National Plant Materials Center, Beltsville, MD
Summary of Regional Activities and Studies

July11th, 2005


The National Plant Materials Center (NPMC) dedicates about 50% effort on National Plant Materials Program activities and the other 50% on regional and reimbursable activities. The NPMC lies within the service area of the Cape May, NJ PMC, and coordinates appropriate regional activities with the NJPMC. The regional “service area” of the NPMC is loosely defined as Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C. and northern Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay is one important focal point within this area. The proximity of the PMC to both Washington D.C. and Baltimore provide it opportunities to engage in urban conservation work as well. Part of the purpose of the regional activities is to demonstrate what a traditional PMC does to select plants and develop technology.

Conservation Plant Release Selection

Sorghastrum nutans (indiangrass) – composite from MD and northern VA. Intended for central mid-Atlantic region in Piedmont area. No purposeful selection – intended for general conservation use. Scheduled for release in FY 2006.

Elymus hystrix (bottlebrush grass) – composite from MD and northern VA. Intended for central mid-Atlantic region in Piedmont area. No purposeful selection – intended for general conservation use. Scheduled for release in late FY 2006 or early FY 2007.

Pityopsis graminifolia (grass-leaved golden aster) – composite from eastern TN. Intended for the southern mid-Atlantic Piedmont to lower Appalachians. Currently in initial evaluations and being selected for rapid germination and uniformity of stature and bloom. Useful for erosion control and stabilization in droughty soils, such as along highways.

Paspalum floridanum ( Florida paspalum) – composite for central mid-Atlantic from NJ through VA. Potential application for stabilization and forage in moist to wet areas. Currently in collection and initial evaluation. Cooperative with the NJPMC.


Technology Development

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) – Characterization of propagation and production techniques for fresh water and brackish water species. Current emphasis is on refining methods for small-scale nursery production and potential as an alternate crop. Potential benefits to restore wildlife habitat and sediment stabilization in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Cooperative efforts with the Chesapeake Bay Program and the Maryland Dept of Natural Resources.

Evaluation of grasses for grazing in Maryland – Evaluation of native and introduced cool and warm season grass species for use or having potential for use in Maryland for grazing systems. This study will be conducted on-center in a replicated study to look at regrowth and biomass production in a simulated grazing system. Potential benefits to determine adaptability of existing and new grass varieties for use in Maryland and to establish growth curves for verification of grazing data. Cooperative effort with the Maryland NRCS grazing coordinator and the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service. Warm-season grasses to be established June 2005; cool season grasses in fall 2005.

Direct seeding of woody species – Proposed study, literature search being conducted – Evaluation and testing of methods for the successful establish of trees and shrubs. Depending on the outcome of the literature search and existing knowledge, this study may turn into a demonstration project to assess feasibility of methods, or expand on existing research. There is much interest in the application of this technology in the mid-Atlantic for use along highways and as a lower-cost alternative for riparian, wildlife and forestry plantings.

Establishment of windbreaks for odor control – Proposed activity – Plant Materials has been minimally involved in the use of vegetation for odor control around agricultural facilities. There are very active programs in this arena in Delaware and Pennsylvania. There are opportunities for PMCs to assist with plant selection and identification of native species with desirable attributes. This would be cooperative with other PMCs, State Office staff and Cooperative Extension and would most likely involve proper species selection, planting and evaluation of alternatives.


Demonstration Projects

Crider Memorial Garden of Conservation Plants – 10’x20’ blocks of conservation species used on the East coast. Highlights both Plant Materials releases and other useful species. Approximately 80 species or varieties currently planted. Used for demonstration and training of different varieties and species.

Conservation Cover Mixes – Demonstration and evaluation of 12 different seed mixes in the Maryland 327 Conservation Cover standard. Used for training and to evaluate long-term changes in species composition.

Mid-Atlantic Native Plants for Landscaping – Demonstration around several buildings of native ecotypes and native cultivars used for naturalistic landscaping.

Ground Covers for Droughty Areas – Evaluation of ground cover species for potentially hot and droughty areas, such as those found in urban situations.