted January 15, 2014

Mimulus gemmiparus.
Budding monkeyflower (Mimulus gemmiparus).

Rare plants may be scarce because the total population of the species may have few individuals AND restricted to a narrow geographic range; these are the very rarest plants. One such species, budding monkeyflower (Mimulus gemmiparus), was recently surveyed on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests in Colorado.

Population dynamics, rarity, and risk of extinction for populations of Mimulus gemmiparus (budding monkeyflower) on National Forests of Colorado (PDF, 896 KB) - A Research Report Submitted to USDA Forest Service Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland, Fort Collins, Colorado August 22, 2013, by Mark Beardsley, EcoMetrics, LLC, and David A. Steingraeber, Colorado State University.

Invasive Species Alert: Black swallow-wort (Cynanchum louisea) and pale swallow-wort (Cynanchum rossicum)

Posted January 14, 2014

First page of Black Swallow-wort flyer.

Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) need milkweed plants (Asclepias species plus a few species in closely related genera) to survive; their caterpillars cannot feed on other host plants. An alien invader is jeopardizing this process by confounding female monarchs during the egg laying process. Black swallow-wort (Cynanchum louisea, also known as Vincetoxicum nigrum, formerly C. nigrum) and pale swallow-wort (Cynanchum rossicum, also Vincetoxicum rossicum) are members of the milkweed family (Asclepiadacea) native to Europe. Caterpillars from eggs laid on these invasive plants will not survive, and are essentially wasted. In addition, swallow-worts can crowd out native milkweeds, which can eliminate appropriate food sources for monarch caterpillars.

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