Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Erodium cicutarium


SPECIES: Erodium cicutarium
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Howard, Janet L. 1992. Erodium cicutarium. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. ABBREVIATION : EROCIC SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : ERCI6 COMMON NAMES : cutleaf filaree purple filaree redstem filaree filaree alfileria pinclover pingrass cranesbill heronbill storksbill TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of cutleaf filaree is Erodium cicutarium (L.) L'Her. [24,35,49]. There are no recognized subspecies, varieties, or forms. LIFE FORM : Forb FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Erodium cicutarium
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Cutleaf filaree is distributed worldwide at latitudes below 70 degrees north and south.  It occurs in Eurasia, North America, South America, central and southern Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Tasmania [21]. In North America, cutleaf filaree is distributed across Canada and south to Baja California, Mexico [21,33].  It is currently found in all states except Florida and Louisiana. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES12  Longleaf - slash pine    FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine    FRES14  Oak - pine    FRES15  Oak - hickory    FRES18  Maple - beech - birch    FRES19  Aspen - birch    FRES21  Ponderosa pine    FRES27  Redwood    FRES28  Western hardwoods    FRES29  Sagebrush    FRES30  Desert shrub    FRES31  Shinnery    FRES32  Texas savanna    FRES33  Southwestern shrubsteppe    FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub    FRES35  Pinyon - juniper    FRES36  Mountain grasslands    FRES38  Plains grasslands    FRES39  Prairie    FRES40  Desert grasslands    FRES42  Annual grasslands STATES :      AL  AK  AZ  AR  CA  CO  CT  DE  GA  HI      ID  IL  IN  IA  KS  KY  ME  MD  MA  MI      MN  MS  MO  MT  NE  NV  NH  NJ  NM  NY      NC  ND  OH  OK  OR  PA  RI  SC  SD  TN      TX  UT  VT  VA  WA  WV  WI  WY  AB  BC      LB  MB  NB  NF  NT  NS  ON  PE  PQ  SK      YT  MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :     1  Northern Pacific Border     2  Cascade Mountains     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    16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    Found in most Kuchler Plant Associations SAF COVER TYPES :    Found in most SAF Cover Types SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Cutleaf filaree occupies a variety of habitats, from desert to riparian [23,25].  In riparian communities, it indicates recent or frequent disturbances [29].  The largest North American cutleaf filaree populations occur in California, where annual grasslands have replaced historical perennial grasslands [20,47].  Cutleaf filaree has been listed as a dominant community type (cts) in the following published classification: Area                      Classification              Authority CA: Central Valley        annual grassland cts        Heady 1977


SPECIES: Erodium cicutarium
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Cutleaf filaree provides seasonal forage for rodents, desert tortoise, big game animals, and livestock [4,5,32,24,51].  The seeds are eaten by upland game birds, songbirds, and rodents [14,30,39]. PALATABILITY : The relish and degree of use shown by livestock and wildlife species for cutleaf filaree in California and Utah is rated as follows [14,42,51]:                                  CA       UT         Cattle                  good     fair         Sheep                   good     good         Horses                  ----     fair         Pronghorn               ----     good         Elk                     ----     good         Mule deer               good     good         Small mammals           good     fair         Small nongame birds     ----     fair         Waterfowl               ----     poor Cutleaf filaree seeds are highly palatable to rodents [30].  NUTRITIONAL VALUE : The food value of flowering cutleaf filaree in central Arizona is as follows [46]:                          Percent Composition                                        protein     17.10                                       fiber       17.80                                        calcium      2.54                                         phosphorus   0.51                                         potassium    3.56 The digestibility of cutleaf filaree for several animal species is rated as follows [36]:                           Percent Digestibility                          white-tailed deer   40.0                          cattle              12.4                          domestic goats      12.5                          horses              12.0                          domestic rabbits    11.9                          domestic sheep      12.9                                                         The seeds provide 5,505 calories per gram, or 8.92 calories per seed [40]. COVER VALUE : Cutleaf filaree generally provides poor cover [14].  One ecotype in Glenville, California, forms basal rosettes 16 inches (40 cm) in diameter, providing fair to good cover for small birds and mammals [28]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : The presence or absence of cutleaf filaree pollen in fossil records, sediment lakebeds, and artifacts has been used as a dating technique in paleobotany and archeology [12,16].  Cutleaf filaree was one of the first exotics to invade North America.  It was apparently introduced in California during the early 1700's by passing Spanish explorers [51]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Range:  Cutleaf filaree is important forage for cattle, horses, and domestic sheep in California, Nevada, and Arizona [47].  Annual yields vary depending upon soil moisture.  Talbot and others [43] found that cover of cutleaf filaree in a Tehama County, California range fluctuated from 70 percent in 1934 to 30 percent in 1935, a drought year.  Other factors also affect the availability of cutleaf filaree.  The plant is sensitive to airborne pollutants, especially sulfur dioxide, which causes extensive leaf and stem burn.  Cutleaf filaree yields are reduced on some southern California and western Arizona ranges due to this problem [44].  Otherwise, cutleaf filaree has excellent range durability.  The plant is resilient under heavy grazing pressure.  When developing fruits are consumed by stock, the plant rapidly grows short, prostrate stems that produce new fruits.  These new stems and fruits are relatively inaccessible to stock, especially horses and cattle [22]. When most of the cutleaf filaree within a range assumes this growth form, the range is overgrazed.


SPECIES: Erodium cicutarium
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Cutleaf filaree is an exotic forb that may be cool- or warm-season, depending on climate [35,46].  The leaves of young plants form a basal rosette.  Older leaves grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) long, becoming decumbent to prostrate.  The persistent styles of this plant are 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5 cm) long and coil together at maturity, enveloping the fruit at the base.  The fruit is a sharp-pointed, narrow capsule.  The slender taproot is about 3 inches (8 cm) long [16,37,47]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :       Therophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Cutleaf filaree reproduces sexually [35,47].  Germination is triggered by seasonal rains and soil temperatures that range between approximately 69 degrees Fahrenheit (21 deg C) during the day to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 deg C) at night [23].  Light rains result in lower germination rates than heavier rains [5].  When moist, the coiled styles enveloping the seed expand, uncoil, and drive the arrow-shaped fruit into the ground [16].  Seed can be driven as deep as 1 inch (2.5 cm), although seed buried less deeply is more likely to germinate [52].  Young and others [52] report an average germination success rate of 14 percent.  Plants are sexually mature 2 to 4 months following germination [19].  Seed either falls beneath the parent plant or is disseminated by animals. Rodents frequently bury cutleaf filaree seed in a food cache where unconsumed seed later germinates [30].  Seed also catches on animal fur and is disseminated in that manner [16].  Seeds of Erodium spp. can remain viable for many years, and form extensive seed banks [9]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Cutleaf filaree occupies a variety of different sites.  Site characteristics are as follows: Soil:  Cutleaf filaree grows in well-drained, clayey, loamy, or sandy soil.  Variations in soil pH have been reported from moderately acid in Tehema County, California to moderately alkaline in the Great Basin area of central Utah [5,7]. Climate:  Native to the Mediterranean area, cutleaf filaree flourishes in the semiarid climate of the Southwest and the Mediterranean climate of California [47].  It will tolerate a broad range of climates, however, including the tropical climate of Hawaii and the cold, rainy climate of the Pacific Northwest.  Cutleaf filaree can grow in areas that experience harsh, snowy winters because its short growing period allows it to complete its life cycle before the onset of freezing weather [18,21]. Elevation:  Cutleaf filaree occurs below 7,000 feet (2,134 m) [26]. Associated species:  The associated species of cutleaf filaree are too numerous to list because of its global distribution.  Since cutleaf filaree is mainly of interest as a range plant, the associated range species of cutleaf filaree in several western states are listed as follows: Arizona:  Saltbush (Atriplex polycarpa and A. lentiformis), mustard (Cruciferae), foxtail chess (Bromus rubens), Mediterranean schismus (Schismum barbatus), canyon grape (Vitis arizonica), blue palo verde (Cercidium floridum) [8,48]. California:  Slender oat (Avena barbata), ripgut brome (B. rigidus), littlehead clover (Trifolium microcephalum), early filaree (Erodium obtusiplicatum) [6,48]. Idaho:  St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum), downy brome (B. tectorum), rattlesnake brome (B. briziformis), rattail sixweeks grass (Vulpia myuros), western yarrow (Achillea millefolium), bigflower agosersis (Agosersis grandiflora), spur lupine (Lupinus laziflorus), autumn willow-weed (Epilobium paniculatum) [43,48]. Nevada:  Turpentine broom (Thamnosma montana), desert bitterbrush (Purshia glandulosa), blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima), foxtail chess, California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), desert needlegrass (Stipa speciosa) [1,48]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Cutleaf filaree is a pioneer on disturbed sites.  Wagner and others [50] reported that cutleaf filaree seedlings were the first to emerge on lands strip-mined for coal in New Mexico.  Cutleaf filaree may have been an initial colonizer in open areas of the Mojave Desert [51].  It is also a residual or a secondary colonizer, since seedlings can either establish from on-site seed or from seed carried in by animals [16].  In annual grassland communities, cutleaf filaree is an early- to mid-seral stage plant, being intolerant of the mulch layer that builds up in older communities [4].  Cutleaf filaree is replaced in annual grasslands by ripgut brome and slender wild oat.  Cutleaf filaree will tolerate partial shade, but vigor is reduced [2]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Seasonal development of cutleaf filaree varies depending upon climate. Plant germinate in late fall in California, Nevada, and Arizona but not start until midsummer of the following year in cold climates [5]. Plants in warm climates grow vigorously until winter, when growth slows. Vigorous growth resumes in the spring.  In cold climates, growth is continuous from spring or summer until plant death in early fall [47]. Gordon and Sampson [18] reported the following developmental data for cutleaf filaree in O'Neal, California:                        germination - November                        early leaf stage - December                        flowers in bloom - March                        seeds ripe - May                        seeds disseminated - June                        plant death - June                         


SPECIES: Erodium cicutarium
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Plant adaptations:  Seed driven into the soil by the styles is usually protected  from fire [52]. Fire ecology:  The prostrate stems of cutleaf filaree aid in spreading ground fire.  Dead plants contribute to fuel loads.  POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)    Secondary colonizer - off-site seed


SPECIES: Erodium cicutarium
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Moderate fire kills mature plants [20].  Grass fires are typically light to moderate, and very young seedlings can survive fires of that severity.  Dennis [13] found that newly germinated cutleaf filaree seedlings just beneath the litter layer were not harmed by a moderate grass fire in Mendocino National Forest, California.  Cutleaf filaree seed in the litter layer remains viable following light fire, and seed just under the litter layer remains viable following moderate fire. Severe fire will kill seed unless it is buried 0.5 inch (1.25 cm) or more deep [41,53]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : During the first postfire growing season, density of cutleaf filaree is reduced, but biomass increases [11].  Seed production is highest at postfire year 1, with cutleaf filaree populations peaking at postfire year 2.  Callison [10] reported cutleaf filaree as providing an absolute cover value of 0.2 percent in an unburned area in the Beaver Dam Mountains of southwestern Utah.  Following a prescribed burn, the cover value was 11.1 percent in the first postfire growing season, and 11.5 percent in the second.  Cover value declined from postfire year 3 and after.  By postfire year 12, cutleaf filaree was no longer visible in the plant community. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : After spring prescribed burning in a basin big sagebrush community in east-central Oregon, the number of viable cutleaf filaree seeds was significantly (P<0.1) reduced in burned soil samples compared to the number of viable seeds in unburned soil samples [54]. See the Research Project Summary of this work for more information on fire effects on cutleaf filaree and 60 additional forb, grass, and woody plant species. The following Research Project Summaries provide information on prescribed fire and postfire response of cutleaf filaree and other plant species that was not available when this species review was written. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Range:  Frequent prescribed burning favors cutleaf filaree and other forbs over annual grasses [5,20].  This is desirable when the climax grass provides poor forage, such as ripgut brome.  Grassland fire typically destroys very few seeds or other organic matter in the soil [20].  It does destroy the overlying mulch layer that inhibits germination of cutleaf filaree seeds [5,19].


SPECIES: Erodium cicutarium
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