Sunday, January 16, 2011

Germination of Bolander's woodreed (Cinna bolanderi)

Cinna bolanderi is a grass endemic to the central Sierra Nevada: its overall distribution is closely tied to that of Sequoiadendron groves. Cinna bolanderi grows in moist to wet but not overly saturated meadows at mid-elevation settings. Cinna bolanderi is a CNPS List 1B rare plant in California.

This past summer, Cinna bolanderi was recollected at the type location in the Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, where the type was collected in 1866 (144 years between reports is about the normal speed for botany under sloth). On September 21, 2010 Cinna bolanderi inflorescences in the Mariposa Grove were about 95% finished for the year (defined by complete drying of the glumes, which were straw colored, a few florets could be found with photosynthetic tissue)

At the time of collection, the ripe florets were easily dislodged: after taking several specimens, a nice tidy little pile of florets remained in my collecting bag, so I planted them. Inspection of these showed a high proportion has filled seed. A subset of florets were set outdoors in a pot on October 1st. By November 12, 2010 seedlings began to appear. The germination behavior observed suggests rapid, very high germination. Similarly, mature florets were planted in pots of potting mix, moistened, and kept cool in the refrigerator for 60 days. Removed on December 1st, germination was observed within two weeks. Again, germination was rapid and a at very high proportion.

Both of these little germination vignettes suggest that C. bolanderi fecundity is high, and that its overall distributional rarity is due to factors other than a reproductive barrier related to seed output. Cultivation for restoration seems a relatively straightforward horticultural exercise?

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