|Session I: Upland Plants
||Abstract #: 97104
EFFECTS OF TIME SINCE BURNING ON SAW PALMETTO (SERENOA REPENS) FLOWERING AND FRUITING
Mary E. Carrington and J. Jeff Mullahey
University of Florida- Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, Immokalee, FL 34143
Previously virtually ignored, saw palmetto (Serenoa repens
) now enjoys a "spot in the limelight," thanks to recent market demand for its berries. In response to continued interest in harvesting saw palmetto berries, research on saw palmetto began at the University of Florida in 1996. One of the research objectives is to quantify effects of burning on saw palmetto flowering and fruiting. In September 1996 we began a study on the effects of time since burning on saw palmetto flowering and fruiting. We quantified fruiting in 18 flatwoods and dry prairie sites that burned during the growing season either in 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, or before 1991. Saw palmettos in sites burned in 1996 generally were not fruiting by September to October. In sites burned in all other previous years, fruit yield per site ranged from 19 kg/ha to 2700 kg/ha. Although we expected that sites burned one year previously and over three years previously would have higher fruit yields, we saw no consistent pattern in fruit yields with time since burning. Our results suggested, however, that past burning frequency may influence saw palmetto fruiting. Lowest fruit yields occurred in sites that historically burned every two to three years, while the highest yields occurred at sites that have burned every eight to ten years. We plan to quantify flowering and fruiting in the study sites for two more years. In the next two years, we will determine both if patterns of fruiting are consistent with the pattern (or lack of pattern) seen in the first year, and if fruiting levels are consistent with flowering levels within years.