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Current and Potential Utility of Broadleaf Herbs for Sagebrush Communities Scott Walker and Nancy Shaw Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Ephraim, UT and USDA-FS Rocky Mountain Research Station, Boise, ID. The Great Basin (From Cronquist, A., et al 1972) The Great Basin

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Current and Potential Utility of Broadleaf Herbs for Sagebrush Communities

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current and potential utility of broadleaf herbs for sagebrush communities

Current and Potential Utility of Broadleaf Herbs for Sagebrush Communities

Scott Walker and Nancy Shaw

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Ephraim, UT and

USDA-FS Rocky Mountain Research Station, Boise, ID.

the great basin
The Great Basin

(From Cronquist, A., et al 1972)

impacts principal
Impacts – Principal

Livestock Grazing

Weed Invasion

restoration practicality
Restoration Practicality
  • Reduction of weedy competition
  • Preparation of suitable seedbeds
  • Restoration of diverse communities
  • Planting site-adapted species
  • Recovery of residual native species
increased diversity of plant communities
Increased Diversity of Plant Communities

* Broader range of organisms.

* Cover and soil stabilization.

* Forage availability extended.

* Improve esthetics.

*Higher quality forage.

* Supplies critical nutrients and succulence.

*Fruits, seeds, and leaves of forbs are frequently a principal food for upland game birds

status of broadleaf forbs for restoration
Status of Broadleaf Forbs for Restoration
  • Large number of plant associations
  • Moderate number of species present
  • Few species occupy broad range of sites
  • Individual taxa consist of diverse ecotypes
In the Management of Any Land Type It Is Important to Recognize All Sites Support a Particular Array of Species.
  • All plant communities have evolved to support a particular group of compatible species.
  • These species provide the most complete and effective group of plants for the particular landscape, climate, and exist over time.
native forbs offer unique challenges in seed collecting handling and seeding
Native forbs offer unique challenges in seed collecting, handling and seeding
  • Usually hand collected
  • Wildland seed production can be highly erratic
  • Cost and availability are unpredictable
  • Seed handling guidelines have not been developed
  • Seeding requirements and cultural practices have not been developed
principal broadleaf forbs recommended for seeding sage and mt brush communities
Western Yarrow

Louisiana sage

Pacific aster

Blueleaf aster

Cicer milkvetch

Arrowleaf balsomroot



Utah sweetvetch

One flower helianthella

Cow Parsnip


Lewis flax




Yellow sweetclover Sainfoin



Small burnet

Butterweed groundsel

Canada goldenrod



Showy goldeneye

Principal Broadleaf Forbs Recommended For Seeding Sage and Mt. Brush Communities.
most commonly seeded forbs
Most Commonly Seeded Forbs

Pounds purchased in 2000*


*BLM Purchases in 2000

other seed purchased
Other Seed Purchased

Pounds purchased in 2000*


*BLM Purchases in 2000

forb species were listed as having potential for rangeland restoration
Forb species were listed as having potential for rangeland restoration.

Of the 76 forbs species listed,

63 were natives

13 were introduced.

seed bed preparation
Seed Bed Preparation

Soil disturbance

Seed coverage

Safe sites for establishment

Micro sites for increasing moisture retention

alfalfa medicago sativa
Alfalfa(Medicago sativa)

Dry land types are hybrids between the rhizomatous M. falcata (yellow flower) and the deep rooted M. sativa (purple flower).

Dry land types adapted to the great basin at >10” (persists best at 12 +) precipitation.

Fruit: legume

Germination: Very little dormancy. Will germinate with fall moisture and is susceptible to winter kill.

Seed as dormant seeding LATE fall or early spring.

small burnet sanguisorba minor
Small Burnet: (Sanguisorba minor)

Very palatable semi-evergreen, nitrogen fixer, highly nutritious.

Cultivar: Delar.

Establishes well when seed drilled (at ¼ to ¾ in.), or aerial applied and covered.

Establishes well at 12” precipitation does not withstand heavy grazing at dryer sites.

utah sweetvetch hedysarum boreal
Utah Sweetvetch: (Hedysarum boreal)

Palatable legume, deep rooted, occurring in sagebrush, pinyon/juniper, and oakbrush types.

Cultivar: Timp.

Seed: Has a lomented pod that disarticulates at ripening.

34,000 seeds per pound.

Fall seed, some dormancy requiring 1 month stratification. Seed at ½ in., 2 lbs per acre.

cicer milkvetch astragalus cicer
Cicer Milkvetch:(Astragalus cicer)

Adapted to upper sagebrush, pinyon/juniper, and oakbrush (>14”).

Good forage and seed producer. Bird and small mammals utilize the seed.

Released varieties: Lutana, Monarch.

Sainfoin:(Onobrychis viciafolia)

Non-bloating legume, adapted to >12 inches precipitation.

Highly palatable and nutritious, is preferred by deer, elk, and sage grouse.Seed: 18,000 seeds per lb. Seed at 2 to 5 lbs per acre in mix.

Released varieties: Eski, Remont.

western yarrow achillia millifolium
Western Yarrow(Achillia millifolium)

Cultivar: Variety from Eagle Id. Will be released soon

Wide distribution

Used by hens and chicks, harbors insects.

Very small seed- 4 million per pound.

Surface seed in the Fall, 0.25 to 1 lb per acre.

Establishes readily.

pacific aster aster chilensis
Pacific Aster:(Aster chilensis)

Asters as a group are an important component to the native communities.

Consist of a broad array of species.

Small seeded 2.5 million seeds per pound.

Requires 2-4 week stratification

Balsamroot:(Balsamoriza spp.)

Wide spread in Intermountain area.

Early spring green up, good wildlife forage.

Large seeds, 55,000 per pound.

Slow to establish, but very persistent.

showy goldeneye viguiera multifora v nevadensis
Showy Goldeneye: (Viguiera multifora, V. nevadensis.)

V. multiflora- broadly adapted to many vegetative types. When purchasing seed be sure of the source. Ranges from Sage, p/j to sub alpine.

V. nevadensis- occurs in drier sites in the Great Basin.

Small seeded 1 million per pound. Does well on surface, can be drilled.

Good seed producer with strong seedlings.

Early spring green up.

Readily sought out by wildlife as a herbaceous forage, and seed is utilized by birds.

hawksbeard crepis spp fleabane erigeron spp salsify tragopogon spp
Hawksbeard:(Crepis spp.)Fleabane:(Erigeron spp.)Salsify:(Tragopogon spp.)

Seed: Generally small seeded, but do establish well on disturbed sites.

Little information on seed and seeding requirements.

No current releases

The importance of these species to sage grouse and other wildlife is becoming more understood.


Broadleaf Forbs

Family Genus Common name .

Apiaceae Lomatium Desert parsley

Linaceae Linum Flax

Malvaceae Sphaeralcea Globemallow

Polygonaceae Eriogonum Desert Buckwheat

Scrophulariaceae Penstemon Penstemon

forb releases
Forb Releases

Species Origin Release Class


Eriogonum niveum SD Umatilla Cultivar

E. umbellatum CA Sierra Cultivar

Linum perenne SD Appar Cultivar (escaped?)

Lomatium spp. --- ----------- ----------

Penstemon eatonii UTRichfield Selected

P. palmeri UTCedar Cultivar

P.strictus NM Bandera Cultivar

P.venustus ID Clearwater Selected

Sphaeralcea coccinea ID ARS-2936 Germplasm

S. munroana UT ARS-2892 Selected

seed quality testing
Seed Quality Testing

Species Germination Rule Viability Test

Eriogonum X

Linum X

L. perenne X


Penstemon XX

P. eatonii X

P. palmeri X

P.strictus X


Sphaeralcea X

S. coccinea

S. munroana

family linaceae linum perenne var appar perennial blue flax
Family LinaceaeLinum perenne var. ’Appar’Perennial Blue Flax
  • Widely adapted
  • Produced in seed fields
  • Easily seeded
  • Establishes in mixtures
linum lewisii lewis flax wild blue flax
Linum lewisiiLewis flax, Wild blue flax
  • Widely distributed
  • Considerable intraspecific


  • Great Basin

cultivar being developed

family polygonaceae eriogonum spp wild buckwheat
Family: PolygonaceaeEriogonum spp. , Wild buckwheat

E. heracleoides

Wyeth buckwheat

E. ovalifolium

Oval-leaf buckwheat

E. niveum

Snow buckwheat

E. umbellatum

Sulfurflower buckwheat

eriogonum seed
Eriogonum: Seed

Inflorescence: Umbel

Fruit: 3-angled achene

Seeds/pound: 120,000 (E. umbellatum)

600,000 (E. niveum)

Harvest: Summer - Fall

Cleaning: Screen, chop, screen

Seed quality: Viability test available.

Germination: Species and ecotypic variation occur.


Eriogonum: Seeding

Time: Fall.

Method: Drill (shallow), broadcast.

Germination: Prechilling usually


Seedlings/stand: Pioneering species.

umatilla snow buckwheat eriogonum niveum
‘Umatilla’ Snow BuckwheatEriogonum niveum

Origin: Umatilla Co., Oregon

Area of use: Interior Pacific Northwest.

family apiaceae lomatium spp biscuitroot wild parsley
Family ApiaceaeLomatium spp. , Biscuitroot, Wild parsley
  • 70 species, nearly all

in Western U.S.

  • Lower elevation sagebrush to


  • Early spring growth
  • Plants usually scattered
lomatium spp seeds and seeding
Lomatium spp.: Seeds and Seeding
  • Seed supply unreliable
  • Hand harvested
  • Fruits flat, winged, easily
  • cleaned and seeded
  • Seedlings vigorous
  • No cultivars, germination
  • test or viability procedure

L. triternatum

Nine-leaved biscuitroot

family malvaceae sphaeralcea spp globemallow
Family MalvaceaeSphaeralcea spp., Globemallow
  • 25 species in the West, most common

in the Southwest

  • 8-12 inch precipitation zone
  • Establishes during wet years,

persists in seedbank

  • Several ploidy levels occur
  • One of the few forbs seeded in

salt desert shrublands

S. munroana

Munro globemallow

S. grossulariifolia

Gooseberryleaf globemallow

sphaeralcea spp seeds and seeding
Sphaeralcea spp.: Seeds and Seeding
  • Flowering indeterminate
  • Seed collected by hand
  • 500,000 seeds per pound
  • Drill seed or broadcast and cover
  • Seeds require scarification

and prechilling

  • Germplasm releases:
    • ARS-2936 S.coccinea
    • ARS-2892 S. munroana
  • No germination or viability test

S. munroana

Munro globemallow

family scrophulariaceae penstemon spp penstemon
Family ScrophulariaceaePenstemon spp., Penstemon

P. speciosus

P. deustus

P. peckii

P. fruticosus

penstemon seed
Penstemon: Seed
  • Harvested from native stands or seed fields
  • Seed small (100,000 to 600,000 per pound)
  • Seed easily cleaned and handled
  • Longevity of seed in dry storage: 4 to 6 years
  • Field culture and seed production studied
penstemon seeding
Penstemon: Seeding
  • Fall seeding -prechilling often


  • Drill (shallow) or broadcast

and cover

  • Can be seeded with other

small seeded forbs and shrubs

  • Matures fairly rapidly
  • Germination rule and TZ

procedures available.

penstemon releases
Penstemon: Releases

Scientific Common Release Release

name name Origin name type .

P. eatonii Firecracker UTRichfield Selected

P. palmeri PalmerUT Cedar Cultivar

P.strictus Rocky Mt. NM Bandera Cultivar

P.venustus Alpine ID Clearwater Selected

the pre variety germplasm release program a fast track alternative release procedure
The Pre-variety Germplasm Release ProgramA “Fast Track” Alternative Release Procedure

Certification type:


Verified for geographic origin. No comparisons made with other germplasms of the species.

Selected Class

Germplasm compared on a common site with other germplasms.

Tested Class

Progeny tested to ensure that observed traits are heritable and stable.


Tested material for which there is considerable market demand.

research requirements
Research Requirements
  • Plant ecology
    • Ecotypic variability and distribution
  • Plant biology
    • Seed characteristics, germination requirements
    • Seedbed ecology and establishment
  • Field culture and seed


  • Forb genetics
  • Revegetation genetics
candidate species identification and ranking of important species
Candidate SpeciesIdentification and ranking of important species
  • Field surveys
  • Distribution
  • Wildlife habitat values
  • Summary list
species proposed for development
Species Proposed for Development

Astragalus convallarius

A. lentiginosus

Crepis acuminata

Erigeron pumilus

Eriogonum corymbosum

E. ovalifolium

Hedysarum borealis utahensis

Lomatium nuttallii

Lupinus argenteus

Penstemon attenuatus

P. deustus

P. speciosus

Sphaeralcea coccinea

Vicia americana

Viguiera multiflora nevadensis