Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

General: Squirreltail is a cool-season C-3 bunchgrass native to the western United States. Foliage can be glabrous but is more often white hairy throughout. Plants are short, 10 to 45 cm (4 to 25 inches) tall, with culms erect to spreading. Leaf blades are flat to involute, 1 to 6 mm (0.04 to 0.24 inches) wide. The inflorescence is a spike from 2 to 17 cm (0.8 to 6.7 inches) long, not counting the awns. Internodes of the inflorescence are from 2 to 10 mm (0.08 to 0.40 inches) long with the rachis disarticulating regularly. At maturity the spike can be over 12 cm (4.7 inches) wide due to the widely spreading awns. Awns are scabrous and may grow from 2 to as much as 10 cm (0.8 to 3.9 inches) long, these often becoming purple with maturity.

Squirreltail is a self-pollinating allotetraploid and is known to hybridize with other species of Elymus as well as with members of Hordeum (barley) and Pseudoroegneria (bluebunch wheatgrass). Plants flower from late May to August.

Distribution: Squirreltail (in the broad sense) can be found throughout western North America from Canada to Mexico. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Habitat: Bottlebrush and big squirreltail grow in a wide range of habitats, from shadscale communities to alpine tundra. Elymus elymoides ssp. elymoides is common at low to middle elevations in the western states. Subspecies californicus is native to mid-elevations up to alpine areas of Canada, California, Nevada and Utah. Subspecies brevifolius is found in a wide variety of habitats including desert and mountain plant communities, while subspecies hordeoides is restricted to the low lands of the Great Basin. Elymus multisetus occupies a similar range to ssp. elymoides, but is typically found in somewhat wetter, more mesic sites often in and near mountain foothills.

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Taxonomy

Though bottlebrush and big squirreltail are commonly referred to as Sitanion hystrix (Nutt.) J.G. Smith and Sitanion jubatum J.G. Smith, respectively, squirreltail is becoming more widely accepted through cytological and molecular evidence as belonging to the genus Elymus.

The squirreltail complex, Elymus section Sitanion, is composed of two species, E. multisetus (J.G. Sm.) M.E. Jones (big squirreltail) and E. elymoides (Raf.) Swezey (bottlebrush squirreltail), with E. elymoides being further divided into four subspecies: elymoides, brevifolius (J.G. Sm.) Barkworth, californicus (J.G. Sm.) Barkworth, and hordeoides (Suksd.) Barkworth. The following key will be useful in separating the various members of section Sitanion including subspecies.

1. glumes 3- to many-cleft; auricles mostly

apparent, circa 1mm in length E. multisetus

1. glumes entire or 2-cleft; auricles mostly < 1mm

E. elymoides

2. spikelets usually 2 per node

3. lowermost floret of one or both spikelets

at each node sterile and reduced to a

glume-like structure

4. glumes 2-cleft; awns of glumes longer

than those of the lemmas

ssp. elymoides

4. glumes entire; awns of lemma longer

than those of the glumes

ssp. californicus

3. lowermost floret fertile and not reduced

ssp. brevifolius

2. spikelets 3 per node, the floret of the central

spikelet fertile, those of the lateral spikelets

sterile and rudimentary ssp. hordeoides

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Alternative names

For E. histrix: Elymus elymoides (Raf.) Swezey var. brevifolius (J.G. Sm.) Barkworth; Elymus elymoides (Raf.) Swezey ssp. californicus (J.G. Sm.) Barkworth; Elymuselymoides (Raf.) Swezey ssp. elymoides; Elymus elymoides (Raf.) Swezey ssp. hordeoides (Suksdorf) Barkworth; Sitanion hystrix (Nutt.) J.G. Smith; Elymus hystrix L. var. bigeloviana (Fern.) Bowden and Elymus hystrix L. var. histrix

For E. multisetus: Sitanion jubatum J.G. Sm.

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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Squirreltail (in the broad sense) is widely distributed and can be found throughout western North America from British Columbia to Saskatchewan, south throughout the western and central United States to Mexico and from the west coast to the Dakotas and south to Oklahoma and Texas (Welsh et al., 1987; USDA NRCS, 2010).

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

More info on this topic.

This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS [22]:

3 Southern Pacific Border

4 Sierra Mountains

5 Columbia Plateau

6 Upper Basin and Range

7 Lower Basin and Range

8 Northern Rocky Mountains

9 Middle Rocky Mountains

10 Wyoming Basin

11 Southern Rocky Mountains

12 Colorado Plateau

13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont

14 Great Plains

15 Black Hills Uplift
  • 22. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434]

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Occurrence in North America

AZCACOID
ILKSKYMI
MTNENVNM
NDOKORSD
TXUTWAWY


ABBCMBSK



MEXICO

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Bottlebrush squirreltail is found from British Columbia to Saskatchewan, south throughout the western and central United States and into Mexico [200]. The PLANTS database provides a distributional map for bottlebrush squirreltail. Elymus elymoides ssp. brevifolius occurs in the San Bernardino Mountains, Peninsular Ranges, Modoc Plateau, and Mojave Desert of California to Oregon, the Great Plains and south to northern Mexico. Elymus elymoides ssp. californicus is found in the Klamath Range, Cascade Range, Sierra Nevada, San Gabriel Mountains, San Bernardino Mountains, east Sierra Nevada of California to Washington, Montana and Utah. Elymus elymoides ssp. elymoides is found in the Transverse Ranges, San Jacinto Mountains, and Great Basin floristic Province from California to Washington, Wyoming and Colorado. Elymus elymoides ssp. hordeoides occurs in Klamath Range from California to Washington and Nevada.
  • 200. Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. The Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p. [2944]

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Adaptation

In general, squirreltail is adapted to a wide range of ecological and topographical conditions. Plants can be found from 600 to 3,500 meters (2,000 to 11,500 feet) elevation in desert shrub to alpine plant communities. The different species-subspecies are adapted to sites receiving as little as 8 inches mean annual precipitation on upland sites or 5 to 9 inches in low lying areas that receive additional moisture. Big squirreltail is normally found in sites with 10 inches or more mean annual precipitation. Squirreltail grows well in medium to fine-textured soils, but also commonly occupies coarse-textured to gravelly soils. It tolerates low to moderately saline to alkaline run-in or overflow sites with electrical conductivity (EC) generally less than 10.

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Bottlebrush squirreltail is a cool season, [8] perennial bunchgrass native to the Intermountain West [18]. It is solitary [200], possessing solid, mostly flowering culms [210], with flat leaf blades. The inflorescence is a spike 0.8 to 6.7 inches (2-17 cm) long [82,150,200]. Ecotypic variation is common among bottlebrush squirreltail populations [9].

Reynolds and Fraley [164] found bottlebrush squirreltail roots to achieve depths of 39.4 inches (100 cm) below the soil surface. Depths below 39.4 inches (100 cm) were not seen due to a subsurface layer of basalt, suggesting rooting depths greater than 39.4 inches (100 cm) are possible. A lateral root extension of 16 inches (40 cm) was observed at 9.8, 20, 24 and 39.4 inch (25, 50, 60 and 100 cm) depths.
  • 150. Morris, H. E.; Booth, W. E.; Payne, G. F.; Stitt, R. E. 1950. Important grasses on Montana ranges. Bull. No. 470. Bozeman, MT: Montana Agricultural Experiment Station. 52 p. [5520]
  • 164. Reynolds, Timothy D.; Fraley, Leslie, Jr. 1989. Root profiles of some native and exotic plant species in southeastern Idaho. Environmental and Experimental Botany. 29(2): 241-248. [36276]
  • 18. Beckstead, Julie. 1994. Between-population differences in the germination ecophysiology of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) during afterripening. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 96 p. Thesis. [27522]
  • 200. Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. The Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p. [2944]
  • 210. Wright, Henry A.; Klemmedson, James O. 1965. Effect of fire on bunchgrasses of the sagebrush-grass region in southern Idaho. Ecology. 46(5): 680-688. [2624]
  • 8. Arnold, Joseph F. 1950. Changes in ponderosa pine bunchgrass ranges in northern Arizona resulting from pine regeneration and grazing. Journal of Forestry. February: 118-126. [352]
  • 82. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603]
  • 9. Arredondo, J. Tulio; Jones, Thomas A.; Johnson, Douglas A. 1998. Seedling growth of Intermountain perennial and weedy annual grasses. Journal of Range Management. 51(5): 584-589. [35483]

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Physical Description

Perennials, Terrestrial, not aquatic, Stems nodes swollen or brittle, Stems erect or ascending, Stems caespitose, tufted, or clustered, Stems terete, round in cross section, or polygonal, Stem internodes hollow, Stems with inflorescence less than 1 m tall, Stems with inflorescence 1-2 m tall, Stems, culms, or scapes exceeding basal leaves, Leaves mostly cauline, Leaves conspicuously 2-ranked, distichous, Leaves sheathing at base, Leaf sheath mostly open, or loose, Leaf sheath smooth, glabrous, Leaf sheath hairy, hispid or prickly, Leaf sheath and blade differentiated, Leaf blades linear, Leaf blade auriculate, Leaf blades 2-10 mm wide, Leaf blades 1-2 cm wide, Leaf blades mostly flat, Leaf blade margins folded, involute, or conduplicate, Leaf blades mostly glabrous, Leaf blades more or less hairy, Ligule present, Ligule an unfringed eciliate membrane, Inflorescence terminal, Inflorescence simple spikes, Inflorescence a dense slender spike-like panicle or raceme, branches contracted, Inflorescence solitary, with 1 spike, fascicle, glomerule, head, or cluster per stem or culm, Inflorescence single raceme, fascicle or spike, Inflorescence spikelets arranged in a terminal bilateral spike, Flowers bisexual, Spikelets pedicellate, Spikelets sessile or subsessile, Spikelets laterally compressed, Spikelet less than 3 mm wide, Spikelets with 2 florets, Spikelets with 3-7 florets, Spikelets paired at rachis nodes, Spikelets all alike and fertille, Spikelets bisexual, Inflorescence disarticulating between nodes or joints of rachis, rachis fragmenting, Spikelets disarticulating above the glumes, glumes persistent, Spikelets disarticulating beneath or between the florets, Rachilla or pedicel hairy, Rachilla or pedicel glabrous, Glumes present, empty bracts, Glumes 2 clearly present, Glumes equal or subeq ual, Glumes shorter than adjacent lemma, Glumes equal to or longer than adjacent lemma, Glumes awn-like, elongated or subulate, Glumes awned, awn 1-5 mm or longer, Glumes 3 nerved, Glumes 4-7 nerved, Lemmas thin, chartaceous, hyaline, cartilaginous, or membranous, Lemma similar in texture to glumes, Lemma 5-7 nerved, Lemma glabrous, Lemma body or surface hairy, Lemma apex acute or acuminate, Lemma distinctly awned, more than 2-3 mm, Lemma with 1 awn, Lemma with 3 awns, Lemma awn less than 1 cm long, Lemma awn 1-2 cm long, Lemma awn 2-4 cm long or longer, Lemma awned from tip, Lemma margins thin, lying flat, Lemma straight, Palea present, well developed, Palea membranous, hyaline, Palea about equal to lemma, Palea longer than lemma, Stamens 3, Styles 2-fid, deeply 2-branched, Stigmas 2, Fruit - caryopsis, Caryopsis ellipsoid, longitudinally grooved, hilum long-linear, Caryopsis hairy at apex.
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Ecology

Habitat

Palouse Grasslands Habitat

This taxon is found in the Palouse grasslands, among other North American ecoregions. The Palouse ecoregion extends over eastern Washington, northwestern Idaho and northeastern Oregon. Grasslands and savannas once covered extensive areas of the inter-mountain west, from southwest Canada into western Montana in the USA. Today, areas like the great Palouse prairie of eastern  are virtually eliminated as natural areas due to conversion to rangeland. The Palouse, formerly a vast expanse of native wheatgrasses (Agropyron spp), Idaho Fescue (Festuca idahoensis), and other grasses, has been mostly plowed and converted to wheat fields or is covered by Drooping Brome (Bromus tectorum) and other alien plant species.

the Palouse historically resembled the mixed-grass vegetation of the Central grasslands, except for the absence of short grasses. Such species as Bluebunch Wheatgrass (Elymus spicatus), Idaho Fescue (Festuca idahoensis) and Giant Wildrye (Elymus condensatus) and the associated species Lassen County Bluegrass (Poa limosa), Crested Hairgrass (Koeleria pyramidata), Bottlebrush Squirrel-tail (Sitanion hystrix), Needle-and-thread (Stipa comata) and Western Wheatgrass (Agropyron smithii) historically dominated the Palouse prairie grassland.

Representative mammals found in the Palouse grasslands include the Yellow-bellied Marmot (Marmota flaviventris), found burrowing in grasslands or beneath rocky scree; American Black Bear (Ursus americanus); American Pika (Ochotona princeps); Coast Mole (Scapanus orarius), who consumes chiefly earthworms and insects; Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus lateralis); Gray Wolf (Canis lupus); Great Basin Pocket Mouse (Perognathus parvus); Northern River Otter (Lontra canadensis); the Near Threatened Washington Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus washingtoni), a taxon who prefers habitat with dense grass cover and deep soils; and the Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus), a mammal that can be either arboreal or fossorial.

There are not a large number of amphibians in this ecoregion. The species present are the Great Basin Spadefoot Toad (Spea intermontana), a fossorial toad that sometimes filches the burrows of small mammals; Long-toed Salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum); Northern Leopard Frog (Glaucomys sabrinus), typically found near permanent water bodies or marsh; Columbia Spotted Frog (Rana luteiventris), usually found near permanent lotic water; Pacific Treefrog (Pseudacris regilla), who deposits eggs on submerged plant stems or the bottom of water bodies; Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum), fossorial species found in burrows or under rocks; Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii), found in arid grasslands with deep friable soils; Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas), who uses woody debris or submerged vegetation to protect its egg-masses.

There are a limited number of reptiles found in the Palouse grasslands, namely only: the Northern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria coerulea), often found in screes, rock outcrops as well as riparian vicinity; the Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta), who prefers lentic freshwater habitat with a thick mud layer; Yellow-bellied Racer (Chrysemys picta); Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus), often found under loose stones in this ecoregion; Pygmy Short-horned Lizard (Phrynosoma douglasii), a fossorial taxon often found in bunchgrass habitats; Side-blotched Lizard (Uta stansburiana), frequently found in sandy washes with scattered rocks; Southern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria multicarinata), an essentially terrestrial species that prefers riparian areas and other moist habitats; Pacific Pond Turtle (Emys marmorata), a species that usually overwinters in upland habitat; Western Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis), who, when inactive, may hide under rocks or in animal burrows; Night Snake (Hypsiglena torquata); Western Skink (Plestiodon skiltonianus), who prefers grasslands with rocky areas; Western Terrestrial Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans), found in rocky grasslands, especially near water; Rubber Boa (Charina bottae).

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Comments: This plant is a common component of sagebrush (Artemisia spp.)/grass communities of the Intermountain shrubsteppe and is a common component of pinyon-juniper (Pinus spp.-Juniperus spp.) communities of the Great Basin, but it most commonly occurs in disturbed areas of deserts, valleys, foothills, and mountain meadows (Simonin, 2001). It can grow in a wide range of habitats, from shadscale communities to alpine tundra in a wide range of elevations from 4000 to 10,500 feet. Elymus elymoides ssp. elymoides is common at low to middle elevations in the western states. Subspecies californicus is native to mid-elevations up to alpine areas of Canada, California, Nevada and Utah. Subspecies brevifolius is found in a wide variety of habitats including desert and mountain plant communities, while subspecies hordeoides is restricted to the low lands of the Great Basin. Elymus multisetus occupies a similar range to ssp. elymoides, but is typically found in somewhat wetter, more mesic sites often in and near mountain foothills. In general, squirreltail is adapted to a wide range of ecological and topographical conditions. Plants can be found from 600 to 3,500 meters (2,000 to 11,500 feet) elevation in desert shrub to alpine plant communities. The different species-subspecies are adapted to sites receiving as little as 8 inches mean annual precipitation on upland sites or 5 to 9 inches in low lying areas that receive additional moisture. Big squirreltail is normally found in sites with 10 inches or more mean annual precipitation. Squirreltail grows well in medium to fine-textured soils, but also commonly occupies coarse-textured to gravelly soils. It tolerates low to moderately saline to alkaline run-in or overflow sites with electrical conductivity (EC) generally less than 10 (USDA NRCS, 2010). Bottlebrush squirreltail inhabits a wide variety of soil types and is tolerant of saline (Jensen et al., 1990) and alkaline soils. It is widely distributed in salt-desert shrub ranges of the west, on dry, gravelly soils, or within alkaline conditions. Bottlebrush squirreltail is found on clayey soils of northeastern California sagebrush communities (Simonin, 2001).

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Habitat characteristics

More info for the terms: density, shrub

Bottlebrush squirreltail has wide ecological amplitude [161], but it most commonly occurs in disturbed areas of deserts, valleys, foothills, and mountain meadows [18].

Regional:
Bottlebrush squirreltail is found throughout Colorado on dry hills, plains, and rocky slopes, and within open woods and meadows [92]. In Montana, bottlebrush squirreltail occurs in dry, open habitats, from valley to timberline [123]. Throughout the western Great Plains, bottlebrush squirreltail is commonly found on dry soils of pastures and roadsides [82]. In Utah, bottlebrush squirreltail prefers dry to moist vegetation types, from salt desert shrub to alpine grassland [200]. Plains, rocky hills, or montane slopes are common sites in New Mexico [132]. In Arizona, open sandy ground, rocky hills, and open pine woods are common sites [115]. Bottlebrush squirreltail is common to dry rangeland areas of Kansas [154]. In central Washington, bottlebrush squirreltail prefers disturbed sites. Within these sites plant density is negatively correlated with individual plant size [153]. In California, bottlebrush squirreltail is found in scattered stands at high elevations on dry, gravelly soils. It is also common to hillsides and brush associations [168].

Soils:
Bottlebrush squirreltail inhabits a wide variety of soil types and is tolerant of saline [108] and alkaline soils [168]. It is widely distributed in salt-desert shrub ranges of the west, on dry, gravelly soils, or within alkaline conditions. Bottlebrush squirreltail is found on clayey soils of northeastern California sagebrush communities [27]. Throughout Montana it occurs predominantly on dry, gravelly soils, in saline or alkaline areas [150]. Within alpine areas of Olympic National Park, Washington, bottlebrush squirreltail prefers well-drained, undifferentiated, disturbed, shallow and stony soils [21]. Passey and Hugie [158] found bottlebrush squirreltail to achieve better growth on Newdale silt loam soils than on Brunt silt loam, in areas with similar climate, slope, and exposure. Bottlebrush squirreltail may also occur on loose, ashy soil [11].

Bottlebrush squirreltail is not common within wet areas such as river lowlands and soil along irrigation canals [153].

Elevation by state:
Arizona 2,000 to 11,500 (609-3,505 m) [115]
west-central Montana 7,000 to 9,200 feet (2,135-2,805 m) [123]
New Mexico 4,500 to 11,500 feet (1,372-3,505 m) [132]
Utah 3,510 to 11,400 feet (1,070-3,500 m) [200]

  • 108. Jensen, M. E.; Simonson, G. H.; Dosskey, M. 1990. Correlation between soils and sagebrush-dominated plant communities of northeastern Nevada. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 54: 902-910. [15502]
  • 11. Bailey, Warren Hutchinson. 1963. Revegetation in the 1914-1915 devastated area of Lassen Volcanic National Park. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University. 195 p. Dissertation. [29203]
  • 115. Kearney, Thomas H.; Peebles, Robert H.; Howell, John Thomas; McClintock, Elizabeth. 1960. Arizona flora. 2d ed. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1085 p. [6563]
  • 123. Lackschewitz, Klaus. 1991. Vascular plants of west-central Montana--identification guidebook. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-227. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 648 p. [13798]
  • 132. Martin, William C.; Hutchins, Charles R. 1981. A flora of New Mexico. Volume 1. Germany: J. Cramer. 647 p. [37175]
  • 150. Morris, H. E.; Booth, W. E.; Payne, G. F.; Stitt, R. E. 1950. Important grasses on Montana ranges. Bull. No. 470. Bozeman, MT: Montana Agricultural Experiment Station. 52 p. [5520]
  • 153. Newsome, R.D.; Sauer, R.H. 1983. The ecology of Sitanion (Graminaceae) in Benton County, Washington. In: Brewer, Richard, ed. Proceedings of the eighth North American prairie conference; 1982 August 1-4; Kalamazoo, MI. Kalamazoo, MI: Western Michigan University, Department of Biology: 15-20. [3116]
  • 154. Ohlenbuseh, Paul D.; Hodges, Elizabeth P.; Pope, Susan. 1983. Range grasses of Kansas. Manhattan, KS: Kansas State University, Cooperative Extension Service. 23 p. [5316]
  • 158. Passey, H. B.; Hugie, V. K. 1963. Some plant-soil relationships on an ungrazed range area of southeastern Idaho. Journal of Range Management. 16: 113-118. [1831]
  • 161. Plummer, A. Perry; Hull, A. C., Jr.; Stewart, George; Robertson, Joseph H. 1955. Seeding rangelands in Utah, Nevada, southern Idaho and western Wyoming. Agric. Handb. 71. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 73 p. [11736]
  • 168. Sampson, Arthur W.; Chase, Agnes; Hedrick, Donald W. 1951. California grasslands and range forage grasses. Bull. 724. Berkeley, CA: University of California College of Agriculture, California Agricultural Experiment Station. 125 p. [2052]
  • 18. Beckstead, Julie. 1994. Between-population differences in the germination ecophysiology of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) during afterripening. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 96 p. Thesis. [27522]
  • 200. Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. The Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p. [2944]
  • 21. Belsky, J.; Del Moral, R. 1982. Ecology of an alpine-subalpine meadow complex in the Olympic Mountains, Washington. Canadian Journal of Botany. 60: 779-788. [6740]
  • 27. Blank, Robert R.; Trent, James D.; Young, James A. 1992. Sagebrush communities on clayey soils of northeastern California: a fragile equilibrium. In: Clary, Warren P.; McArthur, E. Durant; Bedunah, Don; Wambolt, Carl L., compilers. Proceedings--symposium on ecology and management of riparian shrub communities; 1991 May 29-31; Sun Valley, ID. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-289. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 198-202. [19121]
  • 82. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603]
  • 92. Herzman, Carl W.; Everson, A. C.; Mickey, Myron H.; [and others]. 1959. Handbook of Colorado native grasses. Bull. 450-A. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University, Extension Service. 31 p. [10994]

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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: association, forb, forbs, graminoid, shrub, tussock

Bottlebrush squirreltail is a common component of sagebrush (Artemisia spp.)/grass
communities of the Intermountain shrubsteppe [109,212].

Within rangelands of Utah, Nevada, southern Idaho, and western Wyoming, bottlebrush squirreltail
commonly grows under and adjacent to shadscale (Atriplex confertifolia), black greasewood
(Sarcobatus vermiculatus), and green rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus)
[161]. Bottlebrush
squirreltail is a common component of pinyon-juniper (Pinus spp.-Juniperus spp.)
communities of the Great Basin. It occurs mostly within the mountain ranges of Nevada and Utah,
and to a lesser extent in California and Idaho [191].

Arizona:

Bottlebrush squirreltail occurs in northern desert shrub communities [137] and
ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests [39,137]. Within aspen (Populus tremuloides)-bunchgrass
communities of northern Arizona, bottlebrush squirreltail commonly occurs with
Arizona fescue (Festuca arizonica), mountain muhly (Muhlenbergia montana), western yarrow
(Achillea millefolium), lupine (Lupinus spp.), fleabane (Erigeron spp.) and
American vetch (Vicia americana) [86]. Bottlebrush squirreltail is occasionally found
in openings and under shrub canopies within shrub live oak (Quercus turbinella)-mixed shrub
communities [173].

California:

Bottlebrush squirreltail is native to California's central valley
and is commonly associated with purple tussock grass (Nassella
pulchra), nodding tussock grass (N. cernua), smallflower tussockgrass
(N. lepida), and shooting star (Dodecatheon
spp.) [14].
It is a minor component of blue oak (Quercus douglasii) [28,126] and interior live oak
(Q. wislizenii) habitats [126].

Within sagebrush scrub of the White Mountains, prairie Junegrass
(Koeleria macrantha), muhly (Muhlenbergia spp.) and timberline bluegrass (Poa
glauca spp. rupicola) are common associates [130]. Within alluvial
fans of desert shrub communities, bottlebrush squirreltail is commonly associated
with Indian
ricegrass (Achnatherum hymenoides)
and desert needlegrass (A. speciosum). Shrub associates of bottlebrush squirreltail
include California jointfir (Ephedra californica), goldenfleece (Ericameria arborescens),
white burrobrush (Hymenoclea salsola), and purple sage (Salvia dorrii) [135].

Bottlebrush squirreltail occasionally occurs in alpine flora of the Sierra Nevada eastern
slope [40]. It is also an occasional understory species of California red fir (Abies magnifica)
forests in the Sierra Nevada [155].

Colorado:

Bottlebrush squirreltail is a member
of north-central Colorado's short-grass prairie [45,57,175]. Within the short-grass
prairie, bottlebrush squirreltail is commonly associated with western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii),
purple threeawn (Aristida purpurea), sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula),
blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis), buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides), and needle-and-thread
grass (Hesperostipa comata) [57]. It occurs in blue grama ranges of Colorado
along with sun sedge (Carex heliophila), sand dropseed (Sporobolus cryptandrus),
and purple threeawn [139].

Within Colorado pinyon-Utah juniper (Pinus edulis-Juniperus osteosperma) habitats of Colorado, bottlebrush squirreltail
is associated with Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii), Utah serviceberry (Amelanchier utahensis),
true mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus montanus), fendlerbush (Fendlera rupicola),
banana yucca (Yucca baccata), and antelope bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata). Grass
associates include cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), Indian ricegrass, mutton grass
(Poa fendleriana), and brome grasses (Bromus spp.) [67].

Bottlebrush squirreltail is an occasional associate of Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine
(Pinus aristata) [162].

Idaho:

Bottlebrush squirreltail is a dominant species in shadscale communities of south-central
Idaho [174], along with Indian ricegrass [189].

Montana:

Bottlebrush squirreltail generally occurs as scattered plants on rangelands [150].
In the eastern plains of Montana, bottlebrush squirreltail is a dominant species
of saline rangelands in association with alkali sacaton (Sporobolus airoides),
western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii), thickspike wheatgrass (Elymus lanceolatus), inland saltgrass
(Distichlis stricta), Sandberg bluegrass (Poa secunda), and basin wildrye
(Leymus cinereus). Shrub associates include black greasewood and
Nuttall's saltbush (Atriplex nuttallii).

Nevada:

Bottlebrush squirreltail occurs
in gray low sagebrush (Artemisia arbuscula ssp. arbuscula) and big sagebrush (A. tridentata)
communities. Principal grass associates include cheatgrass [24], Sandberg bluegrass [24,25],
bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata), and Thurber needlegrass (Achnatherum thurberianum).
Common shrub associates include green rabbitbrush and
gray horsebrush (Tetradymia canescens). Forb associates include bird's-beak
(Cordylanthus ramosus), mourning milkvetch (Astragalus atratus),
woollypod milkvetch (Astragalus purshii),
desert yellow fleabane (Erigeron linearis), lava aster (Lonactis alpina),
Heerman's buckwheat (Eriogonum heermanii), tail cup lupine (Lupinus caudatus)
and phlox (Phlox longifolia) [25].

In northeastern Nevada bottlebrush squirreltail is commonly found with black sagebrush
(Artemisia nova) [107,219], shadscale, Nevada ephedra (Ephedra nevadensis),
Sandberg bluegrass and Indian ricegrass [107].

Bottlebrush squirreltail
also occurs in shadscale communities [24,145]. Common shrub associates include green molly
(Kochia americana), winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata), budsage
(Artemisia spinescens) and spiny hopsage (Grayia spinosa )
[145]. Common grass associates are cheatgrass, Indian ricegrass
[24] and galleta (Pleuraphis jamesii) [145]. Several common forb associates are
salt lover
(Halogeton glomeratus), Adonis blazingstar (Mentzelia multiflora) and gooseberryleaf
globemallow (Sphaeralcea grossulariifolia). Bottlebrush squirreltail is also common to
juniper (Juniperus spp.) and greasewood communities [24].

Bottlebrush squirreltail is found in Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp.
wyomingensis) rangelands of Nevada [23].

Oregon:

Eastern Oregon grass associates of bottlebrush squirreltail include bluebunch wheatgrass,
prairie Junegrass [31], Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis),
Thurber needlegrass [31,59], Sandberg bluegrass and
cheatgrass. Common forbs include Hood's phlox (Phlox hoodii) and
maiden blue eyed Mary (Collinsia parviflora) [59]. Bottlebrush squirreltail
occurs in lodgepole pine stands in the
Cascades of Oregon [61], along with western needlegrass (Achnatherum occidentale)
and Ross' sedge (Carex rossii) [65].

Texas:

In western Texas bottlebrush squirreltail occurs in Pinchot juniper (Juniperus pinchotii)
rangelands with sideoats grama, buffalo grass,
slim tridens (Tridens muticus), awnless bushsunflower (Simsia calva) and
plains fleabane (Erigeron modestus) [143].

Utah:

Bottlebrush squirreltail is common in salt-desert shrub ranges along with the shrubs
shadscale (Atriplex confertifolia), mat saltbush (A. corrugata), fourwing
saltbush (A. canescens), valley saltbush (A. cunneata), greasewood,
winterfat, spiny hopsage, budsage, black sagebrush and
green rabbitbrush. Common grasses include Indian ricegrass,
Sandberg bluegrass, galleta,
alkali sacaton, sand dropseed, and
blue grama. Bottlebrush squirreltail is also
found in pinyon-juniper woodlands [29], ponderosa pine savannas [148] along with
dry Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and mixed conifer habitats [29].

Wyoming:

Bottlebrush squirreltail commonly occurs in big sagebrush steppe along with
aspen, big sagebrush, mountain snowberry (Symphoricarpos oreophilus),
Utah serviceberry, rose (Rosa spp.),
Scouler's willow (Salix scouleriana),
and Oregon-grape (Mahonia repens). Common forb associates include
rosy pussytoes (Antennaria microphylla), arrowleaf buckwheat
(Eriogonum compositum), pineywoods geranium (Geranium caespitosum) and
northern bedstraw (Galium boreale). Graminoid associates include needle-and-thread grass,
Columbia needlegrass (Achnatherum nelsonii), and elk sedge (Carex geyeri) [36].

Classifications describing plant communities in which bottlebrush squirreltail is a dominant species are as
follows:

Idaho [97]

California [218]
Colorado [119]

New Mexico [94,146]

Nevada [24,25,107,125,192,221]

Oregon [59,101,197]

Utah [151,203]

Wyoming [186]
  • 101. Hopkins, William E. 1979. Plant associations of the Fremont National Forest. R6-ECOL-79-004. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 106 p. [7340]
  • 107. Jensen, M. E.; Peck, L. S.; Wilson, M. V. 1988. A sagebrush community type classification for mountainous northeastern Nevada rangelands. The Great Basin Naturalist. 48: 422-433. [27717]
  • 109. Jirik, Steven. 1989. A study on the post-fire defoliation response of Agropyron spicatum and Sitanion hystrix. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho. 42 p. Thesis. [15509]
  • 119. Komarkova, Vera; Alexander, Robert R.; Johnston, Barry C. 1988. Forest vegetation of the Gunnison and parts of the Uncompahgre National Forests: a preliminary habitat type classification. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-163. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 65 p. [5798]
  • 125. Lewis, Mont E. 1971. Flora and major plant communities of the Ruby-East Humboldt Mountains with special emphasis on Lamoille Canyon. Elko, NV: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Region 4, Humboldt National Forest. 62 p. [1450]
  • 126. Lytle, Dennis J.; Finch, Sherman J. 1987. Relating cordwood production to soil series. In: Plumb, Timothy R.; Pillsbury, Norman H., technical coordinators. Proceedings of the symposium on multiple-use management of California's hardwood resources; 1986 November 12-14; San Luis Obispo, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-100 .w. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station: 260-267. [5380]
  • 130. Marchand, Denis E. 1973. Edaphic control of plant distribution in the White Mountains, eastern California. Ecology. 54(2): 233-250. [1521]
  • 135. McCarten, Niall; Van Devender, Thomas R. 1988. Late Wisconsin vegetation of Robber's Roost in the western Mohave Desert, California. Madrono. 35(3): 226-237. [6183]
  • 137. McClaran, Mitchel P.; Brady, Ward W. 1994. Arizona's diverse vegetation and contributions to plant ecology. Rangelands. 16(5): 208-217. [29721]
  • 139. McGinnies, W. J.;Laycock, W. A.;Tsuchiya, T.,Yonker, C.M.;Edmunds, D. A. 1988. Variability within a native stand of blue grama. Journal of Range Management. 41(5): 391-395. [5971]
  • 14. Barry, W. James. 1972. The Central Valley prairie. Vol 1. Sacramento, CA: State of California, Department of Parks and Recreation. 82 p. [28344]
  • 143. McPherson, Guy R.; Rasmussen, G. Allen; Wester, David B.; Masters, Robert A. 1991. Vegetation and soil zonation associated with Juniperus pinchoth Sudw. trees. The Great Basin Naturalist. 51(4): 316-324. [18105]
  • 145. Medin, Dean E. 1990. Birds of a shadscale (Atriplex confertifolia) habitat in east central Nevada. The Great Basin Naturalist. 50(3): 295-298. [14989]
  • 146. Medina, Alvin L. 1987. Woodland communities and soils of Fort Bayard, southwestern New Mexico. Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science. 21: 99-112. [3978]
  • 148. Monsen, Stephen B.; Anderson, Val Jo. 1995. A 52-year ecological history of selected introduced and native grasses planted in central Idaho. In: Proceedings, 17th international grassland congress; 1993 February 8-21; Palmerston North, New Zealand. [Place of publication unknown]: [Publisher unknown]: 1740-1741. [25664]
  • 150. Morris, H. E.; Booth, W. E.; Payne, G. F.; Stitt, R. E. 1950. Important grasses on Montana ranges. Bull. No. 470. Bozeman, MT: Montana Agricultural Experiment Station. 52 p. [5520]
  • 151. Mueggler, Walter F.; Campbell, Robert B., Jr. 1986. Aspen community types of Utah. Res. Pap. INT-362. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 69 p. [1714]
  • 155. Oosting, H. J.; Billings, W. D. 1943. The red fir forest of the Sierra Nevada: Abietum magnificae. Ecological Monographs. 13(3): 260-273. [11521]
  • 161. Plummer, A. Perry; Hull, A. C., Jr.; Stewart, George; Robertson, Joseph H. 1955. Seeding rangelands in Utah, Nevada, southern Idaho and western Wyoming. Agric. Handb. 71. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 73 p. [11736]
  • 162. Ranne, Brigitte M.; Baker, William L.; Andrews, Tom; Ryan, Michael G. 1997. Natural variability of vegetation, soils, and physiography in the bristlecone pine forests of the Rocky Mountains. The Great Basin Naturalist. 57(1): 21-37. [27383]
  • 173. Severson, Kieth E.; DeBano, Leonard F. 1991. Influence of Spanish goats on vegetation and soils in Arizona chaparral. Journal of Range Management. 44(2): 111-117. [15770]
  • 174. Sharp, Lee A.; Sanders, Ken; Rimbey, Neil. 1990. Forty years of change in a shadscale stand in Idaho. Rangelands. 12(6): 313-328. [15527]
  • 175. Shaw, R. B.; Anderson, S. L.; Schultz, K. A.; Diersing, V. E. 1989. Floral inventory for the U. S. Army Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, Colorado. Phytologia. 67(1): 1-42. [12137]
  • 186. Thilenius, John F.; Brown, Gary R.; Medina, Alvin L. 1995. Vegetation on semi-arid rangelands, Cheyenne River Basin, Wyoming. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-GTR-263. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 60 p. [26478]
  • 189. Tisdale, E. W. 1986. Native vegetation of Idaho. Rangelands. 8(5): 202-207. [2339]
  • 191. Tueller, Paul T.; Beeson, C. Dwight; Tausch, Robin J.; [and others]. 1979. Pinyon-juniper woodlands of the Great Basin: distribution, flora, vegetal cover. Res. Pap. INT-229. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 22 p. [2367]
  • 192. Tueller, Paul T.; Eckert, Richard E., Jr. 1987. Big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata vaseyana) and longleaf snowberry (Symphoricarpos oreophilus) plant associations in northeastern Nevada. The Great Basin Naturalist. 47(1): 117-131. [3015]
  • 197. Volland, Leonard A. 1985. Plant associations of the central Oregon Pumice Zone. R6-ECOL-104-1985. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 138 p. [7341]
  • 203. West, Neil E.; Tausch, Robin J.; Tueller, Paul T. 1998. A management-oriented classification of pinyon-juniper woodlands of the Great Basin. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-12. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 42 p. [29131]
  • 212. Young, James A. 1989. Intermountain shrubsteppe plant communities--pristine and grazed. In: Western raptor management symposium and workshop: Proceedings; 1987; Boise, ID. Scientific Technical Series No. 12. Washington, DC: National Wildlife Federation: 3-14. [25377]
  • 218. Young, James A.; Evans, Raymond A.; Major, Jack. 1977. Sagebrush steppe. In: Barbour, Michael G.; Major, Jack, eds. Terrestrial vegetation of California. New York: John Wiley & Sons: 763-796. [4300]
  • 219. Young, James A.; Palmquist, Debra E. 1992. Plant age/size distributions in black sagebrush (Artemisia nova): effects on community structure. The Great Basin Naturalist. 52(4): 313-320. [20180]
  • 221. Zamora, B.; Tueller, Paul T. 1973. Artemisia arbuscula, A. longiloba, and A. nova habitat types in northern Nevada. The Great Basin Naturalist. 33(4): 225-242. [2688]
  • 23. Bethlenfalvay, Gabor J.; Dakessian, Suren. 1984. Grazing effects on mycorrhizal colonization and floristic composition of the vegetation on a semiarid range in northern Nevada. Journal of Range Management. 37(4): 312-316. [439]
  • 24. Blackburn, Wilbert H.; Eckert, Richard E., Jr.; Tueller, Paul T. 1969. Vegetation and soils of the Cow Creek Watershed. R-49. Reno, NV: University of Nevada, Agricultural Experiment Station. 77 p. In cooperation with: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. [458]
  • 25. Blackburn, Wilbert H.; Eckert, Richard E., Jr.; Tueller, Paul T. 1971. Vegetation and soils of the Rock Springs Watershed. R-83. Reno, NV: University of Nevada, Agricultural Experiment Station. 116 p. In cooperation with: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. [457]
  • 28. Borchert, Mark; Davis, Frank W.; Allen-Diaz, Barbara. 1991. Environmental relationships of herbs in blue oak (Quercus douglasii) woodlands of central coastal California. Madrono. 38(4): 249-266. [17067]
  • 29. Bradley, Anne F.; Noste, Nonan V.; Fischer, William C. 1992. Fire ecology of forests and woodlands of Utah. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-287. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 128 p. [18212]
  • 31. Britton, Carlton M.; McPherson, Guy R.; Sneva, Forrest A. 1990. Effects of burning and clipping on five bunchgrasses in eastern Oregon. The Great Basin Naturalist. 50(2): 115-120. [12371]
  • 36. Burke, Ingrid C.; Reiners, William A.; Olson, Richard K. 1989. Topographic control of vegetation in a mountain big sagebrush steppe. Vegetatio. 84(2): 77-86. [11178]
  • 39. Campbell, R. E.; Baker, M. B., Jr.; Ffolliott, P. F.; [and others]. 1977. Wildfire effects on a ponderosa pine ecosystem: an Arizona case study. Res. Pap. RM-191. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 12 p. [4715]
  • 40. Chabot, Brian F.; Billings, W. D. 1972. Origins and ecology of the Sierran alpine flora and vegetation. Ecological Monographs. 42(2): 163-199. [11228]
  • 45. Coffin, D. P.; Lauenroth, W. K. 1989. Small scale disturbances and successional dynamics in a shortgrass plant community: interactions of disturbance characteristics. Phytologia. 67(3): 258-286. [34887]
  • 57. Dickinson, C. E.; Dodd, Jerrold L. 1976. Phenological pattern in the shortgrass prairie. The American Midland Naturalist. 96(2): 367-378. [799]
  • 59. Doescher, P. S.; Miller, R. F.; Swanson, S. R.; Winward, A. H. 1986. Identification of the Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis/Festuca idahoensis habitat type in eastern Oregon. Northwest Science. 60(1): 55-60. [815]
  • 61. Dyrness, C. T. 1976. Effect of wildfire on soil wettability in the high Cascades of Oregon. PNW-202. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 18 p. [8573]
  • 65. Edgerton, Paul J.; McConnell, Burt R.; Smith, Justin G. 1975. Initial response of bitterbrush to disturbance by logging and slash disposal in a lodgepole pine forest. Journal of Range Management. 28(2): 112-114. [16009]
  • 67. Erdman, James A. 1970. Pinyon-juniper succession after natural fires on residual soils of Mesa Verde, Colorado. Brigham Young University Science Bulletin: Biological Series. 11(2): 1-26. [11987]
  • 86. Haisley, James R. 1984. The effects of prescribed burning on four aspen-bunchgrass communities in northern Arizona. Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University. 47 p. Thesis. [27667]
  • 94. Hill, Alison; Pieper, Rex D.; Southward, G. Morris. 1992. Habitat-type classification of the pinyon-juniper woodlands in western New Mexico. Bulletin 766. Las Cruces, NM: New Mexico State University, College of Agriculture and Home Economics, Agricultural Experiment Station. 80 p. [37374]
  • 97. Hironaka, M.; Fosberg, M. A.; Winward, A. H. 1983. Sagebrush-grass habitat types of southern Idaho. Bulletin Number 35. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho, Forest, Wildlife and Range Experiment Station. 44 p. [1152]

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Habitat: Rangeland Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following Rangeland Cover Types (as classified by the Society for Range Management, SRM):

More info for the terms: association, cover, shrub

SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES [176]:

101 Bluebunch wheatgrass

102 Idaho fescue


104 Antelope bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass


105 Antelope bitterbrush-Idaho fescue

106 Bluegrass scabland

107 Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass

108 Alpine Idaho fescue

109 Ponderosa pine shrubland

110 Ponderosa pine-grassland

201 Blue oak woodland


207 Scrub oak mixed chaparral


210 Bitterbrush

211 Creosotebush scrub

212 Blackbush

301 Bluebunch wheatgrass-blue grama

310 Needle-and-thread-blue grama

314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass

315 Big sagebrush-Idaho fescue


318 Bitterbrush-Idaho fescue


320 Black sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass


321 Black sagebrush-Idaho fescue

322 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany-bluebunch wheatgrass

401 Basin big sagebrush

403 Wyoming big sagebrush

405 Black sagebrush

406 Low sagebrush

407 Stiff sagebrush

408 Other sagebrush types

409 Tall forb

410 Alpine rangeland

412 Juniper-pinyon woodland


413 Gambel oak

414 Salt desert shrub

415 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany

416 True mountain-mahogany

417 Littleleaf mountain-mahogany

501 Saltbush-greasewood

502 Grama-galleta

503 Arizona chaparral


504 Juniper-pinyon pine woodland


509 Transition between oak-juniper woodland and mahogany-oak association


607 Wheatgrass-needlegrass


611 Blue grama-buffalo grass

612 Sagebrush-grass

614 Crested wheatgrass

615 Wheatgrass-saltgrass-grama

704 Blue grama-western wheatgrass


712 Galleta-alkali sacaton

713 Grama-muhly-threeawn

714 Grama-bluestem

715 Grama-buffalo grass


718 Mesquite-grama


727 Mesquite-buffalo grass


735 Sideoats grama-sumac-juniper
  • 176. Shiflet, Thomas N., ed. 1994. Rangeland cover types of the United States. Denver, CO: Society for Range Management. 152 p. [23362]

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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

More info for the term: cover

SAF COVER TYPES [71]:


66 Ashe juniper-redberry (Pinchot) juniper


68 Mesquite

207 Red fir


209 Bristlecone pine


210 Interior Douglas-fir

217 Aspen

218 Lodgepole pine


220 Rocky Mountain juniper

229 Pacific Douglas-fir

237 Interior ponderosa pine

238 Western juniper

239 Pinyon-juniper


241 Western live oak


242 Mesquite

243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer

244 Pacific ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir


246 California black oak


250 Blue oak-foothills pine


256 California mixed subalpine
  • 71. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905]

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Habitat: Plant Associations

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

More info for the term: shrub

KUCHLER [121] PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:

K005 Mixed conifer forest

K007 Red fir forest

K008 Lodgepole pine-subalpine forest

K010 Ponderosa shrub forest

K011 Western ponderosa forest

K012 Douglas-fir forest

K016 Eastern ponderosa forest

K017 Black Hills pine forest

K018 Pine-Douglas-fir forest

K019 Arizona pine forest

K020 Spruce-fir-Douglas-fir forest

K021 Southwestern spruce-fir forest

K022 Great Basin pine forest

K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland

K024 Juniper steppe woodland

K026 Oregon oakwoods

K030 California oakwoods

K031 Oak-juniper woodland

K032 Transition between K031 and K037

K037 Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub

K038 Great Basin sagebrush

K039 Blackbrush

K040 Saltbush-greasewood

K041 Creosotebush

K046 Desert: vegetation largely lacking

K050 Fescue-wheatgrass

K052 Alpine meadows and barren

K053 Grama-galleta steppe

K054 Grama-tobosa prairie

K055 Sagebrush steppe

K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe

K057 Galleta-threeawn shrubsteppe

K059 Trans-Pecos shrub savanna

K060 Mesquite savanna

K064 Grama-needlegrass-wheatgrass

K065 Grama-buffalo grass

K066 Wheatgrass-needlegrass

K085 Mesquite-buffalo grass

K086 Juniper-oak savanna
  • 121. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. United States [Potential natural vegetation of the conterminous United States]. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 1:3,168,000; colored. [3455]

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Habitat: Ecosystem

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

ECOSYSTEMS [80]:

FRES20 Douglas-fir

FRES21 Ponderosa pine

FRES23 Fir-spruce

FRES26 Lodgepole pine

FRES28 Western hardwoods

FRES29 Sagebrush

FRES30 Desert shrub

FRES32 Texas savanna

FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe

FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub

FRES35 Pinyon-juniper

FRES36 Mountain grasslands

FRES38 Plains grasslands

FRES40 Desert grasslands

FRES44 Alpine
  • 80. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998]

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Dispersal

Establishment

For best results, seed should be planted to a depth of ¼ to ½ inches into a firm weed-free seedbed. For pure stands the recommended drill seeding rate is 7 lb pure live seed (PLS) per acre. Seed can be planted in early spring, but late dormant fall seeding is recommended for best annual weed suppression.

Squirreltail does not establish well into existing perennial shrub communities without mechanical treatment to reduce shrub density. Studies show four times the establishment success rate of squirreltail when planted after thinning big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nuttall) as opposed to an untreated site. Similarly, it has been difficult to establish squirreltail in stands of crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum [L.] Gaertner). It is recommended that crested wheatgrass and other perennial species competition be eliminated or severely reduced prior to seeding native seed mixtures that include squirreltail.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS Idaho State Office

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Associations

Known predators

Elymus elymoides (bottlebrush squirreltail (grass)) is prey of:
Orthoptera
Diptera
Auchenorrhyncha
Sternorrhyncha
Papilionoidea
Pogonomyrmex

Based on studies in:
USA: California, Cabrillo Point (Grassland)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • L. D. Harris and L. Paur, A quantitative food web analysis of a shortgrass community, Technical Report No. 154, Grassland Biome. U.S. International Biological Program (1972), from p. 17.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© SPIRE project

Source: SPIRE

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: > 300

Comments: Elymus elymoides ssp. brevifolius occurs in the San Bernardino Mountains, Peninsular Ranges, Modoc Plateau, and Mojave Desert of California to Oregon, the Great Plains and south to northern Mexico. Elymus elymoides ssp. californicus is found in the Klamath Range, Cascade Range, Sierra Nevada, San Gabriel Mountains, San Bernardino Mountains, east Sierra Nevada of California to Washington, Montana and Utah. Elymus elymoides ssp. elymoides is found in the Transverse Ranges, San Jacinto Mountains, and Great Basin floristic Province from California to Washington, Wyoming and Colorado. Elymus elymoides ssp. hordeoides occurs in Klamath Range from California to Washington and Nevada (Welsh et al., 1987). It barely ranges into western North Dakota, cited by Stevens (1963) (as Sitanion hystrix) from Medora in 1940 and Bismarck in 1946.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: climax, frequency, wildfire

Humphrey and Schupp [103] compared bottlebrush squirreltail seedling emergence within burned and unburned cheatgrass dominated areas of the Great Basin, Utah. Greater seedling emergence (April) occurred on seeded burned areas compared to unseeded, within loamy fine sand (85% sand) sites. On a dune site with sandy soil (95% sand), seedling emergence occurred in March with no significant difference between burned and unburned sites. However, a significantly greater proportion of bottlebrush squirreltail seedlings survived on burned dune areas compared to unburned.

Seeding:
Aerially applied seed mixture of mutton grass, prairie Junegrass, Indian ricegrass, slender wheatgrass (Elymus trachycaulus) and bottlebrush squirreltail aided in the reestablishment of bottlebrush squirreltail after a summer (August) wildfire within Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado [74]. Bottlebrush squirreltail was an important component 1, 2, [76] and 3 postfire years [75] in seeded areas, whereas no bottlebrush squirreltail was observed in unseeded areas [74].

Postfire recovery of bottlebrush squirreltail occurred after a summer (June 1956) wildfire in Arizona chaparral, aerially seeded with weeping lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula) and crested wheatgrass. Results shown that percent frequency of bottlebrush squirreltail within 9.6 foot (2.9 m) square plots increased steadily for 4 years postfire [157]:

1956 1957 1958 1960 1961
bottlebrush squirreltail 0 2.5 4.0 10.5 21.5
crested wheatgrass 0 14.0 20.5 17.5 13.0
weeping lovegrass 0.5 2.0 1.5 4.0 6.0

Seeding postfire pinyon-juniper communities of the Great Basin with desert wheatgrass (Agropyron desertorum), intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium), and smooth brome (Bromus inermis) inhibits establishment of bottlebrush squirreltail [120].

Pinyon-juniper communities:
Four years after a late summer (July-August) wildfire in pinyon-juniper woodlands of Mesa Verde, Colorado, Erdman [67] found bottlebrush squirreltail as an important component. Bottlebrush squirreltail, along with Indian rice grass and mutton grass, assumed dominance after a 3-year annual grass/forb stage. At 25 postfire years, bottlebrush squirreltail is a member of climax stands.

Within pinyon-juniper ranges of west-central Utah, bottlebrush squirreltail is an important native perennial species at 5 to 6 postfire years [13].

A fire return interval less than 10 to 25 years should increase abundance of bottlebrush squirreltail in newly expanded (young) western juniper stands (Juniperus occidentalis) receiving greater than 14 inches (350 mm) precipitation, at elevations higher than 4,900 feet (1,500 m), in southwestern Idaho [35].
  • 103. Humphrey, L. David; Schupp, Eugene W. 1999. Temporal patterns of seeding emergence and early survival of Great Basin perennial plant species. The Great Basin Naturalist. 59(1): 35-49. [29654]
  • 120. Koniak, Susan. 1985. Succession in pinyon-juniper woodlands following wildfire in the Great Basin. The Great Basin Naturalist. 45(3): 556-566. [1371]
  • 13. Barney, Milo A.; Frischknecht, Neil C. 1974. Vegetation changes following fire in the pinyon-juniper type of west-central Utah. Journal of Range Management. 27(2): 91-96. [397]
  • 157. Pase, Charles P.; Pond, Floyd W. 1964. Vegetation changes following the Mingus Mountain burn. Res. Note RM-18. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 8 p. [5700]
  • 35. Bunting, Stephen C. 1987. Use of prescribed burning in juniper and pinyon-juniper woodlands. In: Everett, Richard L., compiler. Proceedings--pinyon-juniper conference; 1986 January 13-16; Reno, NV. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-215. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 141-144. [4836]
  • 67. Erdman, James A. 1970. Pinyon-juniper succession after natural fires on residual soils of Mesa Verde, Colorado. Brigham Young University Science Bulletin: Biological Series. 11(2): 1-26. [11987]
  • 74. Floyd-Hanna, Lisa; DaVega, Anne; Hanna, David; Romme, William H. 1997. Chapin 5 fire vegetation monitoring and mitigation first year report. Unpublished report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Mesa Verde National Park. 7 p. (+ Appendices). On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [34181]
  • 75. Floyd-Hanna, Lisa; Hanna, David. 1999. Chapin 5 fire vegetation monitoring and mitigation annual report, year 3. Unpublished report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Mesa Verde National Park. 8 p. (+Appendices). On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [34569]
  • 76. Floyd-Hanna, Lisa; Hanna, David; Romme, William H. 1998. Chapin 5 Fire vegetation monitoring and mitigation annual report, year 2. Unpublished report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Mesa Verde National Park. 7 p. (+ Appendices). On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [34460]

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Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: association, basal area, cover, density, frequency, prescribed fire, restoration, tree, wildfire

Wright [208] compared bottlebrush squirreltail response to burning and
clipping near Boise, Idaho. Heat was applied by propane burner for 20 to 30 seconds to raise soil
surface temperature to 400 or 800 degrees Fahrenheit. The 800 degree Fahrenheit treatment killed 25%
of bottlebrush squirreltail plants during July and August. No other treatment caused mortality.
Burning and clipping during all seasons reduced yields 1 year after treatment. Burning reduced
yield most during May. Average herbage weight (in grams) per bottlebrush squirreltail plants
in relation to season and treatment at 1 postfire year is summarized below:

Season 400 °F 800 °F Clipped Control
May 3.94a 5.48 7.41 22.58
June 6.96 8.50 7.26 22.09
July 8.51a 4.32ab 13.25 14.01
August 7.50a 9.42 11.58 16.61
September 10.44 6.11ab 10.21 21.97


a Differences from clipped treatment significant at p<0.05

b Differences from 400 °F treatment significant at p<0.05

Wright [207] conducted time/temperature evaluations of bottlebrush squirreltail mortality
on 5 dates between 19 May and 21 September, at temperatures between 120 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit
(48.9-93.3 °C). Time
required to kill bottlebrush squirreltail tissue at all temperatures within the test range increased
as burning date increased. The greatest change occurred between 10 June and 21 July.

Time (minutes) required to kill bottlebrush squirreltail tissue at 172 degrees Fahrenheit
(78 °C) [208]:

19 May 10 June 21 July 20 August 21 September
4.00 5.50 18.50 28.00 33.50


Fox [77] found a direct association between postfire response of bottlebrush squirreltail and ponderosa pine
tree density and canopy cover. The greatest cover (%)
of bottlebrush squirreltail was achieved in areas with larger (>4 inches (10 cm) diameter) trees and
less dense tree canopies.

Blank and others [26] grew bottlebrush squirreltail under greenhouse conditions in soil
from a July wildfire site and adjacent unburned areas within a big sagebrush habitat of Nevada.
Bottlebrush squirreltail had greater aboveground biomass and more total N, P and K, along with greater silica
content, when grown in soil collected from wildfire sites.

Spring:

Early spring fire (May) within sagebrush ecosystems of eastern Oregon greatly reduced
bottlebrush squirreltail basal area [31,32]. Basal area decreased an average of 47 %
the 2nd postfire year.
Britton and others [31] compared bottlebrush squirreltail postfire response in eastern
Oregon to clipping. Yield (1 postfire year) after a May fire was less than yield from clipping
(down to 0.4 inch (1 cm) stubble). Results the 2nd year showed no significant
difference.

Bottlebrush squirreltail populations increased after a "moderate" spring
(May 1972) wildfire in a ponderosa pine forest on limestone-sandstone derived soils, near flagstaff Arizona.
The area observed was logged 2 years before, averaging 16,875 board feet/acre (6,750 board feet/ha).
Number of bottlebrush
squirreltail stems per hectare in 1972 and 1974 is summarized below in thousands/ha [17]:


Moderate burn 1972 Severe burn 1972 Control (logged, not burned) 1972
7.2 0 0
Moderate burn 1974 Severe burn 1974 Control (logged, not burned) 1974
18.1 0.1 1.1



Although frequency of bottlebrush squirreltail was too low for statistical analysis,
Champlin [42] reported no damage to bottlebrush squirreltail basal cover and height 2 postfire years after a
spring fire in a big sagebrush community of northern California. Bottlebrush squirreltail vigor increased the
1st and 2nd postfire growing season in central Oregon, following a spring fire within
a sagebrush-bitterbrush/bunchgrass plant community [1].



Summer:

Bottlebrush squirreltail increased following an August wildfire in a big sagebrush
community with an understory dominated by cheatgrass and Lyall's milkvetch (Astragalus
lyallii) [95]. Significantly (p<0.01) greater biomass was achieved 1 postfire
year after a 19 July prescribed fire in Oregon. At time of burn, bottlebrush
squirreltail had entered summer quiescence with no green shoot material evident. Mean
shoot biomass of burned plants was greater per unit crown area, compared to
control. Burned plants also averaged 49% higher root
biomass per unit crown area, producing a shoot:root biomass ratio of 1.73 compared to
control plots at 0.43 shoot:root biomass. Burning also increased the proportion of reproductive
culms; 74.8% of all shoots of burned plants produced reproductive culms compared to 14.3% for unburned plants
[220].

Bottlebrush squirreltail showed a negative postfire response to summer (July) wildfire
within a sagebrush rangeland in Utah, for the 2nd and 3rd postfire years compared to
control [202].
Bottlebrush squirreltail decreased in abundance 1 postfire year after a summer
(July) prescribed fire and after a lightning fire within a mountain mahogany-big sagebrush community [187].

Fall:

Bottlebrush squirreltail maintained previous levels of production (kg/ha) 1 postfire
year after an October fire in an aspen-bunchgrass community of northern Arizona.
Although total vegetative production remained constant, percent cover and density
of bottlebrush squirreltail were significantly higher. The October fire resulted in a
large bottlebrush squirreltail population consisting of small individuals whose
combined vegetative biomass equaled or exceeded preburn levels. Associated
dominants, Arizona fescue and mountain muhly, decreased [86].

For further information on bottlebrush squirreltail response to fire, see Fire Case Studies,
Lyon's Research Paper (Lyon 1971),
and the following Research Project Summaries:

  • 1. Adams, Glenn R. 1980. Results of range/wildlife prescribed burning on the Fort Rock Ranger District in central Oregon. R-6 Fuels Management Notes. September 24, 1980. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Aviation and Fire Management. 6 p. [292]
  • 17. Beaulieu, Jean Thomas. 1975. Effects of fire on understory plant populations in a northern Arizona ponderosa pine forest. Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University. 38 p. Thesis. [29095]
  • 187. Tiagwad, Tamara E.; Olson, Craig M.; Martin, Robert E. 1982. Single-year response of breeding bird populations to fire in a curlleaf mountainmahogany-big sagebrush community. In: Starkey, Edward E.; Franklin, Jerry F.; Matthews, Jean W., technical coordinators. Ecological research in national parks in the Pacific Northwest; [Date of conference unknown]; [Location of conference unknown]. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University, Forest Research Lab: 101-110. [8087]
  • 202. West, Neil E.; Hassan, M. A. 1985. Recovery of sagebrush-grass vegetation following wildfire. Journal of Range Management. 38(2): 131-134. [2513]
  • 207. Wright, Henry A. 1970. A method to determine heat-caused mortality in bunchgrasses. Ecology. 51(4): 582-587. [2609]
  • 208. Wright, Henry A. 1971. Why squirreltail is more tolerant to burning than needle-and-thread. Journal of Range Management. 24: 277-284. [2610]
  • 220. Young, Richard P.; Miller, Richard F. 1985. Response of Sitanion hystrix (Nutt.) J. G. to prescribed burning. The American Midland Naturalist. 113(1): 182-187. [2682]
  • 26. Blank, Robert R.; Allen, Fay; Young, James A. 1994. Growth and elemental content of several sagebrush-steppe species in unburned and post-wildfire soil and plant effects on soil attributes. Plant and Soil. 164: 35-41. [26887]
  • 31. Britton, Carlton M.; McPherson, Guy R.; Sneva, Forrest A. 1990. Effects of burning and clipping on five bunchgrasses in eastern Oregon. The Great Basin Naturalist. 50(2): 115-120. [12371]
  • 32. Britton, Carlton M.; Ralphs, Michael H. 1979. Use of fire as a management tool in sagebrush ecosystems. In: The sagebrush ecosystem: a symposium: Proceedings; 1978 April; Logan, UT. Logan, UT: Utah State University, College of Natural Resources. 101-109. [518]
  • 42. Champlin, Mark R. 1982. Big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) ecology and management with emphasis on prescribed burning. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University. 136 p. Dissertation. [9484]
  • 77. Foxx, Teralene S. 1996. Vegetation succession after the La Mesa Fire at Bandelier National Monument. In: Allen, Craig D., ed. Fire effects in southwestern forests: Proceedings, 2nd La Mesa fire symposium; 1994 March 29-31; Los Alamos, NM. RM-GTR-286. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 47-69. [27283]
  • 86. Haisley, James R. 1984. The effects of prescribed burning on four aspen-bunchgrass communities in northern Arizona. Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University. 47 p. Thesis. [27667]
  • 95. Hinds, W. T.; Sauer, R. H. 1976. Soil erodibility, soil erosion, and revegetation following wildfire in a shrug-steppe community. In: Atmosphere-surface exchange of particulate and gaseous pollutants; proceedings of a symposium; [Date of conference unknown]; Richland, WA. [Place of publication unknown]. [Publisher unknown]. 571-590. [8092]

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the term: root crown

Bottlebrush squirreltail sprouts from surviving root crown [29,201] and colonizes from seed [29].

Seasonal trends in bottlebrush squirreltail root carbohydrate reserves greatly affect postfire response. Burning is generally harmful during late spring and early summer [30,208] coinciding with low points in carbohydrate reserves [20]. Bottlebrush squirreltail is most tolerant of late summer (anthesis) or mid-fall (before regrowth) fires [30,49,79], coinciding with relatively high carbohydrate reserves [20]:



A difference in phenological traits of surviving postfire individuals may exist between small (1 to 3 inch (2.5-7.6 cm) crown diameter) and large (>3.5 inches (8.9 cm) crown diameter) bottlebrush squirreltail plants. Wright [210] found large plants to produce significantly (p<0.01) higher numbers of flowering stalks than small plants after fire.

  • 20. Bedell, Thomas E. 1980. Range plant growth and development. Extension Circular 1038. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University, Extension Service. 4 p. [6518]
  • 201. West, Neil E. 1994. Effects of fire on salt-desert shrub rangelands. In: Monsen, Stephen B.; Kitchen, Stanley G., compilers. Proceedings--ecology and management of annual rangelands; 1992 May 18-22; Boise, ID. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-313. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 71-74. [24256]
  • 208. Wright, Henry A. 1971. Why squirreltail is more tolerant to burning than needle-and-thread. Journal of Range Management. 24: 277-284. [2610]
  • 210. Wright, Henry A.; Klemmedson, James O. 1965. Effect of fire on bunchgrasses of the sagebrush-grass region in southern Idaho. Ecology. 46(5): 680-688. [2624]
  • 29. Bradley, Anne F.; Noste, Nonan V.; Fischer, William C. 1992. Fire ecology of forests and woodlands of Utah. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-287. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 128 p. [18212]
  • 30. Britton, C. M.; Sneva, F. A.; Clark, R. G. 1979. Effect of harvest date on five bunchgrasses of eastern Oregon. In: 1979 Progress report...research in rangeland management. Special Report 549. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University, Agricultural Experiment Station: 16-19. In cooperation with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, SEA-AR. [2743]
  • 49. Countryman, Clive M.; Cornelius, Donald R. 1957. Some effects of fire on a perennial range type. Journal of Range Management. 10: 39-41. [699]
  • 79. Gaines, Edward M.; Kallander, Harry R.; Wagner, Joe A. 1958. Controlled burning in southwestern ponderosa pine: results from the Blue Mountain plots, Fort Apache Indian Reservation. Journal of Forestry. 56: 323-327. [988]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

More info for the terms: basal area, density, fire tolerant, fuel

Although bottlebrush squirreltail is generally top-killed by fire, its small size and low density of coarse fuel per unit basal area make it relatively fire tolerant [31,198,208]. Low density of above ground plant tissue produces a quick, "hot" flame, transferring little heat to growing points below the soil surface [208,210]. The solid culms of bottlebrush squirreltail do not readily burn, compared to those of perennial grass associates [210].
  • 198. Volland, Leonard A.; Dell, John D. 1981. Fire effects on Pacific Northwest forest and range vegetation. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Range Management and Aviation and Fire Management. 23 p. [2434]
  • 208. Wright, Henry A. 1971. Why squirreltail is more tolerant to burning than needle-and-thread. Journal of Range Management. 24: 277-284. [2610]
  • 210. Wright, Henry A.; Klemmedson, James O. 1965. Effect of fire on bunchgrasses of the sagebrush-grass region in southern Idaho. Ecology. 46(5): 680-688. [2624]
  • 31. Britton, Carlton M.; McPherson, Guy R.; Sneva, Forrest A. 1990. Effects of burning and clipping on five bunchgrasses in eastern Oregon. The Great Basin Naturalist. 50(2): 115-120. [12371]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the terms: crown residual colonizer, secondary colonizer

POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY [182]:
Crown residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
Secondary colonizer (on-site or off-site seed sources)
  • 182. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 10 p. [20090]

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Fire Ecology

More info for the terms: cover, frequency, succession

Bottlebrush squirreltail's small size, coarse stems, and sparse leafy material aid in its tolerance of fire [31]. Postfire regeneration occurs from surviving root crowns and from on- and off-site seed sources [29]. Frequency of disturbance greatly influences postfire response of bottlebrush squirreltail. Undisturbed plants within a 6 to 9 year age class generally contain large amounts of dead material, increasing bottlebrush squirreltail's susceptibility to fire [210].

Koniak [120] found bottlebrush squirreltail to be a major component of postfire pinyon-juniper communities of the Great Basin at any time during succession. Greatest occurrence and coverage of bottlebrush squirreltail are generally achieved during mid-seral stages.

Successional stage Occurrence (%) Percent of areas achieving > 5% cover
Early (1 year old) 43 3
Early-mid (4-8 years old) 58 15
Mid (15-17 years old) 49 28
Late-mid (22-60 years old) 90 0
Late > 60 years old 44 0

FIRE REGIMES for plant communities in which bottlebrush squirreltail occurs are summarized below. For further information regarding FIRE REGIMES and fire ecology of communities and ecosystems where bottlebrush squirreltail is found see "The Fire Ecology and Adaptations" section of the FEIS species summary for the plant community or ecosystem dominants listed below.

Community or Ecosystem Dominant Species Fire Return Interval Range (years)
silver fir-Douglas-fir Abies amabilis-Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii > 200
sagebrush steppe Artemisia tridentata/Pseudoroegneria spicata 20-70 [33]
basin big sagebrush A. t. var. tridentata 12-43 [170]
mountain big sagebrush A. t. var. vaseyana 20-60 [7,37]
Wyoming big sagebrush A. t. var. wyomingensis 10-70 (40)** [196,215]
saltbush-greasewood Atriplex confertifolia-Sarcobatus vermiculatus
desert grasslands Bouteloua eriopoda and/or Pleuraphis mutica 5-100
plains grasslands Bouteloua spp.
blue grama-needle-and-thread grass-western wheatgrass B. g.-Hesperostipa comata-Pascopyrum smithii
blue grama-buffalo grass B. g.-Buchloe dactyloides
grama-galleta steppe B. g.-Pleuraphis jamesii
blue grama-tobosa prairie B. g.-P. mutica
cheatgrass Bromus tectorum
mountain-mahogany-Gambel oak scrub Cercocarpus ledifolius-Quercus gambelii
western juniper Juniperus occidentalis 20-70
Rocky Mountain juniper J. scopulorum
Sierra lodgepole pine* Pinus contorta var. murrayana 35-200
Rocky Mountain ponderosa pine* P. ponderosa var. scopulorum 2-10
Arizona pine P. p. var. arizonica 2-10
galleta-threeawn shrubsteppe Pleuraphis jamesii-Aristida purpurea
mesquite-buffalo grass Prosopis glandulosa-Buchloe dactyloides
Texas savanna P. g. var. glandulosa 33]
mountain grasslands Pseudoroegneria spicata 3-40 (10)** [6]
Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir* Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca 25-100
interior live oak Quercus wislizenii 33]
*fire return interval varies widely; trends in variation are noted in the species summary
**(mean)

  • 120. Koniak, Susan. 1985. Succession in pinyon-juniper woodlands following wildfire in the Great Basin. The Great Basin Naturalist. 45(3): 556-566. [1371]
  • 170. Sapsis, David B. 1990. Ecological effects of spring and fall prescribed burning on basin big sagebrush/Idaho fescue--bluebunch wheatgrass communities. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University. 105 p. Thesis. [16579]
  • 196. Vincent, Dwain W. 1992. The sagebrush/grasslands of the upper Rio Puerco Area, New Mexico. Rangelands. 14(5): 268-271. [19698]
  • 210. Wright, Henry A.; Klemmedson, James O. 1965. Effect of fire on bunchgrasses of the sagebrush-grass region in southern Idaho. Ecology. 46(5): 680-688. [2624]
  • 215. Young, James A.; Evans, Raymond A. 1981. Demography and fire history of a western juniper stand. Journal of Range Management. 34(6): 501-505. [2659]
  • 29. Bradley, Anne F.; Noste, Nonan V.; Fischer, William C. 1992. Fire ecology of forests and woodlands of Utah. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-287. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 128 p. [18212]
  • 31. Britton, Carlton M.; McPherson, Guy R.; Sneva, Forrest A. 1990. Effects of burning and clipping on five bunchgrasses in eastern Oregon. The Great Basin Naturalist. 50(2): 115-120. [12371]
  • 33. Brown, James K.; Smith, Jane Kapler, eds. 2000. Wildland fire in ecosystems: Effects of fire on flora. Gen. Tech Rep. RMRS-GRT-42-vol. 2. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 257 p. [36581]
  • 37. Burkhardt, Wayne J.; Tisdale, E. W. 1976. Causes of juniper invasion in southwestern Idaho. Ecology. 57: 472-484. [565]
  • 6. Arno, Stephen F. 1980. Forest fire history in the Northern Rockies. Journal of Forestry. 78(8): 460-465. [11990]
  • 7. Arno, Stephen F.; Gruell, George E. 1983. Fire history at the forest-grassland ecotone in southwestern Montana. Journal of Range Management. 36(3): 332-336. [342]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: climax, shrub

Depending upon habitat type, bottlebrush squirreltail may occur as an early, mid-, or late successional species.

Shrub rangelands:
Bottlebrush squirreltail is generally a dominant component of seral big sagebrush/bunchgrass communities [217]. Bottlebrush squirreltail is represented in early seral and climax stages of big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass associations in Nevada. Tueller and Platou observed the most pronounced bottlebrush squirreltail during early and climax stages of big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass associations in Nevada [190]. Bottlebrush squirreltail is found within seral and climax stages of big sagebrush rangelands in southeastern Idaho [4]. It is a component of climax big sagebrush communities in Idaho [205] and is a member of climax big sagebrush/western wheatgrass communities of Colorado [183]. Within shrub-steppe ecosystems of western Colorado, bottlebrush squirreltail is an early seral species [117]. Bottlebrush squirreltail also occurs in climax shadscale communities [100].

Pinyon-juniper communities:
Bottlebrush squirreltail is common in mid-seral and climax pinyon-juniper communities of Mesa Verde, Colorado [67,68]. Bottlebrush squirreltail is a component of seral and climax western juniper (Juniper occidentalis) communities of the Pacific Northwest [54].

Ponderosa pine communities:
Bottlebrush squirreltail is a member of interior ponderosa pine climax communities within the central and southern Rocky Mountains [209].

Prior to invasion of nonnative annuals in the Snake River Plain, Idaho, bottlebrush squirreltail occupied a mid to late seral status, suppressing the early seral fescues, sixweeks fescue (Vulpia octoflora), and foxtail fescue (Vulpia myuros) [160].
  • 100. Hironaka, M.; Tisdale, E. W. 1972. Growth and development of Sitanion hystrix and Poa sandbergii. Research Memorandum RM 72-24. U.S. International Biological Program, Desert Biome. 15 p. [1161]
  • 117. Klein, D. A.; Frederick, B. A.; Redente, E. F. 1989. Fertilizer effects on soil microbial communities and organic matter in the rhizosphere of Sitanion hystrix and Agropyron smithii. Arid Soil Research and Rehabilitation. 3: 397-404. [11097]
  • 160. Peters, Erin F.; Bunting, Stephen C. 1994. Fire conditions pre- and postoccurrence of annual grasses on the Snake River Plain. In: Monsen, Stephen B.; Kitchen, Stanley G., compilers. Proceedings--ecology and management of annual rangelands; 1992 May 18-22; Boise, ID. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-313. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 31-36. [24249]
  • 183. Strong, Laurence L.; Dana, Robert W.; Carpenter, Len H. 1985. Estimating phytomass of sagebrush habitat types from microdensitometer data. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing. 51(4): 467-474. [2267]
  • 190. Tueller, P. T.; Platou, K. A. 1991. A plant succession gradient in a big sagebrush/grass ecosystem. Vegetatio. 94(1): 57-68. [16576]
  • 205. Winward, Alma H. 1970. Taxonomic and ecological relationships of the big sagebrush complex in Idaho. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho. 79 p. Ph.D. dissertation. [2583]
  • 209. Wright, Henry A. 1978. The effect of fire on vegetation in ponderosa pine forests: A state-of-the-art review. Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University, Department of Range and Wildlife Management. 21 p. In cooperation with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. [4425]
  • 217. Young, James A.; Evans, Raymond A.; Major, J. 1972. Alien plants in the Great Basin. Journal of Range Management. 25: 194-201. [2674]
  • 4. Anderson, Jay E.; Jeppson, R. J.; Wildosz, R. J.; [and others]. 1978. Trends in vegetation development on the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory Site. In: Markham, O. D., ed. Ecological studies on the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory Site: 1978 Progress Report. IDO-112087. Idaho Falls, ID: U.S. Department of Energy, Environmental Sciences Branch, Radiological and Environmental Sciences Lab: 144-166. [320]
  • 54. Dealy, J. Edward; Geist, J. Michael; Driscoll, Richard S. 1978. Western juniper communities on rangelands of the Pacific Northwest. Hyder, Donald, ed. Proceedings, 1st international rangeland congress; 1978 August 14-18; Denver, CO. Denver, CO: Society for Range Management: 201-204. [785]
  • 67. Erdman, James A. 1970. Pinyon-juniper succession after natural fires on residual soils of Mesa Verde, Colorado. Brigham Young University Science Bulletin: Biological Series. 11(2): 1-26. [11987]
  • 68. Erdman, James Allen. 1969. Pinyon-juniper succession after fires on residual soils of the Mesa Verde, Colorado. Boulder, CO: University of Colorado. 81 p. Dissertation. [11437]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: cover, natural, root crown

Bottlebrush squirreltail regenerates from surviving root crown [29,201] and seed [18]. Vegetative propagation is nonexistent [18]. Bottlebrush squirreltail has the ability to produce large numbers [99,214] of highly germinable seeds, with relatively rapid germination [214] when exposed to the correct environmental cues. Plants are self-fertilizing [55]. Seeds are readily dispersed by wind [15,99] a few days following maturation [18]. Dispersal is a function of bottlebrush squirreltail's long reflexed awns and disarticulating, mature inflorescence [99,131,148]. Seeds are dispersed when the spike inflorescence is carried along the ground by wind catching the long awns [131].

Although bottlebrush squirreltail has the potential for long distance seed dispersal, Martlette and Anderson [131] found natural plant cover to act as a barrier to dispersal. Wind dispersal of bottlebrush squirreltail seed did not exceed 131 feet (40 m), with viable seed remaining relatively close to mature bottlebrush squirreltail plants.

Dormancy protects bottlebrush squirreltail seeds from germinating during seasonal dry periods. Dry seeds require a period of afterippening, which widens environmental conditions conducive to germination [18]. Allen and others [2] found germination rate increased and dormancy levels decreased as the duration of dry storage increased. Desert bottlebrush squirreltail seed commonly show higher levels of dormancy than seed from mountain populations [18].

Bottlebrush squirreltail seeds may germinate without a period of afterippening, showing a partial state of dormancy. However mean germination time for recently harvested seeds is longer than for afterippened seeds.

Beckstead [19] evaluated the germination temperature requirements of recently harvested bottlebrush squirreltail seeds obtained from mountain and desert habitats. The greatest germination occurred primarily at 50/68 degrees Fahrenheit (10/20 °C) and 59/77 degrees Fahrenheit (15/25 °C), with higher temperatures of 68/86 degrees Fahrenheit (20/30 °C) inhibiting germination.

Environmental conditions and timing of phenological events greatly affect the probability of recently harvested bottlebrush squirreltail seed germination. Temperatures of 50/68 degrees Fahrenheit (10/20 °C) and 59/77 degrees Fahrenheit (15/25 °C) are unlikely to occur during summer months in desert habitats. In higher, mountain habitats, summer temperatures of 50/68 degrees Fahrenheit (10/20 °C) and 59/77 degrees Fahrenheit (15/25 °C) may occur; however, bottlebrush squirreltail usually ripens later at higher elevations [19]. In general, recently harvested bottlebrush squirreltail seeds at lower elevations have a much greater probability of fall germination than seeds from higher elevations [2].

Chabet and Billings [40] observed germination of bottlebrush squirreltail seeds from alpine sites (10,793 feet (3,290 m)) in the Sierra Nevada. The greatest germination (%) occurred at day/night temperatures of 81/73 degrees Fahrenheit (27/23 °C (96%)) and 90/82 degrees Fahrenheit (32/28 °C (92%)).
  • 131. Marlette, Guy M.; Anderson, Jay E. 1986. Seed banks and propagule dispersal in crested-wheatgrass stands. Journal of Applied Ecology. 23: 161-175. [1526]
  • 148. Monsen, Stephen B.; Anderson, Val Jo. 1995. A 52-year ecological history of selected introduced and native grasses planted in central Idaho. In: Proceedings, 17th international grassland congress; 1993 February 8-21; Palmerston North, New Zealand. [Place of publication unknown]: [Publisher unknown]: 1740-1741. [25664]
  • 15. Bates, Jon D.; Miller, Richard F.; Svejcar, Tony J. 1998. Understory dynamics in a cut juniper woodland (1991-1997). In: Annual report: Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University, Agricultural Experiment Station: 24-33. [29191]
  • 18. Beckstead, Julie. 1994. Between-population differences in the germination ecophysiology of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) during afterripening. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 96 p. Thesis. [27522]
  • 19. Beckstead, Julie; Meyer, Susan E.; Allen, Phil S. 1995. Effects of afterripening on cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) germination. In: Roundy, Bruce A.; McArthur, E. Durant; Haley, Jennifer S.; Mann, David K, compilers. Proceedings: wildland shrub and arid land restoration symposium; 1993 October 19-21; Las Vegas, NV. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-315. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 165-172. [24843]
  • 2. Allen, Phil S.; Debaene-Gill, Susan B.; Meyer, Susan E. 1994. Regulation of germination timing in facultatively fall-emerging grasses. In: Monsen, Stephen B.; Kitchen, Stanley G., compilers. Proceedings--ecology and management of annual rangelands; 1992 May 18-22; Boise, ID. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-313. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 215-219. [24284]
  • 201. West, Neil E. 1994. Effects of fire on salt-desert shrub rangelands. In: Monsen, Stephen B.; Kitchen, Stanley G., compilers. Proceedings--ecology and management of annual rangelands; 1992 May 18-22; Boise, ID. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-313. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 71-74. [24256]
  • 214. Young, James A.; Evans, Raymond A. 1977. Squirreltail seed germination. Journal of Range Management. 30(1): 33-36. [280]
  • 29. Bradley, Anne F.; Noste, Nonan V.; Fischer, William C. 1992. Fire ecology of forests and woodlands of Utah. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-287. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 128 p. [18212]
  • 40. Chabot, Brian F.; Billings, W. D. 1972. Origins and ecology of the Sierran alpine flora and vegetation. Ecological Monographs. 42(2): 163-199. [11228]
  • 55. Dewey, D. R. 1988. The U.S. living collection of perennial triticeae grasses. Utah Science. Fall: 71-76. [11384]
  • 99. Hironaka, M.; Tisdale, E. W. 1963. Secondary succession in annual vegetation in southern Idaho. Ecology. 44(4): 810-812. [1160]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: hemicryptophyte

RAUNKIAER [163] LIFE FORM:
Hemicryptophyte
  • 163. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843]

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Life Form

More info for the term: graminoid

Graminoid

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: phenology

The wide ecological amplitude of bottlebrush squirreltail leads to differential timing of phenological events between individuals of differing habitats [43,109]. Flowering generally occurs in spring or early summer [18,57]. Lower elevation populations (that is, cold desert, salt desert habitats) usually mature early June with higher elevation populations (that is, mountain brush, mountain meadows) reaching maturity in late July [18]. Hironaka and Tisdale observed phenological differences between the subspecies Elymus elymoides ssp. elymoides and ssp. californicum. In a common garden experiment E. e. ssp. elymoides developed 10 to 14 days earlier than ssp. californicum [100].

Between 1960 and 1969, Murray and others evaluated bottlebrush squirreltail phenology in southern Idaho. Growth began from mid-March to mid-April. Flower stalks began to form late-April to mid-May, with anthesis occurring in early to mid-June. Plants were dormant from the middle of July to the end of August with fall regrowth occurring through October [152].

Clary [43] evaluated bottlebrush squirreltail phenology and rate of growth from different environments using a transplant garden and growth chamber. The timing of bottlebrush squirreltail phenological events and overall growth rate was closely related to homesite environmental conditions. Bottlebrush squirreltail individuals from higher elevations were limited by cold temperatures whereas individuals from lower elevations were limited by water availability and warm temperatures. Under the same environmental constraints, bottlebrush squirreltail from areas with low moisture stress and cool climates showed higher growth rates, attaining maximum height earlier than individuals from warmer drier sites. Bottlebrush squirreltail requires the longest time to flower in areas of relatively moderate temperature and moisture regimes:

Time to flowering in days for bottlebrush squirreltail individuals from different habitats is shown below. Plants were grown at 6,490 feet (1,980 m) on a clay loam with an annual precipitation of 21.4 inches (544 mm) and annual temperature of 49 degree Fahrenheit (9.5 oC).

 

Bottlebrush squirreltail collection site description Days to flower
7,410 feet (2,260 m), silt loam, ponderosa pine 205.5 
4,990 feet (1,520 m), stony clay loam, ponderosa pine 201.2 
7,200 feet (2,200 m), loam, pinyon-juniper 193.8 
7,810 feet (2,380 m), clay loam, ponderosa pine 192.5 
9,780 feet (2,980 m), gravelly loam, spruce-fir 172.5 
9,320 feet (2,840 m), gravelly sandy loam, mountain grassland 166.8 
4,530 feet (1,380 m), loamy fine sand, short grass 165.8 
4,720 feet (1,440 m), cobble clay, pinyon-juniper 162.2 
4,990 feet (1,520 m), stony clay loam, ponderosa pine 159.5 
5,510 feet (1,680 m), silty clay loam, sagebrush-greasewood 158.0 
4,530 feet (1,380 m), stony loam, oak savannah 153.5 

Bottlebrush squirreltail is responsive to fall rains in northern areas of the Great Basin, allowing for fall regrowth. Fall regrowth uses the majority of total available root carbohydrates partitioned during the summer [50]. The optimal soil temperature for root and shoot growth occurs at approximately 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 °C). However, bottlebrush squirreltail shows continuous root growth down to 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 °C) soil temperature [100].

  • 100. Hironaka, M.; Tisdale, E. W. 1972. Growth and development of Sitanion hystrix and Poa sandbergii. Research Memorandum RM 72-24. U.S. International Biological Program, Desert Biome. 15 p. [1161]
  • 109. Jirik, Steven. 1989. A study on the post-fire defoliation response of Agropyron spicatum and Sitanion hystrix. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho. 42 p. Thesis. [15509]
  • 152. Murray, R. B.; Mayland, H. F.; Van Soest, P. J. 1978. Growth and nutritional value to cattle of grasses on cheatgrass range in southern Idaho. Research Paper INT-199. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 57 p. [1723]
  • 18. Beckstead, Julie. 1994. Between-population differences in the germination ecophysiology of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) during afterripening. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 96 p. Thesis. [27522]
  • 43. Clary, Warren P. 1975. Ecotypic adaptation in Sitanion hystrix. Ecology. 56(6): 1407-1415. [34923]
  • 50. Coyne, Patrick I.; Cook, C. Wayne. 1970. Seasonal carbohydrate reserve cycles in eight desert range species. Journal of Range Management. 23: 438-444. [707]
  • 57. Dickinson, C. E.; Dodd, Jerrold L. 1976. Phenological pattern in the shortgrass prairie. The American Midland Naturalist. 96(2): 367-378. [799]

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Reproduction

Bottlebrush squirreltail has the ability to produce large numbers of highly germinable seeds, with relatively rapid germination when exposed to the correct environmental cues. Seeds are readily dispersed by wind a few days following maturation. Dispersal is a function of bottlebrush squirreltail's long reflexed awns and disarticulating, mature inflorescence. Seeds are dispersed when the spike inflorescence is carried along the ground by wind catching the long awns. Although it has the potential for long distance seed dispersal, Martlette and Anderson (1986) found natural plant cover to act as a barrier to dispersal. Wind dispersal of bottlebrush squirreltail seed did not exceed 131 feet (40 m), with viable seed remaining relatively close to mature bottlebrush squirreltail plants. Dormancy protects bottlebrush squirreltail seeds from germinating during seasonal dry periods. Dry seeds require a period of afterippening, which widens environmental conditions conducive to germination. Germination rate increased and dormancy levels decreased as the duration of dry storage increased. Desert bottlebrush squirreltail seed commonly show higher levels of dormancy than seed from mountain populations. Bottlebrush squirreltail seeds may germinate without a period of afterippening, showing a partial state of dormancy. However mean germination time for recently harvested seeds is longer than for afterippened seeds (Simonin, 2001).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Elymus elymoides

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Squirreltail (in the broad sense) can be found throughout western North America from Canada to Mexico and is adapted to a wide range of ecological and topographical conditions. It is considered secure throughout its range and may even become weedy or invasive in some regions displacing desirable vegetation unless properly managed.

Environmental Specificity: Broad. Generalist or community with all key requirements common.

Comments: This species is tolerant to disturbance (Maser and Strickler, 1978). Its ability to germinate in the late fall and very early spring at a wide range of temperatures add to its capability to compete with cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.). Studies also indicate that squirreltail is capable of establishing in medusahead wildrye (Taeniatherum caput-medusae (L.) Nevski) infested sites. This makes squirreltail one of the more competitive native grasses available for reseeding disturbed rangelands. It is also a self-fertilizing species which allows it to produce seed despite sparse stands following seeding. Squirreltail is considered to be one of the most fire resistant native bunchgrasses. Older plants contain relatively low amounts of dead material when compared with other native bunchgrasses. This allows for hot, but quick burns which do not penetrate and damage the crown. However, during dry years plants can be damaged by severe burns. As an early-seral species, new plants often increase for two to three years following burns (USDA NRCS, 2010). In general, squirreltail is adapted to a wide range of ecological and topographical conditions. Plants can be found from 600 to 3,500 meters (2,000 to 11,500 feet) elevation in desert shrub to alpine plant communities. The different species-subspecies are adapted to sites receiving as little as 8 inches mean annual precipitation on upland sites or 5 to 9 inches in low lying areas that receive additional moisture. Big squirreltail is normally found in sites with 10 inches or more mean annual precipitation. Squirreltail grows well in medium to fine-textured soils, but also commonly occupies coarse-textured to gravelly soils. It tolerates low to moderately saline to alkaline run-in or overflow sites with electrical conductivity (EC) generally less than 10 (USDA NRCS, 2010).

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).

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Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)

Comments: It is considered secure throughout its range and may even become weedy or invasive in some regions displacing desirable vegetation unless properly managed (USDA NRCS, 2010).

Global Long Term Trend: Increase of 10-25% to decline of 30%

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Threats

Degree of Threat: Unknown

Comments: Although bottlebrush squirreltail is generally top-killed by fire, its small size and low density of coarse fuel per unit basal area make it relatively fire tolerant (Britton et al., 1990; Wright, 1971). Low density of above ground plant tissue produces a quick, "hot" flame, transferring little heat to growing points below the soil surface (Wright, 1971; Wright and Klemmedson, 1965). The solid culms of bottlebrush squirreltail do not readily burn, compared to those of perennial grass associates (Wright and Klemmedson, 1965). Bottlebrush squirreltail's small size, coarse stems, and sparse leafy material aid in its tolerance of fire (Britton et al., 1990) Frequency of disturbance greatly influences postfire response of bottlebrush squirreltail. Undisturbed plants within a 6 to 9 year age class generally contain large amounts of dead material, increasing bottlebrush squirreltail's susceptibility to fire (Wright and Klemmedson, 1965). Koniak (1985) found bottlebrush squirreltail to be a major component of postfire pinyon-juniper communities of the Great Basin at any time during succession (Simonin, 2001).

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Pests and potential problems

Plants are known to be susceptible to rust.

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Management

Management considerations

More info for the terms: competition, cover, culm, relict, succession, wildfire

The addition of nitrogen to disturbed sagebrush communities in Colorado [141] and mountain meadows of Nevada [62]
had no positive effect on
bottlebrush squirreltail establishment.
Bottlebrush squirreltail decreased after the addition of nutrients in the form of stabilized sewage
sludge [78].

Bottlebrush squirreltail reproductive potential is adversely affected by jointworm larvae.
Spears and Barr [179]
found culm length, seed weight, germination (%),
and germination rate all significantly lower (p<0.01) on bottlebrush squirreltail
infested with jointworms compared to noninfested plants. Results are summarized below
:

Variable Infested Uninfested
Culm length (cm) 30.0 33.7
Leaf length (cm) 22.0 23.1
# of spikelets 5 9
Seed weight (mg 25 seeds) 108.2 162.5
Germination (%) 20.0 66.0
Growth rate (Seedlings day -1 100 seeds -1) 2.8 7.8


Rangelands:

Bottlebrush squirreltail is a valuable winter range plant in the Great Basin [48], with
leaves remaining green and succulent through the winter.

Bottlebrush squirreltail's total available root carbohydrate reserves are lowest in early spring
(approximately 3rd leaf stage), and at the beginning of fall regrowth. Total available carbohydrates are highest after
anthesis [50].
By the 4th leaf stage, bottlebrush squirreltail has replaced the carbohydrate
reserves found in roots at the beginning of the growing season [20]. Wright [206]
found bottlebrush squirreltail most tolerant to herbage removal at
time of seed maturity, declining slightly after maturity before fall regrowth.
In eastern Oregon, bottlebrush squirreltail is resistant to late season defoliation [31]

Bottlebrush squirreltail generally increases in abundance when moderately grazed
or protected on the foothills of intermountain winter ranges [104].
Moderate trampling by livestock in big sagebrush rangelands of central Nevada enhanced
bottlebrush squirreltail seedling emergence compared to untrampled conditions. Heavy trampling
destroys germination sites and significantly
(p<0.05) reduces germination, whereas moderate trampling may
enhance germination [63].

Bottlebrush squirreltail is tolerant of grazing in big sagebrush rangelands of
southeastern Idaho [4].
In sagebrush rangelands of western Utah, Cook and Child [46] found winter harvesting
to have a minor effect on crown cover, whereas early spring (April 1, May 1) harvest greatly
reduced bottlebrush squirreltail cover.

Bottlebrush squirreltail vegetative vigor was evaluated over 25 years within a sagebrush rangeland
of southeastern Oregon excluded from grazing. Vigor of bottlebrush squirreltail increased
significantly over the 25 year period, with the 1st decade showing slower growth than the
2nd. The average annual precipitation over the 25 years equaled 8.3 inches (210 mm) with 40%
falling during April, May, and June. Winters were cold with snow cover from December to March.
Summers were hot, occasionally exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 °C) [3].

Bottlebrush squirreltail is commonly found in heavily grazed and browsed
(cattle and deer) aspen stands of big sagebrush steppe in Wyoming [36].

McPherson and Wright [144] observed significantly (p<0.01) greater coverage of bottlebrush
squirreltail on ungrazed versus grazed Pinchot juniper rangelands in western Texas.
Within the ponderosa pine bunchgrass ranges of the central Rocky Mountains, bottlebrush squirreltail
production is greatest under light and moderate grazing regimes [52].
Bottlebrush squirreltail is tolerant of heavy grazing in the ponderosa pine zone of the Coconino Plateau, Arizona, since its long, sharp
awns are usually present to discourage grazing [8].

On shortgrass ranges of the central plains bottlebrush squirreltail is very tolerant of light
to moderate grazing [118].

Silviculture:

Climax western juniper stands are of mixed age, consisting of 1st year seedlings to trees
several hundred years old. Seral stands are composed of predominately younger aged trees.
In central
Oregon, Vaitkus and Eddleman [194] observed significantly greater (p<0.05) bottlebrush squirreltail
production when associated with large (older) trees compared to small trees. Production of bottlebrush
squirreltail was also significantly greater (p<0.05)
under juniper canopies compared to intercanopy zones. McPherson and others [143]
observed significantly greater (p<0.01) bottlebrush squirreltail
under Pinchot juniper canopies and at canopy edges compared to areas
beyond canopy, within grazed and relict grasslands
of western Texas. Evaluations by Tueller and Platou [190] lend
supporting evidence (see: SUCCESSION within the Botanical and Ecological Characteristics section).

Bottlebrush squirreltail does not reduce ponderosa pine seedling growth. Two-year-old pine
seedlings that were planted the 1st postfire spring, after a June wildfire in northern Arizona,
were not affected in height or diameter by competition with bottlebrush squirreltail [66].
In Arizona ponderosa pine forests, seedlings
normally gain dominance over bottlebrush squirreltail within 5 years [8].

Bottlebrush squirreltail drastically increased 4 years after a clear-cut within
a lodgepole pine forest of northeastern Utah at 8,800 feet (2,700 m). Bottlebrush
squirreltail
showed the largest increase in vegetative production out of all grasses present [10]:


1976 (kg/ha) 1980 (kg/ha)
Ross' sedge 56.8 42.0
elk sedge 2.1 4.4
Poa spp. 10.2 40.7
bottlebrush squirreltail 3.3 47.7
5 others 0.0 13.9


Bottlebrush squirreltail was an early colonizer after the clear-cut of a
ponderosa pine forest in north-central California [138].

Bottlebrush squirreltail populations were greatest 11 to 25 years after clearcuts
of a red fir forest in the Sierra Nevada, California [73].

Everett and Sharow [70] found bottlebrush squirreltail seed production was less
under singleleaf pinyon (Pinus monophylla)-Utah juniper
woodland canopies than in clearcut areas (1 and 2 postharvest years).
  • 10. Austin, D. D.; Urness, Philip J. 1982. Vegetal responses and big game values after thinning regenerating lodgepole pine. The Great Basin Naturalist. 42(4): 512-516. [8354]
  • 104. Hutchings, Selar S.; Stewart, George. 1953. Increasing forage yields and sheep production on Intermountain winter ranges. Circular No. 925. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 63 p. [1227]
  • 118. Klipple, G. E.; Costello, David F. 1960. Vegetation and cattle responses to different intensities of grazing on short-grass ranges on the Central Great Plains. Technical Bulletin No. 1216. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 82 p. [4284]
  • 138. McDonald, Philip M. 1999. Diversity, density, and development of early vegetation in a small clear-cut environment. Res. Pap. PSW-RP-239. Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station. 22 p. [36204]
  • 141. McLendon, Terry; Redente, Edward F. 1994. Role of nitrogen availability in the transition from annual-dominated to perennial-dominated seral communities. In: Monsen, Stephen B.; Kitchen, Stanley G., compilers. Proceedings--ecology and management of annual rangelands; 1992 May 18-22; Boise, ID. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-313. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 352-362. [24309]
  • 143. McPherson, Guy R.; Rasmussen, G. Allen; Wester, David B.; Masters, Robert A. 1991. Vegetation and soil zonation associated with Juniperus pinchoth Sudw. trees. The Great Basin Naturalist. 51(4): 316-324. [18105]
  • 144. McPherson, Guy R.; Wright, Henry A. 1990. Effects of cattle grazing and Juniperus pinchotii canopy cover on herb cover and production in western Texas. The American Midland Naturalist. 123: 144-151. [11148]
  • 179. Spears, Brian M.; Barr, William F. 1985. Effect of jointworms on the growth and reproduction of four native range grasses of Idaho. Journal of Range Management. 38(1): 44-46. [2205]
  • 190. Tueller, P. T.; Platou, K. A. 1991. A plant succession gradient in a big sagebrush/grass ecosystem. Vegetatio. 94(1): 57-68. [16576]
  • 194. Vaitkus, Milda R.; Eddleman, Lee E. 1991. Tree size and understory phytomass production in a western juniper woodland. The Great Basin Naturalist. 51(3): 236-243. [16869]
  • 20. Bedell, Thomas E. 1980. Range plant growth and development. Extension Circular 1038. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University, Extension Service. 4 p. [6518]
  • 206. Wright, Henry A. 1967. Contrasting responses of squirreltail and needleandthread to herbage removal. Journal of Range Management. 20: 398-400. [2606]
  • 3. Anderson, Jay E.; Holte, Karl E. 1981. Vegetation development over 25 years without grazing on sagebrush-dominated rangeland in southeastern Idaho. Journal of Range Management. 34(1): 25-29. [319]
  • 31. Britton, Carlton M.; McPherson, Guy R.; Sneva, Forrest A. 1990. Effects of burning and clipping on five bunchgrasses in eastern Oregon. The Great Basin Naturalist. 50(2): 115-120. [12371]
  • 36. Burke, Ingrid C.; Reiners, William A.; Olson, Richard K. 1989. Topographic control of vegetation in a mountain big sagebrush steppe. Vegetatio. 84(2): 77-86. [11178]
  • 4. Anderson, Jay E.; Jeppson, R. J.; Wildosz, R. J.; [and others]. 1978. Trends in vegetation development on the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory Site. In: Markham, O. D., ed. Ecological studies on the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory Site: 1978 Progress Report. IDO-112087. Idaho Falls, ID: U.S. Department of Energy, Environmental Sciences Branch, Radiological and Environmental Sciences Lab: 144-166. [320]
  • 46. Cook, C. Wayne; Child, R. Dennis. 1971. Recovery of desert plants in various states of vigor. Journal of Range Management. 24: 339-343. [677]
  • 48. Cook, C. Wayne; Stoddart, L. A.; Harris, Lorin E. 1954. The nutritive value of winter range plants in the Great Basin as determined with digestion trials with sheep. Bulletin 372. Logan, UT: Utah State University, Agricultural Experiment Station. 56 p. [682]
  • 50. Coyne, Patrick I.; Cook, C. Wayne. 1970. Seasonal carbohydrate reserve cycles in eight desert range species. Journal of Range Management. 23: 438-444. [707]
  • 52. Currie, Pat O. 1975. Grazing management of ponderosa pine-bunchgrass ranges of the central Rocky Mountains. Res. Pap. RM-159. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 24 p. [12600]
  • 62. Eckert, R. E. 1975. Improvement of mountain meadows in Nevada. Research Report. Reno, NV: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Land Management. 45 p. [8124]
  • 63. Eckert, Richard E., Jr.; Peterson, Frederick F.; Emmerich, Fay L. 1987. A study of factors influencing secondary succession in the sagebrush [Artemisia spp. L.] type. In: Frasier, Gary W.; Evans, Raymond A., eds. Proceedings of the symposium: "Seed and seedbed ecology of rangeland plants"; 1987 April 21-23; Tucson, AZ. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service: 149-168. [3544]
  • 66. Elliott, Katherine J.; White, Alan S. 1987. Competitive effects of various grasses and forbs on ponderosa pine seedlings. Forest Science. 33(2): 356-366. [860]
  • 70. Everett, Richard L.; Sharrow, Steven H. 1983. Understory seed rain on tree-harvested and unharvested pinyon-juniper sites. Journal of Environmental Management. 17(4): 349-358. [35997]
  • 73. Fernau, R. F.; Rey Benayas, J. M.; Barbour, M. G. 1998. Early secondary succession following clearcuts in red fir forests of the Sierra Nevada, California. Madrono. 45(2): 131-136. [30094]
  • 78. Fresquez, P. R.; Francis, Richard E.; Dennis, G. L. 1990. Soil and vegetation responses to sewage sludge on a degraded semiarid broom snakeweed/blue grama plant community. Journal of Range Management. 43(4): 325-331. [34945]
  • 8. Arnold, Joseph F. 1950. Changes in ponderosa pine bunchgrass ranges in northern Arizona resulting from pine regeneration and grazing. Journal of Forestry. February: 118-126. [352]

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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

Because of the broad array of subspecies of squirreltail and the genetic variation between species and subspecies, careful identification of the species and subspecies native to the planting site is recommended. Care should be taken to match the appropriate phenotype and genotype of the plant materials with those of the local plant communities to improve the chance of stand success and to prevent genetic contamination of existing populations.

Fish Creek Germplasm, 2003 (E. elymoides ssp. elymoides): This natural track, selected class germplasm was released by the USDA-ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory in Logan, UT in cooperation with BLM, Utah Agricultural Experiment Station and USDA-NRCS. It was originally collected by T.A. Jones as accession T-1223 in Blaine County, Idaho in August 1995. The native site was described as a big sagebrush and Sandberg bluegrass (Poa secunda Presl.) community at approximately 1450 meters (4,760 feet) elevation. Estimated annual precipitation at the site is 35-38 cm (14-15 in). Fish Creek shows a 33% lighter awn mass as compared to Sand Hollow. The spike also disarticulates in a determinate fashion at the base of the spike, two traits which make Fish Creek easier to harvest and to clean than other releases. Fish Creek is adapted to and intended for use in the Snake River Plain. Second generation seed is maintained by the USDA-ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory, Logan UT. G3 to G5 seed is available through the Utah Crop Improvement Association.

Toe Jam Creek Germplasm, 2003 (E. elymoides ssp. californicus): This natural track, selected class germplasm was released by the USDA-ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory in Logan, UT in cooperation with BLM, Utah Agricultural Experiment Station and USDA-NRCS. The original collection for Toe Jam Creek was made in Elko County, Nevada west of Tuscarora by J. Garrison of NRCS. Elevation at the site is 1829 meters (6,000 feet), and average precipitation is estimated at 31cm (12 in.). Toe Jam Creek is intended for use in the lower Snake River Plain and the northern Great Basin. Similar to Fish Creek, Toe Jam Creek exhibits a lower awn mass than Sand Hollow making them presumably easier to remove without damaging the caryopsis. G3 seed is maintained by the USDA-ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory, Logan UT. Seed through G6 is available through the Utah Crop Improvement Association.

Sand Hollow Germplasm, 1996 (E. multisetus): The Sand Hollow collection site is considerably drier than those typical for big squirreltail. It was originally collected in 1984 in Gem County, Idaho by Greg Painter of NRCS in a bluebunch wheatgrass, Sandberg bluegrass and tapertip hawksbeard (Crepis acuminata Nutt.) community. The collection site is at 830 meters (2,720 feet) elevation and receives an average of 28 centimeters (11.0 inches) annual precipitation. Sand Hollow is considered to be adapted to the mountain foothills of the Snake River Plain region of Idaho and in adjacent regions of Oregon, Nevada and Utah. It was released as a selected class germplasm for high seed production, higher-than-average seed weight and late heading date. G2 seed is maintained by the USDA-ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory, Logan UT. Seed from G3 and G4 generations are available for seed certification through the Utah Crop Improvement Association.

Tusas Germplasm, 2001 (Elymus elymoides ssp. brevifolius): Tusas Germplasm bottlebrush squirreltail was released by the NRCS and New Mexico State University Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas, New Mexico. This natural track, selected class release is a composite of eight accessions from throughout New Mexico. Collection site elevations ranged from 1,460 meters (4,800 feet) to 2,800 meters (9,200 feet). From the initial 131 collections, eight were selected for vigor, late flowering and higher seed yield. An equal number of seedlings from each accession were taken to form the composite, Tusas. It is intended for use in the southwestern United States for erosion control, wildlife food and cover, revegetation of disturbed sites and restoration of weed infested rangelands. Breeder and G2 seed are maintained by the NRCS NM Plant Materials Center. Seed is available through the New Mexico Crop Improvement Association.

Pueblo Germplasm and Wapiti Germplasm, 2005 (Elymus elymoides ssp. brevifolius): Pueblo and Wapiti Germplasm are natural track, selected class releases, each originating from a single source. Pueblo was originally collected in 1976 southwest of Pueblo, Colorado in Pueblo County at an elevation of 7,200 feet in shallow, gravelly soils. The original collection of Wapiti was made in 1981 along the Gooseberry Creek drainage in Rio Blanco County, Colorado. The original collection site was in a stony loam soil at 7,800 feet elevation. Eight bottlebrush squirreltail accessions were evaluated by the Upper Colorado Environmental Plant Center (UCEPC) from 1983 to 1987 and compared for forage production, seed production percent stand, leaf height, vigor, leaf abundance and stem height. Of these, two accessions were chosen for further development, Pueblo and Wapiti. Both are intended for use in erosion control and forage production for livestock and wildlife as well as a variety of conservation applications. These releases should be considered as potentially adapted within the natural range of the species. The UCEPC will maintain G1 and G2 seed. G2 seed will be available to growers. Growers may produce one generation (G3) beyond G2 for Pueblo and Wapiti Germplasm seed. Seed used for certified seed production must be obtained from UCEPC.

Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government”. The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”

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USDA NRCS Idaho State Office

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Seed production

Plant seed in a 36-inch between-row spacing at a rate of 2.4 lbs PLS/acre for 30 PLS per foot of row. Fields should be weed free and have good field moisture to a depth of at least four inches. Soil should be kept moist throughout the germination phase (about 14-28 days). Fifty percent of germination should occur within 15 to 30 days after planting. Broadleaf weeds can be controlled with low rates of bromoxynil at the three to five leaf stage. Always apply herbicides according to label directions. No fertilizer should be applied during the first year to discourage annual weed competition.

Soil moisture should be carefully maintained during early green-up, boot stage, milk stage of seed development and after harvest. No irrigation should be applied during flowering to encourage seed set. Fertilize established fields at 100 lb nitrogen and 40 lb phosphorus per acre in mid-September. Soil testing is recommended to ensure proper rates of fertilization.

Broadleaf weeds can be controlled with herbicides. Application should occur prior to boot stage. Between-row cultivation can be used to control other weeds for the life of the stand.

Seed is ready to harvest in about mid-July of the second growing season (see “management” section for timing). Harvest by windrowing followed by combining. Some report difficulty with mechanical harvesting due to the ready disarticulation of the rachis of mature seed heads. Swathing prior to maturity and curing in windrows will help reduce this problem. Flail-vac and seed stripping harvesting equipment have also been used with varying degrees of success.

Because of the large amount of inert material produced from awns and glumes, this is a very time-consuming species to clean. Thresh seed through a hammer mill to remove awns. Follow with a clipper or other separator. Purity should exceed 90% with greater than 85% viability. Big squirreltail, in particular, has proven difficult to debeard without seed damage. Some seed companies have modified equipment that has resulted in improved seed viability.

Seed yields under irrigated conditions average approximately 200 lb/acre with 190,000 seeds/lb. Harvested seed should be dried to 12% or less moisture before storing. Storing seed in a cool dry environment will retain viability for several years.

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USDA NRCS Idaho State Office

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Seeds germinate in the fall or spring. Plants green up early and remain green through the fall and into winter. Stands should be protected from heavy grazing, especially during flowering to ensure sufficient seed production to maintain the stand. New plantings should also be protected from grazing for at least two growing seasons. A direct seeded squirreltail stand in a big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass community in south-central Idaho has survived for 30 years with recruitment from natural reseeding.

Wildland seed collection occurs from July to September before disarticulation of the spike. Best germination rates come from seed collected in stands with fifty percent of the seed heads having divergent awns and the other half having straight awns of a reddish color. This occurs approximately one week prior to disarticulation. One hour collecting for a single person averages a yield of about 1.6 oz of clean seed. Seed yields can vary widely depending on stand density and age.

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USDA NRCS Idaho State Office

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

More info for the terms: competition, cover, litter, natural, phenology, restoration, shrub, tree, xeric

Bottlebrush squirreltail is tolerant of disturbance [133]. The Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior, identifies bottlebrush squirreltail as a high priority species for restoring native plant diversity in the Great Basin and the Columbia River Plateau [90]. Bottlebrush squirreltail naturally colonizes disturbed sites in Yellowstone National Park and is a component of seed mixtures used for restoration of lodgepole pine communities [129]. Brown and Amacher [34] recommend bottlebrush squirreltail for use in restoration of disturbed arid to semi-arid, desert shrub and pinyon-juniper systems. Bottlebrush squirreltail is well adapted for seeding of Wyoming, black and low sagebrush communities of the Intermountain West, receiving 9 to 13 inches (229-330 mm) annual precipitation. Bottlebrush squirreltail grows well under rabbitbrush canopies in south-central Idaho rangelands [149].

Bottlebrush squirreltail inhabits xeric sandy soils (73.9% sand, 16.8% silt, 9.2% clay, 1.3% organic matter) of a 50-year-old abandoned tailings pond from a Pb-Zn-processing mill [41], and is recommended for seed mixtures used to reclaim strip mines in southeastern Montana [64].

The large ecological amplitude of bottlebrush squirreltail lends to ecotypic differentiation. Phenological differences in growth rate, root:shoot ratios, leaf area, and overall plant size exist between subspecies of bottlebrush squirreltail. Differences are directly related to subspecies distribution [100]. Bottlebrush squirreltail seed source should be considered when implementing revegetation projects. Arredondo and others [9] observed a higher root length-to-leaf area ratio in plants grown from seed collected from different environments. Differences in phenology between individuals of different habitats are common (see: SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT within the Botanical and Ecological Characteristics section for further information).

Bottlebrush squirreltail seed is available commercially [103,104,134]. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, in conjunction with the Intermountain Research Station, Forest Service, USDA, established bottlebrush squirreltail seed quality standards. Seed quality standards as of 1990 are summarized below [181]:

Seed unit1 Acceptable purity (%)2 Acceptable viability (%)2
spikelet with or without awns 90 85

1 Reproductive structure marketed as seed.
2 Purity (%) and germination (%) expected using seed quality testing rules in seeds of commercial quality.

Germinability of primed bottlebrush squirreltail seed significantly (p<0.05) decreases when dried and stored [89].

Competition with invasive weeds:
The persistence of bottlebrush squirreltail in areas invaded by exotic weeds is well recognized. Bottlebrush squirreltail persists in areas infested with cheatgrass [9,18,99,100,103,188], medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae) [9,96,169,213,216], and Japanese brome (Bromus japonicus) [166].

Bottlebrush squirreltail naturally invades rangelands dominated by cheatgrass and medusahead [9]. However, mechanisms behind bottlebrush squirreltail's ability to occupy weed-infested areas are not completely understood. Several studies have evaluated the persistence of bottlebrush squirreltail within cheatgrass infested ranges. Beckstead [18] found recently harvested bottlebrush squirreltail seeds from mountain brush and meadow sites to possess lower levels of dormancy than cheatgrass at higher temperatures, 68/86 degrees Fahrenheit (20/30 C), whereas the opposite was true of lower temperatures, 41/59 degrees Fahrenheit (5/15 C). Bottlebrush squirreltail at lower elevations (4,100 feet (1,250 m)) have a greater probability of autumn germination than cheatgrass [2]. Established bottlebrush squirreltail plants generally initiate growth before the rosettes of cheatgrass in desert rangelands of Nevada [188]. Beckstead [18] suggests fall seeding of bottlebrush squirreltail into cheatgrass infested rangelands.

Early spring growth and ability to grow at low temperatures contribute to the persistence of bottlebrush squirreltail among cheatgrass dominated ranges [100]. Bottlebrush squirreltail seedlings have the ability to grow roots at low soil temperatures, allowing for soil penetration similar to medusahead and cheatgrass in the northern regions of the Great Basin. Root development at low temperatures promotes bottlebrush squirreltail seedling establishment and effective competition with medusahead [96].

Bottlebrush squirreltail has potential to outcompete medusahead. Management goals often concentrate on protecting bottlebrush squirreltail seedlings from livestock and rabbits, along with maintaining a natural supply of seed [169]. Hironaka and Sindelar [98] evaluated bottlebrush squirreltail growth under greenhouse conditions, when closely associated with medusahead. Bottlebrush squirreltail plants (10 plants) were observed in combination with 0, 4, 12, 36, 108, and 324 medusahead/foot2. Bottlebrush squirreltail growth was not affected by medusahead until 5 weeks old, grown under densities of 108 and 324 medusahead/foot2. Although stunted, no bottlebrush squirreltail mortality was seen at all densities tested, whereas a large amount of medusahead mortality was observed in the 324 medusahead/foot2 level. Bottlebrush squirreltail acquired greater root carbohydrate reserves than medusahead under competitive conditions. Under proper management, Hironaka [96] suggests a successional sequence of cheatgrass to medusahead to bottlebrush squirreltail dominated sites for northern Great Basin areas receiving greater than 11 inches (279 mm) precipitation.

Rome and Eddelman [166] compared bottlebrush squirreltail seedling growth in competition with Japanese brome at densities of 0, 50, 100, 200, 400 Japanese brome/m2. Observations were made in Missoula, Montana at 23, 42, 56, 82, and 97 days following an 8 April seeding of bottlebrush squirreltail and Japanese brome. Bottlebrush squirreltail averaged 85% survival in areas without Japanese brome, compared to an average of 66% survival from areas with 100 to 400 Japanese brome/m2 (p<0.05). Overall, bottlebrush squirreltail under competition with Japanese brome showed the greatest competitive ability at 100 Japanese brome/m2.

Martlette and Anderson [131] observed poor bottlebrush squirreltail seed dispersal into adjacent crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum) stands. Plant cover acted as a barrier restricting the dispersal capabilities of bottlebrush squirreltail.

Under greenhouse conditions, Schlatterer and Tisdale [172] found sagebrush leaf litter to significantly (p<0.05) decrease bottlebrush squirreltail germination compared to moss and rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus spp.) litter. The average number of bottlebrush squirreltail seeds (20 seeds/pot) germinating under different litter treatments is summarized below:

Big sagebrush Moss Rabbitbrush No litter
11.25 18.75 18.25 18.25

Bottlebrush squirreltail will readily establish in pinyon-juniper tree litter when a fermentation layer is not present [69].

Robertson [165] observed seeded bottlebrush squirreltail within a big sagebrush habitat at 5,200 feet (1,585 m) in northern Nevada to be short lived, persisting for 5 years. Bottlebrush squirreltail persisted for 30 years following direct seeding within a big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass site in south-central Idaho [148].

  • 100. Hironaka, M.; Tisdale, E. W. 1972. Growth and development of Sitanion hystrix and Poa sandbergii. Research Memorandum RM 72-24. U.S. International Biological Program, Desert Biome. 15 p. [1161]
  • 103. Humphrey, L. David; Schupp, Eugene W. 1999. Temporal patterns of seeding emergence and early survival of Great Basin perennial plant species. The Great Basin Naturalist. 59(1): 35-49. [29654]
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  • 129. Majerus, Mark. 1999. Collection and production of indigenous plant material for National Park restoration. In: Revegetation with native species: Proceedings, 1997 Society for Ecological Restoration annual meeting; 1997 November 12-15; Fort Lauderdale, FL. Proceedings RMRS-P-8. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 17-21. [30375]
  • 131. Marlette, Guy M.; Anderson, Jay E. 1986. Seed banks and propagule dispersal in crested-wheatgrass stands. Journal of Applied Ecology. 23: 161-175. [1526]
  • 133. Maser, Chris; Strickler, Gerald S. 1978. The sage vole, Lagurus curtatus, as an inhabitant of subalpine sheep fescue, Festuca ovina, communities on Steens Mountain--an observation and interpretation. Northwest Science. 52(3): 276-284. [15507]
  • 134. McArthur, E. Durant; Young, Stanford A. 1999. Development of native seed supplies to support restoration of pinyon-juniper sites. In: Monsen, Stephen B.; Stevens, Richard, compilers. Proceedings: ecology and management of pinyon-juniper communities within the Interior West: Sustaining and restoring a diverse ecosystem; 1997 September 15-18; Provo, UT. Proc. RMRS-P-9. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 327-330. [30591]
  • 148. Monsen, Stephen B.; Anderson, Val Jo. 1995. A 52-year ecological history of selected introduced and native grasses planted in central Idaho. In: Proceedings, 17th international grassland congress; 1993 February 8-21; Palmerston North, New Zealand. [Place of publication unknown]: [Publisher unknown]: 1740-1741. [25664]
  • 149. Monsen, Stephen B.; Shaw, Nancy L. 1983. Seeding antelope bitterbrush with grasses on south-central Idaho rangelands--a 39-year response. In: Tiedemann, Arthur R.; Johnson, Kendall L., compilers. Proceedings--research and management of bitterbrush and cliffrose in western North America; 1982 April 13-15; Salt Lake City, UT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-152. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 126-136. [1684]
  • 165. Robertson, Joseph H. 1947. Responses of range grasses to different intensities of competition with sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt.). Ecology. 28(1): 1-16. [2008]
  • 166. Romo, J. T.; Eddleman, L. E. 1987. Effects of Japanese brome on growth of bluebunch wheatgrass, Junegrass, and squirreltail seedlings. Reclamation and Revegetation Research. 6: 207-218. [262]
  • 169. Sanders, Kenneth D. 1994. Can annual rangelands be converted and maintained as perennial grasslands through grazing management? In: Monsen, Stephen B.; Kitchen, Stanley G., compilers. Proceedings--ecology and management of annual rangelands; 1992 May 19-22; Boise, ID. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-313. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 412-413. [24321]
  • 172. Schlatterer, Edward F.; Tisdale, E.W. 1969. Effects of litter of Artemisia, Chrysothamnus, and Tortula on germination and growth of three perennial grasses. Ecology. 50(5): 869-873. [2078]
  • 18. Beckstead, Julie. 1994. Between-population differences in the germination ecophysiology of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) during afterripening. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 96 p. Thesis. [27522]
  • 181. Stevens, Richard; Meyer, Susan E. 1990. Seed quality testing for range and wildland species. Rangelands. 12(6): 341-346. [14163]
  • 188. Tipton, F. H. 1994. Cheatgrass, livestock, and rangeland. In: Monsen, Stephen B.; Kitchen, Stanley G., compilers. Proceedings--ecology and management of annual rangelands; 1992 May 19-22; Boise, ID. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-313. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 414-416. [24322]
  • 2. Allen, Phil S.; Debaene-Gill, Susan B.; Meyer, Susan E. 1994. Regulation of germination timing in facultatively fall-emerging grasses. In: Monsen, Stephen B.; Kitchen, Stanley G., compilers. Proceedings--ecology and management of annual rangelands; 1992 May 18-22; Boise, ID. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-313. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 215-219. [24284]
  • 213. Young, James A.; Evans, Raymond A. 1970. Invasion of medusahead into the Great Basin. Weed Science. 18(1): 89-97. [2647]
  • 216. Young, James A.; Evans, Raymond A.; Eckert, Richard E., Jr. 1969. Wheatgrass establishment with tillage and herbicides in a mesic medusahead community. Journal of Range Management. 22: 151-155. [2666]
  • 34. Brown, Ray W.; Amacher, Michael C. 1999. Selecting plant species for ecological restoration: a perspective for land managers. In: Holzworth, Larry K.; Brown, Ray W., comps. Revegetation with native species: Proceedings, 1997 Society for Ecological Restoration annual meeting; 1997 November 12-15; Fort Lauderdale, FL. Proc. RMRS-P-8. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 1-16. [30341]
  • 41. Chambers, Jeanne C.; Sidle, Roy C. 1991. Fate of heavy metals in an abandoned lead-zinc tailings pond: I. Vegetation. Journal of Environmental Quality. 20(4): 745-751. [34948]
  • 64. Eddleman, Lee E.; Doescher, Paul S. 1978. Selection of native plants for spoils revegetation based on regeneration characteristics and successional status. In: Land Reclamation Program, Annual Report July 1976-October 1977. ANL/LRP-2. Argonne, IL: Argonne National Laboratory, Energy & Environmental Systems Division: 132-138. [5729]
  • 69. Everett, Richard L. 1987. Allelopathic effects of pinyon and juniper litter on emergence and growth of herbaceous species. In: Frasier, Gary W.; Evans, Raymond A., eds. Proceedings of symposium: "Seed and seedbed ecology of rangeland plants"; 1987 April 21-23; Tucson, AZ. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service: 62-67. [3353]
  • 89. Hardegree, Stuart P. 1994. Drying and storage effects on germination of primed grass seeds. Journal of Range Management. 47(3): 196-199. [34943]
  • 9. Arredondo, J. Tulio; Jones, Thomas A.; Johnson, Douglas A. 1998. Seedling growth of Intermountain perennial and weedy annual grasses. Journal of Range Management. 51(5): 584-589. [35483]
  • 90. Hardegree, Stuart P. 1994. Germination enhancement of perennial grasses native to the Intermountain region. In: Monsen, Stephen B.; Kitchen, Stanley G, compilers. Proceedings--ecology and management of annual rangelands; 1992 May 18-22; Boise, ID. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-313. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 229-232. [24287]
  • 96. Hironaka, M. 1994. Medusahead: natural successor to the cheatgrass type in the northern Great Basin. In: Monsen, Stephen B.; Kitchen, Stanley G., compilers. Proceedings--ecology and management of annual rangelands; 1992 May 18-22; Boise, ID. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-313. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 89-91. [24259]
  • 98. Hironaka, M.; Sindelar, Brian W. 1975. Growth characteristics of squirreltail seedlings in competition with medusahead. Journal of Range Management. 28(4): 283-285. [1159]
  • 99. Hironaka, M.; Tisdale, E. W. 1963. Secondary succession in annual vegetation in southern Idaho. Ecology. 44(4): 810-812. [1160]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

Bottlebrush squirreltail is a dietary component of several wildlife species. It is a minor component of bison and cattle summer diets within sagebrush rangelands of southern Utah [195]. Although of little importance, bottlebrush squirreltail may provide forage for mule deer [122,124]. Pronghorn of western Utah feed upon bottlebrush squirreltail [16]. Townsend's ground squirrels [211], Nuttall's cottontails [111,127], and black-tailed jackrabbits [5,72,112,127] all feed upon bottlebrush squirreltail.

In southeastern Oregon salt desert-shrub ranges, bottlebrush squirreltail is an important component of domestic livestock seasonal diets. Winter months show greatest use [83,140].
  • 111. Johnson, Mark K.; Hansen, Richard M. 1979. Foods of cottontails and woodrats in south-central Idaho. Journal of Mammalogy. 60(1): 213-215. [23859]
  • 112. Johnson, Randal D.; Anderson, Jay E. 1984. Diets of black-tailed jack rabbits in relation to population density and vegetation. Journal of Range Management. 37(1): 79-83. [21837]
  • 122. Kufeld, Roland C.; Wallmo, O. C.; Feddema, Charles. 1973. Foods of the Rocky Mountain mule deer. Res. Pap. RM-111. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 31 p. [1387]
  • 124. Leckenby, Donavin A.; Adams, Arthur W. 1969. Ecological study of mule deer. Project No.: W-53-R-11. Job Progress Report No. 1. July 1, 1968 to June 30, 1969. Portland, OR: Oregon Game Commission, Research Division. 51 p. [16754]
  • 127. MacCracken, James G.; Hansen, Richard M. 1984. Seasonal foods of blacktail jackrabbits and Nuttall cottontails in southeastern Idaho. Journal of Range Management. 37(3): 256-259. [25010]
  • 140. McInnis, Michael L.; Vavra, Martin. 1987. Dietary relationships among feral horses, cattle, and pronghorn in southeastern Oregon. Journal of Range Management. 40(1): 60-66. [1605]
  • 16. Beale, Donald M.; Smith, Arthur D. 1970. Forage use, water consumption, and productivity of pronghorn antelope in western Utah. Journal of Wildlife Management. 34(3): 570-582. [6911]
  • 195. Van Vuren, Dirk. 1984. Summer diets of bison and cattle in southern Utah. Journal of Range Management. 37(3): 260-261. [24531]
  • 211. Yensen, Eric; Quinney, Dana L. 1992. Can Townsend's ground squirrels survive on a diet of exotic annuals? The Great Basin Naturalist. 52(3): 269-277. [20990]
  • 5. Anderson, Jay E.; Shumar, Mark L. 1986. Impacts of black-tailed jackrabbits at peak population densities on sagebrush vegetation. Journal of Range Management. 39(2): 152-155. [322]
  • 72. Fagerstone, Kathleen A.; Lavoie, G. Keith; Griffith, Richard E., Jr. 1980. Black-tailed jackrabbit diet and density on rangeland and near agricultural crops. Journal of Range Management. 33(3): 229-233. [21756]
  • 83. Green, Lisle R.; Sharp, Lee A.; Cook, C. Wayne; Harris, Lorin E. 1951. Utilization of winter range forage by sheep. Journal of Range Management. 4: 233-241. [7891]

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Cover Value

The degree of environmental protection provided by bottlebrush squirreltail for wildlife species is as follows [58]:

  Utah Wyoming
Pronghorn Poor Poor
Elk Poor Poor
Mule deer Poor Poor
White-tailed deer ---- Poor
Small mammals Good Good
Small nongame birds Fair Good
Upland game birds Fair Fair
Waterfowl Poor Fair

  • 58. Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p. [806]

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Nutritional Value

Clary [44] compared chemical constituents (%) of bottlebrush squirreltail within
open and timbered ponderosa pine
overstories in Arizona.
Greater digestibility and significantly (p<0.05) higher crude protein
were found in open versus timbered overstories:

OpenTimbered
Crude protein (%)16.09.7
Phosphorus (%)0.250.26
Ash (%)12.313.7
Digestibility (%)66.761.0


Bottlebrush
squirreltail nutrient levels fluctuate throughout the growing season. Levels
of S, P, and K usually drop
from March to October. Amounts of Mg and Ca stay relatively the same with
high points in spring, late summer, and early fall [152]. Overall,
bottlebrush squirreltail is a poor source of phosphorus, carotene, and digestible
protein, but a good source of energy [48]. The
average chemical composition (%) of bottlebrush squirreltail in Great Basin desert ranges
is summarized below [47]:



Composition (%)
Ether Extract2.6
Total protein4.5
Ash17.1
Lignin8.7
Cellulose37.5
Other Carbohydrates29.6
Phosphorus0.07
Gross energy1730 (kcal/lb)
Carotene0.5 (mg/lb)



  • 152. Murray, R. B.; Mayland, H. F.; Van Soest, P. J. 1978. Growth and nutritional value to cattle of grasses on cheatgrass range in southern Idaho. Research Paper INT-199. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 57 p. [1723]
  • 44. Clary, Warren P. 1975. Range management and its ecological basis in the ponderosa pine type of Arizona: the status of our knowledge. Res. Pap. RM-158. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 35 p. [4688]
  • 47. Cook, C. Wayne; Harris, Lorin E. 1968. Nutritive value of seasonal ranges. Bulletin 472. Logan, UT: Utah State University, Agricultural Experiment Station. 55 p. [679]
  • 48. Cook, C. Wayne; Stoddart, L. A.; Harris, Lorin E. 1954. The nutritive value of winter range plants in the Great Basin as determined with digestion trials with sheep. Bulletin 372. Logan, UT: Utah State University, Agricultural Experiment Station. 56 p. [682]

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Palatability

Bottlebrush squirreltail is a very palatable winter forage for domestic sheep of
Intermountain ranges. Domestic sheep relish the green foliage [104]. Overall, bottlebrush
squirreltail is considered moderately palatable to livestock.

When present, the long sharp awns of bottlebrush squirreltail greatly reduce
its palatability [150]. Mature awns may penetrate flesh around the mouth of grazing
animals, producing inflammation [51,115]. Eye and ear injury may also occur [51].
  • 104. Hutchings, Selar S.; Stewart, George. 1953. Increasing forage yields and sheep production on Intermountain winter ranges. Circular No. 925. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 63 p. [1227]
  • 115. Kearney, Thomas H.; Peebles, Robert H.; Howell, John Thomas; McClintock, Elizabeth. 1960. Arizona flora. 2d ed. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1085 p. [6563]
  • 150. Morris, H. E.; Booth, W. E.; Payne, G. F.; Stitt, R. E. 1950. Important grasses on Montana ranges. Bull. No. 470. Bozeman, MT: Montana Agricultural Experiment Station. 52 p. [5520]
  • 51. Cronquist, Arthur; Holmgren, Arthur H.; Holmgren, Noel H.; Reveal, James L. 1972. Intermountain flora: Vascular plants of the Intermountain West, U.S.A. Vol. 1. New York: Hafner Publishing Company, Inc. 270 p. [717]

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Uses

Reclamation/re-vegetation: Squirreltail displays many qualities which make it a good choice for what has been described as “assisted succession.” It is a short-lived perennial grass which can act as an early-seral species by competing with and replacing annual weedy species following fire. It is thought that after squirreltail establishes, annual weedy species should decrease in frequency and longer-lived, native perennials may be more successfully reseeded and established.

Its ability to germinate in the late fall and very early spring at a wide range of temperatures add to its capability to compete with cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.). Studies also indicate that squirreltail is capable of establishing in medusahead wildrye (Taeniatherum caput-medusae (L.) Nevski) infested sites. This makes squirreltail one of the more competitive native grasses available for reseeding disturbed rangelands. It is also a self-fertilizing species which allows it to produce seed despite sparse stands following seeding.

Squirreltail is considered to be one of the most fire resistant native bunchgrasses. Older plants contain relatively low amounts of dead material when compared with other native bunchgrasses. This allows for hot, but quick burns which do not penetrate and damage the crown. However, during dry years plants can be damaged by severe burns. As an early-seral species, new plants often increase for two to three years following burns.

Erosion control: When in large, dense stands, squirreltail is very effective at controlling wind and water erosion, due to its persistent ground cover.

Forage/wildlife: Squirreltail is considered to be fair to desirable forage for cattle, horses and sheep in spring before seed head development and late summer to fall after seed shatter. The long, sharp awns of the florets and glumes can be injurious to grazing animals during mid to late spring into summer. Leaves green up in very early spring and are palatable through the fall, especially following rain. The tendency for some leaves to remain green through the winter makes squirreltail an important, though not especially nutritious, winter forage species. Table 1 shows crude protein levels for the spring, summer and winter.

Table 1. Crude protein levels by season

% Crude protein

Spring

18.5

Summer

8.0

Winter

4.3

(Adapted from Monsen et al, 2004)

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USDA NRCS Idaho State Office

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Wikipedia

Elymus elymoides

Elymus elymoides is a species of wild rye known by the common name squirreltail. This grass is native to most of North America west of the Mississippi River. It occurs in a number of ecosystems, from the alpine zone to desert sage scrub to valley grassland.

Description[edit]

Elymus elymoides is a perennial bunch grass growing to around half a meter in height. Its erect solid stems have flat or rolled leaf blades. The inflorescence is up to 15 centimeters long and somewhat stiff and erect, with spikelets one or two centimeters long not counting the awn, which may be 9 centimeters long and sticks straight out, making the inflorescence look like a bottlebrush.

This grass is considered a very good forage for sheep. It is best for grazing during the winter, when it is small and green. It becomes less palatable to livestock when its awns grow long and sharp at maturity.

Subspecies[edit]

Subspecies include:

  • E. e. ssp. brevifolius - widespread
  • E. e. ssp. californicus - occurs in the western half of the species range
  • E. e. ssp. elymoides - widespread
  • E. e. ssp. hordeoides - limited mostly to the Pacific Northwest
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Though bottlebrush and big squirreltail are commonly referred to as Sitanion hystrix (Nutt.) J.G. Smith and Sitanion jubatum J.G. Smith, respectively, squirreltail is becoming more widely accepted through cytological and molecular evidence as belonging to the genus Elymus. The squirreltail complex, Elymus section Sitanion, is composed of two species, E. multisetus (J.G. Sm.) M.E. Jones (big squirreltail) and E. elymoides (Raf.) Swezey (bottlebrush squirreltail), with E. elymoides being further divided into four subspecies: elymoides, brevifolius (J.G. Sm.) Barkworth, californicus (J.G. Sm.) Barkworth, and hordeoides (Suksd.) Barkworth (Barkworth and Dewey, 1985; Kartesz, 1999).

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The currently accepted scientific name of bottlebrush squirreltail is Elymus elymoides
(Raf.) Swezey [60,87,113] (Poaceae). Barkworth and Dewey [12] realigned Sitanion hystrix (Nuttall) J. G. Smith
in the Elymus genus as Elymus elymoides. Realignment of the Elymus genus
is based upon morphological and genomic characters [12,56].

The following subspecies are currently recognized: Elymus elymoides ssp. brevifolius,
E. e. ssp. californicus, E. e. ssp. elymoides, and E.
e. ssp. hordeoides [93].

Bottlebrush squirreltail hybridizes frequently with other
Elymus species and infrequently with Hordeum species [200].
Bottlebrush squirreltail also hybridizes with saline wildrye (Leymus salinus)
[106].
  • 106. Jensen, Kevin B.; Redinbaugh, M.; Blood, M.; [and others]. 1999. Natural hybrids of Elymus elymoides x Leymus salinus subsp. salmonis (Poaceae: Triticeae) Crop Science. 39(4): 976-982. [35162]
  • 113. Jones, Stanley D.; Wipff, Joseph K.; Montgomery, Paul M. 1997. Vascular plants of Texas. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 404 p. [28762]
  • 12. Barkworth, Mary E.; Dewey, Douglas R. 1985. Genomically based genera in the perennial Triticeae of North America: identification and membership. American Journal of Botany. 72(5): 767-776. [393]
  • 200. Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. The Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p. [2944]
  • 56. Dewey, Douglas R. 1983. Historical and current taxonomic perspectives of Agropyron, Elymus, and related genera. Crop Science. 23: 637-642. [793]
  • 60. Dorn, Robert D. 1984. Vascular plants of Montana. Cheyenne, WY: Mountain West Publishing. 276 p. [819]
  • 87. Hallsten, Gregory P.; Skinner, Quentin D.; Beetle, Alan A. 1987. Grasses of Wyoming. 3rd ed. Research Journal 202. Laramie, WY: University of Wyoming, Agricultural Experiment Station. 432 p. [2906]
  • 93. Hickman, James C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1400 p. [21992]

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Common Names

bottlebrush squirreltail

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