Location: Forage and Range Research
Title: Western and Searls Prairie Clover: North American Legumes for Rangeland Restoration in the Western U.S. Authors
Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: October 27, 2008
Publication Date: February 6, 2009
Citation: Johnson, D.A., Bhattarai, K., Bushman, B.S., Connors, K.J. 2009. Western and Searls Prairie Clover: North American Legumes for Rangeland Restoration in the Western U.S.. Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts. Technical Abstract: Few North American legume species are available for rangeland restoration in the Western U.S. To increase the alternatives for seeding North American legume species on rangelands, we initiated research with western prairie clover (Dalea ornata) and Searls prairie clover (Dalea searlsiae) to evaluate the potential of these two North American legume species for use in restoration, conservation, and forage production. Seeds were collected, and associated site data were obtained from a diversity of sites where these species occur in the western U.S. This included 25 sites each for western and Searls prairie clover. Annual precipitation at the collection sites ranged from 127 mm in southwestern Nevada to about 300 mm in Idaho, and elevations ranged from 110 to 2,000 m. Forage analysis showed that nitrotoxins (3-nitropropanol), selenium, and swainsonine were non-detectable or extremely low for all collections. As a result, these species would not be toxic to livestock or wildlife for these compounds. Plants from each of the collections of the prairie clover species were established at two field sites in northern Utah and evaluated for their morphological characteristics, plant vigor, forage yield and quality, potential seed production, and regrowth. Based on field data collected at the two sites, western and Searls prairie clover have considerable potential for use in rangeland restoration and conservation. Because of their unique, showy flowers, they also hold promise for horticultural use in xeriscaping applications.