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Protocol Information

Jennifer Kujawski
Resource Conservationist
Natural Resources Conservation Service - Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center
BARC-East Building 509
Beltsville, Maryland 20705

Family Scientific Name: Potamogetonaceae
Scientific Name: Potamogeton perfoliatus L.
Common Name: Redhead grass
Species Code: POTPER
Ecotype: Severn River, MD and Chesapeake Bay near Kent Island, MD
General Distribution: Redhead grass is a perennial submerged aquatic, commonly found in fresh to brackish water up to 20 parts per 1000 salinity throughout eastern North America, from Canada west to Ohio and south to Florida and Louisiana. It is generally found on muddy or sandy soil in water with mild currents.
Propagation Goal: Plants
Propagation Method: Vegetative
Product Type: Bareroot (field grown)
Stock Type: Bareroot plants (grown in containers, but used as bareroot transplants or with little soil clinging to roots and rhizomes)
Target Specifications: Plants are considered to be transplant ready when roots have spread throughout the pot and new shoots are developing. We do not have a target height for plants, although we've gotten plants with shoot lengths of 40 cm and greater.
Propagule Collection: We take cuttings from stock plants maintained in our greenhouse because of state restrictions on harvesting wild plants; material for stock plants was originally collected as wrack (floating plant parts) in the field during midsummer. Cuttings are collected from stock plants along any part of the redhead grass stem with nodes (main shoots, sideshoots, flowering stems, stem tips, and midsections). Cuttings can be taken from greenhouse stock plants any time of year. Cuttings that are at least 7.5 cm long begin to form new roots and shoots more quickly than smaller cuttings.
Propagule Processing: Cuttings are trimmed, if necessary, and lower leaves may be removed, although this is not necessary. If they cannot be stuck in medium right away, cuttings may be left in room temperature tap water. They will stay green for well over a month; in fact, they may begin to grow new roots and shoots as they float in the water.
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:

Cuttings (as well as stock plants) are grown in a 5130 L freshwater tank in a greenhouse. Water is continuously flushed through a 2 sponge filter and is maintained in the tank at the depth of 45 cm (which is the maximum depth available in the tank) with the addition of tap water as needed. Water temperature fluctuates with the surrounding air temperature in the greenhouse between 20 and 25C. Daylength is kept fairly constant, around 14 h. Natural daylength is augmented during the winter months by 5 hours of light supplied by four 1000 watt sodium lamps suspended along the center tank, 2.6 meters apart and 1.8 meters above the tank. The greenhouse is covered with a whitewash solution that provides 30% sunlight shading from mid-April to October.
Growing media for rooted cuttings used is inexpensive topsoil (enough to fill 5 cm wide x 10 cm deep pots to within 1 cm of top, packed) mixed with 1.2 grams of Nutricote slow release fertilizer (18:6:8, 180 day release rate at 25 C). This soil-fertilizer mix is covered with a minimum of 6 mm of washed play sand to cut down on algae formation on growing surface.
Filamentous algae tends to be a problem in the tank, and is removed with a hand net when the sponge filter does not adequately capture it. Barley straw bales were unsuccessful in controlling algae, although bacterial treatments were partially successful in breaking down algae.
Establishment Phase: Cuttings do not require rooting hormone. Cuttings 7.5 cm long generate new roots in 2 weeks and cuttings 2.5 cm long generate roots in 4 weeks.
Length of Establishment Phase: 2 to 4 weeks
Active Growth Phase: Cuttings continue to generate additional root mass and shoots and rhizomes after establishment.
Length of Active Growth Phase: 10 weeks with one cutting per container, although may be faster with more than one cutting per container.
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: For mid- to late-summer plantings, cuttings are ready for shipping to restoration sites in 12 weeks. Plants may be placed in coolers of water or covered with wet newspaper for local transport (either same day or overnight).
Other Comments: Seed Propagation: After 11 months of cold storage and various scarification treatments, redhead grass seeds had a maximum germination of 14%, but more commonly less than 2%.
Wildlife Value: Seeds, stems, and rhizomes are valuable food sources for waterfowl, in particular Redhead, Mallard, Ring-neck duck, Black duck, Canada goose, and Tundra swan. The plant also provides habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms.
Conservation Value: Redhead plants help control soil erosion and enable sediment settling in the Chesapeake Bay by reducing wave action.
References: Propagation of Redhead Grass (Potamogeton perfoliatus) Transplants for Restoration Projects, Kujawski, J. and Thompson, R., Native Plants Journal, Fall 2000, 1:124-127.

Kujawski, Jennifer; Thompson, Randy. 2002. Propagation protocol for vegetative production of field-grown Potamogeton perfoliatus L. plants (Bareroot plants (grown in containers, but used as bareroot transplants or with little soil clinging to roots and rhizomes)); Natural Resources Conservation Service - Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center, Beltsville, Maryland. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://www.nativeplantnetwork.org (accessed 31 August 2015). Moscow (ID): University of Idaho, College of Natural Resources, Forest Research Nursery.