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Paul D. Curtis, Gwen B. Curtis, and William B. Miller

Many plants have mechanisms of physical or chemical resistance that protect them from herbivores in their environment. Vertebrates such as meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) cause significant damage to ornamental plantings and home gardens. Our goal was to identify flowering bulbs that could be used to design more herbivore-resistant home landscapes. Single-choice feeding trials with captive prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) were used to assess the relative resistance of 30 bulb varieties to deter rodents from consuming fresh plant material and freeze-dried, powdered bulb mixed with a preferred food (applesauce). Each fresh bulb and dried-bulb/applesauce mix was offered twice to 12 to 15 pairs of adult prairie voles. Bulb varieties that resulted in the lowest mean consumption were assumed to be the most resistant to feeding activity. With fresh bulbs, only tulips (Tulipa spp.) exhibited no resistance to prairie vole feeding. Dried-bulb/applesauce mixes containing hyacinth (Hyacinth spp.), crocus (Crocus spp.), corn leaf iris (Iris bucharica), dutch and dwarf iris (Iris reticulata), onion (Allium spp.), and squill (Scilla siberica) were also readily consumed, and thus, these bulbs could be damaged at sites with high rodent activity. Daffodil (Narcissus spp.), painted arum (Arum italicum), camass (Camassia leichtlinii), glory-of-the-snow (Chinodoxa forbesii), autumn crocus (Colchicum spp.), crown imperial (Fritillaria imperialis), persian fritillaria (Fritillaria persica), snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis), and grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) bulbs were resistant to prairie vole feeding in both forms (fresh bulbs and dried-bulb/applesauce mixes). Consequently, all of the specialty flower bulbs tested, except tulip, exhibited some resistance to prairie vole feeding in their fresh form, and could be suitable for designing herbivore-resistant landscapes.

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Paul D. Curtis, Elizabeth D. Rowland, Meena M. Harribal, Gwen B. Curtis, J. Alan Renwick, Mathew D. Martin-Rehrmann, and George L. Good

Many plants have mechanisms of physical or chemical resistance that protect them from herbivores in their environment. The ornamental plant Pachysandra terminalis Sieb. and Zucc is highly unpalatable to voles, but the nature of this resistance is not fully understood. Extracts of P. terminalis were prepared to determine the extent to which chemical constituents could account for its avoidance by voles. A bioassay in which samples were mixed with applesauce showed that ethanolic extracts were highly deterrent to captive prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster Wagner, 1842). Bioassay-guided fractionation of ethanol extracts showed that antifeedant activity was present in both polar and non-polar fractions. Further separation of each fraction by open column chromatography and high pressure liquid chromatography revealed that combinations of compounds were responsible for the deterrent activity. Preliminary ultraviolet and mass spectroscopic analyses indicated that steroidal alkaloids that are characteristic of this plant are likely to be involved.