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Wednesday - September 04, 2013

From: St. Paul, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Vines
Title: Riverbank Plants for Minnesota
Answered by: Larry Larson


I would like to stablize a steep riverbank slope along the Upper Mississippi in St. Cloud MN. The slopes are almost 1:1. We are using an open cell concrete matt in which we are going to plant native grasses, forbes and vines. We would like to use plants native to the riverbluffs in the region. Any ideas? Thanks for your help.


As you are using the open cell concrete mat to stabilize the slope, we don’t necessarily need to recommend the usual stabilization of the slope with plants that form clumps and/or have extended root systems.  Of course, this is still a useful aspect for your application

Mr Smarty Plants makes recommendations out of the Wildflower Centers “Recommended Species” lists, this time the one for Minnesota.
There turns out to be plenty of native plants [130] that might be found in the “Wet or Moist” soil of a riverbank.  So I further restricted the plants listed here to ones that are shorter and/or are perennial; happily, many of these also have extended root systems that will further stabilize the ground.  You may want to consider:

Grasses or Grasslike [11 candidates]: Calamagrostis canadensis (Bluejoint), Carex stipata (Awlfruit sedge), Spartina pectinata (Prairie cordgrass), Allium canadense (Meadow garlic)Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem), Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama),  

Forbs [64 candidates]: Asarum canadense (Canadian wild ginger)Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry dogwood)Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman's breeches), Hydrophyllum virginianum (Eastern waterleaf), Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry),

Vines : Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet)Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)

 This is just a sampling of the native plants available that should be successfull. As there are many possibilities, you may want to review the plant records of these suggestions and/or go back to the restricted list of Recommended Species for Minnesota and make a selection based more on your knowledge of the riverbank and its characteristics.


From the Image Gallery

Calamagrostis canadensis

Prairie cordgrass
Spartina pectinata

Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Bunchberry dogwood
Cornus canadensis

Dutchman's breeches
Dicentra cucullaria

Virginia waterleaf
Hydrophyllum virginianum

American bittersweet
Celastrus scandens

Mitchella repens

Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

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