Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Andropogon virginicus


SPECIES: Andropogon virginicus
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Uchytil, Ronald J. 1992. Andropogon virginicus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : ANDVIR SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : ANVI2 ANVIA ANVIG ANVIG2 ANVIH COMMON NAMES : broomsedge bluestem broomsedge broom sedge yellowsedge bluestem TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of broomsedge bluestem is Andropogon virginicus L. [10,29]. Recognized varieties include [29]: var. abbreviatus (Hackel) Fernald & Griscom var. glaucopsis (Ell.) Hitchcock var. glaucus Hackel var. hirsutior (Hackel) Hitchcock var. tetrastachyus (Ell.) Hackel var. virginicus LIFE FORM : Graminoid FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Andropogon virginicus
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Broomsedge bluestem grows throughout the Southeast from the 25-inch mean annual precipitation belt (southeastern Nebraska south through eastern Texas) eastward. It is found as far north as Iowa, Ohio, and New York. Outlying introduced populations occur in southern California and Hawaii [18,33]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES15 Oak - hickory FRES32 Texas savanna FRES38 Plains grasslands FRES39 Prairie STATES : AL AR CA CT DE FL GA HI IL IN IA KS KY LA MD MS MO NE NJ NY NC OH OK PA RI SC TN TX VA WV MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 3 Southern Pacific Border 7 Lower Basin and Range 14 Great Plains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K074 Bluestem prairie K077 Bluestem - sacahuista prairie K079 Palmetto prairie K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100 K083 Cedar glades K084 Cross Timbers K100 Oak - hickory forest K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest K112 Southern mixed forest K114 Pocosin K116 Subtropical pine forest SAF COVER TYPES : 40 Post oak - blackjack oak 69 Sand pine 70 Longleaf pine 78 Virginia pine - oak 79 Virginia pine 80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine 81 Loblolly pine 82 Loblolly pine - hardwood 83 Longleaf pine - slash pine 84 Slash pine 97 Atlantic white-cedar 98 Pond pine 111 South Florida slash pine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Andropogon virginicus
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Broomsedge bluestem is not a particularly important cattle forage but is sometimes heavily grazed during the spring and early summer on sites where it is abundant, such as abandoned fields [11,18]. It is generally considered a poor wildlife forage [9,25]. Small birds remove and eat seeds from the flowering stalks in the winter when the seeds of other plants are unavailable [23]. PALATABILITY : Broomsedge bluestem's palatability to cattle is low [34]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : The nutritive value of broomsedge bluestem is low except in early growth stages. Nutritional quality is greatly increased by prescribed burning [see Fire Management Considerations]. COVER VALUE : Broomsedge bluestem's chief value to wildlife is as bird nesting cover [23]. In a Georgia study, it was one of the most common plant species associated with quail nests. Quail apparently prefer stands of broomsedge bluestem because the plants surround and overtop the nest [12]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Broomsedge bluestem is a common invader of abandoned coal strip mines and quarries, and frequently becomes the dominant ground cover [24,32]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Broomsedge bluestem is considered a pasture weed. It frequently invades improperly managed pasture lands, and because of its low palatability, increases on deteriorating ranges. To reduce its abundance, pastures should be heavily grazed in the early spring when broomsedge bluestem is most palatable, and then deferred from grazing for 60 to 90 days [18]. In pastures heavily infested with broomsedge bluestem in Missouri, a combination of drilling with tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea), fertilization, winter mowing, and grazing eliminated broomsedge bluestem in 4 years [28].


SPECIES: Andropogon virginicus
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Broomsedge bluestem is a 2- to 4-foot-tall (0.6-1.2 m), native, warm-season, perennial bunchgrass that usually grows in rather small clumps [9,18]. In South Carolina, maximum clump diameter was achieved in 7 or 8 years, and averaged about 3.5 inches (9 cm); no clumps were greater than 5.1 inches (13 cm) in diameter [8]. It is easily distinguished from other bluestems by its slender appearance and straw-colored leaves and inflorescences [9]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Geophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Broomsedge bluestem's primary mode of reproduction is sexual. It is a prolific producer of small seeds that are dispersed by wind and readily establish on exposed soil. Each flowering culm may have as many as 50 racemes, and each raceme 8 to 12 spikelets [37]. Germination is relatively high after cold stratification. Eighty-four percent of broomsedge bluestem seeds germinated after 38 days when sown on flats of field sand and kept indoors [8]. Seedling surivial in the field is high. First-year seedlings in North Carolina averaged 5 inches (13 cm) in height, while 1- and 2-year-old plants averaged 40 inches (100 cm) in height and 3 inches (7.5 cm) in basal circumference [16]. Flowering begins when plants are 2 or 3 years old, and continues thereafter [8,16]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Broomsedge bluestem grows in a wide variety of open habitats, from grassland and pastureland to open woodland. It is especially common in oldfields, overgrazed pastures, and cut-over Southeastern pinelands, and along roads and railroad tracks [9,11,25,33]. It is most common on sandy soils but also grows on a variety of other soil textures [11,18]. It grows well on low-fertility soils, especially those on eroded, "worn-out" fields [18]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species Broomsedge bluestem is a shade-intolerant, seral species. It invades abandoned cropland, roadsides, overgrazed range, and logged-over pinelands. It is one of the most common invaders of abandoned agricultural lands and often forms a continuous cover within 4 or 5 years of abandonment [26]. Broomsedge bluestem is relatively short-lived. Once established, it depends upon periodic disturbance to maintain its abundance. On infertile soils, broomsedge bluestem acts as a long-lived competitor. Nearly pure stands can persist on soils low in nitrogen or phosphorus as a result of competition and allelopathy. Decaying broomsedge bluestem inhibits the growth of carelessweed (Amaranthus palmeri), Japanese brome (Bromus japonicus), prairie threeawn (Aristida oligantha), and little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) [31]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Broomsedge bluestem's vegetative growth begins in the winter or spring when daytime temperatures average 60 to 65 degrees F (15-18 deg C) [18]. In North Carolina, flower stalks form by September, and seeds ripen by late October [8,16]. At the end of the growing season, nearly all green material dies, leaving a large accumulation of standing dead material [8]. Phenology of broomsedge bluestem near Gainsville, Florida, was as follows [28]: flowering - late September to early October seed dispersal - early October to mid-December vegetative growth - February and March, June and July leaves green - March to late November drying - late November to mid-December dormancy - January


SPECIES: Andropogon virginicus
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Broomsedge bluestem is both a fire survivor and an off-site colonizer. Burned plants quickly initiate new top-growth from surviving meristems. In Hawaii, broomsedge bluestem began sprouting within 4 days after fire [14]. In southern Florida, it initiated new top-growth 3 weeks after prescribed burning in mid-February [13]. Additionally, new plants are commonly established the first year after fire from abundant wind-dispersed seed [19]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Tussock graminoid Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Andropogon virginicus
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Fire apparently has little effect on broomsedge bluestem except for removal of aboveground living and dead biomass. Small bunchgrasses are generally not harmed by fire and recover relatively quickly [40]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Broomsedge bluestem depends on frequent disturbance to maintain itself. Fires at 1- to 3-year intervals favor this species and tend to maintain its abundance [21]. In loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) stands in South Carolina, broomsedge bluestem was rare in unburned areas, infrequent in areas periodically burned in the summer or winter, but common in areas burned annually in the summer or winter, or biennially in the summer [21,39]. Broomsedge bluestem is most abundant during the first few years after fire. After a few years without fire (or other disturbance), litter builds up and plant vigor declines [19]. In eastern Arkansas, broomsedge bluestem was the dominant grass on prairies burned and hayed annually for decades, but without these disturbnaces was eliminated after 16 years [15]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Grazing considerations: The nutritional quality and digestibility of new broomsedge bluestem growth are significantly increased following fire. When burned in January or February in Georgia, protein content on March 15 was 13 percent for plants on burned sites but only 5.5 percent for plants on unburned sites. However, nutrient increases are short-lived. By June 15, protein content of burned and unburned plants was similar at 6.2 and 6.0 percent, respectively [20]. Tender and nutritious, this new growth is palatable to cattle and horses. Following a July wildfire on Cumberland Islands National Seashore, Georgia, horses heavily grazed broomsedge bluestem regrowth but avoided nearby plants that had not burned [3]. Prescribed burning considerations: Studying the fuel characteristics of broomsedge bluestem, Fujioka and Fujii [5] found the leaves and stalks have a surface area-to-volume ratio 2.5 times as large as that in the National Fire Danger Rating System model for perennial grass. After a few years without fire, broomsedge bluestem stands contain much of this dead, highly flammable material which carries fire well. It burns at relatively high relative humidities (80-90%) and high fuel moisture (20-25%) [14]. On a 4-year-old loblolly pine clearcut in South Carolina, an early February prescribed fire in cured broomsedge bluestem carried fire at a rate of spread of 2.5 to 3.6 feet per minute (0.76-1.1 m/min). Burning took place only 4 days after a rain of 0.42 inch (1 cm) and 7 days after a rain of 0.91 inch (2.3 cm). Flame heights were generally 1 to 3 feet (0.3-0.9 m) and occasionally reached 4 to 5 feet (1.2-1.5 m) [38].


SPECIES: Andropogon virginicus
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