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- Author or Editor: Michelle M. Wisdom x
Most pollinating insects require a season-long succession of floral resources to fulfill life-cycle requirements. Incorporating forbs into turfgrass sites may create a season-long sequence of flowers to support foraging pollinators. However, persistence of forbs in warm-season turfgrasses such as bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.) may be affected by the competitive nature of the turfgrass and routine management practices such as mowing. A 2-year study was conducted to evaluate seven forbs (Bellis perennis L., Lotus corniculatus L., Prunella vulgaris L., Trifolium fragiferum L. ‘Fresa’, Trifolium repens L. ‘Durana’ and ‘Resolute’, Trifolium subterraneum L.) for persistence and ability to produce floral resources for pollinating insects in a low maintenance bermudagrass lawn. Plugs of each species were incorporated into ‘Riviera’ bermudagrass in Apr. 2016. Vegetative cover, flower production, flowering period and pollinator foraging were assessed. Prunella vulgaris bloomed July through August and achieved 100% cover (0% bermudagrass) by 2017. Trifolium repens achieved a more balanced competitive density with the bermudagrass and produced flowers from June through August in both years. Trifolium fragiferum persisted over two growing seasons but only bloomed in 2017. Bellis perennis, Lotus corniculatus and Trifolium subterraneum did not persist. Pollinators were observed foraging on all persistent, flowering forbs, including Trifolium repens, Prunella vulgaris, and Trifolium fragiferum. Trifolium repens and Prunella vulgaris produced the most flowers and attracted the most pollinators.
Early-spring flowering bulbs can increase biodiversity while adding color to lawns and other grassy areas. However, few studies have investigated whether bulbs can flower and persist in warm-season lawns or provide feeding habitat for pollinating insects. Thirty early-spring flowering bulbs, including species of Anemone, Chionodoxa, Crocus, Eranthis, Hyacinthus, Ipheion, Iris, Leucojum, Muscari, and Narcissus, were established in bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon L. Pers) and buffalograss [Buchloe dactyloides (Nutt.) J.T. Columbus] lawns in late autumn 2015 in Fayetteville AR. Bulbs were assessed over three growing seasons for flowering characteristics, persistence, and their ability to attract pollinating insects. A growing degree day model was also developed to predict peak flowering times in our region. Numerous bulb entries produced abundant flowers in bermudagrass and buffalograss lawns in the first year after planting, but persistence and flower production were reduced in both the second and third years of the trial. Five bulbs persisted for multiple years in both turfgrass species and continued to produce flowers, including Crocus flavus Weston ‘Golden Yellow’ (crocus), Leucojum aestivum L. (spring snowflake), Narcissus (daffodil) ‘Baby Moon’, Narcissus ‘Rip Van Winkle’, and Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’. Several bulbs, primarily crocuses and Muscari spp. (grape hyacinth), were also observed to attract pollinating insects, principally honey bees (Apis mellifera). These results demonstrate that some early-spring bulbs can persist in competitive warm-season turfgrasses, while providing pollinator forage, but species and cultivar selection is critical for long-term success.