Growth of cerrado native species and of Vetiveria zizanioides in colluvium of gullies.
Rates of seed germination, plant survival and growth, as measured in the present study, are essential parameters to characterize the biological potential of species for the restoration of degraded areas. The lack of knowledge about these aspects in native species has justified the use of exotic plants in Brazilian gullies revegetation. However, especially in places subject to highly seasonal climate and on oligotrophic soils, exotic species do not always perform well, leading to revegetation failure or significantly increasing the cultivation care needs. To improve the knowledge concerning to the biological potential of cerrado native species and of an exotic grass which has been used for erosion contention, in the present study, seedlings and clumps of native cerrado species, Cratylia argentea (Desv.) Kuntze and Echinolaena inflexa (Poir.) Chase, and of the exotic grass Vetiveria zizanioides (L.) Nash, were transferred to a gully colluvium in Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais state, where they remained during the dry season of 2010 without application of fertilizers or irrigation. In randomized block design, plots of 1×1 m received four planting treatments: clumps of Echinolaena inflexa or Vetiveria zizanioides, and clumps of these grasses intercropped with the legume Cratylia argentea. All grasses and 73% of the legume seedlings survived. As expected, the green cover of Echinolaena inflexa decreased throughout the dry season, however, showing regrowth after the first rains. Leaf area of Vetiveria zizanioides remained active and grew significantly in the period. Cratylia argentea showed high rates of germination and growth; however, nodulation occurred in only two individuals. Thus, there was no influence of the legume on grasses growth. Results indicate that both native species and the exotic grass tested are potential successful plants for gullies replanting. Plants survived and grew on low nutrient substrate and during the critical period of drought without any fertilizer or irrigation application.