Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Arctagrostis latifolia


SPECIES: Arctagrostis latifolia
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Walkup, Crystal. 1991. Arctagrostis latifolia. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. ABBREVIATION : ARCLAT SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : ARLA2 COMMON NAMES : wideleaf polargrass polargrass reed-arcticgrass tall arcticgrass TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for wideleaf polargrass is Arctagrostis latifolia (R. Br.) Griseb. There are two recognized varieties [10]: Arctagrostis. latifolia var. latifolia Arctagrostis latifolia var. arundinacea (Trin.) Griseb. LIFE FORM : Graminoid FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Arctagrostis latifolia
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Wideleaf polargrass is a circumboreal species. In North America it occurs in Alaska, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon Territory [10]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES11 Spruce - fir FRES19 Aspen - birch FRES23 Fir - spruce FRES44 Alpine STATES : AK NT YT BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K015 Western spruce - fir forest K052 Alpine meadows and barren K094 Conifer bog SAF COVER TYPES : 107 White spruce 201 White spruce 202 White spruce - paper birch 204 Black spruce 217 Aspen 251 White spruce - aspen 252 Paper birch 253 White spruce - black spruce 254 Black spruce - paper birch SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Wideleaf polargrass is an indicator species in the following plant associations (pas): Area Classification Authority nw AK general veg. pas Hanson 1953 AK general veg. pas Viereck 1989


SPECIES: Arctagrostis latifolia
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Grizzly bears were observed grazing large quantities of vegetation during June and July in northwest Canada. Wideleaf polargrass was selected over other grasses [12]. Reindeer graze wideleaf polargrass in the Northwest Territories [4]. PALATABILITY : Wideleaf polargrass may be palatable to grizzly bears [13]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Wideleaf polargrass has high food value. Crude protein content averaged 17.8 percent over 2 years of sampling in one study [13]. In another study of several collections of wideleaf polargrass, one accession contained 19.7 percent crude protein (N), more than adequate amounts of all other elements tested (P, K, Mg, Ca), and had 66 percent in vitro digestibility. Elemental concentrations were good for the first harvest, but were often lowest compared to other species for the second harvest [19]. COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Wideleaf polargrass is suitable for revegetation programs on continental tundra regions of northwest Canada and permafrost soils in subarctic boreal forest habitats in Alaska [12,16]. `Kenai' and `Alyeska' are currently the only improved cultivars of wideleaf polargrass. 'Kenai' is recommended for revegetation mixes from lowlands to alpine situations, but 'Alyeska' is a better choice for the northernmost regions of Alaska. 'Kenai' does particularly well on strongly acidic soils in areas with relatively cool, moist growing seasons [18]. 'Alyeska' had higher production than local collections of wideleaf polargrass planted on a simulated pipeline trench in the Northwest Territories. Production of unfertilized 'Alyeska' was equal to fertilized local collections [16]. The Alaska State Plant Materials Center is currently evaluating wideleaf polargrass accessions for revegetating gravel till. Initial plantings were unsuccessful, so experiments were initiated for developing techniques to improve water and nutrient conditions [11]. Wideleaf polargrass has naturally invaded and colonized abandoned oil well sites in Alaska through tillering and seedling establishment [5,17]. The natural combustion of pyrite-bearing bituminous shale at the Smoking Hills in the Yukon Territory has severely contaminated the atmosphere and resulted in acid rain. The soil and water have become acidic in the area of deposition. Wideleaf polargrass was dominant in moderately polluted areas, indicating potential for use in revegetation of areas with man-caused acidification, such as near coal smelters [7]. Wideleaf polargrass seeds are very small (2.3 million per pound [5 million/kg]), resulting in poor seedling vigor. Early growth rates are also slow, making it a poor candidate for providing initial erosion control. Wideleaf polargrass is, however, very useful for long-term soil stabilization [23]. Shallow sowing and low competition are required for successful establishment [13]. Seeding rates of 5 pounds per acre (5.6 kg/ha) and 7 pounds per acre (7.8 kg/ha) are used for cultivars and local collections, respectively [16]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Wideleaf polargrass has several attributes that make it suitable for agronomic use: excellent forage yield potential, high level of winter hardiness, rapid spring growth, and succulent herbage containing markedly less dry-matter than timothy (Phleum pratense) and smooth brome (Bromus inermis). Once established wideleaf polargrass excels in earliness and vigor of spring growth [13]. It also shows a greater tolerance of winter ponding and icing conditions than timothy or smooth brome and has demonstrated immunity to snow molds (Sclerotinia borealis) which adversely affect timothy. Wideleaf polargrass generally does not surpass smooth brome for forage purposes in areas where smooth brome is well-adapted, but it does provide a forage option in strongly acidic soils [18].


SPECIES: Arctagrostis latifolia
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Wideleaf polargrass is a perennial, native, sod-forming grass. Culms range from 1 to 4 feet (0.3-1.2 m) tall. Leaf blades are 1.6 to 11.8 inches (4-30 cm) long and 0.16 to 0.56 inch (4-14 mm) wide. Plants have a narrow, somewhat open panicle that is 2.8 to 11 inches (7-28 cm) long. There is one flower per spikelet, and spikelets range from 0.12 to 0.18 inch (3-4.6 mm) long. The species is variable, but the typical form seldom exceeds 1.8 feet (0.5 m) in height and has purple spikelets 4 mm long or longer [10]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Geophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Wideleaf polargrass reproduces both sexually and vegetatively. Tillers spread slowly, arising from rhizomes and forming dense clumps [18]. Seeds are produced in all but the most northern latitudes [5]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Wideleaf polargrass grows in wet meadows, along rivers, on tundra, in freshwater marshes, and in inland levees [9,10,21,24]. It is best adapted to cold, boggy soils and mesic upland soils [18]. In freshwater marshes wideleaf polargrass is more apparent on hummocks than in depressions [9]. The inland levees are sandy and well-drained, and have a neutral pH. Bluejoint-reedgrass (Calamagrostis canadensis) dominates in acidic, less well-drained areas [21]. Along the Tanana River in Alaska, wideleaf polargrass stands are always underlain by permafrost with shallow active layers, commonly 127 to 152 inches (50 to 60 cm) thick [24]. Common overstory dominants include Sitka alder (Alnus sitchensis), white spruce (Picea glauca), black spruce (P. mariana), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), and dwarf alpine birch (B. nana). Understory associates include Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum), mountain cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), flowering dogwood (Cornus canadensis), horsetail (Equisetum arvense), northern comandra (Geocaulon lividum), bluejoint-reedgrass, rough fescue (Festuca altaica), tall fescue (F. arundinacea), and crowberry (Empetrum nigrum). SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Wideleaf polargrass codominates with other species in grassland tundra communities. Evidence suggests that it occurs in the early stages of succession following fire [2]. In succession on river floodplains, however, it is abundant only in late successional mixed white and black spruce stands [24]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : In the Matanuska Valley of Alaska, new panicles of wideleaf polargrass appear between mid and late June. Anthesis is relatively inconspicuous, occurring from early July to past the middle of the month. Seed is mature between September 15 and 25 [13].


SPECIES: Arctagrostis latifolia
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Wideleaf polargrass survives fire by sprouting from rhizomes [25]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil


SPECIES: Arctagrostis latifolia
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Wideleaf polargrass is top-killed by fire. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Wideleaf polargrass has been listed as one of the most dramatic increasers following tundra and forest fires [3,25,26]. Two years after a tundra fire, annual plant production on burned areas was greater than unburned controls as a result of the high production of wideleaf polargrass and bluejoint reedgrass. They were only minor species in adjacent unburned areas [3]. Wideleaf polargrass is found in the first stage of succession (1 to 20 years) following fire in black spruce/bog blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum) stands in northern Alaska [2]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Arctagrostis latifolia
REFERENCES : 1. 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] 2. Black, R. A.; Bliss, L. C. 1978. Recovery sequence of Picea mariana - Vaccinium uliginosum forests after burning near Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada. Canadian Journal of Botany. 56: 2020-2030. [7448] 3. Bliss, L. C.; Wein, R. W. 1972. Plant community responses to disturbances in the western Canadian Arctic. Canadian Journal of Botany. 50: 1097-1109. [14877] 4. Cody, W. J. 1965. Plants of the Mackenzie River Delta and Reindeer Grazing Preserve. Ottawa, ON: Canada Department of Agriculture, Research Branch, Plant Research Institute. 56 p. [13122] 5. Ebersole, James J. 1987. Short-term vegetation recovery at an Alaskan arctic coastal plain site. Arctic and Alpine Research. 19(4): 442-450. [9476] 6. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 7. Freedman, B.; Zobens, V.; Hutchinson, T. C.; Gizyn, W. I. 1990. Intense, natural pollution affects arctic tundra vegetation at the Smoking Hills, Canada. Ecology. 71(2): 492-503. [17281] 8. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998] 9. Hanson, Herbert C. 1953. Vegetation types in northwestern Alaska and comparisons with communities in other arctic regions. Ecology. 34(1): 111-140. [9781] 10. Hulten, Eric. 1968. Flora of Alaska and neighboring territories. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 1008 p. [13403] 11. Joyce, Michael R.; Jorgenson, M. Torre. 1990. Land rehabilitation research on the arctic slope of Alaska. Restoration & Management Notes. 8(2): 129-130. [14224] 12. Kershaw, G. Peter; Kershaw, Linda J. 1987. Successful plant colonizers on disturbances in tundra areas of northwestern Canada. Arctic and Alpine Research. 19(4): 451-460. [6115] 13. Klebesadel, L. J. 1969. Agronomic characteristics of... Arctagrostis latifolia var. arundinacea (Trin.) Griseb., and a proposed common name, tall arcticgrass. Agronomy Journal. 61: 45-49. [16171] 14. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384] 15. Lyon, L. Jack; Stickney, Peter F. 1976. Early vegetal succession following large northern Rocky Mountain wildfires. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference and Intermountain Fire Research Council fire and land management symposium; 1974 October 8-10; Missoula, MT. No. 14. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 355-373. [1496] 16. Maslen, Lynn; Kershaw, G. Peter. 1989. First year results of revegetation trials using selected native plant species on a simulated pipeline trench, Fort Norman, N.W.T., Canada. In: Walker, D. G.; Powter, C. B.; Pole, M. W., compilers. Reclamation, a global perspective: Proceedings of the conference; 1989 August 27-31; Calgary, AB. Rep. No. RRTAC 89-2. Vol. 1. Edmonton, AB: Alberta Land Conservation and Reclamation Council: 81-90. [14363] 17. McKendrick, Jay D. 1987. Plant succession on disturbed sites, North Slope, Alaska, U.S.A. Arctic and Alpine Research. 19(4): 554-565. [6077] 18. Mitchell, William W. 1987. Notice of release of 'Kenai' polargrass. Agroborealis. 19(1): 5. [16519] 19. Mitchell, W. W. 1982. Forage yield and quality of indigenous and introduced grasses at Palmer, Alaska. Agronomy Journal. 74: 899-905. [16172] 20. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 21. Thilenius, John F. 1990. Woody plant succession on earthquake-uplifted coastal wetlands of the Copper River Delta, Alaska. Forest Ecology and Management. 33/34: 439-462. [11803] 22. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573] 23. Vaartnou, Manivalde. 1988. The potential of native populations of grasses in northern revegetation. In: Kershaw, Peter, ed. Northern environmental disturbances. Occas. Publ. No. 24. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta, Boreal Institute for Northern Studies: 31-41. [14418] 24. Viereck, Leslie A. 1989. Flood-plain succession and vegetation classification in interior Alaska. In: Ferguson, Dennis E.; Morgan, Penelope; Johnson, Frederic D., compilers. Proceedings--land classifications based on vegetation: applications for resource management; 1987 November 17-19; Moscow, ID. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-257. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 197-203. [6959] 25. Wein, R. W. 1974. Recovery of vegetation in arctic regions after burning. Rep. 74-6. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Task Force on Northern Oil Development. 41 p. [13001] 26. Wein, R. W. 1975. Vegetation recovery in arctic tundra and forest-tundra after fire. ALUR Rep. 74-75-62. Ottawa, ON: Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Arctic Land Use Research Program. 62 p. [12990] 27. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090]

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