Introduced Forages-Legumes, Etc.

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Legumes
Leguminosae- Papilionoideae (papilionaceous subfamily)
 

TESTVarious nodulated legumes, the papilionaceous legumes (Papilionoideae subfamily of Leguminosae), that are primarily agronomic species have been introduced to be managed either 1) extensively as range plants or 2) intensively as field crops for tame pasture and/or hay production.The number of publications by the various Agricultural Experiment Stations and Extension Services, Forest Service, text and reference books, private organizations such as seed companies, etc. is staggering and beyond any comprehensive cataloguing. A good introductory source for beginners and oldsters alike is the Legumes section of Pasture and Range Plants by Phillips Petroleum Company (1963).This delightful series (now bound as one book) has proved invaluable to several generations of pasture-and rangemen. Perhaps the most longstanding authoritative text with the clearest summaries of major forage legumes between one cover is the classic text, Forages, by Iowa State Press and under numerous authorships. Another standard text of equal persistence, but of less consistency in revision, is Principles of Field Crop Production (Martin et al., 1976). Though woefully "out-of-date", as of this writing Martin et al. (1976) remains the only comprehensive text that covers actual culture or husbandry (ie. a farming manual) for all major field crops in North America, including those used as forage crops. Forage Plants and Their Culture (Piper, 1939) is "ancient" by academic dating standards, but as a fundamental text-reference for many of the introduced species that have naturalized (eg. annual lespedezas, sweet clovers, Johnsongrass, vetches) it is still one of the standards. (Some of the "antiquated" works are more useful for the extensive-input approach of Range Managaement than are the more current texts.) The American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America have published jointly a number of monographs on individual species and groups of species of legumes over the years. Clover Science and Technology edited by Taylor (1985) is an example.

Probably the best general source and detailed botanical descriptions of all domesticated forage species is the dated, but still only encyclopedic coverage, Manual of Cultivated Plants (Bailey, 1949). Descriptions, nomenclature, and range of naturalized species have been shown by most of the various flora or manuals.

The major management "challenge" associated with legumes, especially the introduced species that have been selected for high yields and high nutritive value (a major component of which is palatability), is their persistence or maintenance in either diverse range plant communities, mixed-species tame pastures, or single-species stands. Simply stated, legumes (especially domestic species), are so much more palatable than their "neighbors" that grazers tend to preferentially select and graze them out. Legumes are more nutritious (eg. higher in protein, energy, and minerals like calcium), hence more palatable, and they become ice cream species. Legumes are even more attractive to certain species of phytagophus insects. Most legume species are less highly adapted to defoliation than the grasses are. Under roughly equal degrees of use, competitive advantage shifts to the more grazing-adapted grasses which have already been the beneficiaries of nitrogen-fixation by the host legumes and their symbiotic bacteria. Most of the forage legumes have more upright morphological forms with their apical meristems more exposed to agents of defoliation (fire, hail, and wind as well as herbivores). Some species like white clover (Trifolium repens) are low-growing and reproduce well vegetatively, but most legumes are nowhere in the same league as grasses and grass-like plants when it comes to grazing adaptations and tolerance of defoliation.

Discovery of which Rhizobium species are specific to the various legume species and development of technology for innoculation of legume seed were other factors limiting introduction and establishment of forage legumes.

Even when legumes can be established on range and mixed pastures their maintenance remains a big problem. Legumes are much easier to manage and maintain as harvested forages, usually hay. This fact explains the presence of alfalfa (Medicago sativa), one of the most water-demanding forages, as a major field crop in many areas of the Western Range, even in the Intermountain West.

"Clover" is a word of Middle English origin as are numerous terms used in Agriculture such as "corn". Several Middle English words such as "clover", "corn", or "cattle" are generic terms that have both 1) retained their original general meaning and 2) taken on newer and more specific meanings. "Clover" has been applied as a common name to numerous plant taxa, usually, but not always exclusively, to members of the legume family. Within the Leguminosae, "clover" traditionally was ascribed to several genera. Such use of "clover" was then modified with adjectives preceding the main noun of "clover". Thus there became "bur-clover", "sweet clover", "Korean clover", "bush clover", etc. The other use of "clover" in reference to legumes is to species within the genus Trifolium in which case adjectives in the common name refer to species rather than genera as in previous cases like "sweet clover" or "bur-clover". To avoid any more confusion than already exist, "clovers" in Trifolium have often been designated the "true clovers" in which case adjectives describing "clover" indicate species (eg. white clover, crimson clover, red clover, alsike clover, rose clover, rabbitfoot clover). Trifolium is from the Latin for three leaves in reference to the compound leaf that typically consist of three leaflets. (Incidentially, it is the trifoliate clover leaf and not the "four-leaf clover" of Landy Luck or the 4-H Club that is the shamrock, national emblem of Ireland. The shamrock is, of course, one of the Christian symbols for the Trinity. The traditional account is that the King of Ireland could not grasp the concept of the triune God whereupon Saint Patrick plucked the tripartite clover leaf to show how God could exist as three persons in one.)

The following "clovers"-- at both generic (taxonomic adjective for genus) and specific (taxonomic adjective for species) levels-- are some of the more important ones as field (ie.agronomic) and/or range legumes.

 
1. California annual grassland overseeded to subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum)- The disclimax annual grassland that has permanently replaced the original climax bunchgrass prairie of california’s Central Valley, Sierra foothills, and Coast Range can be improved by such agronomic means as fertilization and reseeding to higher-yielding cultivars of the naturalized annual grasses, tame pasture grasses, and legumes. One of the most useful improved legumes is subterranean clover that was introduced from Australia. This fertile alluvial site of annual grassland was overseeded to  Mount Barker and Woogenellup cultivars of sub-clover and periodically fertilized. Love and Murphy Pasture, University of California Hopland Field Station, Mendocino County, California. April. FRES No. 42 (Annual Grasslands Ecosystem), no Kuchler unit for annual grassland. Improved variant of SRM 215.
 
2. Sward of the pasture of improved annual grassland shown in preceding slide- Subterranean clover is co-dominant with soft chess. Associates are wild barley (Hordeum leporinum, H. hystrix) and filaree.
 
3. Sub-clover-annual grassland sheep range- California annual range overseeded to legumes like subterranean clover is sheep pasture par excellence. Here a  typical Targhee ewe and her Suffolk-sired lamb graze the sub clover-annual grassland seen in the last two shoots. Peak standing crop stage. The clover with the co-dominant soft brome and associated wild barley are conspicuous.
 

4. White clover (Trifolium repens)- This may well be the most widespread of the true clovers (Trifolium species), at least as a local dominant. White clover is native to Eurasia but has naturalized in the wake of human migration, including to the New World. The American Indian referred to this species as the "white man's footprint" because with it's spreading habit and bright white inflorescences it was one of the most conspicuous alien species brought with the mass human movement that began with the voyages of Christopher Columbus. Unlike most of the naturalized alien species which became plant or animal pests white clover had what is generally regarded as a beneficial impact as result of it's invasion.

The specific epithet repens is Latin for "prostrate and rooting" and refers to the stoloniferous and adventituous rooting habit of this perennial species. (Observe the carpet-like sward of the stand shown above.) T. repens has remarkable phenotypic plasticity (often a characteristic of domesticated species as in domestic swine for instance) and genetic polymorphism that enables this species to adapt through natural selection to new environments and micro-habitats very quickly (see for eg. Begon et al., 1990, ps. 38-39). White clover is, of course, one of the classic examples of a clonal organism. Plus it is a prolific seed-producer. This combination of features, along with the mutualism of legume and bacterial nitrogen fixation, has allowed white clover to naturalize over much of North America, including more mesic range areas.

Forage quality of white clover is exceptional, but herbage yield is usually lower than that of associated grass and the weedier forb species. It is preferred feed by about all herbivores. Ladino white clover is a cultivar of the taxonomic variety T. repens var. giganteum. It's use is probbly best reserved for tame pastures. Viewers are reminded of the texts and references suggested above and of the numerous publications by their state Agricultural Experiment Stations and Extension Services.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. June.

 
5. White clover- Appearance of common white clover at peak bloom. Erath County, Texas. April.
 

6. Shoots of white clover- Detail of stem, leaf, and inflorescence of common white clover. Note leaflets of the trifoliate, compound leaf. Erath County, Texas. April.

 

7. Stolon of white clover- The"runner" of common white clover is a ramet or clone of this highly stoloniferous species. Another example of a modular plant. Ottawa County, Oklahoma. June.

 
8. Head of white clover- The Trifolium species are in the legume sub-family Papilionoideae that is distinguished by a papilionaceous (like a butterfly) flower having a corolla that consist of five petals: one banner or standard, two wings, and two keels which are often fused. These individual papilionaceous flowers are arranged in such inflorescence patterns as a tight raceme or elongated spike which is often called a "head". The latter arrangement was portrayed in this slide. Ottawa County, Oklahoma. June.
 

9 Crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum)- Most of the introduced true clovers (domesticated Trifolium species) are better adapted to northern parts of North America because they tend to be the more mesophytic of the mesophytes and to have lower yields under regimes of higher temperatures and drier soils. Crimson clover is less extreme in this regard and is one of the Trifoilum species better able to tolerate conditions more characteristic of the American South. Crimson clover is a winter annual and it can utilize the generally more moist soil conditions that occurr in winter and spring months when evapotranspiration is lower and, in the spring, when rainfall is greater. Crimson clover is not common in southeast or southcentral portions of the continent, but it is less uncommon there than are many species. Crimson clover does relatively well in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas if carefully managed. It is one of the best introduced legumes for winter forage production in southeastern North America. Crimson clover is one of the most strikingly colorful of the cultivated legumes and is sometimes seeded along highway rights-of-way as part of beautification programs.

Erath County, Texas. April.

 
10. Infloresences of crimson clover- In addition to the excellent nutritive value and palatability of crimson clover to any herbivore (including bees) this species affords high aesthetic qualities where it is seeded. Erath County, Texas. April.
 
11. Crimson clover field- This beautiful field of crimson clover in the Willamette Valley of Oregon was being grown for seed . Lynn County, Oregon. June.
 

12. Rose clover (Trifolium hirtum)- This attractive member of the true clover genus is another winter annual that is well- adapted to the South for the same reasons as explained for crimson clover immediately above. Rose clover has generally been somewhat more productive than crimson clover under growing conditions and habitats of more limited soil moisture. Rose clover was one of several clovers introduced into California to take advantage of the generally high winter moisture regime in the Mediterranean climate of the Coast Range and Central Valley portions. Growers shifted from rose clover to subterranean clover as the latter proved to be more productive and persistent as a component of improved California annual grassland.

Erath County, Texas. April.

 

13. Hop clover, yellow hop, or field hop (Triflolium campestre)- Here was presented yet another cool-season annual true clover introduced from Eurasia. Yellow hop has so thoroughly naturalized over much of the southern part of the continent and along the Pacific Coast that many farmers and ranchers assume it is a native species. Yield of this and the species often called little hop (T. dubium) are low in comparison to most other true clovers, but these self-seeding annuals are sure yielders because they complete their life cycle during spring to early summer when seasonal precipitation is usually greatest.

The hop clovers typically grow best on poorer (shallower, rockier, acidic) soils where competition with larger, coarser perennials is less intense. They do frequently thrive on richer, deeper soils (including bottomlands) when density of competiting species has been reduced (as following drought for example). Yellow hop is often extremely abundant in eastern and central areas (eg. Ozark Mountains as for the speciment shown here) on "go-back land" (old-fields) after the sere has progressed beyond the pioneer stage dominated by large annual composites, crabgrass, and other weeds.

Hop clovers (and the other introduced annual legumes) that have completely naturalized could be interpreted as occupying "empty" ecological niches (ie. ones not filled by native plants). The niches now filled by these exotic species have-- according to the philosophical or pictorial concept of niche-- time dimensions or time "volumes" that are different from native species. The time dimension of the hop clover niche(s) obviously encompasses part of the cool-season.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. June; peak-bloom stage..

 

14. Two more views- Better views of shoots with arrangement of leaves and inflorescences of yellow hop clover growing naturalized in the westrn Ozark Plateau.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Late May; peak-bloom phenological stage.

 

15. Red clover (Trifolium pratense)- Red clover is probably second only to alfalfa as a hay species capable of consistently producing high yields of high-quality hay. This Eurasian species has been cultivated as a major hay crop in northeastern North America, the Hay and Dairy Agricultural Region, for upwards of two centuries where it was used as roughage for dairy cattle especially in winter. Red clover was brought westward along the ever-advancing frontier lines and became an important field crop in the Great Lakes Region. With careful management red clover can produce superior hay crops as far south as northern Oklahoma. Under good agronomic practice stands of this biennial or short-lived perennial legume will last indefinitely. The author hauled hay from a field of red clover in northeastern Oklahoma that has remained in production for upwards of three decades.

Red clover is primarily a hay and not a pasture legume. It is difficult, but by no means impossible, to maintain red clover in grass-clover pastures because animals selectively graze the clover. The red clover is this photograph was growing on bottomland used as a hay field in summer and a permanent pasture in fall and winter. The red clover grew with tall fescue as the predominant species and with appreciable proportions of Johnsongrass, common bermudagrass, and crabgrass. Red clover held it's own, but had to be reseeded the spring following a severe summer drought that apparently led to subsequent winter kill (none of the associated grass species were affected).

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. June.

 

16. Red clover in the Ozarks-A particularily prolific red clover plant at full bloom at edge of an oak-hickory forest in the Springfield Plateau section of the Ozark Plateau. Red clover has naturalized in this region to the degree that in some years it grows and blooms prolifically whereas in other (typically drier, warmer) years plants are considerably smaller. Obviously cultural practices like liming and fertilization are a major factor in this regard. Consideration was laid on naturally occurring red clover that had naturalized as in this instance and not on planted field crops. In this western part of the Ozarks red clover is widely distributed and, as it is self-propagating (initially self-seeded), it persists indefinitely. Interestingly, red clover will appear on clearcuts or appear "suddenly" on go-back lands (old-fields) that have been heavily grazed following abandonment of farming. Under such conditions red clover is not a pioneer or early colonizing species, but it does become established locally early in the sere and persist well into the progression of plant succession if not grazed out.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. May: late vernal aspect, full bloom stage.

 

17. Shoot shows forage potential- A single sexual shoot of red clover showing leaf location, leaflet pattern, and terminal flower cluster (head). This shoot was one of several on red clover plants growing in an ungrazed area (an outer fencerow). As explained in preceding captions, red clover has naturalized in certain areas such as the Ozark Plateau. Red clover is, however, so palatable (and, as shown here, grows to such unprotected heights), that it is readily grazed out under heavy grazing --not to mention overgrazing--in habitats marginal to its adaptation. For instance, on typically shallow soils of the drought-prone (though humid) Ozark Highlands coupled with customary and habitual overgrazing by ignorant, vain, and greedy hobby "cattlemen" (this author has been around them for over six decades) red clover can survive only in fencerows and other local areas protected from grazing abuse.

Under proper grazing management red clover does persist even in marginal environments--albeit that this is limited to humid and subhumid zones depending on soils, and precipitation patterns. An insurmountable problem with red clover in such marginal areas (eg. Ozark Plateau, Cherokee Prairie) is the opportunistic and sporadic nature of the red clover forage crop. Some years there are "bumper crops" followed by several years of "crop failure". In some soils there is such a seed bank that red clover has a ruderal or fugitive pattern of production. Under ideal conditions in one year red clover "sprouts up everywhere" even in places where it seems incomprehensible to have anything. Then there there are years when one can barely find red clover plants to photograph let alone provide forage. This "boom or bust" forge supply is the nature of self-seeding legumes, be they annual or short-lived perennial species.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Early June; full bloom stage.

 

18. Red clover- Inflorescence (a "head") and leaves of red clover. Two trifoliate leaves provided an instructive border for the basis of the common name "red clover". The leaves themselves illustrated the source of Trifolium. Compare this top-down view to side views in the next slide-caption set.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Mid-June; obviously full-bloom stage.

 

19. Too perfect to pass up- Two views of another head and trifoliate leaves of red clover. These oblique views gave more of an indication of the spherical head and arrangement of individual papilionaceous flowers thereon. Students should note the different shape and pigmentation of leaflets of this plant in contrast to that of those in the immediately preceding slides. There is considerable phenotypic variation in T. pratense.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Early June; full-bloom phenology.

 
20.  Dryland creeping alfalfa – An individual plant of Ladak alfalfa (Medicago falcata cv. Ladak). This is a variety of the wild yellow-flowered alfalfa that is native to Eurasia. Ladak was selected from among native populations of M. falcata in the province of Ladakh, India (Heinrichs, 1963, ps. 317-320 passim). Ladak has variegated inflorescences and a branched-root arrangement (vs. the more pronounced or typical pattern of the dicotyledon taproot system). This cultivar (accession may be the more precise designation) was selected for rainfed agriculture in a semi-arid region and it has been used in intercrosses with other M. falcata lines to produce hybrid types having creeping rootstocks (creeping-rooted alfalfa) (Heinrichs, 1963, p. 322-324).

Alfalfa is one of man’s most important agronomic forage legumes, especially as a hay crop. Most cultivars of  common alfalfa (M. sativa) can be grown without irrigation only in sub-humid or wetter regions. There are a few alfalfa cultivars that have been selected for dryland agriculture in semi-arid regions. These are generally either M. sativaM. falcata  hybrids or M.  falcata selections. Ladak is one of the latter which holds some promise for seeded range. Gallatin, County, Montana. June.

 
21.  Alfalfa- Leaves and inflorescences of Medicago sativa. Numerous Medicago species are of economic importance as pasture and hay crops. Alfalfa is the most important of all. It is the most important hay species in California, the agricultural wonder of the world. It is probably also the most important hay crop in the Agricultural Region known as the Grazing and Irrigated Crops Region traditionally viewed as extending from the Front Range of the Rockies (western edge of the Great Plains) westward to the crest of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Ranges. While there are important introduced grass species (eg. timothy, redtop, reed canarygrass) grown for hay in various locations throughout these regions alfalfa is likely the most important hay crop in the vast area known as the Western Range. Development of alfalfa cultivars which are adapted for either dryland pasture or even range has long been a goal of plant breeders in the Western Range. Unfortunately this remains a largely unfulfilled goal, but some breeders have developed cultivars of the creeping (= creeping-rooted) alfalfa. Whereas the typical M. sativa varieties have a prominent tap-root system the wild yellow-flowered alfalfa (M. falcata= M. sativa subsp. falcata) has a “branched-root” form of the fundamental dicot taproot system. This morphological shape or pattern of root arrangement permits this Medicago species to exhibit a “creeping” or “spreading” habit rather than the bunched or tufted habit of typical M. sativa plants. This creeping rootsystem permits expansion by asexual reproduction (and consequent better survival under grazing) in M. falcata. Alfalfa breeders have developed several M. falcataM. sativa hybrid (sometimes identified as M. media) cultivars including Rhizoma, Rambler, Teton, Nomad, Roamer, and Drylander with the latter being the one best adapted to dryland pasture production. Some of these have creeping rootstocks or even rhizomes under certain conditions (eg. Rhizoma, Nomad, Rambler). Unfortunately these are often low-yielding and relatively restricted in their range of adaptation (see review by Heinrichs, 1963 and Heinrichs, in Campbell and Herbel, 1975, p.54-57). Overall these cultivars are relatively drought-tolerant and persistent on seeded range, at least by legume standards, but the goal of legumes having persistence on range like that of introduced grasses is not yet a reality.

Alfalfa, like the other major agronomic legumes, is a member of the Papilionoideae (= Faboideae) subfamily). Papilionaceous legumes have a corolla consisting of five petals: the largest is a single petal known as the standard or banner, two central petals fused as the keel, and two “side” (lateral) petals known as wings. The major agronomically important nodulated legumes— those entering into mutualistic symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria like Rhizobia species which form nodules on the host roots— are all in this subfamily, the Papilionoideae.

 

22. Undisputed King- Domestic alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is unarguably the world's major or leading hay crop Martin et al, 2006, p. 547). It was explained in preceding captions that most alfalfa used for rangeland prodcuction was the branched-root system, yellow-flowered alfalfa (Medicago sativa subsp. falcata= M. falcata). The standard cultivars of agronomic alflafa almost never persist under rangeland conditions.Even cultivars of M. falcata are usually planted in mixtures with introduced (though range-adapted) grasses especially crested wheatgrass, often along with intermediate wheatgrass (Agropyron intermedium) and smooth brome (Bromus inermis).

When M. sativa is found on range it is usually as a waif (short-lived adventive plant) or else in local areas that are protected from heavy grazing. The most likely (and it is not common) condition under which domestic alfalfa would persist in a range plant community is on mesic meadows (eg. frequently flooded or subirrigated bottomland) as a member of a more-or-less naturalized and extensively managed (= "semi-wild") ihay crop. That was the situation with specimens shown in this section which were growing on abandoned cropland with crested wheatgrass, smooth brome, Japanese chess (Bromus japonicus), Russian wildrye (Elymus junceus), Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), foxtail barley or squirreltail barley (Hordeum jubatum), and yellow sweet-clover (Melilotus officinalis).

Some examples of domestic alfalfa were included here to round out a chapter on introduced legumes that sometimes grow on range. Furthermore, it seemed imperative to include and make note of a major roughage fed as hay to range livestock (and often--purposely or not--to range wildlife).

Custer County, Montana. Late June; full-bloom phenological stage.

 

23. Beauty as well as utility- Views of inflorescences (spike-like or head-like racemes) and trifoliate leaves on shoots of domestic alfalfa. These examples showed that alfalfa inflorescences are borne in both leaf axils and at shoot apices (from both intercallary and apical meristem). Alfalfa is often an important bee plant with flowers serving as a a source of both nectar and pollen for the domestic honey bee (Apis mellifera) However, bees have to learn how to trip the tightly closed petals of this papilionaceous legume to get to pollen Martin et all, 2006, p. 551). Hence, honey bees usually just feed on alflafa nectar. Alfalfa honey (honey made primarily from alfalfa nectar) is heavier-bodied but milder-flavored compared to some other honeys.

Honey bees are poor pollinators of domestic alfalfa because they are reluctant to push their heads into the alfalfa corolla to trip it. Alfalfa growers were forced to introduce the leafcutter bee (Megachile rotundata) for efficient pollination (and subsequent seed production) of alfalfa.

Custer County, Montana. Late June; full-bloom phenological stage.

 

24. "Purty" to a compound or a simple eye- Be you bee or man you find the head-like or spike-like racemes of domestic alfalfa to be quite attractive.

A comprehensive--though dated--reference for "all-things alfalfa" is the agronomy monograph edited by Hanson (1972). A more recent but abbreviated reference is in the text by Martin et al. (2006, ps. 547-5700 and of course the timely updated textbook, Forages, remains the standard (Hughs et al, 1951, ps. 138-153; Heath et al, 1973, ps. 136-147; Heath et al, 1985, ps. 89-97; Barnes et al, 1995, Vol. 1, ps. 205-216; Barnes et al., 2007, p. 182).

Custer County, Montana. Late June; full-bloom phenological stage.

 

25. Bur-clover, or burclover, (Medicago hispida= M. polymorpha= M. denticulata)- There are numerous Medicago species known variously as burclover (with or without adjectives) or medic. These are distinct from the Medicago species known as alfalfa that were covered above. Distinction among the various Medicago species known as burclover or medic can be somewhat tedious (and tedious). Bailey (1949, p. 582) listed four Medicago species in addition to alfalfa for the United States and Canada, but Correll and Johnston (1979, p. 805-806) described two other Medicago species for Texas that were different from those of Bailey, including the common button medic or button clover (M. orbicularis) and spotted bur-clover or spotted medic (M. arabica). The latter of these was treated below.

All of these burclovers, button clovers, or medics were introduced from the Mediterranean Region and are self-seeding winter annuals (Martin et al., 1976, p. 768). They have naturalized to varying degrees across much of the South, especially the historic Cotton Belt, and the Pacific Slope where cool and usually moist winters allowed these aliens to find apparently "empty ecological niches". Medics tend to be especially well-adapted to the Mediterranean climatic region of California where they are often components of California annual grassland and grass-oak woodland. They are also locally abundant under the mild winters of southern and central Texas.

The burclovers are nutritious and highly palatable, but they do not provide high yields of dry matter. Improved nutritive value and increased concentrations of protein and minerals are their greatest contribution to range animal diets.

The species shown in this slide is known variously as California or toothed burclover and, sometimes, California medic. This vigorous specimen was thriving in northcentral Texas.

Erath County, Texas. March.

 

26. At the apex- Trifoliate leaves (even though somewhat cupped upward) and head inflorescences of California medic or burclover. Foliar and floral details of a naturalized annual (and very much opportunistic) nodulated or papilionaceous legume.

Tarleton State University Hunewell Ranch, Erath County, Texas. Mid-April; full-bloom phenological stage.

 

27. Busy little shoots- Shoots of California or toothed burclover with both inflorescences and immature legumes as well as prominently displayed trifoliate leaves. This Mediterranean, cool-season, annual member of the clover tribe (Trifolieae) has become naturalized over sizable portions of North America, especially where there are mild winters such as the Mediterranean climate of much of coastal and central California and moderate continental climate like that of central to south Texas. However, this hardy little plant also calls Quebec and Alaska home (at least in more moderate habitats there) as well as thriving south inot Mexico.

Medicago polymorpha is an agronomy textbook example of an opportunistic species. In favorable years--whatever combinations of soil moisture, temperature, etc. make for favorable plant growth--California medic covers the country and affords almost unbelievable good forage. In years of unfavorable growing conditions, this tough little annual is absent from the landscape. California burclover is very much a "boom or bust" forage crop. On range, which by definition is less favorable for growth and reproduction of most plant species, this "all or none" crop phenomenon is more pronounced with even more year-to-year variation

Tarleton State University Hunewell Ranch, Erath County, Texas. Mid-April; full-bloom phenological stage.

 
28. Fruits and leaves of toothed or California bur clover- The long spines on the legumes are a "dead giveaway" for this species. The trifoliate compound leaf feature was also obvious. Erath County, Texas. Mid-April.
 

29. Annual pasture par excellance- Small patch of spotted bur-clover or spotted medic (Medicago arabica) on abandoned land in the West Cross Timbers. This was an ungrazed sward in full beauty at peak standing crop. The author seems to rcall a cliche comparing beauty in "fat cows, thin women, and ungrazed pasture". Some of those categories might not be the most productive, but they could be preferable to alternative groupings derived by a rearrangement of adjectives and nouns. The author will leave it up to students to do that homework on their own. There again, based on recent performance of students in this professor's courses, that might be entirely too taxing, politically incorrect, discrimatory, sexually harrassing, and destructive of self-esteem. Better to give every student an A, gold star, and secure job for showing up to work (at least half the time). In the meantime, we can all admire the obvious excellence and high productivity of this truly exceptional crop.

Erath County, Texas. Early April.

 

30. Beauty in a forage crop- Characteristic leaves and papilionaceous flowers of spotted medic(k) or spotted bur-clover. This is not only one of the prettier or showier Medicago species, but it is probably the highest-yielding and certainly the leafiest (greatest leaf-to-stem ratio) of any of the medics that has naturalized in less humid areas of North America.

Erath County, Texas. Early April.

 
31. Sainfoin seeding in Alberta- In the rough fescue prairie region some farm ground has been reseeded to sainfoin for hay or, possibly for pasture or even range. This is an example of what a field of sainfoin looks like when everything goes according to the textbooks.

Forage legumes on range are one of those things which “holds out promise” or “has lots of potential”. Range legumes have yet to materialize as forage species other than rarely as in the case of subterranean clover on the California annual type. In addition to sainfoin, research has been conducted attempting to use Cicer milkvetch (Astragalus cicer) and various creeping and rhizomatous Siberian alfalfas (Medicago falcata) as introduced range legumes (See Heinrichs in Campbell and Herbel, 1975, ps. 50-61). Determination of the specific species of Rhizobium bacteria with which to inoculate the specific legume species has been a major problem. Culture of subterranean clover on California range and pasture was unsuccessful until the inoculation problems were solved.

 
32. Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciaefolia= O. sativa)- Sainfoin is a perennial papilionaceous legume native to Asia and introduced to Europe over five centuries ago and into the United States two centuries ago. It has been planted in western North America from Nevada to Alberta across which vast area it has been used variously for both dryland and irrigated hay, irrigated pasture, and range (including interseedings) (Cooper and Carleton, 1968).
 



33. Common lespedeza (Lespedeza striata)- This naturally reseeding summer (warm-season) annual is one of two annual lespedeza species introduced to the southern United States from Southeast Asia. The other species is Korean lespedeza or Korean clover (L. stipulacea). These relatively low-yielding but nutritious annuals grow over much of the same general region and have much the same agricultural role as the medics and, even more so, the hop clovers presented above . The big difference is that the annual lespedezas do it in the summer (ie. their "empty ecological niches" included the time dimension or "volume" of warm-season). Introduced annual lespedeza species do best on the harsher sites of shallow, rocky, drier soils and full sunlight. They do compete with larger perennials but their cover, density, and herbage yield are greatest when they grow alone as single-species stands (or nearly so).

These introduced annual lespedezas are not as reliable forage producers as are the hop clovers. Common and Korean lespedeza germinate and mature during the some of the hottest parts of the warm-growing season. This is when soil moisture is typically lowest due to high evapotranspiration and when precipitation is less than at any time except for some of the winter season. Also, droughts so frequent to hop clover-lespedeza areas typically do not develop until after mid-spring. Hop clovers can survive as drought-avoiders, but lespedezas are forced to be drought-tolerators. Once annual lespedezas become established a soil seedbank persist that can produce a new crop for years thereafter. A lespedeza crop does not occur each summer. There are good lespedeza years and years when one has to search-- hard-- to find a spindly lespedeza plant. This is but one example of where perennial species are usually more dependable forage plants.

Annual lespedezas are some of the least expensive forage species to establish. Lespedeza is planted by broadcast seeding often on small acreages using hand-crank Cyclone seeders. The author once overseeded almost 20 acres of go-back land using a Cyclone seeder and obtained an excellent stand. Hand-seeding is easiest when broadcasting on top of a light cover of snow. Broadcasting lespedeza seed is one exception to the nearly iron-clad rule to never broadcast seed but instead prepare a clean, firm, friable seedbed. Planting common lespedeza is a "poor boy" range and pasture improvement practice.

Besides producing good quality pasture for livestock and native ruminants like deer at minimal cost, annual lespedeza furnishes excellent feed for bobwhite quail. Adult birds are often observed bringing their broods onto stands of the short common lespedeza through which the young chicks can easily move and forage.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. September.

 

34. Sericea lespedeza (L. sericea= L. cuneata)- Sericea lespedeza on an old-field in the Ozark Plateau. "Sericea", as it is known to farmers and stockmen, is the major introduced Lespedeza species that is a perennial. It was widely planted for hay and permanent (tame) pasture, soil-building, and wildlife feed, especially for bobwhite quail. It was commonly seeded during the 1950s and 1960s on land enrolled in the Soil Bank Program like that shown in this slide. In areas having lots of infertile soils (either natural or "farmed out"), such as the general region encompassing the Ozark Plateau and Cherokee Prairie, fields formerly in row crops or small grains were seeded to sericea or sericea-perennial grass mixtures, commonly sericea and tall fescue or sericea and bermudagrass. Sericea really "took aholt" and quickly naturalized. It will "grow on a rockpile" and persist through severe drought to produce high-quality hay and pasture.

Unfortunately sericea eventually became a weed over vast areas of the Central Lowlands (again, the Cherokee Prairie for example) and became a threat to native vegetation and other agronomic crops when it invaded tallgrass hay meadows and permanent pastures. Sericea was either declared or generally regarded as a noxious weed in states like Kansas and Missouri, at least in certain counties.

This is an old story in which only the plant names change (mostly new species are added to the noxious list). Many of the exotic "conservation species" that were introduced and established-- through cooperation of a well-meaning United States Department of Agriculture and conscientious agricultural producers-- for erosion control, increased forage production, and wildlife habitat became major pests. Other examples include kudzu (Pueraria lobata), Johnsongrass, and multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora).

This does not mean that sericea lespedeza has no benefit to agriculture and conservation and should therefore be eradicated (assuming for argument that such is possible). It means only that sericea must be managed more carefully, including standard weed control practices (perhaps even eradicated in localized areas). On many smaller farming and ranching operations sericea remains the "poor man's alfalfa". Hay made from immature sericea and baled properly so as to retain its leaves is on par with alfalfa (which may require irrigation even in humid zones with frequent summer drought) and red clover (which requires richer soils like bottomland). Sericea is still valuable for deer forage and bobwhite quail feed (sometimes cover) though perhaps inferior to common and Korean lespedeza for upland game species. With decline of the bobwhite throughout the Southeast sericea may have increased value, but any such conclusions should be based on findings from research that verify value of sericea to wildlife including song and game birds.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. September.

 
35. Stem of sericea lespedeza- Leaves and flowers of sericea. Ottawa County, Oklahoma. September.
 

36. Flowers of sericea leapedeza- Lateral and apical portions of shoots of sericea lespedeza showing tiny papilionaceous flowers and trifoliate leaves Lespedeza sericea= L. cuneata. First photographh, Ottawa County, Oklahoma (Late July); second photograph, Newton County, Missouri (Late June). Photographs taken within four miles of each other in the same summer: note span of time over which flowring took place.
 

37. Sweets horizon to horizon- Retired farmland under a Conserve Reserve Program contract on which plants species consisted of almost nothing but white sweet-clover (Melilotus alba) and yellow sweet-clover (M. officinalis). There are very few fields in the Western Range Region that are "pure" stands of one or both of these two melilots. The author did not know the particulars of this field, but almost assuredly nobody would reseed CRP land solely to these two species. Most likely these Melilotus species volunteered on the reseeded land and prevented other seeded species from becoming established. Both white and yellow sweet-clovers naturalzied in North America decades ago. They are self-seeding biennials and, as such, constitute permanent pasture as agronomic forage species (ie. tame pasture plants). From a range plant/range vegetation perspective these two Melilotus species are introduced and, subsequently, naturalized range plants that most likely will outlast man in their new-found "Home on the Range".

Lincoln County, Colorado. Mid-July; peak-bloom phenological stage.

 

38. Sweetclovers (sweet-clovers) or melilots (Melilotus species)- Yellow sweetclover (M. officinalis) and white sweetclover (M. alba) growing together on rangeland in Alberta. Martin et al. (1976, p. 645) indicated that these natives of Asia Minor were used as green-manure and bee plants 2000 years ago and that they had naturalized in parts of Virginia over 30 years before the Declaration of Independence. Like so many crops, including introduced forage species that later naturalized (eg. Kentucky bluegrass, white clover), dispersion and, ultimately, invasion of the sweetclovers corresponded with the predominant westward movement of the frontier. Eventually the melilots became most common in the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest Regions, but the two most common species are forbs on range and pasture lands as far south as Texas.

The Melilotus species present in North America are biennial and, rarely, annual plants. The biennial life cycle is, of course, far less frequent than annual and perennial cycles being particularily uncommon on range except among some groups like certain of the Compositae. The two major melilot species are white sweetclover and yellow sweetclover. Basic biology of these species was given by Martin et al. (1976, ps. 645-649) and in the various editions of Iowa State's Forages text beginning with the first edition (Hughs et al., 1951, ps. 166-171).

From their high rankings as some of the major forage legumes, white and yellow sweetclover became consistently less important as field crops until currently they barely merit mention (less than one page) in Forages (Barnes et al., 1995, p. 277). The sweetclovers, like many of the earliest introduced forage species, in effect became obsolete (at least under intensive, agronomic management). Ironically (sadly perhaps) some of the early introductions that were major crops eventually proved to be less productive than newer introductions or improved cultivars of existing species. As noted earlier in this section, some of these agronomically obsolete species even became weeds because though less productive of forage they had superior survival and aggressiveness as ruderals or as reversions back toward the wild types.

Reversion or atavism (being or becoming like a remote ancestor, rather than like the parents) though a "vice" among cultivars, inbred lines, etc. often becomes the essence of persistence "in the wild". The very characteristic that dooms species as domesticated crops and makes them weeds to farmers and agronomists can make them invaluable to ranchers and rangemen. To some extent this is the case for the naturalized sweetclovers. The two biennial sweetclovers remain locally ("spot") dominants and important sources of forage as range forbs. It was explained above that the major limitation of legumes on range was survival, longevity of stands, persistence, you provide the term. Any legume --native or perennial-- that persist on range is desirable as superior livestock and wildlife feed, soil nitrogen increaser, bee plant, or wild flower unless it has noxious qualities like competitiveness with more desired plants (the bad aspect of "weediness") or toxic properties.

In the latter of these there was a response from the "raw nerve". Yellow and white sweetclovers are, under certain conditions, one of the classic poisonous plants. They contain a glycoside that is an ether of glucose and coumarin. When coumarin is metabolized by molds (ie. moldy sweetclover hay) the compound dicoumarol results and in turn causes a Vitamin K deficiency. Out of this discovery and subsequent research by the University of Wisconsin th rat poison Warfarin (for Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation) was developed and patented. This interesting story, that is surely relayed in every poisonous plant course in every School of Veterinary Medicine, was given by Cheeke and Shull (1985, ps. 186-190). And as always readers are referred to Kingsbury (1964, ps. 342-346) and Burrows and Tyrl (2002, ps. 590-594).

Sweetclover poisoning is largely a thing of the past as Melilotus species were phased out with more and improved cultivars of other hay crops, notable alfalfa, and-- likely in no small part-- to the threat of livestock toxicity. The two sweetclovers remained common range legumes and can be found, sometimes locally in great populations, from the Allegheny Mountains across the Sierra Nevada. They were recognized as having naturalized in California by the time Jepson published the first comprehensive California flora in 1925. Sweetclovers have generally had a positive impact on the range vegetation of North America.

Habitats of white and yellow sweetclovers are so similar that the two species often grow side-by-side as seen in this slide. Cardston Municipal District, Alberta. July.

 

39. Sweet upper shoot- Distal or terminal portion of a shoot of white sweet-clover. Patterns of branching and leaf arrangement were evident in this photograph. Students should note that flowring was indeterminate, that is flowers and individual inflorescences (spike-like racemes) develop (bloom) from lower to higher and inner to outer units. In this example the terminal (uppermost) racene was still in pre-bloom stage whereas lower racemes were at peak bloom stage. This same flowering pattern was obvious in the second photograph in the next slide-caption set.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Early June; plant nearly at peak-bloom phenological stage.

 
 
40. Leaves and inflorescence of white sweetclover (Melilotus alba)- Ottawa County, Oklahoma. June.
 
41.. Shoot apex of yellow sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis)- The plant that grew this example of flowers and leaves was in Alberta. July; peak-bloom stage.
 

42. Exotic yellow- Yellow sweet-clover in a stand (first slide) and as a single shoot (second slide) in the Northern Great Plains. Yellow sweet-clover has naturalized and come to occupy vast acreages across much of the Great Plains. In some years, the low hills and shallow valleys of the northrn plains are ablaze in the enamel-rich yellow of Melilotus officinalis. Dense stands of profusely flowering plants of this biennial species such as that shown in the first photograph can be common in some years so as to cover the land in a patchy yellow "pile carpet". Millions of flowering shoots such as the featured one in the second slide form the botanical "firmament" of such populations.

Livestock and wildlife readily graze these shoots, but in good yers there are so many such shoots (most of which become sexual or flowering units) that animals cannot keep pace with the bountiful forage.

Custer County, Montana. Late June; peak standing crop and peak-flowering phenological stage.

 

43. Yellow clusters- Sexual (flowering) shoots of yellow sweet-clover showing branching pattern, leaf arrangement, and blooming sequence of the spike-like racemes of yellow sweet-clover. The patter of flowering progression of individual flowers and flower clusesters (racemes) rfrom lower to upper and inner to outer floral units was obvious, especially in the first of these two slides which preented this pattern of indeterminate blooming or indeterminate flowering to good advantage. The second slide showed individual papilionaceous flowers on an entire inflorescence (a spike-like raceme).

These were some examples from the population of Melilotus officinalis introduced in the immediately preceding pair of slides.

Custer County, Montana. Late June; peak-flowering phenological stage.

 

Vetches (Vicia species) comprise another group--albeit it a small one--of introduced forage legumes that are sometimes important, especially at local scale, on North American ranges. There are Vicia species that are native to parts of North America, but generally the vetches that are most important as forage plants are the self-seeding annual species. All of these are cool-season plants that most commonly are only component species in mixtures with grasses. Unlike most introduced grasses and many legumes the introduced vetches are not usuallly used as or develop into single-species pastures. Rather these cool-season annuals are component and, commonly, secondary species with grasses. At one time certain vetch species (especially V. sativa and V. villosa) were used as a complementary species on small grains pasture (particularily winter wheat and rye). This works well if the small grain species (say, wheat or rye) is used striictly as pasture and "grazed out" rather than removing livestock and allowing the grain production which is subsequently harvested. Vetch seed, especially of V. sativa, is close enough in size to wheat or rye grain that it is a major contaminant of these crops resulting in severe discounts or even rejection of wheat or rye at the elevator. For this (and various other) reasons some of the introduced vetches are regarded as weeds in some states and regions.

Traditionally the major use of vetch species has been as nutrient-dense, high-protein sources in pastures that are made up primarily of introduced grasses. This varies from small grains pasture to permanent pastures of introduced perennial grasses, both warm-season species (eg. green, actively growing vetch in dormant herbage of bermudagrass) and cool-seson Eurasian species (eg. a cool-season legume complementing the lower nutritive value herbage of tall fescue, ryegrass, or orchardgrass). Aside from the main agronomic use of vetches (as a domestic forage crop) the value of vetch on range is as naturalized species that furnish greater concentrations of nutirients and add some stability to forage production through species diversity. The vetches also provide some cover as well as high-quality feed for species of wildlife, many of which are highly selective feeders (eg. deer, turkey, quail). Vetchs can also serve as valuable bee plants and furnish soil cover for watersheds. Overall, vetches with their leafy sprawling habit provide protection against soil erosion. Some Vicia species have been routinely planted as winter cover crops, especially in southern states like Oklahoma. Under certain conditions these nodulated legumes can fix atmospheric nitrogen thereby increasing soil nitrogen which in turn benefits their grass competitors.

A major drawback with any annuals (even self-seeding ones) is their "feast-or-famine" nature of production. In years favorable for germination of vetch seed these species produce "bumper crops", more than animals can begin to eat. At the other extreme there are years with little or no vetch is produced. Between these extermes there is enough variation in herbage production that grazing capacities cannot be estimated with much reliability. This is the problem inherent with any annual forage crop, cool- or warm-season (except under unique situations), especially of legumes. Self-seeding annual clovers and lespedeza confront the producer with the same problem. Annual grasses are much less variable in germination and herbage production than are legumes. Even with grasses, however, there are years when this (these) annual species or that predominate.

The vetchs were never major forage species (other than locally or on individual operations) and their relative importance as forages declined over the last half century or so as evidenced by converage in the classic undergraduate-farmer reference Forages by Iowa State University Press (compare first to latest edition). Most treatments of vetch culture were in various USDA and state agricultural experiment station publications (most of these long out of print). Hairy or winter vetch (V. villosa) is common and valuable enough that it was recognized as an important range plant (even though an introduced species) by authorities in Texas (Hatch and Pluhar, 1993, ps. 218-219) and Oklahoma (Tyrl et al., 2002, ps. 210-211).

Regardless of noxious features, highly vriable forage production, and primary use as field crops the vetches are frequently valuable naturalized range legumes. Some examples werer included below.

 

44. Common or field vetch (Vicia sativa)- Common vetch is less winter-hardy than some of the other species such as hairy vetch (V. villosa) as described below. V. sativa has no trouble surviving as far north as southern Kansas (and adjoining localities) where it frequently produces abundant crops of herbage and legumes. This tends to be in more favorable though modestly disturbed environments such as infrequently mowed fencerows.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. May.

 

45. On the vine- Two views of naturalized common vetch showing details of tendril, leaves, and inflorescence.Ottawa County, Oklahoma. May; full-bloom stage of phenology.
 

464. Closer study on the vine- Two more views of common vetch presenting closer-in "ganders" of the papilionaceous flower and tip of the compound leaf to show tendrils. The tendril shown here had already wrapped around a shoot when the photographer took it off and placed it by the flower for convenient viewing by students. Erath County, Texas. April..
 

47. Not sweet peas or string beans, but pulses nontheless- Immature though ripening legumes (as well as a flower) on a shoot of naturalized common or field vetch. The fruit type of legumes is a legume or, as it is also known, a pulse. Pulse crops are legumes raised for their pulses (legumes) that are used as human food or animal feed. The pulses of forage legumes on range and pasture are an frequently important sources of critical nutrients, especially protein and amino acids. Pulses constitute concentrate feeds in contrast to other plant parts like stems and leaves which are roughage or forage feeds. It is important to remember this basic fact when considering the nutritive value of legumes growing on grazing lands.

Erath County, Texas. April.

 
48. Went to seed or end of the life cycle- Mature and senescing shoots of common vetch with both ripe, dehisced and ripening (still immature) legumes. Ottawa County, Oklahoma. May; late immaturity of fruit to seed-shatter phenological stages.
 

49. Woolypod or smooth vetch (Vicia dasycarpa)- This showy specimen is an example of one of at least eight Vicia species grown as field crops in North America, but there are as many as three dozen species of native or naturalized vetches here (Martin et al., 1976, p. 760). Most vetches are annuals, rarely biennials, and most of the agronomically important ones are grown as winter annuals. Obviously these are best adapted to southern areas, especially the southcentral and southeastern states. Vetches are sometimes overseeded on fields of warm-season perennial grasses such as bermudagrass. Upon, or shortly after, their introduction vetches were seeded with wheat to improve diets of wheat pasture cattle. It was quickly discovered that many of the wheat pasture vetches were weeds because the closeness in size of vetch seed and wheat kernals allowed contamination of grain in the combine. In some cases the cool-season vetch grew to such size and abundance as to compete with winter wheat. When wheat is grown solely for pasture and will be grazed out the combination of vetch and wheat is pasture without peer.

On range, vetch usually grows as either isolated plants or small stands and typically amounts to little more than increased diversity in plant community and animal diets.

The Eurasian V. dasycarpa shown here was readily identified by the infloresence that has all of the papilionaceous flowers arranged along one side of the rachis or central stem. It lacks the pubescent leaves of the very similar hairy vetch (V. villosa). By the way, some of these vetch species share the same common name, depending on authority,.which can be a source of confusion. Smooth vetch is a common naturalized species in isolated spots on tame pasture (eg. bermudagrass, tall fescue), tallgrass prairie and, as with the speciemen shown here, oak-hickory-tallgrass prairie savanna.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. June.

 

50. Beauty (and a study) in a naturalized forage crop- General view of woolypod or smooth vetch showing its inflorescences with papilionaceous flowers aligned on one side of the rachis (central stalk) of the flower cluster. Also visible in this photograph were long, twining tendrils characteristic of this species. An addition perquisite of this naturalized legume was the aesthetic value found in the elegant beauty of this economically important plant of field and range.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. May.

 

51. Go for another vetch- Wooly, hairy, or winter vetch (Vicia villosa) is another of the introduced annual Vicia species. In some areas (such as northeastern Oklahoma from which most of these examples came) several vetch species grow together, often in disturbed areas that are undergoing recovery. Such was the case for the specimen seen here which grew vigerously on a previously heavily mowed and then abandoned fencerow.

The vetches comprise one of the earlier groups of introduced forage legumes. Their tendency to have weedy attributes, such as being a major contaminant of winter wheat grain, resulted in vetches being less desirable than initially thought. By way of illustration, the annual vetches warrented only two paragraphs in the sixth edition of the time-honored text, Forages, The Science of Grassland Agriculture (Barnes et al., 2007, ps. 187-188) whereas the Vicia species merited their own short chapter in the first edition of Forages (Hughes et al, 1951, ps. 234-241).

Nonetheless, the vetches are here here to stay, at least as local or incidental species, because they have naturalized to their new home in North American pastures and ranges. This is particularily the situation on periodically disturbed eenvironments where disturbance is minimal during critical periods of vetch growth and seed production.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Early June; full-bloom phenological stage.

 

52. Beauty in an introduced forage- Interior of a large group of plants of hairy, winter, or wooly vetch. Hairy vetch was reported as being the most winter-hardy of the Vicia species (Hughes et al., 1951, p. 235). This was probably basis of the common name of winter vetch.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Early June; full-bloom phenological stage.

 

53. Introduced spring flowers- Views (overall, side, frontal; top to bottom, respectively) of inflorescence of hairy or wooly vetch. This inflorescence is regarded as a spike-like raceme (Diggs et al., 199, p.706). The best way to distinguish among Vicia species in the field is by infloresecence features such as size, length, color, etc. of individual flowers and flower cluster. Viewers can compare these features here.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Early June; full-bloom phenological stage.

 

54. Hairy (sort of) legumes- While Vicia villosa goes by such descriptive common names as wooly or hairy vetch, the most common form (group of varieties) is known as smooth vetch due to appearance of having no pubesecence (Hughes et al., 1951, p. 235). That morphological feature was obvious from these photographs of the ripe legumes of V. villosa growing in the western Ozark Plateau.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Early June; seed-ripe, but pre-seed shatter phenological stage.

 

55. Wooly, hairy, or winter vetch (Vicia villosa) in the Oregon Coast Range- Wooly or woolypod vetch has naturalized through much of North America. Whereas the immediately preceding photographs were taken in northeastern Oklahoma this photogarph was of a naturalized grassland in the Coast Ranges of westcentral Oregon. The grasslands in the California's Central Valley and Coast Ranges except for extreme northern California are in the region of Mediterranean climate where naturalized grasslands are of Mediterranean annual grasses and forbs. Farther north in the Coast Ranges Eurasian cool-season, perennial grasses are typically dominant and the important forage species. Wolly vetch is an example of a naturaized Eurasian annual legume that is common and a locally important range forb.

This example was from a forest range of such introduced and now naturalized species. Also present was orchardgrass, tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, and the annuals, soft chess (Bromus mollis) and ripgut borme (B. rigidus= B. diandrus).

Benton County, Oregon. June.

 
56. Hairy, wooly, or winter vetch- General view of one of the more widespread Eurasian vetch species along the Pacific Slope. Whole plant view of V. villosa growing on the Pacific Coast Range forest range introduced in the preceding slide. Benton County, Oregon. June, full-bloom phenological stage.
 

57. Crown vetch (Coronilla varia)- Crown vetch is another, though minor, introduced papilionaceous legume. It is a perennial that requires scarifiction and other treatments of seed for successful establishment. Once established it spreads by creeping rootstocks. Crown vetch forage is relatively high in tannin content and not paticularily palatable. It is valuable for erosion control and has been planted on road cuts. Newton County, Missouri. June.
 

58. One more at home in the Corn Belt- Bird'sfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) or narrowleaf trefoil (L. tenuis) growing on the outer edge of a marsh in the heart of the Nebraska Sandhills. In The Flora of Nebraska Kaul et al. (2006, p. 469) explained that these two species were distinguishable only as to their ploidy with L. corniculatus being tetraploid while L. tenuis is diploid so that a case could be made for inclusion of the latter within an inclusive L. corniculatus. Kaul et al. (2009, p. 469) recognized the two taxa as separate species and stated that L. corniculatus was "not in the Sandhills". Based on their conclusion and spliting of the broader L. corniculatus this specimens presented here would be L. tenuis, narrowleaf trefoil.

This domestic (= introduced) papilionaceous legume (whether one inclusive species or two species as the case may be) is a major agronomic crop throughout much of the Corn and Soybean Belt where it is central to many crop-grassland operations. Bird'sfoot trefoil has naturalized in some areeas where it grows as solitary plants up to small local populations in more mesic and generally less-harsh microsites.

Bird'sfoot trefoil is of considerably greater importance as an agronomic (and intensively managed) forage species than as a naturalized range plant-- as could be said of about every introduced legume or grass. Nonetheless, is is a locally valuable feed plant for range animals. Outstanding references for state-of-the-art management and production of bird'sfoot trefoil included the monograph edited by Beuselinck (1999) as well as various editions of the standard text, Forages- The Science of Grassland Agriculture (Hughes et al., 1951, ps. 215-233; Heath et al., 1973, ps. 177-188; Heath et al., 1985, ps. 98-108; Barnes et al., 1995, vol. 1, ps. 237-248; Barnes et al., 2007, p. 186).

Along the eastern margin of the Western Range Region bird'sfoot trefoil is primarily an incidental plant that adds biodiversity, an occasional "splash" of beauty, and some choice bites of nutritions forage to some lucky grazer.

Cherry County, Nebraska. Mid-June-peak-bloom phenological stage.

 

59. Yellow-footed- Inflorescences (first slide) and individual flowers of the introduced papilionaceous legume, bird'sfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) or narrowleaf trefoil (L. tenuis)--hichever or both (see preceding caption)--, growing in a marsh in the Nebraska Sandhills. By looking closely at several, individual flowers students can see all three forms of petals of the papilionaceous corolla: 1) one banner or standard (the largest andhindmost petal) to the front and side of which of which are 2) two wings, and at the foremost part of the corolla 3) two fused petals forming the keel.

Cherry County, Nebraska. Mid-June-peak-bloom phenological stage.

 
60. Field pea (Pisum arvense= P. sativum arvense)- Another minor agronomic papilionaceous legume is the forage field pea. It is a cool-season annual used much like the true vetches (Vicia species), but it has a generally wider region of adaptation being grown from New England and the Upper Midwest south through Texas. It is often known by the full name of Austrian Winter (one of the older and more winter-hardy cultivars) field pea. Erath County, Texas. April.
 
Miscellaneous Forages
 

61. Field of kochia (Kochia scoparia)- Kochia is an Eurasian annual that has naturalized over a wide area particularily in the semiarid zone. Kochia is a member of the saltbush or goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae) which in North America is second only to the rose family (Rosaceae) in number and value of range browse plants. Kochia or, as it is also known, belvedere and summer cypress is obviously a forb; in fact, it is primarily an alien weed much like other chenopod species such as lambsquarters (Chenopodium album). Aside from any value as a successional pioneer species and related aspects such as vegetative cover for soil protection, the main utility of kochia is as palatable forage. As is the case for other herbaceous chenopods (such as lambsquarters for example) these weeds--and they qualify as weeds in both agronomic or cultural as well as ecological definitions--are often highly relished by most kinds and classes of grazing/browsing animals. Even gras-preferring grazers like cattle readily graze immature kochia or, less commonly, more mature plants under certain conditions, and not just when there is nothing else to eat (eg. when dried leaves are softened by rain). Cattle, sheep, even horses as well as deer consume shoot tips and young leaves.

Farmers and stockmen were quick to realize the feed value of kochia (even though it is a major weed on disturbed land such as farm fields and overgrazed ranges) when it became apparent that animals ate it to varying degree. This was most noticable where kochia grew in dense populations in corrals, go-back land, barrow ditches, trails, etc. A few growers in the Great Plains began to manage some of their fields to encourage kochia production. Eventually some producers planted kochia as a crop while others raised kochia for seed. The stand of kochia shown here was being grown as a commercial seed crop though at this time there was not a Certified Seed program for this new crop.

Kochia produces nutrient-dense forage (eg. crude protein levels sometimes exceed 20% although some of this may be non-protein nitrogen) of fairly high palatability, but it is also a poisonous plant under certain conditions. Poisonous principles (=toxic substances in kochia tissue) include alkaloids, nitrate, sulfate, saponins, oxalates, and even liver-damaging agents. Thus, livestock toxicity from kochia can span an array of maladies from nitrate toxicity to alkaloid poisoning to oxalic acid poisoning to photosensitization as a secondary symptom and disease resulting from hepatatis (Burrows and Tyrl, 2001, ps. 351-355 passim; Hart et al., 2003, p. 118). These and other references offered management suggestions for reduction of livestock losses to kochia. All things considered, on most livestock operations animal poisoning due to kochia does not override the feeding value of this naturalized "poor boy or substitute legume". The economic gain from nutrient-rich kochia forage is greater than economic losses from kochia-poisoning. Afterall, in some situations alfalfa (Medicago sativa) contains bloat-causing saponins, induces photosensitization of both primary and secondary types, and accumulates toxic levels of nitrates (Kingsbury, 1964, ps. 33, 43, 57, 341-342). No, kochia is not alfalfa-quality feed; neither does it require the expensive, intensive imputs and demanding culture of alfalfa. Hart et al. (2003, p. 118) provided a pertinent summary of this naturalized forb: "Despite its drawbacks, kochia can sometimes be considered a valuable forage".

The Society for Range Management (Stubbendieck, Hatch, and Butterfield, 1992, ps. 312-315) included both kochia, Eurasian naturalized forb, and greenmolly, perennial summer cypress, or red sage (K. americana), the native shrub, on the list of 200 plant species for its Intercollegiate Range Plants Contest. Consistent with this, the contest list also included the chenopodiaceous Eurasian annual forb commonly known as Russian thistle (Salsola iberica= S. kali-tenui-folia). Both of these forbs are the common "tumbleweeds" of the Western Range. Both species break off near the ground surface and, being spherical in general shape, they roll and bounce wildly across the land disseminating their seed as driven by ever-present winds.

Erath County, Texas. May, early bloom stage.

 

62. Shoots of kochia- Two views of kochia showing characteristic leaves, apical buds, and color patterns on stems. Grant County, Washington. June; pre-bloom stage.
 
63. More on kochia- Branching pattern and leaf detail on Kochia scoparia. The two plants shown here lacked the more common stem stripes of this species. While leaves of some kochia plants turn red with older age the light maroon stripping is more pronounced on younger portions of shoots. Okanogan County, Washington.June; pre-bloom stage.
 
64. Blooming shoot of kochia- A sexually mature shoot of kochia with several inflorescences in anthesis. This plant was growing in the field of seed kochia that introduced this exotic weed turned introduced forage crop. Erath County, May; anthesis.
 

65. Bearing much fruit- Branches of kochia with ripe fruit, and a lot of it. The dried, brown "patches" in leaf axils are dead floral parts within which are the very small seeds of this prolific speceis.. Erath County, Texas. October.
 

66. And now--of all things--a composite- Plant of chicory, blue sailors, or less commonly, wild bachelor's buttons (Cichorium intybus) to present a representative of one composite species that is sometimes planted as a domestic forage crop. Much more common on range and tame pasture is the growth of this naturalized (from the Mediterranean Region) weed sometimes as a scattered plant (here-and-there) and at other times as isloated patches or even as an estensive population across an entire field. In this latter situation chicory is especially prevalent on old fields or go-back land (abandoned farmland). This species is a member of the Liguliflorae, the subfamily of Compositae whose members secrete a milky (latex) sap.

Ball et al. (2002, p. 75) charactrized chicory as a short-lived perennial that is estremely drought-tolerant, adapted to acid soils, and capable of producing highly palatable forage of high nutritive value when grazed (large shoots would be difficult to cure for hay). From this author's observations that description sounded more like a sales pitch than an accurate assessment. To begin with this alien composite more often than not grows as a biennial, at least in southern portions of its adopted new home in North America. More to the point, chicory does not persist over time on the same land. Instead it grows opportunistically so that populations (cover, density, abundance) vary from levels of weed infestation down to non-existence. It is not a reliable forage. Maintenance of single-species stands of chicory is not practical as grasses and forbs quickly become established in chicory seedings (Barnes et al., 2007, p. 263). Furthermore, whereas chicory forage (consumed herbage) is low in fiber there is considerable production of hard, coarse, stalky stems (from this photographer's findings) that are avoided by livestock (Barnes et al., 2007, p. 263).

Nonetheless, chicory cultivars have been developed and this composite species remains as one of the forage forbs othr than legumes and crucifers. From the perspective of natural pasture, chicory is just one of many composites--both native and naturalized--that is eaten by livestock and/or wildlife on range. it was included in this chapter because it is about the only nonnative (introduced) composite raised as a forage crop.

This author has seen on many occasions chicory, prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola= L. scariola), and sow thistle (Sonchus asper and S. oleraceus) all growing together in fence rows in the Ozark Plateau. Of these three naturalized members of the Liguliflorae subfamily chicory was always least grazed by white-tailed deer (or by breechy cattle reaching through dilapidated fences).

Chicory roots have been ground and added to coffee to make "chicory coffee", but this was more of a Great Depression phenomenon done to extend something that required cash for aquistion. It was better than reusing coffee grounds, another Depression-necessitated practice. In a similar vein, leaves of chicory do make tasty greens, a purpose for which this species was cultivated from antiquity as noted by such early writers as Pliny and Theophrastes (Diggs et al., 1999, p. 336).

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Early July, peak flowering phenological stage.

 

67. Light contrast on blue sailors- Two images of chicory taken less than a minute apart under full-sun sky (first slide) and overcast sky (second slide). This author has at several places in this publication shown comparison of identical images under bright light versus overcast light. It has been shown repeatedly that, in general, bright light shows more details because it is possible to get greater depth of field and crispness. On the negative side, shadows are more apt to be present and pale colors (eg. pastels) are likely to be "washed out" in bright light.

With these paired photographs viewers can reach their own conclusions. Ya'll should note that the pastel blue of corollas was not 'bleached out" in the full-sun, but the color did appear different between overcast and full light.

Chicory or blue sailors is a naturalized Eurasian forb that is essentially a weedy annual requiring recently disturbed land (more or less bare ground) for establishment. Such denudation (disturbance resulting in devegetation) can be at scale of macrohabitat like recently abandoned farmland (= old fields) or of microhabitat as where there was stirred soil on a highway berm (eg. location of a car wreck). Chicory would never be common on ranges in higher stages of plant succession. Instead it would be more likely on sacrifice areas, along ranch roads, areas burned when established perennials were vulnerable, reseeded range, etc. Otherwise, chicory would be limited to microsites where only one to a few plants could become established. Such was the case for the specimen featured here which grew on a spot above a highway borrow ditch where county road workers carelessly literally plowed the land surface with a shreader or rotary mower.

Real problem: all the above discussion was largely negted by the inability of Epson Perfection 700 scanner to accurately reprodue colors, hue, saturation, and just about anything and everything else properly. Epson manufactures junk.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Early July; peak bloom phenological stage.

 

68. Blooming blue sailors- Shoots of chicory or blue sailors at peak bloom. This slide was taken under a full-sun sky immediately after the bright-light photograph shown in the above slide-caption unit. As was emphasized in the preceding caption, the pastel blue of chichory corollas was not "bleached out" by bright light (full, direct sunlight). Chicory is in its own tribe (Cichorieae) within the composite subfamily, Liguliflorae, members of which have a milky (latex) sap.

Technical note: Epson Perfection 700 scanner finally got one right. The image in this slide, including sunlight, was accurately reproduced.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Early July; peak bloom phenological stage.

 

69. All hands on deck- Upper shoot of chicory or blue sailors with several heads at full bloom. Barnes et al. (2007, p. 262) interpreted the inflorescence of chicory as a compressed panicle (perhaps in reference to the entire set of heads), but Diggs et al. (1999, p. 336) described chicory flowers as heads borne sessile in leaf axils.Either way the flowers are attractive. They have long been grown in flower gardens (uner the name of blue sailors) and, more recently, as wild flowers for landscape purposes. Again, however, chicory is not native to North America (Lady Bird Johnson could not grant her "Good Houskeeping Seal of Approval").

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Early July, peak flowreing phenological stage.

 

70. Blue sailors up close- Inflorescences of chicory or blue sailors. Several flowers aligned along branches of a shoot (first slide) and details of a single head (second slide) of Cichorium intybus. Heads flower only during morning (though they may remain open somewhat later under cloudy skies) so that photographing these inflorescences requires careful timing (late enough to get light diredtly on head yet before on these composite inflorescences close for the day).

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Early July

 

71. OK, now how about a cricifer?- Several plants (first slide) and a single plant (second slide) of bird rape, birdsrape mustard, wild turnip, or field mustard (Brassica rapa= B. campestris) on distrubed soil of a wet prairie. Field or birdsrape mustard is one of the most widely distributed of all plant species introduced (by the wihte man) into North America. Its interrupted species range extends from Greenland across to Alaska and in the south from opportune microsites in the Sonoran Desert Region of California across to the southernmost tip of peninsular Florida. Field mustard grows both as 1) a sparingly--though widely--naturalized species adapted mostly to disturbed habitats and 2) an adventive, waif, or escaped exotic. Wild turnip is a serious weed in some areas, as across some of the Western Range Region (Whitson et al., 1992, ps. 216-217).

The field mustard plant in the second slide was growing beside tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea), an even more abundant, naturalized, agronomic species (and a pestiferous weed where not wanted) in areas where is adapted. Presence of wild turnip or field mustard beside the naturalized offspring of endophyte-infected Kentucky 31 tall fescue attested to the competitiveness of this crucifer.

The previous distinction between B. rapa and B. campestris--designations tracing back to Linneaus--(Bailey, 1949, ps. 436-437)--has been discontinued in some of the more recent taxonomic treatments such as that by Steyermark (1963, p. 734) and Diggs et al. (1999, p. 460) with B. rapa interpreted as the proper binomial. Conversely,. in Flora of the Great Plains (McGregor et al, 1986, p. 304) B capestris was used as the binomial as distinguished from the domestic turnip (B rapa). Naturalized or "weedy" genotypes of B. rapa or B. campestris (take your choice), like the ones presented here and in the immediately succeeding photographs, are representatives of the wild type of this species (whatever, whichever it is ). As such they are also representative of naturalized range plants--or, again, as weeds in some situations--(Steyermark, 1963, p. 736; McGregor et al., 1986, p. 304), albeit a species that will likely never become a major range plant other than on locally disturbed or drastically altered range environments (ie. "new land", old fields, "go-back ground"). Neither Steyermark (1963, ps. 734, 736) nor McGregor (1986, p. 304) made reference to enlarged roots of B. campestris, but Diggs et al. (1999, p. 460) specified that taproots of wild plants range from "noticeable thickening" to no enlargement. Whitson (1992, p. 217) stated that roots ogf birdsrape mustard (which they specified should be carry the binomial of B. rapa not B. campestris) "resemble a small turnip".

Use of B. rapa as a planted (agronomic) forage/concentrate crop for livestock and wildlife was covered in the next caption.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Late December; early to mid-vegetative stage.

 

72. Birds' view- Two plants of birdsrape, wild turnip, or field mustard growing on the berm of a recently graded road through wet tallgrass prairie in the western Ozark (Springfield) Plateau. These two specimens had germinated and emerged two and a half to three months previous to photographs. They were plants of Brassica rapa or B. campestris which are now, strictly speaking, naturalized in this area (Steyermark, 1963, p.736) and not adventive from traffic-dispersed seed.

Crucifers or, more precisely, the so-called forage brassicas have long been planted as fodder or forage crops with some of these same species being planted primarily as root crops for livestock feeds (Morrison, 1936, ps. 312, 316-317; Morrison, 1949, ps. 453-456;). Such use of these species was summarized in all editions of Forages- The Science of Grassland Agriculture from Hughes et al. (1951, 418-423) to Barnes et al.(2007, ps. 262). Much of the use of these crucifer species reported in the Forages editions--as in Morrison's Feeds and Feeding-- was for the fleshy roots more than the "tops" (shoots). Cruciferous roots--even if eaten in fields as if a grazing crop--are intermediate between carbonaceous concentrates and roughages though they tend to be more like concentrate feedstuffs. When grazed, both tops, first, and, later, roots are consumed.

The practice of planting brassicas such as B. rapa= B. campestris either as a single-species crop or with winter small grains like wheat and oats has resulted in their naturalization (or at least parttial naturalizattion) across much of North America as, for example with B. campestris in Texas (Diggs et al., 1999, p. 460). Bailey (1949, ps. 436-437) distinguished between B. rapa which he regarded as the domestic turnip in contrast to B. campestris the species of field mustard. Morrison (1936, ps. 312; 1949, ps. 453-456) regarded the domestic turnip as B. rapa while the related root crop, rutabaga was B. capestris. More recent workers like Whitson et al. (1992, p. 217) and Diggs et al. (1999, p. 460) lumped these two species under the species designation of B. rapa. Thus, the current author used both binomials to assist readers in this historically (traditionally) confused designation.

In more recent times, domestic turnips and even common and sugar beets (Beta vulgaris) have been recommended for (and planted in) feed plots for deer, especially white-tailed deer, in the humid zone of North America (Wiss, 2002; Kammermeyeret al., 2006). Such management is obviously more farming (Agronomy) than management of ranges and forest corps (Range Management and Forestry), but such feed plots can be interpreted specifically as complementary pasture. The practice of planting crucifers for wildlife forage (and concentrate) crops can--if anything--only increase the naturalization of these introduced species.

The plants of field mustard or bird rape shown here were growing on soil at edge of a wet prairie that had been disturbed by road repair. They were clearly examples (textbook examples at that) of naturalized species on range, depleted though it was.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Late December; mid-vegetative stage.

 
 

 

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