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FutureStarrIllinois bundleflower seeds
Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis (Michx.) MacM., Fabaceae) is a warm-season perennial legume of the North American grass-lands. It is rated by some as our most important native legume. Illinois bundleflower seeds contain 38% protein on a dry weight basis. In this review of The Land Institute’s research in developing Illinois bundleflower as a perennial seed crop, we present the species’ characteristics, nutritional value, nitrogen fixation capability, and potential for genetic improvement.Vail, J., P. Kulakow, and L. Benson (1992). Illinois Bundleflower: Prospects For A Perennial Seed Crop. In Recapturing a Vanishing Heritage, Proceedings of the Twelfth North American Prairie Conference held August 4-6, 1980, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, D.D. Smith and C.A. Jacobs, Eds., pp. 31-32. Reprinted with permission.
This paper reviews The Land Institute’s research in developing Illinois bundleflower, Desmanthus illinoensis (Michx.) MacM., as a perennial seed crop, examining the species’ nutritional value, nitrogen fixation capability, and potential for genetic improvement. Illinois bundleflower has been called our most important native legume (Great Plains Flora Association 1986), yet there are no published reports of genetic variability within this species. We have been studying Illinois bundleflower at The Land Institute since 1979. Although it has not historically been a human food, preliminary data on nutritional value, seed yield, genetic variability, and nitrogen fixation suggest that it has promise as a perennial grain legume.Illinois bundleflower is a self-fertile, perennial legume of the North American grasslands. It is found north to Minnesota, west to Colorado, and south from Texas to Florida. Native stands occur in prairies, rocky open ground, wooded slopes, stream banks, road-sides, and railroad rights-of-way (Latting 1961). It is readily eaten by livestock and has been included in range revegetation programs (Great Plains Flora AssociatIn our research to develop a “domesticated prairie” we are seeking answers to some basic biological questions.
Because a large part of a perennial plant’s energy goes into its roots, whereas in an annual most energy goes to seed production, are perennialism and high seed yield mutually exclusive (Jackson 1980)? Long-term studies at The Land Institute have shown Illinois bundleflower yields to be highest the first year of growth, and to subsequently decline. To date, however, these studies are of no-input monocultures. We are conducting similar long-term-yield studies in bicultures, growing Illinois bundleflower with a warm-season, perennial bunchgrass, eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides (L.) L.), to study overyielding (Foreman 1989).Because we are interested in Illinois bundleflower as a food crop, we began our investigations by sending plant clippings and seed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Poisonous Plants Research Laboratory in Logan, Utah, to test for oxalates, cyanides, nitrates, and alkaloids. No toxic levels were found (Bruns 1985). (Source: landinstitute.org)