|William S. Justice @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database|
There are 2 races of galax. Their distributions mostly overlap. See General Botanical Characteristics and Site Characteristics for details on morphologies and habitats, respectively, distinguishing galax races.ECOSYSTEMS :
Galax is a common understory species of oak-hickory forests in the east-central and southern United States. It most commonly associates with chestnut oak and scarlet oak (Q. coccinea), respectively [1,59]. Chestnut oak (Quercus prinus) is galax's most frequent overstory dominant across galax's distribution . In a mixed-oak forest on the Jefferson National Forest of Virginia, overstory dominants of galax are chestnut oak, scarlet oak, and red maple (Acer rubrum). Ericaceous shrubs including black huckleberry (G. baccata) and Blue Ridge blueberry (Vaccinium pallidum) dominate the shrub layer. American alumroot (Heuchera americana) is a common forb (review by ). Galax is an important component of the chestnut oak/mountain-laurel community in South Carolina's Jocassee Gorges. Bear huckleberry (Gaylussacia ursina), Piedmont rhododendron (Rhododendron minus), and fairywand (Chamaelirium luteum) are other important species . Besides chestnut and scarlet oak, other oak-hickory forest dominants sometimes associated with galax include blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica), post oak (Q. stellata), northern red oak (Quercus rubra), white oak (Q. alba), black oak (Q. velutina), scarlet oak, southern red oak (Q. falcata), turkey oak (Q. laevis), pignut hickory (C. glabra), black hickory (C. texana), and mockernut hickory (C. tomentosa). Understory tree and shrub associates include flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), huckleberries (Gaylussacia spp.), and sumacs (Rhus spp.). Herbaceous plant associates include bluestems (Andropogon spp.), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), and sedges (Carex spp.) [21,29,31,72].
Galax was important in preblight American chestnut (Castanea dentata) stands. In a stump survey reconstructing early 20th century American chestnut riparian forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains, rosebay dominated former American chestnut stands disturbed by blight and harvest of infected American chestnuts in the 1920s and 1930s. Galax and partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) were abundant in the rosebay thickets, and other herbaceous species were nearly absent . Postblight American chestnut forests have mostly succeeded to rosebay thickets, mountain-laurel thickets, or oak-hickory forest [19,45,68].
Galax is a common herbaceous associate of xeric oak-pine forest. Percent cover of galax ranges from 5% to 20% in this forest type. Oak-pine forests are common on south-facing slopes in the central and southern Appalachian, Piedmont, and Coastal Plain regions. A 1935 publication noted that galax was common in a shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata)-chestnut oak community on Pine Mountain, Kentucky. Understory shrubs included black huckleberry, Blue Ridge blueberry, and mountain-laurel. Narrowleaf silkgrass (Pityopsis graminifolia), downy danthonia (Danthonia sericea), and partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) were common herbaceous associates .
Within oak-pine forests, chestnut oak is the most common overstory associate of galax; scarlet oak is 2nd. Dominant pines include pitch pine (P. rigida), Table Mountain pine (P. pungens), and/or Virginia pine (P. virginiana). In a review, Murphy and Nowacki  noted galax as important in high-elevation, old-growth Table Mountain pine communities in the Great Smoky Mountains. Pitch pine, scarlet oak, chestnut oak, and black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) were common overstory associates; mountain-laurel and blueberries dominated the understory. With 5% to 20% coverage, galax, trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens), and eastern teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens) dominated groundlayer vegetation .
Galax is a common understory component of northern hardwood forests. These forests are generally found at mid- to high elevations in the central and northern Appalachian Mountains, often transitioning to spruce-fir or mixed hardwood forest at higher and lower elevations, respectively . Common overstory tree species include sugar maple (Acer saccharum), basswood (Tilia americana), yellow birch (B. alleghaniensis), black cherry (Prunus serotina), red spruce (Picea rubens), white spruce (P. glauca), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), northern red oak, white oak, and yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera). Understory associates include beaked hazel (Corylus cornuta), eastern leatherwood (Dirca palustris), red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa), alternate-leaf dogwood (Cornus alternifolia), bush-honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera), Canada yew (Taxus canadensis), red raspberry (Rubus idaeus), and blackberries. Herbaceous species include Carolina springbeauty (Claytonia caroliniana), snow trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), anemones (Anemone spp.), marsh blue violet (Viola cucullata), downy yellow violet (V. pubescens), hairy Solomon's seal (Polygonatum pubescens), starry Solomon's-seal (Maianthemum stellatum), hairy sweet-cicely (Osmorhiza claytonii), adderstongues (Ophioglossum spp.), Jack-in-the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), bigleaf aster (Eurybia macrophylla), and clubmosses (Lycopodiaceae) [45,58,72].
Galax is a groundlayer species in mixed hardwood forests. These forests often support a high level of plant diversity . Overstory hardwood and conifer associates of galax are numerous within the type. They include northern red oak, white oak, black oak, scarlet oak, southern red oak, post oak, yellow-poplar, eastern white pine, American beech, sugar maple, red maple, black cherry, American basswood, sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), white ash (Fraxinus americana), green ash (F. pennsylvanica), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), hickories, black tupelo, black walnut (Juglans nigra), jack pine (Pinus banksiana), eastern hemlock, and elms (Ulmus spp.). Common mid-canopy tree associates include flowering dogwood, hollies (Ilex spp.), eastern hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), American bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia), eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis), common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), and serviceberries (Amelanchier spp.). Common understory shrubs and vines include greenbriers (Smilax spp.), blueberries, rosebay, eastern leatherwood, witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), beaked hazel, spicebush (Lindera benzoin), poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), and grapes (Vitis spp.) [9,45,58,72].
Galax frequents openings or open stands of spruce-fir (Picea-Abies spp.) forest in the central and southern Appalachian arboreal highlands, mountain tops, and "balds" [9,58]. Southern spruce-fir forests are dominated by red spruce, which mixes with hardwoods on mid-elevation slopes. Common overstory associates include Fraser fir (A. fraseri), yellow buckeye (Aesculus flava), sweet birch (Betula lenta), and black cherry. Rhododendrons (Rhododendron spp.), American mountain-ash (Sorbus americana), and possumhaw (Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides) are common understory dominants. Other shrub associates include highbush cranberry (V. edule), mountain holly (I. montana), speckled alder (Alnus rugosa), pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica), serviceberries, raspberries (Rubus spp.), blueberries, and huckleberries .
Galax occurs in the groundlayer of Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) forest. Overstory associates include red maple, chestnut oak, and sweet birch. Understory vegetation is not diverse in the type . Mountain-laurel and rosebay are common shrubs. Groundlayer vegetation includes vines such as Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and partridgeberry, and forbs including galax, Virginia heartleaf (Hexastylis virginica), and Carolina silverbell (Halesia carolina) [57,58,72].
Galax is occasional on upland and mesic sites within longleaf pine (P. palustris) forests and savannas in and along the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains and lower Piedmont regions of Georgia and Alabama. Associated species on mesic coastal plains include southern red oak, blackjack oak, water oak, flowering dogwood, black tupelo, sweetgum, common persimmon, and sassafras. Associated species on xeric sandhill sites include turkey oak, bluejack oak (Q. incana), and live oak (Q. virginiana). Associated shrubs include inkberry (I. glabra), yaupon (I. vomitoria), large gallberry (I. coriacea), wax-myrtle (Myrica cerifera), blueberries, huckleberries, blackberries, saw-palmetto (Serenoa repens), sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), cyrilla (Cyrilla racemiflora), and buckwheat tree (Cliftonia monophylla). Pineland threeawn (Aristida stricta) is the primary groundcover on longleaf pine sites within galax's distribution [14,50,58,72].
Shrub balds often occupy the highest (>4,000 feet (1,200 m)) mountain peaks in the central and southern Appalachian Mountains. Dense thickets of usually ericaceous shrubs dominate. Bald dominants and associates across galax's range include mountain-laurel, Catawba rosebay (Rhododendron catawbiense), highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), black chokeberry (Photinia melanocarpa), mountain sweetpepperbush (Clethra acuminata), mountain holly, possumhaw, blackberries, and American mountain-ash [9,58,72]. In South Carolina, galax is common to codominant on high-elevation mountain-laurel balds . In North Carolina, it forms a shrub/forb community with silvery nailwort (Paronychia argyrocoma) on the summit of King's Pinnacle, just above bear oak-dominated shrubland .
The following vegetation typings describe plant communities where galax is a dominant or important component of the ground layer.KY: oak-hickory forests 
Galax is a perennial forb or subshrub that reaches 2 to 12 inches (6-30 cm) in height [41,73]. Its evergreen leaves are heart-shaped, thick, and glossy. They are singular, arising from a 1- to 10-inch (3-25 cm)- long petiole [52,63]. Leaf life span is 18 months . Numerous small perfect flowers are 3 to 4 mm wide, and are arranged in a spike-shaped raceme on an 8- to 16-inch (20-40 cm) flower stem. Seeds are <1 mm long. They are contained in a small capsule. Each capsule contains "several to numerous" seeds. Galax is rhizomatous. Roots are fibrous [52,63].
Galax has 2 races, diploid and tetraploid, that are morphologically distinct [2,3,64]. Leaf morphology differs geographically and genetically among populations, with mountainous and southern populations (which are mostly tetraploid) having large leaves, and northern populations (mostly diploid) having small leaves [2,30]. Under best growing conditions (see Site Characteristics), leaves of diploid galax are 4 inches (10 cm) across, while tetraploid galax's leaves may reach 6 inches (20 cm) across. On poor sites, the 2 races may both have small leaves and be indistinguishable in the field .RAUNKIAER  LIFE FORM:
Breeding system: Galax is monoecious . In a 1992 to 1999 survey, Greller and Clemants  noted galax establishment and population expansion by seed spread on Long Island, New York, where galax was previously uncollected and is probably not native.
Polyploidy may give galax greater ecological amplitude than a simple diploid state [9,47]. Although geographic distributions of the 2 races overlap, they apparently do not cross-breed .
Seed dispersal: Galax's small, light seed is "easily transported" . Mechanisms for transport are not described in current (2006) literature.
Seed bank: The degree to which galax relies on a seed bank is unknown. In seed bank study conducted in a chestnut oak-scarlet oak forest on the Jefferson National Forest, galax seed was neither visually apparent in soil samples, nor did it germinate from soil samples in the greenhouse. However, galax was a dominant forb in the study area . Methodologies can affect seed bank trials , and absence of galax emergence in seed bank studies does not mean that galax does not form a seed bank. Further studies are needed on seed ecology of galax.
Asexual regeneration: Galax reproduces asexually  from rhizome sprouts [51,52,55,63].
As of 2006, published literature describing pollination, seed dispersal, seed production, seed banking, germination, seedling establishment, or growth for galax was lacking. Further research is needed on galax's life history.SITE CHARACTERISTICS:
Elevation: Precise elevational data are sparse for galax. However, galax is reported on sites with a wide elevational range, from low-elevation coastal plains and highest-elevation mountain peaks. In Virginia, for example, it is reported on low-elevation coastal plains (~0-70 feet (20 m)) and at 1,940 feet (591 m) in a Carolina hemlock forest [2,57]. Galax has been collected on the highest peaks of the Appalachian Mountains: 5,964 feet (1,818 m) on Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina and 5,200 feet (1,600 m) on Mt. LeConte in Tennessee .
Tetraploid populations of galax occur throughout the distribution of diploid galax. They also occur on the Virginia coastal plain, where diploid populations do not occur. Additionally, tetraploid galax are more common at high elevations than diploid galax .
Soils: Galax commonly occurs on rocky or sandy acidic soils on slopes, ridges, and mountain hillsides . Best growth occurs on moist, acidic soils, although galax occurs on dry soils in chestnut oak and a few other habitats (review by ). In Kentucky, galax has been noted on soils with a pH as low as 3.9 .
Climate: Considerable climatic diversity is found in galax's range. Climate ranges from subtropical along the southeastern coastal plains to temperate further inland. In general, temperature, precipitation, and length of growing season increase to the south. However, a wide variety of local microclimatic conditions exist in the complex topography of the Appalachian mountain region. Seasonal weather patterns are driven by alternating cold/dry continental air masses from Canada and warm/moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. Precipitation is generally distributed uniformly throughout the year, mostly as rain. Snow and ice are common in the winter months in galax's northern range and high-elevation mountainous terrain [14,29]. Mean annual precipitation ranges from 39 to 80 or more inches (990-2,000 mm) in the Great Smoky Mountains . Depending on location, annual snow accumulations range from 8 to 48 inches (200-1,220 mm). Tropical cyclones are possible in summer and fall months. Seasonal variations in temperature increase away from the coast. Mean winter temperatures vary from -18 °F (-28 °C) on high-elevation sites and in the north  to 64 °F (18 °C) in galax's southern range. Mean summer temperatures are less variable, ranging from 70 to 72 °F (21-22 °C) [14,29].SUCCESSIONAL STATUS:
Early succession: A study of forest succession in mixed conifer-hardwood riparian forests of the southern Appalachians noted galax's rarely documented importance in early succession. With 69% frequency, galax was the herbaceous dominant in early seral yellow-poplar-red maple-mountain magnolia (Magnolia fraseri) stands on the Thompson River corridor of North Carolina. It was also present but less frequent on 2 other North Carolina sites in late succession: an eastern white pine-white oak forest and an eastern hemlock-white oak forest (22% and 12% frequency, respectively) .
Galax occurred relatively soon after extreme disturbances in the Nantahala Mountains of southwestern North Carolina pushed a forest into early succession. On the Wine Spring Creek Watershed of what is now the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, a former American chestnut forest was "heavily" logged from 1912 to 1923. The forest succeeded to mixed oak after chestnut blight infestations in the early 1920s. Further logging and a type conversion followed decades later. A riparian corridor was partially logged in 1941; after that, treatments involved the entire watershed. The watershed was clearcut and pile burned in 1958; planted to sixweeks grass (Vulpia octoflora, a native annual) in 1959; repeatedly treated with 2,4-D from 1960 to 1965 to suppress woody shrubs including galax; fertilized in 1965; treated with atrazine (to kill grass) and paraquat and 2,4-D (to kill shrubs) in 1967; then left undisturbed. Plots (0.02-ha) were sampled in 1995 to determine understory recovery, using adjacent undisturbed plots (70 years since last harvest) as controls. Forbs dominated the disturbed understory in 1995; red maple and shrubs, including galax, dominated the undisturbed understory. Although method of postdisturbance establishment was not part of the study, galax establishment after 1967 was probably from seed because several successive herbicide treatments in the 1960s would have killed most mature plants. Galax distribution on undisturbed and disturbed plots was :
|Frequency (%)||Density (plants/m²)||Relative density|
Mid-succession: In another Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory study, Elliott and others  found galax recovered gradually after a chestnut oak-scarlet oak-pitch pine stand was clearcut in 1952. Galax was the 2nd most common herbaceous species in the study area before clearcutting, representing 19% of total understory species composition. Forty-one years later, galax showed 3rd greatest percent relative biomass compared to other understory species. Pre- and postharvest measurements were in different units. Galax's relative biomass was :
|Relative biomass (%)||0.0||2.2||6.5||14.8|
In vegetation surveys of reclaimed surface coal mines of southwestern Virginia, galax occurred only on the oldest (>35 years) reclamation sites. The sites were planted with nonnative grasses ands legumes, native black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), and eastern white pine, which is native to the general region but not to the reclamation sites . Nonnative plantings probably altered the successional trajectory. Without comparative studies, it is difficult to access galax's successional position on coal mine sites.
Some heath balds where galax is common to dominant in the understory are successional to chestnut oak, conifer, or oak-pine forest without fire or other disturbance. Depending upon time-since-fire or other disturbance, the heathlands vary from open to very dense (review by ), so degree of galax exposure on balds could vary greatly. Galax's successional role in heath balds is not described in current (2006) literature.
Late succession: Galax presence has been noted in heavily shaded, old-growth mixed- and northern hardwood forests [45,58,72].SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT:
|State||Leaves emerge||Flowers||Disperses seed|
|West Virginia||----||June-July ||----|
|Appalachians||1 May- 15 June ||----||----|
|Blue Ridge Mts.||----||May-July ||----|
Laboratory and field experiments suggest that extreme heat or cold shock during flowering can induce polyploidy [54,64]. Baldwin  suggested that repeated fire disturbances and/or glaciation may have played an evolutionary role in the development of galax tetraploidy.
Fire regimes: Fire was historically important in maintaining oak-pine and high-elevation, xeric pine forests where galax occurs [46,58,71]. In the Appalachian Mountains, where galax is most common, such communities experienced both stand-replacing and mixed-severity fires. In Great Smoky Mountain National Park, occurrence of both anthropogenic and natural fires increased with elevation, and lightning fires were most frequent on xeric, high-elevation sites [5,33] where galax is common [13,58]. Whittaker  suggested that xeric, even-aged pine forests of the Great Smoky Mountains were mostly maintained by severe fire that replaced the existing stand; however, as the even-aged stand matured, pine mortality created small openings where gap succession occurred. He also stated the "fire alone does not produce these pine stands" . Hurricanes, tornadoes, and less severe wind storms also maintained seral pine and oak-pine stands [46,65]. Time between stand-replacing fires varied between sites and among pine species.
Some pine and oak-pine communities dominated by serotinous pines have moderate to long fire-return intervals. Table Mountain pine historically experienced medium-return interval, stand-replacement fires . Barden  documented a Table Mountain pine stand on Glass Mountain, North Carolina, that established after a fire 87 years previously. Fire may be very infrequent on some sites: Zobel  suggests that Table Mountain pine stands on rocky outcrops or shale slopes, where hardwood regeneration is poor, are self-sustaining, and rarely if ever experience fire. On sites where succession proceeds to understory hardwoods, understory burning probably helped keep the hardwoods in check .
In a 1935 survey of a shortleaf pine-chestnut oak community in the Cumberland Mountains of Kentucky, Braun  noted and 0.5- to 1-inch (cm) duff layer of pine, oak, and mountain-laurel leaves.
Mesic pine forests: Not all pine forests where galax occurs have stand-replacement fire regimes. Longleaf and other nonserotinous pines historically experienced frequent surface fires . Peet and Allard  state that longleaf pine-blackjack oak/mountain-laurel/galax communities of North Carolina require "exceptionally high fire frequency." Occurring on mesic, north-facing slopes, these communities are successionally replaced relatively quickly when fire is excluded .
Heath balds where galax is common to dominant in the understory were apparently maintained by stand-replacing fire, landslides, extreme weather conditions, and/or windthrow in presettlement times. Logging in the 20th Century stopped tree invasion onto the balds. Possibly due to highly acidic soils, some balds appear stable despite lack of disturbance such as fire [10,25,72]. On other and possibly most balds, however, repeated fires may have been the primary disturbance that maintained the shrubland [7,25]. Cain  found that all of the heath balds he sampled in the Great Smoky Mountains had burned multiple times. For heath bald types, fires in balds undergoing successional replacement by red spruce are probably most severe .
The following table provides fire return intervals for plant communities and ecosystems where galax is important. Find further fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes".
|Community or Ecosystem||Dominant Species||Fire Return Interval Range (years)|
|silver maple-American elm||Acer saccharinum-Ulmus americana||<5 to 200|
|sugar maple||Acer saccharum||>1,000|
|sugar maple-basswood||Acer saccharum-Tilia americana||>1,000|
|beech-sugar maple||Fagus spp.-Acer saccharum||>1,000|
|black ash||Fraxinus nigra||<35 to 200|
|yellow-poplar||Liriodendron tulipifera||<35 |
|northeastern spruce-fir||Picea-Abies spp.||35-200 |
|southeastern spruce-fir||Picea-Abies spp.||35 to >200 |
|red spruce*||Picea rubens||35-200 |
|shortleaf pine||Pinus echinata||2-15|
|shortleaf pine-oak||Pinus echinata-Quercus spp.||<10|
|longleaf pine-scrub oak||Pinus palustris-Quercus spp.||6-10|
|Table Mountain pine||Pinus pungens||<35 to 200 |
|red-white-jack pine*||Pinus resinosa-P. strobus-P. banksiana||10-300 [18,37]|
|pitch pine||Pinus rigida||6-25 [8,38]|
|eastern white pine||Pinus strobus||35-200|
|eastern white pine-eastern hemlock||Pinus strobus-Tsuga canadensis||35-200|
|eastern white pine-northern red oak-red maple||Pinus strobus-Quercus rubra-Acer rubrum||35-200|
|loblolly-shortleaf pine||Pinus taeda-P. echinata||10 to <35|
|Virginia pine||Pinus virginiana||10 to <35|
|Virginia pine-oak||Pinus virginiana-Quercus spp.||10 to <35|
|sycamore-sweetgum-American elm||Platanus occidentalis-Liquidambar styraciflua-Ulmus americana||<35 to 200 |
|aspen-birch||Populus tremuloides-Betula papyrifera||35-200 [18,70]|
|black cherry-sugar maple||Prunus serotina-Acer saccharum||>1,000|
|oak-hickory||Quercus-Carya spp.||<35 |
|oak-juniper woodland (Southwest)||Quercus-Juniperus spp.||<35 to <200 |
|northeastern oak-pine||Quercus-Pinus spp.||10 to <35 |
|southeastern oak-pine||Quercus-Pinus spp.||<10|
|white oak-black oak-northern red oak||Quercus alba-Q. velutina-Q. rubra||<35|
|northern pin oak||Quercus ellipsoidalis||<35|
|bear oak||Quercus ilicifolia||<35|
|chestnut oak||Quercus prinus||3-8|
|northern red oak||Quercus rubra||10 to <35|
|post oak-blackjack oak||Quercus stellata-Q. marilandica||<10|
|black oak||Quercus velutina||<35|
|eastern hemlock-yellow birch||Tsuga canadensis-Betula alleghaniensis||>200 |
|eastern hemlock-white pine||Tsuga canadensis-Pinus strobus||x = 47 |
|elm-ash-cottonwood||Ulmus-Fraxinus-Populus spp.||<35 to 200 [18,70]|
Several studies note galax presence on burns [9,16,22,23]. For example, galax occurred with 1% to 2% frequency and 32% cover in an "old" and a "recent" burn in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. Time-since-fire was not determined for the old burn; the recent burn occurred "several years" before the 1929 survey .
Galax can be slow to establish after fire relative to associated species. To increase the pine component and overall diversity of a mixed pitch pine-scarlet oak-chestnut oak/mountain-laurel forest, broadcast prescribed burning and white pine plantings were done following clearcutting on the Nantahala National Forest of North Carolina. Clearcutting occurred in 1990 and was finished by late July; prescribed burning was conducted about 2 months later on 18 and 19 September 1990. The fire consumed the forest litter and fine woody material. Large woody debris in the burn's interior was "consumed or reduced." Galax's postfire frequency and height were low compared to 27 and 31 other herbs present on 2 study plots. Galax mean biomass, height, and density on 2 study sites are given below. Plots were 0.05 ha (n=5); plots on the 2 sites were measured in successive years :
|Jacob Branch East Site, 1991||3||0.40||3.7||1.0|
|Jacob Branch West Site, 1992||3||3.48||7.3||1.3|
After a felling and burning treatment in a chestnut oak-pitch pine/mountain-laurel forest on the Nantahala National Forest, galax exceeded pretreatment density and percent cover levels 1 year following treatments. The site was clearcut in summer 1990; vegetation left to cure for 44 to 89 postharvest days; then burned under prescription in September 1990. Four years after treatment galax abundance decreased substantially, presumably due to interference from other plant species. Because initial posttreatment recovery was rapid, the authors presumed that galax's postfire growth was from rhizome sprouts. Density and percent cover of galax were as follows :
|Postfire year||Density (stems/m²)||Cover
Galax showed mixed response after short-interval, repeat prescribed burning near the Green River of North Carolina. Prescribed burning was conducted in a Table Mountain-pitch pine/mountain-laurel stand. There were 5 treatments: an unburned control, a single burn, and 2-, 3-, and 4-repeat burns. Repeat-burn plots were subjected to fire every 3 to 4 years. Galax declined on 2- and 4-burn plots, but increased on 3-burn plots. Importance value of galax on each treatment was :
Number of burns
Galax is noted as occurring in deeply shaded, late-successional forest [13,19,35,74], although whether galax is most favored in long-unburned or otherwise undisturbed forest is unclear. In a postfire succession study in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Harrod and others  found that galax was more abundant in xeric mixed Virginia pine-pitch pine-scarlet oak stands that had not burned for over 60 years compared to stands that had burned more recently. Galax density was 3 to 4 times greater on the oldest pine-oak burn plots (>60 years since fire) compared to younger pine-oak burn plots. With slightly more than 1% cover, galax was the most abundant herbaceous species present on the oldest burns. Mean percent cover of galax on permanent plots was :
|Study Years||Cover (%)|
|Burned before 1940||1977-1978||1.17|
The following Research Project Summaries provide further information on prescribed fire use and postfire response of plant community species including galax:
Galax leaves may help generate severe fires that provide important ecological benefits. Turrill and others  report that in Table Mountain/mountain-laurel/galax communities on the Chattahoochee National Forest of Georgia, groundlayer galax and blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) promote "hot" surface fires that remove even deep build-ups of litter and organic matter under dry conditions. In turn, tall mountain-laurel shrubs can become ladder fuels that carry galax and blueberry-fueled surface fires up to the serotinous cones of Table Mountain pine, aiding in the pine's postfire regeneration .Elliot and Clinton  provide allometric equations for predicting aboveground dry weight of galax in the southern Appalachian Mountains.
Native Americans traditionally used galax for treatment of kidney ailments .OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
1. Abella, Scott R.; Shelburne, Victor B. 2004. Ecological species groups of South Carolina's Jocassee Gorges, southern Appalachian Mountains. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society. 131(3): 220-231. 
2. Baldwin, J. T., Jr. 1941. Galax: the genus and its chromosomes. Journal of Heredity. 32: 249-254. 
3. Barden, L. S. 1977. Self-maintaining populations of Pinus pungens Lam. in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Castanea. 42: 316-323. 
4. Barden, Lawrence S. 2000. A common species at the edge of its range: conservation of bear oak (Quercus ilicifolia) and its low elevation rocky summit community in North Carolina. Natural Areas Journal. 20(1): 85-89. 
5. Barden, Lawrence S.; Woods, Frank W. 1974. Characteristics of lightning fires in southern Appalachian forests. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1973 March 22-23; Tallahassee, FL. No. 13. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 345-361. 
6. Braun, E. Lucy. 1935. The vegetation of Pine Mountain, Kentucky: an analysis of the influence of soils and slope exposure as determined by geological structure. The American Midland Naturalist. 16(4): 517-565. 
7. Brown, Dalton Milford. 1941. Vegetation of Roan Mountain: a phytosociological and successional study. Ecological Monographs. 11: 61-97. 
8. Buchholz, Kenneth; Good, Ralph E. 1982. Density, age structure, biomass and net annual aboveground productivity of dwarfed Pinus rigida Moll. from the New Jersey Pine Barren Plains. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 109(1): 24-34. 
9. Cain, Stanley A. 1930. An ecological study of the heath balds of the Great Smoky Mountains. Butler University Botanical Studies: Paper No. 13. Indianapolis, IN: Butler University. 1: 77-208. 
10. Cain, Stanley A. 1931. Ecological studies of the vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. Botanical Gazette. 91: 22-41. 
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