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Keywords:

  • Eragrostis refracta;
  • Eustachys petraea;
  • Florida;
  • germination;
  • native grass;
  • Panicum anceps;
  • Paspalum distichum;
  • Paspalum setaceum;
  • pine flatwoods;
  • turfgrass

Abstract

Little information exists about the establishment of native longleaf pine flatwoods species for use in restoration efforts and as buffers around natural areas in the southeastern United States. Composition of groundcover in these systems is dominated by perennial graminoid species. Vegetation in current buffers is generally non-native turfgrass that can escape into natural areas, often reducing establishment and survival of native species. Where management objectives involve actively restoring native groundcover or reducing the probability of invasion by these non-native turfgrasses, identification of native species and restoration methods is needed. We investigated seed germination and establishment of four species native to longleaf pine flatwoods in central Florida and one species native to the adjacent wetland communities. Paspalum setaceum, Panicum anceps, Eustachys petraea, and Eragrostis refracta were directly seeded, and P. distichum was planted as sprigs into three former P. notatum pastures. Irrigation, fertilization, weed control, and mowing treatments were assessed in terms of cover development of the sown species. Paspalum distichum developed the highest percent cover—over 80% in wet areas after 1 year. Mowing had mixed impacts depending on the species, and fertilization never significantly increased cover. Directly seeded species developed sparse cover (0–40%), probably as a result of drought conditions. However, E. petraea and E. refracta appeared more promising for use on rights-of-way when using high sowing rates. A second experiment conducted on a roadside included these two species and sprigged P. distichum. Both E. petraea and P. distichum developed more than 45% cover on the roadside. Establishment of these natives from seed or sprigs was significantly enhanced when site preparation effectively reduced the seedbank of other species present in the soil.