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Seed heads of various native grasses. Click image for additional information.
Seed heads of various native grasses (left to right): western wheatgrass, Snake River wheatgrass, Indian ricegrass, Great Basin wildrye, squirreltail, and green needlegrass. Click image for additional information.

Plant Guide Is Helping Reseed the American West

By Marcia Wood
August 28, 2003

More than 100 different kinds of plants well suited to rangelands, pastures, streambanks, road cuts or other sites that need to be reseeded in the intermountain states are profiled in a unique handbook, "Intermountain Planting Guide."

The full-color, 104-page publication was issued in 2001 and has since become a contemporary classic, capturing the attention of readers seeking the right seeds, or seed mixes, for sites in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming and Oregon.

Agricultural Research Service scientists Kevin B. Jensen, Howard W. Horton and Ronald E. Reed of the agency's Forage and Range Research Laboratory in Logan, Utah, and Ralph E. Whitesides of Utah State University, Logan, compiled the easy-to-use, fully illustrated guidebook from more than 50 years of research findings. They collaborated with experts from Utah State University and from USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

In tables, charts and brief summaries, the authors make recommendations based on soil type, annual precipitation, elevation and other key environmental factors that influence a plant's success.

The book is appropriate for anyone interested in using native or introduced plants to revitalize rangelands, nourish livestock and wildlife, stabilize erosion-prone slopes, revegetate mining spoils or simply landscape a few acres around a summer cabin or on a hobby farm.

The text covers more than a dozen major ecosystems, ranging from semidesert and saltbush up through high-mountain, subalpine regions. Plants profiled include grasses such as needle-and-thread grass or reed canarygrass; grasslike species, such as water sedge or creeping spikerush; forbs and legumes like blueleaf aster and balsamroot arrowleaf; and woody plants, including red alder and silver buffaloberry.

Specially developed plant varieties from the ARS scientists at Logan and their co-investigators are also noted, including scarlet globemallow, Bozoisky-Select Russian wildrye, Rimrock Indian ricegrass, and Vavilov Siberian, CD-II, Douglas, Hycrest and RoadCrest crested wheatgrasses.

Copies are available from Utah State University Extension Publications, (435) 797-2251; request bulletin number AG 510.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's principal scientific research agency.