Sego SupremeTM is a plant introduction program developed by the Utah State University (USU) Botanical Center (Anderson et al., 2014) to introduce native and adaptable species for sustainable, water-conserving landscapes (Anderson et al., 2014). Sego SupremeTM plants are selected for their special characteristics, such as aesthetic value, ease of propagation, demand, disease/pest resistance, and drought tolerance.
Cercocarpus is the largest genus of actinorhizal plants in the Rosaceae (rose family) (Vanden Heuvel, 2002). Actinorhizal plants are nitrogen-fixing plants. There are ≈10 species of Cercocarpus in the genus. Cercocarpus montanus (alder-leaf or true mountain mahogany) is the only deciduous species in the genus (SEINet Portal Network, 2020). Cercocarpus montanus is native to regions of the western United States, from Montana to Texas, where there is between 25 to 58 cm of annual precipitation [Shaw et al., 2004; U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 2020a]. It is a shrub or small tree of 0.6 to 4 m in height with leaves that are dark green above and whitish beneath (Fig. 1A and B). Flowers are borne in small clusters, and fruits are plumose style with elongated achenes (Fig. 1B) (Shaw et al., 2004). It possesses an extensive root system and adapts to medium to coarse textured soil. It is actinorhizal and considered an excellent shrub for reclamation in the western United States (Rosner et al., 2003). Actinorhizal plant can grow in soil with poor fertility and is also adapted to stresses such as drought, flooding, and salinity (Diagne et al., 2013). Its ability to fix nitrogen through symbiosis with actinobacteria (Frankia) makes it a potentially sustainable shrub for urban landscapes because application of nitrogen fertilizers is not necessary. Due to their association with Frankia, leaves contain high protein levels (Vanden Heuvel, 2002). Cercocarpus montanus vigorously sprouts even after fire (Liang, 2005), and its growth is stimulated by browsing (Turley et al., 2003). Selection of new cultivars that are actinorhizal and drought tolerant can be of great importance either for growing in less fertile soil or for introducing them in low-water landscapes.
Anderson, R., Goodspeed, J.L., Gunnell, J. & Rupp, L. 2014 Going native in the landscape. Sego SupremeTM plants. Kaysville, UT. 14 Apr. 2020. <https://slco.org/uploadedFiles/depot/publicWorks/fwatershed/symposium2014/GoingNativeInTheLand.pdf>
Diagne, N., Arumugam, K., Ngom, M., Nambiar-Veetil, M., Franche, C., Narayanan, K.K. & Laplaze, L. 2013 Use of Frankia and actinorhizal plants for degraded lands reclamation BioMed Res. Intl Article ID 948258
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