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NC State Extension

Groundcover Diversity and Flowering

Ground Cover Biodiversity

The farms selected for this study were ones where the grower maintained good ground covers. The following are observations of ground cover composition averaged over the 11 observations at the 6 different study sites. More than 80 different species of plants were identified. Each field had anywhere from 30 to 45 different species, with an average of 37.7 species per site. Many plants are similar among several sites. Others were only found at one farm. The following is a list of the plants identified:

  • Plants found at all six locations: Chickweed, dandelion, false dandelion, fleabane, goldenrod (multiple species), horseweed, nightshade, Queen Anne’s lace, plantain, purple deadnettle, red clover, white clover, wood sorrel.
  • Plants found at five locations: Milkweed, nightshade, oxeye daisy, poison ivy, yarrow (white).
  • Plants found at four locations: Black-eyed Susan, giant ragweed, horsenettle, lambsquarter, pepperweed, primrose, pokeweed, violets, wild mustard.
  • Plants found at three locations: Several species of aster, bindweed, buttercup, creeping bedstraw, multifloral rose, nettle, pepperweed, plantain, smartweed, tall fescue.
  • Plants found at two locations: Barnyard grass, black nightshade, blue-eyed grass, crabgrass, dock, false Indian strawberry, foxtail, Johnson grass, mullen, Spanish nettle, thistle, trefoil, vetch, Virginia creeper, wild garlic, wild geranium, wingstem.
  • Plants found at one location: Asiatic dayflower, black mustard, bittersweet, briars, burmuda grass, catbriar, chickory, clemantis, cocklebur, crown vetch, dwarf cinquefoil, feather grass, fine fescue, hempdogbane, hogpeanut, honeysuckle, horsenettle, ironweed, Joe Pye weed, orchardgrass, pineappleweed, pigweed, sheep sorrel, smilax, spurge, sunflower, sumac.

Ground Cover Flowering

Flowering varied greatly between sites and between visits at the same site. The following observations were made:

  • Through the course of the study, there were anywhere from 1 to 14 different species of plants blooming with an average of 6.7 species in bloom.
  • The percentage of the ground cover blooming ranged from 1 to over 100 % with an average of 52% of the ground cover occupied by blooming plants.
  • Blooming was affected by herbicide use, rainfall, and the change of the season.
  • White clover made up a significant portion of the blooming ground cover at all sites.

The following series of photographs depict the changes that took place at one site through time where no herbicide was applied and no mowing occurred. Bloom comparison

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