Overview

Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Wedgeleaf ceanothus is widely distributed in California, Oregon, and the Baja of Mexico. Wedgeleaf ceanothus is found from the Willamette Valley of west-central Oregon, south to the Rogue Valley and Siskiyou Mountains of southwestern Oregon. Wedgeleaf ceanothus is frequent along the coastal ranges of California, to the Liebre, San Gabriel, San Bernardino, Santa Rosa, and Laguna mountains in southern California. Wedgeleaf ceanothus is also found in the Sierra Juárez and San Pedro Martir mountains of Baja [34,55,56,58,78,109]. Varieties of wedgeleaf ceanothus are found along a similar distribution. Buckbrush is commonly found growing throughout wedgeleaf ceanothus distribution in Oregon, California, and Baja while sedgeleaf buckbrush and Monterey ceanothus are confined to areas south of Oregon only.

Plants database provides a distributional map of Wedgeleaf ceanothus and its infrataxa.

  • 109. Wiggins, Ira L. 1980. Flora of Baja California. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 1025 p. [21993]
  • 34. Epling, Carl; Lewis, Harlan. 1942. The centers of distribution of the chaparral and coastal sage associations. The American Midland Naturalist. 27: 445-462. [9793]
  • 55. Hickman, James C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1400 p. [21992]
  • 56. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1961. Vascular plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 3: Saxifragaceae to Ericaceae. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 614 p. [1167]
  • 58. Kartesz, John T.; Meacham, Christopher A. 1999. Synthesis of the North American flora (Windows Version 1.0), [CD-ROM]. Available: North Carolina Botanical Garden. In cooperation with the Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [2001, January 16]. [36715]
  • 78. Munz, Philip A. 1973. A California flora and supplement. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1905 p. [6155]

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States or Provinces

(key to state/province abbreviations)
CA OR

MEXICO
B.C.N. B.C.S.

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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 [14]:

1 Northern Pacific Border

2 Cascade Mountains

3 Southern Pacific Border

4 Sierra Mountains
  • 14. 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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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the term: shrub

This description provides characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology, and is not intended for identification. Keys for identification are available (e.g. [55,56,58,78,109]).

Wedgeleaf ceanothus is a native, perennial, evergreen shrub reaching heights of 3.3 to 11.5 feet (1-3.5 m) tall. The branches are rigid. Leaves are opposite, firm, flat, and 5 to 15 mm long, although considerable differences in leaf size have been observed, which is thought to be driven by water availability [27]. There is evidence that wedgeleaf ceanothus can withdraw nutrients from senescing leaves [86]. For more information see Seedling establishment/growth. Flowers are 5 to 6 mm broad with short erect horns near the top. Fruits are capsules that contain 2 to 3 seeds, round to oblong in shape, and 0.16 inches (4 mm) long [13,35,55,56,58,78,109]. Roots are many branched from a single tap root and can penetrate "deeply" into the soil [96].

Wedgeleaf ceanothus establishment is generally synchronous after burning so wedgeleaf ceanothus stands are usually even-aged [60]. Biswell [21] feels substantial mortality of wedgeleaf ceanothus begins in stands more than 50 years old.

  • 109. Wiggins, Ira L. 1980. Flora of Baja California. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 1025 p. [21993]
  • 13. Belcher, Earl. 1985. Handbook on seeds of browse -- shrubs and forbs. Technical Publication R8-TP8. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Region. 246 p. In cooperation with: Association of Official Seed Analysts. [43463]
  • 21. Biswell, H. H. 1963. Research in wildland fire ecology in California. In: Proceedings, 2nd annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1963 March 14-15; Tallahassee, FL. No. 2. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 63-97. [13474]
  • 27. Corke, Robert Lyall. 1975. A biosystematic study of interpopulational variation in Ceanothus cuneatus (Rhamnaceae). Sacramento, CA: California State University. 39 p. Thesis. [7418]
  • 35. Evans, Raymond A.; Biswell, Harold H.; Palmquist, Debra E. 1987. Seed dispersal in Ceanothus cuneatus and C. leucodermis in a Sierran oak-woodland savanna. Madrono. 34(4): 283-293. [6149]
  • 55. Hickman, James C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1400 p. [21992]
  • 56. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1961. Vascular plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 3: Saxifragaceae to Ericaceae. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 614 p. [1167]
  • 58. Kartesz, John T.; Meacham, Christopher A. 1999. Synthesis of the North American flora (Windows Version 1.0), [CD-ROM]. Available: North Carolina Botanical Garden. In cooperation with the Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [2001, January 16]. [36715]
  • 60. Keeley, Jon E. 1982. Distribution of lightning- and man-caused wildfires in California. In: Conrad, C. Eugene; Oechel, Walter C., technical coordinators. Proceedings of the symposium on dynamics and management of Mediterranean-type ecosystems; 1981 June 22-26; San Diego, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-58. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station: 431-437. [6049]
  • 78. Munz, Philip A. 1973. A California flora and supplement. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1905 p. [6155]
  • 86. Pugnaire, Francisco I.; Chapin, F. Stuart, III. 1993. Controls over nutrient resorption from leaves of evergreen Mediterranean species. Ecology. 74(1): 124-129. [48932]
  • 96. Schultz, A. M.; Launchbaugh, J. L.; Biswell, H. H. 1955. Relationship between grass density and brush seedling survival. Ecology. 36(2): 226-238. [12503]

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Ecology

Habitat

Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: cover, shrub, shrubs, xeric

Wedgeleaf ceanothus is commonly encountered in most chaparral vegetation types
and several forest communities throughout California, Oregon and the Baja of Mexico.
While sometimes found in pure stands representing the dominant vegetation, wedgeleaf
ceanothus more often codominates or associates with other species in shrub stands or
is a substantial understory species of pine (Pinus spp.) forests or oak
(Quercus spp.) woodlands [30].

In California wedgeleaf ceanothus is the dominant shrub species in the
ceanothus chaparral vegetation type. Shrub species that may associate with wedgeleaf
ceanothus include chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum), hoaryleaf ceanothus
(Ceanothus crassifolius), hairy ceanothus (C. oliganthus), blueblossom
(C. thyrsiflorus), Nuttall's scrub oak (Q. dumosa), toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia),
and sugar sumac (Rhus ovata) [52].


Chamise chaparral is the most common type of chaparral in California
occurring in the north and central Coast Ranges, Sierra Nevada foothills,
southern California and northern Baja mountain ranges. This type of chaparral is
usually dominated by chamise, although in many stands, wedgeleaf ceanothus codominates
with chamise and/or whiteleaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos viscida) [7]. Stands where chamise
and wedgeleaf ceanothus codominate are sometimes referred to as mixed chaparral.
Species that associate with wedgeleaf ceanothus in this cover type include
trees such as blue oak (Q. douglasii) and California buckeye (Aesculus
californica
), shrubs such as red shank (Adenostoma sparsifolium),
Nuttall's scrub oak, birchleaf mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides),
laurel sumac (Malosma laurina), white and black sage (Salvia mellifera,
S. apiana), sugar sumac, Our Lord's candle (Yucca whipplei), and herbs such as
giant wildrye (Leymus condensatus), and Eastern Mojave buckwheat (Eriogonum
fasciculatum
) [8,18,52,74].

The most diverse community where wedgeleaf ceanothus frequently occurs in is
the montane chaparral of the lower elevations and xeric sites of the Cascade,
Klamath, and Siskiyou mountains of southwestern Oregon and northern California, the
Transverse and Peninsular ranges of southern California, and the Sierra San Pedro
Mártir of northern Baja. Habitat types in this category
are foothill woodlands, and mixed coniferous forest. Generally this cover type refers
to occurrences of wedgeleaf ceanothus found in the understory of transmontane
forested slopes of Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi) and gray pine (P. sabiniana) in
California, and Pacific ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa var. ponderosa) and oak
woodlands of California and Oregon. Characteristic species that associate with wedgeleaf
ceanothus in this cover type include trees such as Oregon white oak (Q. garryana), blue oak,
California black oak (Q. kelloggii), California shrub live oak
(Q. turbinella var. californica), valley oak (Q. lobata),
leather oak (Q. durata), interior live oak (Q. wislizenii), coast live oak
(Q. agrifolia), canyon live oak (Q. chrysolepis), and California buckeye.
Shrubs include whiteleaf manzanita, bigberry manzanita (Arctostaphylos glauca),
yerba santa (Eriodictyon californicum), eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis),
pointleaf manzanita (A. pungens), Klamath plum (Prunus subcordata),
California buckthorn (Frangula californica ssp. cuspidata),
common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), Mojave ceanothus (Ceanothus greggii var.
vestitus), Mohave buckbrush (C. g. var. perplexans), birchleaf
mountain-mahogany, thickleaf yerba santa (E. crassifolium), flannelbush (Fremontodendron
californicum
), California coffeberry (Rhamnus californica), yellowleaf silktassel
(Garrya flavescens), and poison-oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) [19,30,35,52,57,71,84,96]. Also in the montane chaparral, wedgeleaf ceanothus associates with less frequented stands of
Baker cypress (Cupressus bakeri) in northern California and southern Oregon [31,101],
Tecate cypress (C. forbesii) in southern California and Baja [5,32], and bigcone Douglas-fir
(Pseudotsuga macrocarpa) in southern California mountains [43]. In Siskiyou County, California,
and on lava flows in eastern Shasta County, California, wedgeleaf ceanothus associates with small
populations of western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) [23].

The coastal sage scrub habitat type is dominated by California sagebrush
(Artemisia californica) and includes wedgeleaf ceanothus in areas in or near
low elevation coastal aspects. Other species that may associate with wedgeleaf ceanothus
in this cover type include white, black, and purple sage (Salvia leucophylla),
California brittlebush (Encelia californica), eastern Mojave buckwheat,
and thickleaf yerba santa [34,52,75].

In California small populations of wedgeleaf ceanothus are found on inland dune
locations which have minimal soil development. Species that commonly associate with wedgeleaf
ceanothus in these communities include coast live oak, chamise, California buckeye,
Santa Barbara ceanothus (Ceanothus impressus), California prickly phlox
(Leptodactylon californicum), and black sage [9].



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  • 101. Stone, Chester O. 1965. Modoc cypress, Cupressus bakeri Jeps., does occur in Modoc County. Aliso. 6(1): 77-87. [25564]
  • 18. Biswell, H. H. 1958. The use of fire in California chaparral for game habitat improvement. In: Proceedings: Society of American Foresters meeting; 1957 November 10-13; Syracuse, NY. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters: 151-155. [12149]
  • 19. Biswell, H. H. 1959. Prescribed burning and other methods of deer range improvement in ponderosa pine in California. In: Proceedings, Society of American Foresters; 1959; San Francisco, CA. Bethesda, MD: Society of American Foresters: 102-105. [5269]
  • 23. Bolsinger, Charles L. 1989. California's western juniper and pinyon-juniper woodlands: area, stand characteristics, wood volume, and fenceposts. Res. Bull. PNW-RB-166. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 37 p. [10365]
  • 30. Detling, LeRoy E. 1961. The chaparral formation of southwestern Oregon, with considerations of its postglacial history. Ecology. 42(2): 348-357. [6360]
  • 31. Dodd, Richard S. 1992. Noteworthy collections: California. Madrono. 39(1): 79. [17536]
  • 32. Dunn, Anthony T. 1987. Population dynamics of the Tecate cypress. In: Conservation and management of rare and endangered plants: Proceedings of a conference on the conservation and management of rare and endangered plants; [Date unknown]; [Location unknown]. [Place of publication unknown]: [Publisher unknown]: 367-376. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [22535]
  • 34. Epling, Carl; Lewis, Harlan. 1942. The centers of distribution of the chaparral and coastal sage associations. The American Midland Naturalist. 27: 445-462. [9793]
  • 35. Evans, Raymond A.; Biswell, Harold H.; Palmquist, Debra E. 1987. Seed dispersal in Ceanothus cuneatus and C. leucodermis in a Sierran oak-woodland savanna. Madrono. 34(4): 283-293. [6149]
  • 43. Gause, Gerald W. 1966. Silvical characteristics of bigcone Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga macrocarpa). PSW-39. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 10 p. [10808]
  • 5. Armstrong, Wayne P. 1966. Ecological and taxonomic relationships of Cupressus in southern California. Los Angles, CA: California State University. 129 p. Thesis. [21331]
  • 52. Hanes, Ted L. 1977. California chaparral. In: Barbour, Michael G.; Major, Jack, eds. Terrestrial vegetation of California. New York: John Wiley and Sons: 417-469. [7216]
  • 57. Holmes, Tyson H. 1990. Botanical trends in northern California oak woodland. Rangelands. 12(1): 3-7. [10939]
  • 7. Baker, G. A.; Rundel, P. W.; Parsons, D. J. 1982. Comparative phenology and growth in three chaparral shrubs. Botanical Gazette. 143(1): 94-100. [6533]
  • 71. Larson, Frederic R.; Wolters, Gale L. 1983. Overstory-understory relationships: mixed conifer forests. In: Bartlett, E. T.; Betters, David R., eds. Overstory-understory relationships in western forests. Western Regional Res. Publ. No. 1. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University Experiment Station: 21-25. [3313]
  • 74. Marion, Lois H. 1943. The distribution of Adenostoma sparsifolium. The American Midland Naturalist. 29(1): 206-116. [19953]
  • 75. McPherson, James K.; Muller, Cornelius H. 1967. Light competition between Ceanothus and Salvia shrubs. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 94(1): 41-55. [11996]
  • 8. Baker, Gail A.; Rundel, Philip W.; Parsons, David J. 1981. Ecological relationships of Quercus douglasii (Fagaceae) in the foothill zone of Sequoia National Park, California. Madrono. 28(1): 1-12. [6477]
  • 84. Powers, Robert F. 1990. Pinus sabiniana Dougl. digger pine. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 463-469. [13406]
  • 9. Barbour, Michael G.; Johnson, Ann F. 1977. Beach and dune. In: Barbour, M. G.; Major, J., eds. Terrestrial vegetation of California. New York: John Wiley and Sons: 223-261. [27610]
  • 96. Schultz, A. M.; Launchbaugh, J. L.; Biswell, H. H. 1955. Relationship between grass density and brush seedling survival. Ecology. 36(2): 226-238. [12503]

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Habitat characteristics

More info for the term: serpentine soils

Wedgeleaf ceanothus covers a wide array of geographic and topographic locations from valley floors to hillsides and foothill slopes. It generally occurs in elevations < 6000 feet (1800 m) in California and Oregon on dry mountain slopes and ridges within the Upper Sonoran Life Zone [55].

Climate of this region is considered "Mediterranean" with a majority of annual precipitation occurring in winter with long summer droughts. Typically wedgeleaf ceanothus occurs in areas where annual precipitation ranges from approximately 10 to 35 inches (250-900 mm) and where 80% of the annual total precipitation occurs in the fall, winter, and spring [30]. Annual average precipitation ranges from north to south:

State Location Mean Annual Precipitation Citation
Oregon Medford 16.5 inches (419 mm) [30]
California Santa Rosa 35 inches (888.5 mm) [25]
California Fresno 29.9 inches (760 mm) [35]
California San Mateo County 25.7 inches (654 mm) [1]
California Los Angeles 15.7 inches (400 mm)  
California San Diego 10 inches (250 mm) [77]

Wedgeleaf ceanothus occurs in chaparral vegetation types in California and Oregon and is commonly associated with poor, rocky soils [41,61]. Wedgeleaf ceanothus is more frequently found growing on nonserpentine soils of sandstone origins than on serpentine soils [92]. However, wedgeleaf ceanothus can be found on both types of soils and is considered an indicator species for field identification of serpentine soil conditions in California and Oregon [68].

  • 1. Ackerly, David. 2004. Functional strategies of chaparral shrubs in relation to seasonal water deficit and disturbance. Ecological Monographs. 74(1): 25-44. [47395]
  • 25. Bowcutt, Frederica S. 1999. A floristic study of Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Sonoma County, California. Aliso. 18(1): 19-34. [40636]
  • 30. Detling, LeRoy E. 1961. The chaparral formation of southwestern Oregon, with considerations of its postglacial history. Ecology. 42(2): 348-357. [6360]
  • 35. Evans, Raymond A.; Biswell, Harold H.; Palmquist, Debra E. 1987. Seed dispersal in Ceanothus cuneatus and C. leucodermis in a Sierran oak-woodland savanna. Madrono. 34(4): 283-293. [6149]
  • 41. Gardner, Robert A. 1958. Soil-vegetation associations in the redwood - Douglas-fir zone of California. In: Proceedings, 1st North American forest soils conference; [Date of conference unknown]; East Lansing, MI. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, Agricultural Experiment Station: 86-101. [12581]
  • 55. Hickman, James C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1400 p. [21992]
  • 61. Keeley, Jon E. 1987. Role of fire in seed germination of woody taxa in California chaparral. Ecology. 68(2): 434-443. [5403]
  • 68. Kruckeberg, Arthur R. 1984. California serpentines: flora, vegetation, geology, soils and management problems. Publications in Botany Volume 48. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 180 p. [12482]
  • 77. Minnich, Richard A. 1999. Vegetation, FIRE REGIMES, and forest dynamics. In: Miller, P. R.; McBride, J. R., eds. Oxidant air pollution impacts in the montane forests of southern California: a case study of the San Bernardino Mountains. Ecological Studies: Analysis and Synthesis. Vol. 134. New York: Springer-Verlag: 44-80. [30370]
  • 92. Safford, Hugh D.; Harrison, Susan. 2004. Fire effects on plant diversity in serpentine vs. sandstone chaparral. Ecology. 85(2): 539-548. [47495]

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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: cover, shrub

SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES [98]:

107 Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass

110 Ponderosa pine-grassland

109 Ponderosa pine shrubland

201 Blue oak woodland

202 Coast live oak woodland

204 North coastal shrub

205 Coastal sage shrub

206 Chamise chaparral

207 Scrub oak mixed chaparral

208 Ceanothus mixed chaparral

209 Montane shrubland

214 Coastal prairie

215 Valley grassland

216 Montane meadows

405 Black sagebrush
  • 98. 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 [36]:

210 Interior Douglas-fir
229 Pacific Douglas-fir

233 Oregon white oak

234 Douglas-fir-tanoak-Pacific madrone

237 Interior ponderosa pine

238 Western juniper

241 Western live oak

243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer

244 Pacific ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir

245 Pacific ponderosa pine

246 California black oak

247 Jeffrey pine

248 Knobcone pine

249 Canyon live oak

250 Blue oak-foothills pine

255 California coast live oak
  • 36. 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 [69] PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:

K002 Cedar-hemlock-Douglas-fir forest

K005 Mixed conifer forest

K009 Pine-cypress forest

K010 Ponderosa shrub forest

K011 Western ponderosa forest

K012 Douglas-fir forest

K024 Juniper steppe woodland

K026 Oregon oakwoods

K029 California mixed evergreen forest

K030 California oakwoods

K033 Chaparral

K034 Montane chaparral

K035 Coastal sagebrush

K036 Mosaic of K030 and K035

K047 Fescue-oatgrass

K048 California steppe

K055 Sagebrush steppe
  • 69. 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 [42]:

FRES20 Douglas-fir

FRES21 Ponderosa pine

FRES28 Western hardwoods

FRES29 Sagebrush

FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub
  • 42. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; Lewis, Mont E.; Smith, Dixie R. 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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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: allelopathy, competition, density, fire cycle, fire intensity, fire severity, forbs, frequency, fuel, interference, natural, prescribed fire, restoration, serpentine soils, severity, shrub, shrubs

Wildfire suppression: policies during the 20th century have interrupted the natural fire cycle of many types of chaparral including those where wedgeleaf ceanothus occurs. Current management of chaparral stands includes the use of prescribed fire to maintain natural FIRE REGIMES. However, large areas of continuous "decadent" wedgeleaf ceanothus chaparral exist where fire has not occurred for over a century. Fires in these areas burn with high intensity over large areas, potentially beyond historical levels of severity [38]. Consequently, fire suppression's overall effects are thought to reduce the numbers of wildfires, but increase overall area burned [76,107]. Note that wedgeleaf ceanothus stems identified as "decadent" may not necessarily be dead; see [59].

Frequency of burning: Research conducted during the mid-20th century focused on using frequent fires to reduce wedgeleaf ceanothus and chamise stands for browse habitat improvements (see Importance To Livestock And Wildlife). Stands of wedgeleaf ceanothus can be decimated when fires are frequent enough to kill postfire seedlings that have not matured enough to produce a seed crop [20]. One experimental burn conducted 3 years after burning on a young stand of wedgeleaf ceanothus resulted in 100% mortality of all stems and 0% postfire establishment of new wedgeleaf ceanothus seedlings the following spring [53]. This phenomenon has been called "shock stagnation," a semipermanent degradation of the native vegetation in which exotic grasses and/or forbs dominate. This tactic was frequently used during the mid-1900s [59].

The duration of time that wedgeleaf ceanothus can exist without fire is unknown.

Seasonality of Burning: Wedgeleaf ceanothus seedlings must develop considerable root systems during the spring before the cessation of seasonal rains. Middle- to late-spring burns may result in very high wedgeleaf ceanothus seedling mortality [20,39].

Wedgeleaf ceanothus exhibited successful rates of establishment when burning was conducted before winter [39]. The authors believe burning before the cool season allows seedlings of wedgeleaf ceanothus to establish before annual herbaceous species arrive, giving wedgeleaf ceanothus a competitive moisture advantage and subsequent higher rates of survival through the following dry season [39]. However, low fire intensities commonly associated with prescribed fires during the cool season are also directly correlated with high coverages of herbaceous species during the 1st year postfire [38]. Most prescribed fires occur during the cool season due to safety issues. It may be difficult to use prescribed fire for ecological restoration while addressing safety needs. Further research is needed on the effects of seasonality of burning and establishment wedgeleaf ceanothus.

Postfire establishment and interference: One concern following fire is possible interference from herbaceous species. Postfire mortality of wedgeleaf ceanothus seedlings suggests competition of water and nutrient resources from nearby herbaceous plants is an important factor influencing initial survival rates [102]. This effect may be less common in areas with low rainfall. Schultz and others [96] in the Sierra Nevada of central California found the abundance and vigor of wedgeleaf ceanothus seedlings were negatively associated with increasing densities of herbaceous species, especially grasses. Postfire establishment of grasses in this area usually precedes wedgeleaf ceanothus, quickly creating a mass of roots difficult for shrub species to push young roots through. The authors believed competition between grasses and wedgeleaf ceanothus seedlings for moisture during establishment is responsible for dramatic reductions in numbers of wedgeleaf ceanothus seedlings 1 year postfire. In their study, 3 months after emergence, wedgeleaf ceanothus growing without interference from other species developed roots to a depth of 43 inches (109 cm) and had 26 inches (66 cm) of lateral growth. In contrast, under the same watering regime, wedgeleaf ceanothus seedlings growing along with Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) had a maximum root depth of 11.5 inches (29 cm) with very little lateral growth [96]. Wedgeleaf ceanothus seedling mortality was highest when density of Italian ryegrass was >39% at maturity. Biswell [21] found that native herbaceous density > 65% severely affected survival of wedgeleaf ceanothus and other chaparral shrubs. Contrary to Schultz and others [96], Beyers and others [15] found no significant (P>0.05) differences in wedgeleaf ceanothus stem densities in plots in southern California that either had or had not been reseeded with Italian ryegrass 5 years postfire. However in this study grass densities were low and rainfall less than average [96].

Postfire competition for light often controls shrub species dominance in chaparral. In ecotonal regions between coastal sage and chaparral, stands 30 years postfire showed declining density of purple sage in mixed stands with wedgeleaf ceanothus. This was not caused by allelopathy but by competition for light. During stand maturity wedgeleaf ceanothus grows taller and shades purple sage [75]. Similar results have been found from comparable research using different Ceanothus species. [94].

Fire intensity and postfire establishment: Wedgeleaf ceanothus establishment is associated with areas where the prefire canopy was dense and consequently high fire severity occurred. Soil heating is the primary trigger to end dormancy for wedgeleaf ceanothus (see Seedling establishment/growth). A study hypothesized that in the absence of fire, abnormally large accumulations of fuel over a period of time would result in extreme fire severities, reducing numbers of buried viable seed [76]. However, the seed of wedgeleaf ceanothus was found to be very resistant to heat and high fire severity [80]. Prescribed fires in chaparral types are conducted during the fall after the onset of the rainy season and generally exhibit lower fire intensity than typical wildfires during late summer or early fall [33]. Effects of low intensity burns on germination rates of wedgeleaf ceanothus are not well known.

Most fire ecology studies conducted in chaparral vegetation have focused attention on the fire ecology of stands that exist on sandstone-derived soils, leaving the fire ecology of stands on serpentine soils largely uninvestigated. Wedgeleaf ceanothus is found in serpentine soils, though it is more common and more abundant on nonserpentine soils [92]. This could be due to lower fire severities. Serpentine soils generally support lower densities of chaparral species, have lower concentrations of fuel, and burn with lower severity than fires on nonserpentine soils. These fires may not break seed dormancy in wedgeleaf ceanothus [92]. For more information on serpentine flora ecology see [68].

Pre-and postfire grazing: Timing and intensity of cattle grazing can affect wedgeleaf ceanothus. Heavy browsing of wedgeleaf ceanothus lowers seed production and reduces the potential for future establishment of wedgeleaf ceanothus after burning. In areas where heavy grazing occurs, young wedgeleaf ceanothus seedlings may not produce sufficient seed before being grazed to regenerate after fire [22]. The combined effects of burning and heavy grazing on wedgeleaf ceanothus have been used to convert stands of wedgeleaf ceanothus to pasture [21]. Biswell and Gilman [22] recommended burning in areas susceptible to heavy grazing at intervals >20 years to allow for sufficient stand development and seed production.

Wedgeleaf ceanothus is especially sensitive to browsing by deer after fire. Light to heavy browsing on young wedgeleaf ceanothus seedlings has reduced abundance of seedlings following burning [20]. In California, after an unknown amount of time after burning, "light" browsing by deer resulted in stunted seedlings averaging heights of 18 inches (46 cm). Seedlings protected from browsing by enclosures grew rapidly and averaged >27 inches (69 cm) in height. Mortality rates of stems from browsing were dramatically reduced after shrubs reached 5 years of age [20].

  • 102. Sweeney, James R. 1956. Responses of vegetation to fire: A study of the herbaceous vegetation following chaparral fires. University of California Publications in Botany. 28(4): 143-250. [3776]
  • 107. Vankat, John L.; Major, Jack. 1978. Vegetation changes in Sequoia National Park, California. Journal of Biogeography. 5: 377-402. [17353]
  • 15. Beyers, Jan L.; Wakeman, Carla D.; Conard, Susan G.; Wohlemuth, Peter M. 2002. Impacts of postfire grass seeding on vegetation recovery in southern California chaparral. In: Sugihara, Neil G.; Morales, Maria; Morales, Tony, eds. Fire in California ecosystems: integrating ecology, prevention and management: Proceedings of the symposium; 1997 November 17-20; San Diego, CA. Misc. Pub. No. 1. [Place of publication unknown]: Association for Fire Ecology: 318-324. [46233]
  • 20. Biswell, H. H. 1961. Manipulation of chamise brush for deer range improvement. California Fish and Game. 47(2): 125-144. [6366]
  • 21. Biswell, H. H. 1963. Research in wildland fire ecology in California. In: Proceedings, 2nd annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1963 March 14-15; Tallahassee, FL. No. 2. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 63-97. [13474]
  • 22. Biswell, H. H.; Gilman, J. H. 1961. Brush management in relation to fire and other environmental factors on the Tehama deer winter range. California Fish and Game. 47(4): 357-389. [6275]
  • 33. Dunne, Jim; Dennis, Ann; Bartolome, J. W.; Barrett, R. H. 1991. Chaparral response to a prescribed fire in the Mount Hamilton Range, Santa Clara County, California. Madrono. 38(1): 21-29. [15759]
  • 38. Florence, Melanie. 1986. Plant succession on prescribed burn sites at Pinnacles National Monument. Fremontia. 14(3): 31-33. [18366]
  • 39. Florence, Scott F.; Florence, Melanie A. 1988. Prescribed burning effects in central California chaparral. Rangelands. 10(3): 138-140. [6331]
  • 53. Hedrick, Donald W. 1951. Studies on the succession and manipulation of chamise brushlands in California. College Station, TX: Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College. 113 p. Dissertation. [8525]
  • 59. Keeley, Jon E. 1975. Longevity of nonsprouting Ceanothus. The American Midland Naturalist. 93(2): 504-507. [6357]
  • 68. Kruckeberg, Arthur R. 1984. California serpentines: flora, vegetation, geology, soils and management problems. Publications in Botany Volume 48. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 180 p. [12482]
  • 75. McPherson, James K.; Muller, Cornelius H. 1967. Light competition between Ceanothus and Salvia shrubs. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 94(1): 41-55. [11996]
  • 76. Minnich, Richard A. 1983. Fire mosaics in southern California and northern Baja California. Science. 219: 1287-1294. [4631]
  • 80. Odion, Dennis C.; Davis, Frank W. 2000. Fire, soil heating, and formation of vegetation patterns in chaparral. Ecological Monographs. 70(1): 149-169. [35515]
  • 92. Safford, Hugh D.; Harrison, Susan. 2004. Fire effects on plant diversity in serpentine vs. sandstone chaparral. Ecology. 85(2): 539-548. [47495]
  • 94. Schlesinger, William H.; Gill, David S. 1980. Biomass, production, and changes in the availability of light, water, and nutrients during the development of pure stands of the chaparral shrub, Ceanothus megacarpus, after fire. Ecology. 61(4): 781-789. [4640]
  • 96. Schultz, A. M.; Launchbaugh, J. L.; Biswell, H. H. 1955. Relationship between grass density and brush seedling survival. Ecology. 36(2): 226-238. [12503]

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Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: charate, competition, cover, density, frequency, interference, prescribed fire, shrub, shrubs, xeric

Postfire establishment patterns at landscape scale:
In the northern Coastal Ranges of California Sweeney [102] found that wedgeleaf ceanothus
produced thousands of "vigorous" seedlings during the 1st spring after fire. However,
seedling mortality rates were very high; 49 of 1,340 seedlings survived (4%) after the
1st dry season. Mortality corresponded closely with declining soil moisture and drought.
The majority of mortality occurred after the 1st dry season; in following postfire years
survivorship rates stabilized. Four years following fire, 2% of the total seedling crop had
survived and become established. Dunne and others [33] found recovery of wedgeleaf ceanothus
to occur slowly after fire and noted that percent cover equaled 25% of preburn coverage 3
years after burning. Schultz and others [96] in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada found
wedgeleaf ceanothus mortality rates of 68% after the 1st year postfire.

Since wedgeleaf ceanothus establishment is synchronous after burning, wedgeleaf
ceanothus typically forms even-aged stands [60]. Wedgeleaf ceanothus stands can
become very dense at maturity [22]. Frequently during early stages of wedgeleaf
ceanothus stand development, stands are densely crowded and allow few, if any,
herbaceous species to occur under the canopy [22]. As stands mature, self-thinning
occurs; then stand structure, density, and composition stabilize. Stand thinning seems
to result from intraspecific competition for moisture and is highly correlated with
how close shrubs grow to one another. Clumped distributions tend to show the greatest
rates of mortality during times of high moisture stress. This pattern of mortality is
present in both juvenile and mature stands of wedgeleaf ceanothus and other ceanothus
species [63].

Postfire establishment patterns at small scales: Wedgeleaf ceanothus
stands can become very dense during maturity allowing few, if any, herbaceous
species to occur under its canopy [22]. In these areas postfire emergence and
survival of seedlings is high due to a lack of interference from grasses and
other herbaceous species [22]. Florence and Florence's [39] observations from
prescribed fire activities noted that postfire wedgeleaf ceanothus seedlings
were frequently found near burned skeletons of wedgeleaf ceanothus or other
sprouting shrubs. They assumed that the dead remains of the shrubs provided a
better habitat for the wedgeleaf ceanothus seedlings by protecting the seedlings
from browsing. Also the authors hypothesized that high temperatures or charate
released during burning may have enhanced germination of wedgeleaf ceanothus by
increasing mortality of other competing herbaceous and shrub species [39].

Fire and nodulation of wedgeleaf ceanothus:
In California an irrigation experiment during mid-summer investigated whether water
stress inhibits nodulation of postfire wedgeleaf ceanothus seedlings. The authors
found a significant (P< 0.05) increase in nodulation frequency in well-hydrated
sites, compared to adjacent xeric sites, which are typical of wedgeleaf ceanothus
habitat. Also noted in this study was an interesting delay in nodulation in 1st
year postfire seedlings. Nodulation of postfire seedlings did not occur at the
onset of spring immediately after germination when soil moisture values where high.
Pratt and others [85] suggested that wedgeleaf ceanothus might be able to suppress
nodulation by delaying nitrogen fixation until adequate carbohydrate reserves and
water availability are synchronously established.
  • 102. Sweeney, James R. 1956. Responses of vegetation to fire: A study of the herbaceous vegetation following chaparral fires. University of California Publications in Botany. 28(4): 143-250. [3776]
  • 22. Biswell, H. H.; Gilman, J. H. 1961. Brush management in relation to fire and other environmental factors on the Tehama deer winter range. California Fish and Game. 47(4): 357-389. [6275]
  • 33. Dunne, Jim; Dennis, Ann; Bartolome, J. W.; Barrett, R. H. 1991. Chaparral response to a prescribed fire in the Mount Hamilton Range, Santa Clara County, California. Madrono. 38(1): 21-29. [15759]
  • 39. Florence, Scott F.; Florence, Melanie A. 1988. Prescribed burning effects in central California chaparral. Rangelands. 10(3): 138-140. [6331]
  • 60. Keeley, Jon E. 1982. Distribution of lightning- and man-caused wildfires in California. In: Conrad, C. Eugene; Oechel, Walter C., technical coordinators. Proceedings of the symposium on dynamics and management of Mediterranean-type ecosystems; 1981 June 22-26; San Diego, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-58. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station: 431-437. [6049]
  • 63. Keeley, Jon E. 1992. Demographic structure of California chaparral in the long-term absence of fire. Vegetation Science. 3(1): 79-90. [18345]
  • 85. Pratt, S. D.; Konopka, A.S.; Murray, M. A.; [and others]. 1997. Influence of soil moisture on the nodulation of post fire seedlings of Ceanothus spp. growing in the Santa Monica Mountains of southern California. Physiologia Plantarum. 99(4): 673-679. [28629]
  • 96. Schultz, A. M.; Launchbaugh, J. L.; Biswell, H. H. 1955. Relationship between grass density and brush seedling survival. Ecology. 36(2): 226-238. [12503]

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Broad-scale Impacts of Fire

More info for the term: severity

The mature canopy of wedgeleaf ceanothus is very flammable during the dry season when wedgeleaf ceanothus is dormant. The flammability of wedgeleaf ceanothus (see Fire adaptations) and subsequent severity of chaparral burns results in the mortality of all parts of the plant [33]. Seeds of wedgeleaf ceanothus banked in soils survive burning and germinate the spring following fire [61].
  • 33. Dunne, Jim; Dennis, Ann; Bartolome, J. W.; Barrett, R. H. 1991. Chaparral response to a prescribed fire in the Mount Hamilton Range, Santa Clara County, California. Madrono. 38(1): 21-29. [15759]
  • 61. Keeley, Jon E. 1987. Role of fire in seed germination of woody taxa in California chaparral. Ecology. 68(2): 434-443. [5403]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the terms: adventitious, ground residual colonizer, initial off-site colonizer, secondary colonizer, shrub

POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY [99]:
Shrub without adventitious bud/root crown
Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
Initial off-site colonizer (off-site, initial community)
Secondary colonizer (on-site or off-site seed sources)
  • 99. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. FEIS postfire regeneration workshop--April 12: Seral origin of species comprising secondary plant succession in Northern Rocky Mountain forests. 10 p. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [20090]

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Fire Ecology

More info for the terms: fire regime, fuel, restoration, shrub, wildfire

Fire adaptations: Flammability of chaparral species has been suggested as an adaptation to fire. Wedgeleaf ceanothus at maturity is highly flammable. Since seed of wedgeleaf ceanothus is stimulated by scarification by fire (see Germination), flammability is thought to be an adaptation that assists in the germination and establishment of wedgeleaf ceanothus [21].

FIRE REGIMES: Opinions among chaparral scientists conflict on the degree to which chaparral is dependent on fire [40]. Historical fire intervals of 30 to 100 years appear most favorable for wedgeleaf ceanothus stand maintenance [77,82]. Theoretically, longer fire intervals favor wedgeleaf ceanothus by allowing larger quantities of annually-deposited, long-lived seed to accumulate. This provides better chances for postfire establishment [80]. This is counter to many land management fire prescriptions, especially in wildland-urban interface areas, where hazardous fuel reduction is a priority. Human caused ignitions, intentional and unintentional, cause fire intervals of 20-30 years, especially in stands in close proximity to towns or cities [60]. These intervals may be too short for sufficient seed accumulation.

Burning by Native Americans: Before European settlement, burning by Native Americans impacted fire intervals and vegetation structure, especially in areas where wedgeleaf ceanothus occurs [4]. This is especially apparent in chaparral stands or oak woodlands where wedgeleaf ceanothus and other chaparral shrub species are common in the understory. In California, observations in oak woodlands in the mid-twentieth century found increasing densities of chaparral species, including wedgeleaf ceanothus, in the understory of oaks. This is believed to be due to suppression of native American burning practices and wildfire [17]. Burning by aboriginals in California was thought to be primarily for maintenance of hunting grounds and prevention of large "devastating" fires in mature stands of wedgeleaf ceanothus, a species recognized by natives to be very important to wildlife. Native Americans probably ignited low-intensity grassfires during the spring in oak woodlands and winter range of regional ungulate species, to prevent wedgeleaf ceanothus from being consumed by intense, naturally-ignited fires that typically occurred during mid-summer [17,73]. The extent and rationale of burning in chaparral by natives is in need of further study, especially in the context of ecological restoration.

The following table provides fire return intervals for plant communities and ecosystems where wedgeleaf ceanothus is important. It may not be inclusive. If you are interested in plant communities or ecosystems that are not listed, see the complete FEIS Fire Regime Table.

Community or Ecosystem Dominant Species Fire Return Interval Range (years)
California chaparral Adenostoma and/or Arctostaphylos spp. < 35 to < 100
coastal sagebrush Artemisia californica < 35 to < 100
California montane chaparral Ceanothus and/or Arctostaphylos spp. 50-100 [82]
California steppe Festuca-Danthonia spp. 82,100]
western juniper Juniperus occidentalis 20-70 [82]
Jeffrey pine Pinus jeffreyi 5-30
Pacific ponderosa pine* Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa 1-47
California oakwoods Quercus spp. 6]
coast live oak Quercus agrifolia 2-75 [50]
coastal Douglas-fir* Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii 40-240 [6,54,91]
California mixed evergreen Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii-Lithocarpus densiflorus-Arbutus menziesii <35
canyon live oak Quercus chrysolepis <35 to 200
blue oak-foothills pine Quercus douglasii-P. sabiniana <35
Oregon white oak Quercus garryana 6]
California black oak Quercus kelloggii 5-30 [82]
interior live oak Quercus wislizenii 6]
*fire return interval varies widely; trends in variation are noted in the species review
  • 100. Stomberg, Mark R.; Kephart, Paul; Yadon, Vern. 2001. Composition, invasibility, and diversity in coastal California grasslands. Madrono. 48(4): 236-252. [41371]
  • 17. Biswell, H. H. 1956. Ecology of California grasslands. Journal of Forestry. 9: 19-24. [11182]
  • 21. Biswell, H. H. 1963. Research in wildland fire ecology in California. In: Proceedings, 2nd annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1963 March 14-15; Tallahassee, FL. No. 2. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 63-97. [13474]
  • 4. Anderson, M. Kat; Moratto, Michael J. 1996. Native American land-use practices and ecological impacts. In: Status of the Sierra Nevada. Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project: Final report to Congress. Volume II: Assessments and scientific basis for management options. Wildland Resources Center Report No. 37. Davis, CA: University of California, Centers for Water and Wildland Resources: 187-206. [28967]
  • 40. Fried, Jeremy S.; Bolsinger, Charles L.; Beardsley, Debby. 2004. Chaparral in southern and central coastal California in the mid-1990s: area, ownership, condition, and change. Resource Bulletin PNW-RB-240. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 86 p. [50376]
  • 50. Greenlee, Jason M.; Langenheim, Jean H. 1990. Historic FIRE REGIMES and their relation to vegetation patterns in the Monterey Bay area of California. The American Midland Naturalist. 124(2): 239-253. [15144]
  • 54. Henderson, C. J. 1988. Managing aspen in the mixedwood forest. In: Samoil, J. K., ed. Management and utilization of northern mixedwoods: Proceedings of a symposium; 1988 April 11-14; Edmonton, AB. Inf. Rep. NOR-X-296. Edmonton, AB: Canadian Forestry Service, Northern Forestry Centre: 50-52. [13047]
  • 6. Arno, Stephen F. 2000. Fire in western forest ecosystems. In: Brown, James K.; Smith, Jane Kapler, eds. Wildland fire in ecosystems: Effects of fire on flora. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-42-vol. 2. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 97-120. [36984]
  • 60. Keeley, Jon E. 1982. Distribution of lightning- and man-caused wildfires in California. In: Conrad, C. Eugene; Oechel, Walter C., technical coordinators. Proceedings of the symposium on dynamics and management of Mediterranean-type ecosystems; 1981 June 22-26; San Diego, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-58. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station: 431-437. [6049]
  • 73. Lewis, Henry T., author; Bean, Lowell John, ed. 1973. Patterns of Indian burning in California: Ecology and ethnohistory. Ballena Press Anthropological Papers No. 1. Ramona, CA: Ballena Press. 101 p. [28351]
  • 77. Minnich, Richard A. 1999. Vegetation, FIRE REGIMES, and forest dynamics. In: Miller, P. R.; McBride, J. R., eds. Oxidant air pollution impacts in the montane forests of southern California: a case study of the San Bernardino Mountains. Ecological Studies: Analysis and Synthesis. Vol. 134. New York: Springer-Verlag: 44-80. [30370]
  • 80. Odion, Dennis C.; Davis, Frank W. 2000. Fire, soil heating, and formation of vegetation patterns in chaparral. Ecological Monographs. 70(1): 149-169. [35515]
  • 82. Paysen, Timothy E.; Ansley, R. James; Brown, James K.; [and others]. 2000. Fire in western shrubland, woodland, and grassland ecosystems. In: Brown, James K.; Smith, Jane Kapler, eds. Wildland fire in ecosystems: Effects of fire on flora. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-42-volume 2. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 121-159. [36978]
  • 91. Ripple, William J. 1994. Historic spatial patterns of old forests in western Oregon. Journal of Forestry. 92(11): 45-49. [33881]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: association, climax, cover, fire intensity, fire suppression, frequency, interference, shrub, shrubs, succession

Wedgeleaf ceanothus stand development is not easily predicted and is dependent on a number of variables including plant association, habitat type, proximity to boundaries with other habitat types, geographic and topographic location, climate, fire intensity, and time since last fire [51]. This is in contrast to early theories that outline succession in chaparral as an orderly progression of seral stages that reach a climax as originally defined by Clements [91].

Wedgeleaf ceanothus stands change rapidly during the first 1 to 4 years postfire. In areas where wedgeleaf ceanothus associates with sprouting shrub species postfire succession can typically be described in 3 stages: (1) During the 1st postfire year native and nonnative vegetation forms the dominant cover, while chaparral shrub seedlings and sprouts emerge. (2) During the 2nd postfire year, high mortality of shrub and subshrub seedlings takes place with decreased native and increased nonnative herbaceous plants. (3) In subsequent years, the remaining shrub seedlings and sprouts become well established while herbaceous vegetation gradually decreases. After 8 to 10 years, a relatively mature chaparral cover with little understory exists [52,102]. Very little is known about the average life span of wedgeleaf ceanothus, although many agree with Biswell's [21] observations that substantial mortality begins in stands >50 years old.

Stand development seems to be largely driven by water availability. While sometimes found in pure stands, wedgeleaf ceanothus often codominates or associates with other shrub species during stand development. The subsequent dominance of any one species is greatly influenced by water availability and can be a major contributor to the occurrence and frequency of wedgeleaf ceanothus in the resulting stand structure [40].

In most stands wedgeleaf ceanothus can form impenetrable thickets that may retard understory development of other plant species [26]. However, in long disturbance-free periods, wedgeleaf ceanothus stands can undergo decline because of interference from introduced sprouting shrubs or overstory species from nearby stands [40]. For example, suppression of fire in chaparral is thought to favor crown-sprouting species over obligate seeders. Research conducted in the southern coastal ranges of California found that fire suppression is primarily responsible for the conversion of large acreages of shrub lands where wedgeleaf ceanothus occurred to oak woodlands [106]. Wedgeleaf ceanothus has shown significant decreases in areas susceptible to shading from overstory species, in particular by Nuttall's scrub oak and toyon on coastal ranges [63,106]. Generally wedgeleaf ceanothus declines in undisturbed stands that reach > 100 years old [53,60]. In unburned areas of the south coastal ranges of California [20], stands of wedgeleaf ceanothus that have not burned for over a century are replaced by longer lived species such as chamise [40].

Wedgeleaf ceanothus is an actinorrhizal plant that has the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen [24,28,29]. This gives wedgeleaf ceanothus a competitive advantage over other non-nitrogen fixing shrubs herbs and grasses, especially on nitrogen-deficient soils [24]. Over a given year wedgeleaf ceanothus nodulates nitrogen at an estimated rate of 54 pounds per acre [29].

  • 102. Sweeney, James R. 1956. Responses of vegetation to fire: A study of the herbaceous vegetation following chaparral fires. University of California Publications in Botany. 28(4): 143-250. [3776]
  • 106. Van Dyke, Eric; Holl, Karen D.; Griffin, James R. 2001. Maritime chaparral community transition in the absence of fire. Madrono. 48(4): 221-229. [41368]
  • 20. Biswell, H. H. 1961. Manipulation of chamise brush for deer range improvement. California Fish and Game. 47(2): 125-144. [6366]
  • 21. Biswell, H. H. 1963. Research in wildland fire ecology in California. In: Proceedings, 2nd annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1963 March 14-15; Tallahassee, FL. No. 2. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 63-97. [13474]
  • 24. Bormann, Bernard T. 1988. A masterful scheme: Symbiotic nitrogen-fixing plants of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Arboretum Bulletin. 51(2): 10-14. [6796]
  • 26. Conard, Susan G.; Jaramillo, Annabelle E.; Cromack, Kermit, Jr.; Rose, Sharon, compilers. 1985. The role of the genus Ceanothus in western forest ecosystems. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-182. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 72 p. [668]
  • 28. DeBano, L. F.; Conrad, C. E. 1978. The effect of fire on nutrients in a chaparral ecosystem. Ecology. 59(3): 489-497. [7643]
  • 29. Delwiche, C. C.; Zinke, Paul J.; Johnson, Clarence M. 1965. Nitrogen fixation by ceanothus. Plant Pathology. 40: 1045-1047. [16852]
  • 40. Fried, Jeremy S.; Bolsinger, Charles L.; Beardsley, Debby. 2004. Chaparral in southern and central coastal California in the mid-1990s: area, ownership, condition, and change. Resource Bulletin PNW-RB-240. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 86 p. [50376]
  • 51. Hanes, Ted L. 1971. Succession after fire in the chaparral of southern California. Ecological Monographs. 41(1): 27-52. [11405]
  • 52. Hanes, Ted L. 1977. California chaparral. In: Barbour, Michael G.; Major, Jack, eds. Terrestrial vegetation of California. New York: John Wiley and Sons: 417-469. [7216]
  • 53. Hedrick, Donald W. 1951. Studies on the succession and manipulation of chamise brushlands in California. College Station, TX: Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College. 113 p. Dissertation. [8525]
  • 60. Keeley, Jon E. 1982. Distribution of lightning- and man-caused wildfires in California. In: Conrad, C. Eugene; Oechel, Walter C., technical coordinators. Proceedings of the symposium on dynamics and management of Mediterranean-type ecosystems; 1981 June 22-26; San Diego, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-58. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station: 431-437. [6049]
  • 63. Keeley, Jon E. 1992. Demographic structure of California chaparral in the long-term absence of fire. Vegetation Science. 3(1): 79-90. [18345]
  • 91. Ripple, William J. 1994. Historic spatial patterns of old forests in western Oregon. Journal of Forestry. 92(11): 45-49. [33881]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: capsule, charate, interference, layering, monoecious, phenology, shrub, shrubs

Wedgeleaf ceanothus regenerates from seed [59].

Breeding system: Wedgeleaf ceanothus is monoecious [58].

Pollination: Wedgeleaf ceanothus is cross-pollinated by insects [58].

Seed production: Wedgeleaf ceanothus seed production varies yearly [22].

Seed dispersal: occurs during the spring [61]. The mature capsule bursts upon opening, making an audible pop, and seeds are cast up to a distance of 35 feet (10.7 m) [22]. However, the majority of seeds fall near the parent shrub [35]. Seed casting date and distance depend on phenology of fruit-ripening, temperature, and humidity. Hotter and drier conditions result in further casting which generally occurs during the hot and dry months of July and August [35].

Seed can also be dispersed by insects. California harvester ants are responsible for caching a considerable amount of wedgeleaf ceanothus seed below ground, which is thought to protect seeds from lethal temperatures during burning [79].

Seed banking: Seeds of wedgeleaf ceanothus are hard-coated, nearly impermeable, and may lie viable in the ground for many years [22,61]. Viable wedgeleaf ceanothus seed are commonly found buried in soils of chaparral [102]. Exactly how long banked wedgeleaf ceanothus seed can remain viable needs to be investigated.

Germination: occurs during the spring following fire [102]. Wedgeleaf ceanothus seeds require relatively high temperatures during burning (158 to 212 °F (70-100 °C) to facilitate germination [90]. Germination rates are high after fire [33,96] which scarifies wedgeleaf ceanothus seed [87,102]. Heat from fire melts or cracks the cuticle of buried seeds [61] which is necessary for germination. Sweeney [102] investigated the effects of fire on seed, and found a majority of wedgeleaf ceanothus seed germinated after being exposed to varying degrees of temperature up to 176 °F (80 °C). The effects of higher temperatures are unknown [102]. Germination rates are significantly (P<.01) enhanced when charate (chemical release from burnt wood) from chamise was used synergistically with heat in germination experiments [59]. The mechanism behind charate-stimulated germination is unknown. While germination is stimulated by burning, in the absence of fire, wedgeleaf ceanothus can germinate in shrub overstory openings [18,22]. In a greenhouse environment germination of wedgeleaf ceanothus was most successful when seeds were planted at depths of 0.5 to 1 inch (1.3-2.5 cm) [2,13].

Seedling establishment/growth: Wedgeleaf ceanothus is widely considered an "obligate seeder" or "fire-recruiter." Regeneration depends almost entirely on germination from seed during postfire conditions [1,20,62,102]. During the spring after burning, varying numbers of wedgeleaf ceanothus seedlings appear. Very high mortality rates are common during the 1st year after establishment. This is believed to be caused by summer drought and interference from herbaceous competitors (see Plant Response To Fire) [33,96,102]. Schultz and others [96] reported the emergence of wedgeleaf ceanothus seedlings in the central California Sierra Nevada foothills occurred in mid-March and April. By mid-June, root depths may reach 30 to 40 inches (76-102 cm) while above ground stems and branches may reach 6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm) tall. Wedgeleaf ceanothus roots penetrate much further than those of herbaceous competitors. It is believed that wedgeleaf ceanothus' vigorous root growth beyond the maximum penetration of grass roots in the 1st year of growth is critical to obtaining enough moisture to establish [96]. Wedgeleaf ceanothus in the absence of fire may become established in shrub openings [22]. In their review of chaparral vegetation, Keeley and Keeley [65] point out that obligate-seeding shrubs, including wedgeleaf ceanothus, have more opportunities for genetic recombination than obligate-sprouting species. Recruitment of wedgeleaf ceanothus between fire intervals is very uncommon and rarely results in successful establishment under the canopy of mature shrubs, even in stands unburned for more than a century [60,61].

Asexual regeneration: The ability of wedgeleaf ceanothus to regenerate vegetatively is unclear. One observation from Biswell and Gilman [22] noted asexual regeneration of wedgeleaf ceanothus through layering after a prolonged period without fire and grazing.

  • 1. Ackerly, David. 2004. Functional strategies of chaparral shrubs in relation to seasonal water deficit and disturbance. Ecological Monographs. 74(1): 25-44. [47395]
  • 102. Sweeney, James R. 1956. Responses of vegetation to fire: A study of the herbaceous vegetation following chaparral fires. University of California Publications in Botany. 28(4): 143-250. [3776]
  • 13. Belcher, Earl. 1985. Handbook on seeds of browse -- shrubs and forbs. Technical Publication R8-TP8. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Region. 246 p. In cooperation with: Association of Official Seed Analysts. [43463]
  • 18. Biswell, H. H. 1958. The use of fire in California chaparral for game habitat improvement. In: Proceedings: Society of American Foresters meeting; 1957 November 10-13; Syracuse, NY. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters: 151-155. [12149]
  • 2. Adams, Lowell. 1962. Planting depths for seeds of three species of Ceanothus. Res. Note PSW-194. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 3 p. [6356]
  • 20. Biswell, H. H. 1961. Manipulation of chamise brush for deer range improvement. California Fish and Game. 47(2): 125-144. [6366]
  • 22. Biswell, H. H.; Gilman, J. H. 1961. Brush management in relation to fire and other environmental factors on the Tehama deer winter range. California Fish and Game. 47(4): 357-389. [6275]
  • 33. Dunne, Jim; Dennis, Ann; Bartolome, J. W.; Barrett, R. H. 1991. Chaparral response to a prescribed fire in the Mount Hamilton Range, Santa Clara County, California. Madrono. 38(1): 21-29. [15759]
  • 35. Evans, Raymond A.; Biswell, Harold H.; Palmquist, Debra E. 1987. Seed dispersal in Ceanothus cuneatus and C. leucodermis in a Sierran oak-woodland savanna. Madrono. 34(4): 283-293. [6149]
  • 58. Kartesz, John T.; Meacham, Christopher A. 1999. Synthesis of the North American flora (Windows Version 1.0), [CD-ROM]. Available: North Carolina Botanical Garden. In cooperation with the Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [2001, January 16]. [36715]
  • 59. Keeley, Jon E. 1975. Longevity of nonsprouting Ceanothus. The American Midland Naturalist. 93(2): 504-507. [6357]
  • 60. Keeley, Jon E. 1982. Distribution of lightning- and man-caused wildfires in California. In: Conrad, C. Eugene; Oechel, Walter C., technical coordinators. Proceedings of the symposium on dynamics and management of Mediterranean-type ecosystems; 1981 June 22-26; San Diego, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-58. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station: 431-437. [6049]
  • 61. Keeley, Jon E. 1987. Role of fire in seed germination of woody taxa in California chaparral. Ecology. 68(2): 434-443. [5403]
  • 62. Keeley, Jon E. 1991. Seed germination and life history syndromes in the California chaparral. The Botanical Review. 57(2): 81-116. [36973]
  • 65. Keeley, Jon E.; Keeley, Sterling C. 1988. Chaparral. In: Barbour, Michael G.; Billings, William Dwight, eds. North American terrestrial vegetation. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press: 165-207. [19545]
  • 79. Odion, Dennis C. 2000. Seed banks of long-unburned stands of maritime chaparral: composition, germination behavior, and survival with fire. Madrono. 47(3): 195-203. [38720]
  • 87. Quick, Clarence R. 1935. Notes on the germination of ceanothus seeds. Madrono. 3: 135-140. [4135]
  • 90. Reed, Merton J. 1974. Ceanothus L. ceanothus. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 284-290. [7576]
  • 96. Schultz, A. M.; Launchbaugh, J. L.; Biswell, H. H. 1955. Relationship between grass density and brush seedling survival. Ecology. 36(2): 226-238. [12503]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: phanerophyte

RAUNKIAER [88] LIFE FORM:
Phanerophyte
  • 88. 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: shrub

Shrub

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Plant Response to Fire

A majority of wedgeleaf ceanothus recruitment occurs the spring immediately after burning when seedlings establish from long-lived seeds stored in the soil. A limited number of additional seedlings become established 1 to 2 years after fire [22,62].
  • 22. Biswell, H. H.; Gilman, J. H. 1961. Brush management in relation to fire and other environmental factors on the Tehama deer winter range. California Fish and Game. 47(4): 357-389. [6275]
  • 62. Keeley, Jon E. 1991. Seed germination and life history syndromes in the California chaparral. The Botanical Review. 57(2): 81-116. [36973]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

Fire kills wedgeleaf ceanothus [64].
  • 64. Keeley, Jon E. 1992. Recruitment of seedlings and vegetative sprouts in unburned chaparral. Ecology. 73(4): 1194-1208. [19085]

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

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Wedgeleaf ceanothus occurs in the Mediterranean-climate zone where annual summer drought is typical. The unpredictability of both intensity and duration of this drought has a major influence on the development strategies of wedgeleaf ceanothus. All plant growth must occur before water stress triggers dormancy. A 2-year study in the foothills of Sequoia National Park, California, found that wedgeleaf ceanothus begins phenological development in late winter and early spring and exhibits simultaneous branch elongation, leaf initiation, and flowering. This adaptation insures completion of all phenological stages before the onset of drought [7]. Wedgeleaf ceanothus is able to survive extreme drought conditions as observed during the 1975-1977 drought in California [81].

Wedgeleaf ceanothus flowers from February to April depending on location [109]. Leaf life span averaged 14.4 months in the eastern foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains [1]. Wedgeleaf ceanothus thrives in the cool, wet winter and withers during the dry summer. Wedgeleaf ceanothus is considered a sclerophyll which is characterized by small leaves, short internodes, thick cuticle, sunken stomates, high proportion of lignified cells, and leaves with a waxy coating. All of these traits help wedgeleaf ceanothus to survive water loss through transpiration [1].

  • 1. Ackerly, David. 2004. Functional strategies of chaparral shrubs in relation to seasonal water deficit and disturbance. Ecological Monographs. 74(1): 25-44. [47395]
  • 109. Wiggins, Ira L. 1980. Flora of Baja California. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 1025 p. [21993]
  • 7. Baker, G. A.; Rundel, P. W.; Parsons, D. J. 1982. Comparative phenology and growth in three chaparral shrubs. Botanical Gazette. 143(1): 94-100. [6533]
  • 81. Parsons, David J.; Rundel, Philip W.; Hedlund, Richard P.; Baker, Gail A. 1981. Survival of severe drought by a non-sprouting chaparral shrub. American Journal of Botany. 68(7): 973-979. [7638]

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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

© NatureServe

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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

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Management

Management considerations

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Other uses and values

More info for the term: shrub

The Miwok Indians of the Sierra Nevada region of California used the young, straight shoots of wedgeleaf ceanothus for basketry material. The young shoots are so valuable that the Miwok have historically manipulated stands of wedgeleaf ceanothus by pruning, burning, or coppicing to induce rapid elongation of young growth [3]. The Kawaiisu used straightened twigs of wedgeleaf ceanothus for arrows and also used the shrub for fire wood [110]. The Mono tribe used stems of wedgeleaf ceanothus for basketry materials [4].
  • 110. Zigmond, Maurice L. 1981. Kawaisu ethnobotany. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press. 102 p. [35936]
  • 3. Anderson, Kat. 1991. Wild plant management: Cross-cultural examples of the small farmers of Jaumave, Mexico, and the southern Miwok of the Yosemite region. Arid Lands Newsletter. 31: 18-23. [17350]
  • 4. Anderson, M. Kat; Moratto, Michael J. 1996. Native American land-use practices and ecological impacts. In: Status of the Sierra Nevada. Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project: Final report to Congress. Volume II: Assessments and scientific basis for management options. Wildland Resources Center Report No. 37. Davis, CA: University of California, Centers for Water and Wildland Resources: 187-206. [28967]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

More info for the terms: cover, density

Habitat and browse for wildlife: Many animals browse on the fruits, leaves, and young shoots of wedgeleaf ceanothus and coyotes will occasionally eat the berries of wedgeleaf ceanothus [11]. Along with typical browsing of foliage and twigs, deer often prefer the tender seedlings of wedgeleaf ceanothus. Small rodents such as the deer mouse, California mouse, house mouse, California pocket mouse and birds such as California quail and mourning dove feed on the seeds of wedgeleaf ceanothus [72].

After fire, deer and other ungulates prefer grazing in postfire stands of wedgeleaf ceanothus. Peak browsing in these areas occurs for up to 3 years after burning [66,67].

Effects of cattle grazing in stands of wedgeleaf ceanothus along with manipulation of chaparral for "range improvement" and "improvement of wildlife habitat" are well documented. For more information please refer to [22,44,45,46,47,49,93,95,103].

Palatability/nutritional value: The foliage, twigs, and seedlings of wedgeleaf ceanothus are highly palatable to mule deer, black-tailed deer, and domestic sheep and goats [20,47,97]. Overall palatability to cattle is low [104]. Seeds are highly palatable to many small mammals, birds, and insects [26].

Wedgeleaf ceanothus offers year around high-protein browse for black-tailed deer, mule deer and other wildlife species [16]. Domestic sheep prefer wedgeleaf ceanothus for browse, while cattle will eat wedgeleaf ceanothus when other forage is scarce [22]. The following table shows monthly fluctuations in crude protein content of wedgeleaf ceanothus [16]. Values equal percentages of crude protein from oven-dried plant material. Crude protein peaks in spring and summer.

January February March April May June July August September October November December
8.0 7.8 9.2 15.6 12.4 9.5 7.9 10.4 7.5 6.5 7.0 8.1

Wedgeleaf ceanothus provides high levels of nutrients important to ungulate species. Mineral concentrations of wedgeleaf ceanothus for healthy deer populations are reported by Scrivner and others [97]. The following table shows mean percent mineral composition of oven-dry wedgeleaf ceanothus material sampled from June, 1985, to July, 1986, in California.

P S Ca Mg K
0.12 0.11 0.62 0.23 0.74

Gordon and Sampson [48] also provide nutritional information on wedgeleaf ceanothus.

Cover value: Wedgeleaf ceanothus provides cover for many wildlife species including California quail, black-tailed jackrabbit, brush rabbit, and mourning dove [20,26]. The preferred habitat of the chaparral mouse is under the protective branches of wedgeleaf ceanothus [70]. Many other small rodents including the deer mouse, California mouse, house mouse, and California pocket mouse, hide, feed, and nest beneath the canopy of wedgeleaf ceanothus [70]. Plants frequently grow tall enough, and with sufficient density, to furnish good hiding cover for larger ungulates such as mule deer. Barrett [10] found that black-tailed deer preferred wedgeleaf ceanothus chaparral over other adjacent cover types for browse in the foothill region of Mt Lassen, California.

  • 10. Barrett, Reginald H. 1982. Habitat preferences of feral hogs, deer, and cattle on a Sierra foothill range. Journal of Range Management. 35(3): 342-346. [48935]
  • 103. Talbot, M. W.; Biswell, H. H. 1942. The forage crop and its management. In: The San Joaquin Experimental Range. Bull. 663. Berkeley, CA: California Agricultural Experiment Station: 13-49. [12315]
  • 104. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 1937. Range plant handbook. Washington, DC. 532 p. [2387]
  • 11. Barrett, Reginald H. 1983. Food habits of coyotes, Canis latrans, in eastern Tehama County, California. California Fish and Game. 69(3): 184-186. [13786]
  • 16. Bissell, Harold D.; Strong, Helen. 1955. The crude protein variations in the browse diet of California deer. California Fish and Game. 41(2): 145-155. [10524]
  • 20. Biswell, H. H. 1961. Manipulation of chamise brush for deer range improvement. California Fish and Game. 47(2): 125-144. [6366]
  • 22. Biswell, H. H.; Gilman, J. H. 1961. Brush management in relation to fire and other environmental factors on the Tehama deer winter range. California Fish and Game. 47(4): 357-389. [6275]
  • 26. Conard, Susan G.; Jaramillo, Annabelle E.; Cromack, Kermit, Jr.; Rose, Sharon, compilers. 1985. The role of the genus Ceanothus in western forest ecosystems. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-182. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 72 p. [668]
  • 44. Gaylord, Vernon J.; Westfall, Stanley E. 1971. Wedgeleaf ceanothus canopy does not affect total herbage yield. Res. Note PSW-253. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 4 p. [48989]
  • 45. Gibbens, R. P.; Pieper, R. D. 1962. The response of browse plants to fertilization. California Fish and Game. 48(4): 268-281. [6358]
  • 46. Gibbens, R. P.; Schultz, A. M. 1962. Manipulation of shrub form and browse production in game range improvement. California Fish and Game. 48: 49-64. [21984]
  • 47. Gibbens, R. P.; Schultz, A. M. 1963. Brush manipulation on a deer winter range. California Fish and Game. 49(2): 95-118. [5976]
  • 48. Gordon, Aaron; Sampson, Arthur W. 1939. Composition of common California foothill plants as a factor in range management. Bull. 627. Berkeley, CA: University of California, College of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station. 95 p. [3864]
  • 49. Gratkowski, H. 1961. Brush problems in southwestern Oregon. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 53 p. [8596]
  • 66. Kie, John G. 1984. Deer habitat use after prescribed burning in northern California. PSW-369. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 3 p. [8415]
  • 67. Klinger, Robert C.; Kutilek, Michael J.; Shellhammer, Howard S. 1989. Population responses of black-tailed deer to prescribed burning. Journal of Wildlife Management. 53(4): 863-871. [10686]
  • 70. Kummerow, Jochen; Ellis, Barbara A.; Mills, James N. 1985. Post-fire seedling establishment of Adenostoma fasciculatum and Ceanothus greggii in southern California chaparral. Madrono. 32(3): 148-157. [4911]
  • 72. Lawrence, George E. 1966. Ecology of vertebrate animals in relation to chaparral fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Ecology. 47(2): 278-291. [147]
  • 93. Sampson, Arthur W.; Burcham, L. T. 1954. Costs and returns of controlled brush burning for range improvement in northern California. Range Improvement Studies No. 1. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry. 41 p. [41820]
  • 95. Schultz, A. M.; Biswell, H. H. 1952. Competition between grasses reseeded on burned brushlands in California. Journal of Range Management. 5: 338-345. [16545]
  • 97. Scrivner, Jerry H.; Vaughn, Charles E.; Jones, Milton B. 1988. Mineral concentrations of black-tailed deer diets in California chaparral. Journal of Wildlife Management. 52(1): 37-40. [3055]

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

Wedgeleaf ceanothus is well suited for use in rehabilitation because of rapid growth rates and an ability to improve soil fertility through nitrogen fixation. Some cultivars are now commercially available [37]. Wedgeleaf ceanothus has been successfully planted onto many types of disturbed sites throughout southern California and the desert Southwest [37]. It established well on disturbed sites near Lake Tahoe, California, but exhibited poor long-term survival due to cold winter temperatures [99]. Properly treated seed can be hand-sown onto burned slopes as an emergency revegetation measure in southern California chaparral. Good seedling establishment has been reported following seeding of these sites [12]. Wedgeleaf ceanothus can be used for stabilization of neutral and acid soils. However, transplanting from a nursery is recommended due to the difficulty and expense of harvesting seeds [83].
  • 12. Barro, Susan C.; Conard, Susan G. 1987. Use of ryegrass seeding as an emergency revegetation measure in chaparral ecosystems. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-102. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 12 p. [4257]
  • 37. Fessenden, R. J. 1979. Use of actinorrhizal plants for land reclamation and amenity planting in the U.S.A. and Canada. In: Gordon, J. C.; Wheeler, C. T.; Perry, D. A., eds. Symbiotic nitrogen fixation in the management of temperate forests: Proceedings of a workshop; 1979 April 2-5; Corvallis, OR. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University, Forest Research Laboratory: 403-419. [4308]
  • 83. Plummer, A. Perry. 1977. Revegetation of disturbed Intermountain area sites. In: Thames, J. C., ed. Reclamation and use of disturbed lands of the Southwest. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press: 302-337. [171]
  • 99. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. FEIS postfire regeneration workshop--April 12: Seral origin of species comprising secondary plant succession in Northern Rocky Mountain forests. 10 p. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [20090]

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Wikipedia

Ceanothus cuneatus

Ceanothus cuneatus is a species of flowering shrub known by the common names buckbrush and wedgeleaf ceanothus.

Distribution[edit]

This Ceanothus is native to Oregon, California, and northern Baja California, where it can be found in a number of habitats, especially chaparral.

Description[edit]

Buckbrush seeds

Ceanothus cuneatus is a spreading bush, rounded to sprawling, reaching up to 3 meters in height. The evergreen leaves are stiff and somewhat tough and may be slightly toothed along the edges. The bush flowers abundantly in short, thick-stalked racemes bearing rounded bunches of tiny flowers, each about half a centimeter wide.

The flowers are white, sometimes tinted strongly with blue or lavender. The fruit is round capsule with horns. It is about half a centimeter wide and contains three shiny dark seeds which are dispersed when the capsule explodes and propels them some distance. Harvester ants have been known to cache the seeds, which can lie dormant for a long time since fire is required for germination. This plant may be variable in appearance because it hybridizes easily with similar species.

While this shrub has a wide distribution in its range, certain varieties of the species are limited to small areas. The Monterey ceanothus (var. rigida), for example, is found only between the southern edge of the San Francisco Bay Area and San Luis Obispo County.

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

The scientific name of wedgeleaf ceanothus is Ceanothus cuneatus (Hook.) Nutt. (Rhamnaceae) [55,56,58,109]. Infrataxa are:

Ceanothus cuneatus var. cuneatus (buckbrush)

Ceanothus cuneatus var. fascicularis (McMinn) Hoover (sedgeleaf
buckbrush) [55,58]

Ceanothus cuneatus var. rigidus (Nutt.) Hoover (Monterey
ceanothus) [55,58]

Hybrids: Ceanothus distribution shares a wide range of habitats and
distributions with other Ceanothus species and is thought to hybridize
frequently [55,78]. Several hybrids are recognized in older floras.
Current floras do not recognize any of these hybrids as separate species.
  • 109. Wiggins, Ira L. 1980. Flora of Baja California. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 1025 p. [21993]
  • 55. Hickman, James C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1400 p. [21992]
  • 56. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1961. Vascular plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 3: Saxifragaceae to Ericaceae. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 614 p. [1167]
  • 58. Kartesz, John T.; Meacham, Christopher A. 1999. Synthesis of the North American flora (Windows Version 1.0), [CD-ROM]. Available: North Carolina Botanical Garden. In cooperation with the Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [2001, January 16]. [36715]
  • 78. Munz, Philip A. 1973. A California flora and supplement. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1905 p. [6155]

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Common Names

wedgeleaf ceanothus

buckbrush ceanothus

buckbrush

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