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Monday, July 22, 2013

Trial Run

A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Richard Sutton, professor of agronomy and horticulture at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, sent us an email to see if we'd like to try out a few different prairie plants on the green roof.  It's part of a larger research project (see their website here) trailing three species' survivability and persistence through dry periods, cold, and varying "soil" depths. 

Dr. Sutton was kind enough to send us not only the three species they're studying to try out on the Berry Prairie as part of the study, but also a fourth that he recommended would do well - and four of each species.  We're curious folk over here, so thought we'd give it a whirl.

New arrivals!

So here's what we received and planted:

Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis 'Conard')

This common short-grass prairie species was already planted on the green roof, but this particular variety ('Conard') is new to us.  Blue grama is a staple in Wyoming, and on the Berry Prairie too - we have over 900 individual plants of this species planted!  Let's see how this variety does.

Hairy Grama (Bouteloua hirsuta)

This cousin to Blue grama is found in the very eastern edge of Wyoming (see the Rocky Mountain Herbarium site).  Although it's not found within 30 miles of Laramie, as all of our other plants, it is an interesting grass.  See how the anthers dangle below the flower of the grass?  That's what makes it "hairy."

Hairy grama flower

Blue grama flower

Sun Sedge (Carex inops heliophila)

This sedge is found through the eastern third(ish) of the state - see the map here.  It's an early season sedge so is often one of the first plants to green up in the spring (Forest Service website). 

Sand Dropseed (Sporobolus cryotandrus)

This grass is a warm weather (late summer) bloomer that prefers dry, usually sandy areas.  It's found throughout North America.  [Prairie dropseed is my personal favorite of the Wyoming grasses, but perhaps this one will win my heart.]

Photo from Prairie Moon Nursery

Stay tuned for their progress.

Written by Brenna Marsicek, Biodiversity Institute

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