Cool season species are cool, too
To date, restoration has become proficient at restoring midsummer or warm season grasses and flowers. Tragically, the warm season functional guild occupies less than a third of the entire growing season; therefore, we fail to occupy blooms for two thirds of the growing season, specifically the cool season. The failure to propagate cool season species, combined with the loss of cultural practices such as grazing and firing groves, has contributed to making cool season flowering species the rarest bloom component on our landscape, which is a threat to pollinator communities.
Cool season species are a functional group (guild) that occupies niche space during the vernal and autumnal seasons. Some cool season species flower in the spring, are dormant in the summer, and reemerge in the fall to conduct photosynthesis in order to rebuild carbohydrate reserves for the following spring bloom. Other cool season species reverse this periodicity, conducting photosynthesis in the spring, laying dormant in the summer, and blooming in the fall. And some cool season species, such as spring ephemerals, are only functional during one season, efficiently accomplishing reproduction and carbohydrate production in a condensed period of time.
Restoration should seek ways to enhance cool season propagation. One reason we neglect to include cool season species in our designs is because cool season species by seed and seedling are expensive and rare, but two decades ago, many of our current common inexpensive summer blooming species were also rare and expensive. Much of the following text is implicitly in reference to the enhancement of cool season species in an attempt to compliment our warm season successes.
In This Series
A Plan For A Better Future: Creating a Unified Pollinator Ecology
Premise 1: Pollinators are grazers
Narrative 2: The most powerful terrestrial ecosystem on earth, the Grazing Lawn
Premise 3: Cool season species are cool too
Premise 4: Decrease grass seeding rates, but increase graminoid diversity
Premise 5: Functional groups, niche theory, and seed mix design
Premise 6: Relax the current punitive genotype restrictions
Premise 7: High density patch planting
Premise 8: Nitrogen pollution is a serious threat to pollinators
Premise 9: Make hay, not war
Premise 9: More pollinator habitat through more frequent fire.
Premise 10: Afforestation, an unknown but significant threat to pollinator survival