Regional Native Plant Nursery for Habitat Restoration
The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory’s Botany Section operates a 3000 sq. foot greenhouse that is being used as a Plant Nursery to grow saltmarsh plants, which are being used to restore coastal wetlands.
This program is growing the two most common coastal marsh plants: Juncus roemerianus (black needlerush) and Spartina alterniflora (smooth cordgrass). The tidal marshes in Mississippi are dominated by these two species.
There are presently no readily available sources of native coastal plants within the state. All material used for mitigation and restoration efforts must be obtained by removing them from existing tidal marshes, or by purchasing it from out-of-state commercial growers and suppliers. A local supply of these plants for restoration projects will reduce the impacts of damage or loss of marsh acreage, without introducing species that are not local.
The Plant Nursery is growing plants only from native seeds to avoid genetic problems that could arise from interbreeding the genetic stock of Mississippi with other (e.g., Florida or Louisiana) plant sources. This will help to avoid potential disease risk introduced from other plant stocks.
The Plant Nursery is being funded by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality’s Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (DMR) through the Tidelands Trust Fund and the Gulf of Mexico Community-Based Restoration Partnership. The objective of this project is to re-establish native saltmarsh vegetation within designated restoration areas in the three coastal counties of Mississippi.
Below are pictures of the facilities and process by which the saltmarsh plants are raised from seed until they are of the size required for transplanting to the restoration sites.
Tidelands Trust Fund
This research was made possible in part by funds granted to the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory from the Mississippi Coastal Impact Assistance Program, administered by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.