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Plant Selection Tools for Revegetation Efforts in the Southwest

Selecting Adapted Plant Materials for the Southwestern US

Plant selection for conservation plantings in the southwestern United States can be challenging. Successful conservation plantings require considering elevation, climate, precipitation and soil types when determining the most appropriate plant species that are well adapted to the location. There are several tools available to help land managers and practitioners choose the most appropriate plant materials for revegetation efforts and conservation plantings.

The southwestern Plant Materials Centers, located in Tucson, Arizona, Lockeford, California, Fallon, Nevada, and Los Lunas, New Mexico, continue to test and select plant materials that are adapted for different areas in the southwest, to build on the success of Conservation Plant Releases which are already available commercially. Visitors to the Plant Materials Program web site can browse through the conservation plants released by each of these PMCs, find the uses for each plant release, and download a brochure for additional information.  The release brochures typically include information on the source of the original collections and where the plant release is adapted for use.  The Arizona and California PMCs also include commercial sources of plant releases shown below:

Ecological Site Descriptions (ESDs) developed by NRCS provide a framework for describing rangeland and forestland including site characteristics, vegetation, management alternatives, and supporting information. When an ESD is available for a site, a land manager can review the vegetation list from the ESD and compare it with a list of commercially available plant materials to choose species for a planting. ESD reports for rangelands and forestlands are available for many areas in the US.

In California, the eVeg Guide is an application developed by NRCS in partnership with Calflora.  eVeg considers the wide diversity of elevation from 200 feet below sea level to 14,000 feet, along with precipitation gradients enabling habitats from redwood forests to deserts.  The search function for eVeg allows users to select plant species for NRCS conservation practices and purposes based on the constraints of elevation, climate, soil, and evapotranspiration zones. Plant choice may be made with either EPA Ecoregion or Calflora incidence data to ensure that only adapted plants will be chosen.  There are also options to link to the NRCS PLANTS Database and Plant Guides to provide more information on each species.  An instructional guide for eVeg is available on YouTube.

Click image to enlarge eVeg Guide Splash page with map of California to left and list of environmental parameters and soil links on the right. Click to enlarge this image of Search page for Range Planting for grasses and legumes in the Mojave desert with constraints set to Ecoregion 4 with soils, elevation and climate. Box selected for Purple three awn.

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California eVeg Guide Splash page.

Click on the image above to enlarge
Search Page for Range Planting & info
for purple three awn.