Desmanthus, lupine, mine reclamation, sand dunes, soil amendments


The Great Lakes Basin exhibits the largest collection of freshwater sand dunes in the world. Sand dunes are ecologically important and support a unique assemblage of flora and fauna. Sand dunes are also economically valuable. However, when sand dunes are mined, soil quality is drastically reduced. Therefore, soil quality improvements followed by revegetation maybe necessary for successful reclamation. This study evaluates the germination and initial growth of 2 legume species, sundial lupine (Lupinus perennis) and Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis), and 2 warm-season grass species, Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) and little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), in the presence of 2 soil amendments (inorganic fertilizer and sphagnum peat moss) added to spoil from a local sand mine. We sowed species in pots and propagated them under greenhouse conditions. Results indicate that sundial lupine and Illinois bundleflower exhibited the greatest germination and growth among species. Peat moss had the greatest overall impact on germination and growth while the addition of fertilizer positively affected initial growth. Based on these results, sundial lupine is recognized as a primary candidate for sand mine reclamation, while Illinois bundleflower is also recommended as an appropriate species for revegetation efforts. We recommend using soil amendments that are functionally equivalent to peat in increasing soil water holding capacity. We further suggest that fertilization may be accomplished by including legumes in plant species mixes used for revegetation. Results presented here may help to identify appropriate species and soil amendments for the reclamation of former sand mines or restoration of freshwater sand dunes.

Original Citation

Aschenbach, T. A., Brandt, E., Buzzard, M., Hargreaves, R., Schmidt, T., & Zwagerman, A. (2012). Initial Plant Growth in Sand Mine Spoil Amended with Peat Moss and Fertilizer Under Greenhouse Conditions: Potential Species for Use in Reclamation. Ecological Restoration, 30(1), 50–58.