Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Deschampsia cespitosa


photo courtesy of Hastings Natural History Reservation

AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Walsh, Roberta A. 1995. Deschampsia cespitosa. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : DESCES SYNONYMS : Deschampsia caespitosa (L.) Beauv. [36,49,90] SCS PLANT CODE : DECE DECEA2 DECEB DECEB2 DECEB3 DECEC DECEG2 DECEH DECEO DECEP2 DECEP3 COMMON NAMES : tufted hairgrass TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of tufted hairgrass is Deschampsia cespitosa (L.) Beauv. [35,37,48,50,100]. It is in the family Poaceae. Currently accepted infrataxa are as follows [55]: D. c. subsp. alpina (L.) Tzvelev (alpine tufted hairgrass) D. c. subsp. beringensis (Hulten) W. E. Lawrence (Bering's tufted hairgrass) D. c. subsp. bottonia (Wahl.) Vasey (tufted hairgrass) D. c. subsp. brevifolia (R. Br.) Tzvelev (Bering hairgrass) D. c. subsp. cespitosa (L.) Beauv. (tufted hairgrass) D. c. subsp. glauca (Hartman) Hartman (tufted hairgrass) D. c. subsp. holciformis (J. Presl) W. E. Lawrence (Pacific hairgrass) D. c. subsp. orientalis Hulten (oriental hairgrass) D. c. subsp. paramushirensis (Honda) Tzvelev (tufted hairgrass) D. c. subsp. parviflora (Thuill.) Jarmolenko & Soo (tufted hairgrass) LIFE FORM : Graminoid FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : The South Dakota Natural Heritage Program has listed tufted hairgrass as rare in South Dakota. It is known from a few sites in the Black Hills, which are considered to be the edge of its natural range [51].


SPECIES: Deschampsia cespitosa
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Tufted hairgrass has circumglobal distribution [43,48,56,74,100]; it is found in moist arctic and temperate regions of the world [10,49].  It occurs from Alaska to Greenland [49,56] and south in the western United States into northern Mexico [50,100].  It is occasional in the Black Hills and the northern Great Plains [63].  It occurs from Minnesota to Maine and south to Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, and Georgia [90].  Tufted hairgrass is native to North America [43], but some European populations have been introduced [29].  Tufted hairgrass is cultivated in Hawaii from European stock [105]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES10  White-red-jack pine    FRES11  Spruce-fir    FRES13  Loblolly-shortleaf pine    FRES15  Oak-hickory    FRES17  Elm-ash-cottonwood    FRES18  Maple-beech-birch    FRES19  Aspen-birch    FRES20  Douglas-fir    FRES21  Ponderosa pine    FRES22  Western white pine    FRES23  Fir-spruce    FRES24  Hemlock-Sitka spruce    FRES25  Larch    FRES26  Lodgepole pine    FRES27  Redwood    FRES28  Western hardwoods    FRES29  Sagebrush    FRES30  Desert shrub    FRES33  Southwestern shrubsteppe    FRES34  Chaparral-mountain shrub    FRES35  Pinyon-juniper    FRES36  Mountain grasslands    FRES37  Mountain meadows    FRES38  Plains grasslands    FRES39  Prairie    FRES40  Desert grasslands    FRES41  Wet grasslands    FRES42  Annual grasslands    FRES44  Alpine STATES :      AK  AZ  CA  CO  CT  DE  GA  HI  ID  IL      IA  ME  MD  MA  MI  MN  MT  NV  NH  NJ      NM  NY  NC  ND  OH  OR  PA  RI  SD  UT      VT  VA  WA  WV  WI  WY  AB  BC  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    15  Black Hills Uplift    16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K001  Spruce-cedar-hemlock forest    K002  Cedar-hemlock-Douglas-fir forest    K003  Silver fir-Douglas-fir forest    K004  Fir-hemlock forest    K005  Mixed conifer forest    K006  Redwood forest    K007  Red fir forest    K008  Lodgepole pine-subalpine forest    K010  Ponderosa shrub forest    K011  Western ponderosa forest    K012  Douglas-fir forest    K013  Cedar-hemlock-pine forest    K014  Grand fir-Douglas-fir forest    K015  Western spruce-fir forest    K016  Eastern ponderosa forest    K017  Black Hills pine forest    K018  Pine-Douglas-fir forest    K019  Arizona pine forest    K020  Spruce-fir-Douglas-fir forest    K021  Southwestern spruce-fir forest    K022  Great Basin pine forest    K023  Juniper-pinyon woodland    K025  Alder-ash forest    K026  Oregon oakwoods    K028  Mosaic of K002 and K026    K029  California mixed evergreen forest    K035  Coastal sagebrush    K037  Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub    K038  Great Basin sagebrush    K040  Saltbush-greasewood    K047  Fescue-oatgrass    K048  California steppe    K051  Wheatgrass-bluegrass    K052  Alpine meadows and barren    K055  Sagebrush steppe    K056  Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe    K058  Grama-tobosa shrubsteppe    K063  Foothills prairie    K064  Grama-needlegrass-wheatgrass    K065  Grama-buffalograss    K066  Wheatgrass-needlegrass    K067  Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass    K070  Sandsage-bluestem prairie    K081  Oak savanna    K093  Great Lakes spruce-fir forest    K095  Great Lakes pine forest    K096  Northeastern spruce-fir forest    K098  Northern floodplain forest    K101  Elm-ash forest    K102  Beech-maple forest    K103  Mixed mesophytic forest    K104  Appalachian oak forest    K106  Northern hardwoods    K107  Northern hardwoods-fir forest    K108  Northern hardwoods-spruce forest    K110  Northeastern oak-pine forest    K111  Oak-hickory-pine forest SAF COVER TYPES :      1  Jack pine      5  Balsam fir     12  Black spruce     13  Black spruce-tamarack     14  Northern pin oak     15  Red pine     16  Aspen     18  Paper birch     19  Gray birch-red maple     20  White pine-northern red oak-red maple     21  Eastern white pine     22  White pine-hemlock     23  Eastern hemlock     24  Hemlock-yellow birch     25  Sugar maple-beech-yellow birch     26  Sugar maple-basswood     27  Sugar maple     30  Red spruce-yellow birch     32  Red spruce     33  Red spruce-balsam fir     34  Red spruce-Fraser fir     35  Paper birch-red spruce-balsam fir     38  Tamarack     39  Black ash-American elm-red maple     52  White oak-black oak-northern red oak     53  White oak     55  Northern red oak     57  Yellow-poplar     58  Yellow-poplar-eastern hemlock     59  Yellow-poplar-white oak-northern red oak     60  Beech-sugar maple     62  Silver maple-American elm     63  Cottonwood    201  White spruce    202  White spruce-paper birch    203  Balsam poplar    204  Black spruce    205  Mountain hemlock    206  Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir    207  Red fir    208  Whitebark pine    210  Interior Douglas-fir    211  White fir    212  Western larch    213  Grand fir    215  Western white pine    216  Blue spruce    217  Aspen    218  Lodgepole pine    219  Limber pine    221  Red alder    222  Black cottonwood-willow    223  Sitka spruce    224  Western hemlock    225  Western hemlock-Sitka spruce    226  Coastal true fir-hemlock    227  Western redcedar-western hemlock    228  Western redcedar    229  Pacific Douglas-fir    230  Douglas-fir-western hemlock    231  Port-Orford-cedar    232  Redwood    233  Oregon white oak    234  Douglas-fir-tanoak-Pacific madrone    235  Cottonwood-willow    237  Interior ponderosa pine    239  Pinyon-juniper    243  Sierra Nevada mixed conifer    244  Pacific ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir    245  Pacific ponderosa pine    251  White spruce-aspen    252  Paper birch    253  Black spruce-white spruce    254  Black spruce-paper birch    256  California mixed subalpine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :    102  Idaho fescue    103  Green fescue    109  Ponderosa pine shrubland    110  Ponderosa pine-grassland    203  Riparian woodland    204  North coastal shrub    209  Montane shrubland    213  Alpine grassland    214  Coastal prairie    215  Valley grassland    216  Montane meadows    304  Idaho fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass    305  Idaho fescue-Richardson needlegrass    306  Idaho fescue-slender wheatgrass    307  Idaho fescue-threadleaf sedge    308  Idaho fescue-tufted hairgrass    309  Idaho fescue-western wheatgrass    311  Rough fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass    312  Rough fescue-Idaho fescue    313  Tufted hairgrass-sedge    315  Big sagebrush-Idaho fescue    316  Big sagebrush-rough fescue    319  Bitterbrush-rough fescue    323  Shrubby cinquefoil-rough fescue    324  Threetip sagebrush-Idaho fescue    409  Tall forb    410  Alpine rangeland    411  Aspen woodland    412  Juniper-pinyon woodland    413  Gambel oak    418  Bigtooth maple    422  Riparian    501  Saltbush-greasewood    504  Juniper-pinyon pine woodland    505  Grama-tobosa shrub    601  Bluestem prairie    606  Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass    607  Wheatgrass-needlegrass    608  Wheatgrass-grama-needlegrass    611  Blue grama-buffalograss HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Tufted hairgrass is an indicator or dominant species in the following published classifications: Ecology of wetlands in Big Meadows, Rocky Mountain National Park,   Colorado [21] Classification and management of Montana's riparian and wetland sites [42] Grassland, shrubland, and forestland habitat types of the White   River-Arapaho National Forest [47] Habitat types on selected parts of the Gunnison and Uncompahgre National   Forests [58] Riparian zone associations: Deschutes, Ochoco, Fremont, and Winema   National Forests [59] Major indicator shrubs and herbs in riparian zones on National Forests   of central Oregon [60] Preliminary riparian community type classification for Nevada [66] Riparian community type classification of Utah and southeastern Idaho [75] A meadow site classification for the Sierra Nevada, California [79] Riparian community type classification of eastern Idaho - western   Wyoming [103] In California tufted hairgrass was one of the original native perennial grass dominants of the north coastal prairie, a discontinuous grassland. Original associates included California oatgrass (Danthonia californica), western fescue (Festuca occidentalis), Idaho fescue (F. idahoensis), and Pacific reedgrass (Calamagrostis nutkaensis).  Tufted hairgrass is still found in this area, although the original perennial, mid-grass dominants have been replaced for the most part by annual grasses such as wild oat (Avena fatua), slender oat (A. barbata), soft chess (Bromus hordeaceus), ripgut brome (B. diandrus), red brome (B. rubens), seaside barley (Hordeum maritimum), mouse barley (H.  murinum), little barley (H. pusillum), and foxtail fescue (Vulpia myuros) [36]. In Mendocino and Sonoma counties, California, tufted hairgrass is commonly a dominant of coastal terraces [44]. In mountainous terrain, tufted hairgrass usually occurs in open forests or moist openings.  In California tufted hairgrass is found in the Klamath Mountains, the northern Coast Ranges, and the Sierra Nevada in meadows, glades, and open forests [13].  On the White River in the Arapaho National Forest of Colorado, tufted hairgrass occurs below timberline on high elevation meadows and subalpine valleys, and in hydric sites in forest openings.  It also occurs above timberline on mesic sites with moderate snow accumulation [47].  In alpine areas of the Beartooth Plateau in south-central Montana, tufted hairgrass is a dominant in meadow vegetation on well-drained sheltered uplands, lower mesic slopes, and basins protected by snow cover that may persist until mid-July.  Tufted hairgrass is the most conspicuous species in these habitats and may occur in nearly pure stands with up to 44 percent cover [54]. In the pumice deposition zone of central Oregon, meadows dominated by tufted hairgrass support an extensive grass (Poaceae)-forb component on the more xeric portion and an extensive sedge (Cyperaceae)-rush (Juncaceae) component on more mesic sites [97].


SPECIES: Deschampsia cespitosa
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Tufted hairgrass provides good to excellent forage for all classes of livestock [70,90].  It is often an abundant source of forage throughout its growing season [100].  Tufted hairgrass is sometimes cut for hay on native meadows [46,94]. In Arizona tufted hairgrass provides excellent forage in mountain meadows [56].  In Colorado it produces an abundance of forage [46].  In western Montana tufted hairgrass/sedge (Carex spp.) meadows are among the best summer range for cattle [73].  In the western United States tufted hairgrass is listed in the category of most desirable as livestock forage in aspen (Populus spp.) forests [72].  In moist habitats in California tufted hairgrass furnishes fresh succulent grazing all summer [84]. In Wyoming tufted hairgrass/sedge alpine and subalpine communities are the most extensive and most productive vegetation types for grazing by domestic sheep and wildlife.  Tufted hairgrass is a preferred forage species, consistently grazed by both sheep and wildlife [53]. Tufted hairgrass forage value for wildlife has been rated fair to good [90]. Use of tufted hairgrass by wildlife species is variable.  Tufted hairgrass is frequently grazed by bears [43].  Feral horses in the foothills of western Alberta consume tufted hairgrass; in 1976, tufted hairgrass constituted a maximum of 1.7 percent of fecal fragments in November-December and a low of 0.8 percent in January-March.  Annual average was 1.3 percent [83].  Sitka black-tailed deer in low-elevation, old-growth stands of western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)-Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) on Admiralty Island, Alaska, did not eat tufted hairgrass from January to March.  They ate only trace amounts of tufted hairgrass in April and June and none from July to September.  Mean composition (dry weight) of tufted hairgrass was 1 percent of deer feces from October to December [41].  Columbian black-tailed deer in southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, did not eat tufted hairgrass in a sedge meadow community, even though it was very abundant [22]. PALATABILITY : Tufted hairgrass provides palatable early spring through summer growth [43]. In California cattle admitted to tufted hairgrass range before the plants are mature readily consume it.  In moist areas the plant continues to furnish fresh succulent grazing throughout the summer [84]. In Utah during the summer tufted hairgrass ranks good in palatability for cattle and fair to good for sheep.  However, mature leaves are grazed only slightly [94]. Tufted hairgrass forage palatability has been rated as follows [26]:                          UT      CO      WY      MT     ND          Cattle         good    good    good    good   good          Sheep          fair    fair    good    fair   good          Horses         good    good    good    good   good NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Tufted hairgrass energy value is fair; protein value is poor [26]. The following wildlife food values have been reported for tufted hairgrass:                             Montana     Utah     Wyoming      Elk                      good*     good       good      Mule deer                fair*     fair       fair      White-tailed deer        fair*     ----       fair      Pronghorn                fair*     poor       poor      Upland game birds        fair*     fair       poor      Waterfowl                good*     fair       fair      Small nongame birds      poor*     fair       fair      Small mammals            poor*     fair       fair * Values reported in [5].  All other values reported in [26]. In vitro digestibility of tufted hairgrass cellulose was determined for five growth stages:  leaf stage, heading, seed ripe, cured, and weathered.  Cellulose content, percent digestibility of cellulose, and calculated percent digestible protein for each growth stage were as follows [3]:                     Percent    Percent Cellulose       Percent                    Cellulose     Digestibility    Digestible Protein     Leaf Stage       30.0             44.6               5.0     Heading          34.5             31.1               2.1     Seed Ripe        33.9             25.7               1.6     Cured            34.7             13.4               0.7     Weathered        34.2              6.2               0.3 In southeastern Alaska, tufted hairgrass nutritive value was monitored bimonthly (except March) for 1 year (1981) to assess seasonal changes in chemical composition.  Reported percent dry weights were as follows [40]: Percent        Jan 9     May 27       Aug 3      Sept 29      Nov 30 NDF*           70.7       54.9        56.5        78.2         85.3 ADF**          37.3       28.0        25.2        42.9         48.4 Cellulose      22.1       23.1        21.3        33.6         37.4 IVDMD***       29.7       44.9        40.7        22.6         10.8 Total Ash      14.3        5.0         6.0         4.8          3.4 Nitrogen        1.14       3.55        1.26        0.50         0.69      Phosphorus      0.14       0.29        0.16        0.06         0.06 Potassium       0.60       2.27        1.76        0.44         0.24 Calcium         0.19       0.16        0.48        0.09         0.11 *    NDF:  Neutral Detergent Fiber     **   ADF:  Acid Detergent Fiber ***  IVDMD:  In-Vitro Dry-Matter Digestibility (12 hour) COVER VALUE : Tufted hairgrass cover value is reported as follows [26]:                             MT         UT         WY        Upland game birds     poor       fair       fair       Waterfowl             good       fair       fair      Small nongame birds   poor       fair       good      Small mammals         poor       good       good VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Tufted hairgrass has a broad ecological range and is useful for revegetation, particularly on disturbances at high elevation or high latitude [10].  Tufted hairgrass occurs on acidic or pyritic mine spoils at high elevations throughout the western United States [10].  It grows at a medium rate compared to other grasses used at these sites; it has a poor rate of spread.  Tufted hairgrass has good competitive ability compared to other plants evaluated for high latitude revegetation [43]. It has low to medium potential for short-term revegetation; it has medium to high potential for long-term revegetation [26].  It is a valuable soil stabilizer [43,48], especially in wet, acid locations [43]. Tufted hairgrass has been successfully established by seeding on alpine disturbances.  Seeds from locally adapted populations have been most successful [8,9].  For disturbances on well-developed soils that contain minimum amounts of toxic substances, seeds can be selected from a broad range of relatively well-adapted populations.  On sites with limiting spoil characteristics, selection from metal and/or acid tolerant populations is more successful.  Some tufted hairgrass populations are highly tolerant of lead, zinc, copper, or manganese contaminated tailings [43].  Late fall seeding is most successful; seedling establishment is improved if seeds are exposed to cold dormancy over winter [10,17]. Although tufted hairgrass is typically associated with mesic meadows, the U.S. Forest Service has had success revegetating dry, windblown, disturbed sites at high elevations using ecotypes from similar habitats [100].  On sites with severely limiting edaphic factors, a high tufted hairgrass seeding rate, ameliorative soil treatment, and fertilization may be necessary for tufted hairgrass establishment [10].  Tufted hairgrass responds to nitrogen inputs, but has good growth rates over a broad range of nitrogen and phosphorus availability [8,9]. Tufted hairgrass can be established by transplanting soil plugs or sod in which it is established.  In Nevada in the Lake Tahoe Basin, tufted hairgrass seeds and vegetation were part of wetland plugs which were cut from a mature wet meadow, allowed to grow out, recut, and successfully transplanted [38].  Tufted hairgrass plugs were planted on spoils of an open-pit copper, gold, and silver mine at 9,800 feet (3,000 m) elevation in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana.  Tufted hairgrass survival after 1 year was 72 percent [11].  At the site of a backfilled gas pipeline trench at Rollins Pass, Colorado, tufted hairgrass sod was removed during plant dormancy, stored for 2 weeks during construction, and replaced.  Tufted hairgrass sod recovery after 18 years was excellent; it was the most successful of the native sods used [12]. In the Rocky Mountain foothills of west-central Alberta, tufted hairgrass naturally colonized spoils of abandoned coal mines [82].  In the Sudbury, Ontario, mining and smelting region north of Lake Huron, tufted hairgrass invaded moist sites on barrens following smelter closure.  The barren lands had been subject to logging, fire, soil erosion, enhanced frost action, sulphur dioxide fumigation, and copper, nickel, and iron particulate fallout [101]. Tufted hairgrass is suitable for boreal revegetation work [93].  In the Richardson Mountains on the Yukon Territory-Northwest Territories border, tufted hairgrass seed from a northern collection was planted in early June 1979, along with 21 other grass seed selections.  At the time of seeding there was no vegetative cover on the shale borrow pit material.  Tufted hairgrass was one of the five most successful selections.  It emerged in 77 percent of microsites in 1979.  By 1985, tufted hairgrass had increased through natural reseeding and occupied 100 percent of microsites; from the original 3.3 feet (1 m) between microsites it had spread until it approached a solid stand.  By 1985, 100 percent of extant tufted hairgrass plants were producing seed [93]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Tufted hairgrass is a decreaser with excessive grazing by cattle [73,97,104].  However, it is tolerant of moderate amounts of fairly close grazing [43,84] because of dense growth and tillering.  Grazing practices should allow for ample seedset to maintain stands [94]. Tufted hairgrass is favored by moderate grazing in areas where shrubs and other vegetation invade in the absence of grazing.  In Marin County, California, tufted hairgrass bunchgrass terrain dominates on the grazed side of a road; on the grazing-excluded side, coyotebrush (Baccharis pilularis) and common velvetgrass (Holcus lanatus) have replaced tufted hairgrass [27]. Long-term, intensive herbage removal is detrimental to tufted hairgrass and reduces seed production.  Carbohydrate reserves become depleted after sustained close grazing, resulting in declines in root length, basal area, and leaf length.  Eventually stand composition shifts to other species [97].  A clipping study of tufted hairgrass was conducted in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California.  Tufted hairgrass on treatment plots was given four clippings per growing season for 4 years.  Control plots were clipped once in late September after plant senescence.  In the fifth year no clipping was done.  Productivity during the fifth year on the treatment plots was only 45 percent of that on the control plots [87]. Tufted hairgrass is a key indicator of condition and grazing utilization of mountain meadows in California [84].  In Wyoming tufted hairgrass is a key representative of the desirable grass group in alpine and subalpine areas and can be used as an indicator of the response of this group to grazing.  The best-condition alpine and subalpine sedge/tufted hairgrass communities have the highest proportion of tufted hairgrass [53]. Seed properties of tufted hairgrass, including percent fill, viability, and longevity, are variable among years.  It may be necessary to harvest seeds 1 to several years prior to reclamation of a disturbed area in order to obtain an adequate supply of viable seeds [14]. High seeding rates of tufted hairgrass may inhibit succession and the establishment of greater species diversity.  If the objective of revegetation is to provide immediate surface protection with long-term successional development of a diverse community, then low seeding rates are recommended [10]. Species composition and dominance in tufted hairgrass meadows are very sensitive to fluctuations in the water table.  Lowering the water table through channel cutting, poor road locations, or drought has changed site potential and favored the expansion of Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratense) and perennial forbs in the central Oregon pumice zone.  Raised water tables favor sedge and rush (Juncus spp.) dominance.  Livestock grazing in late spring and early summer may result in severe soil displacement and pedestalling of tufted hairgrass clumps on wet soils [97].


SPECIES: Deschampsia cespitosa
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Tufted hairgrass is a densely cespitose [37,94] cool-season [90] native perennial bunchgrass [26,70].  Culms are hollow [37], slender [29,89], erect [63], and 8 to 48 inches (20-120 cm) in height [35,37,43,48]. Abundant leaves form basal tufts [74,84]; blades are 0.8 to 13 inches (2-33 cm) [34] long and 0.04 to 0.16 inch (1-4 mm) wide [74,90].  The inflorescence is generally a loose, open panicle [39,49], though occasionally narrow and contracted [35,48,63]; it is 4 to 12 inches (10-30 cm) long [37,39,67].  Branches are whorled [35,84], hairlike [63,94], and spikelet-bearing near their tips [29,84].  Spikelets are two- to occasionally three-flowered [37,48].  Lemmas are awned toward the base [49,67,90].  The fruit is a caryopsis [37]. Tufted hairgrass root distribution was measured on the Beartooth Plateau above Red Lodge, Montana.  In the 4 inch (10 cm) cores taken, approximately 45 percent of root mass was in the upper 0.8 inch (2 cm) of soil, with lower proportions in each succeeding 0.8 inch (2 cm) [99]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :       Hemicryptophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Tufted hairgrass reproduces by seed [43,70,90]. Tufted hairgrass is self-incompatible.  Seeds of tufted hairgrass can be dormant and persist in the seedbank [34].  Germination is enhanced by light and by cold storage.  Tufted hairgrass seeds were collected in September 1983 on the Beartooth Plateau, Montana; filled seeds had 81 percent viability.  Tufted hairgrass seeds were given 90 days of dry cold storage or wet cold storage in light or dark conditions.  Day temperatures were 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 deg C) for 14 hours and night temperatures were 39 degrees Fahrenheit (4 deg C) for 10 hours. Over 30 days from beginning of treatment, tufted hairgrass seeds showed the following accumulated germination response [17]:                              Percent Germination                                       Light            Dark      Dry Cold Storage        95               64      Wet Cold Storage        63               46 Tufted hairgrass germination response was significantly (p<.001) better in light than in dark conditions, and also in dry cold than in wet cold storage conditions.  Light increased total percent seed germination more than did cold storage [17]. Tufted hairgrass seeds collected in 1983 on the Beartooth Plateau showed a decrease in viability from 80 percent at the time of collection to 35 percent 3 years later [18].  Viability of filled tufted hairgrass seeds produced in different years on the Beartooth Plateau was significantly (p<.001) variable.  About 40 percent of seeds collected in 1986 were filled; almost 100 percent were filled in 1983.  Viability of filled tufted hairgrass seeds varied from about 1 percent in 1984 to about 80 percent in 1983.  This variation is attributed to the severe and unpredictable nature of the alpine environment [14]. In the Richardson Mountains on the Yukon Territory-Northwest Territories border, tufted hairgrass plants produced no seed the year of planting but did so during their second year [93]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Tufted hairgrass is common in grassland communities within its circumglobal range.  In the Northern Hemisphere it occurs from sea level to over 14,100 feet (4,300 m) elevation [10].  It is found in very moist to saturated habitats at the margins of bogs and marshes and in sloughs, moist areas along shores, drainage ditches, and moist draws, and in moderately dry to very dry locations on slopes [34,43].  It is frequently found on disturbed sites, especially at higher elevations and moist habitats [10]. In Colorado tufted hairgrass grows best in moist habitats, wet meadows, and bogs.  It often occurs in nearly pure stands in moist, favorable sites.  It generally requires 20 inches (500 mm) of precipitation a year [23].  On drier, less favorable sites it grows in open stands in association with other plants [46].  In northwestern Montana tufted hairgrass is a facultative wetland species [5]. Tufted hairgrass grows on a variety of soil types and textures.  It is found on sandy loam [45,79,98], sandy clayey loam [6], silty loam [47], loam [6,47,64,66], loamy clay [6,66], and clay [6].  Tufted hairgrass growth is rated fair on sandy loam and good on loam and clayey loam [26,43].  It is found on gravel in Alaska [95], Michigan [98], and Utah [64].  It occurs on granitic material in Idaho [32] and Wyoming [53]. It is found on peat in British Columbia [96] and on calcareous seeps in Illinois [88].  It grows on pumice in Oregon [97] and on volcanic soils in Wyoming [53]. Tufted hairgrass is adapted to cool, acid locations [68] but it also grows on somewhat alkaline soils [43,77].  It has been found on soils varying from pH 3.3 on mine tailings in Ontario [43] to pH 8.4 in central Idaho [77].  However, it generally grows best in soils with pH 5.2 to 5.5 [54].  Tufted hairgrass will tolerate some saline water [48,71]; along the north-central Oregon coast, tufted hairgrass occurs in high saltmarsh that is very occasionally flooded by salt water during the summer growing season [31].  Some tufted hairgrass populations are adapted to growing on spoils with elevated levels of heavy metals [43]. In the western United States tufted hairgrass reaches its greatest development at high elevations, where it becomes a nearly ubiquitous floral component of most plant communities above treeline [10].  Tufted hairgrass dominates moist areas of the alpine tundra of the Rocky Mountains, where it occurs along soil moisture gradients from the middle of lee slopes with early melting snowdrifts to the bottoms of lee slopes with very wet meadows [34]. Tufted hairgrass is reported at the following elevations:                        Feet             Meters      Arizona       8,800- 9,500       2,680-2,900   [30,56]      California         <12,800            <3,900   [45,48,67,74]      Colorado      5,000-14,000       1,500-4,300   [26,46,47]      Montana       2,500-10,000         800-3,000   [19,26,73,76]                   Utah          4,500-12,500       1,400-3,800   [26,100]           Wyoming       4,000-12,000       1,200-3,700   [26,39] SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Tufted hairgrass can occur as a colonizer [10] and as a component or dominant of successional [16] and climax vegetation [81].  It is rarely found in dense shade [94]. Tufted hairgrass can be an aggressive colonizer on disturbed sites, particularly in alpine and subalpine regions [10].  In south-central Montana tufted hairgrass is a colonizer on the Beartooth Plateau, where there are nearly 200 known alpine vascular plant species.  Tufted hairgrass is one of fewer than 5 percent of these species that can be found on virtually all disturbances of more than a few years of age [7,15]. Tufted hairgrass occurs naturally on both early and late successional alpine sites [16].  In Alaska on the north slope of the Alaska Range, tufted hairgrass occurs on gravel terraces in the meadow stage, but does not occur in the earlier pioneer stage or in later shrub and tree stages [95].  In the Medicine Bow Mountains of Wyoming, tufted hairgrass occurs in successional tundra meadow in ribbon forest and in successional snow-glade vegetation [4].  In the Great Basin of Nevada, tufted hairgrass is an early seral species that can continue to occupy sites indefinitely given relatively stable site conditions [66].  In the alpine zone of the Uinta Mountains, Utah, tufted hairgrass is middle and late successional in hydrarch succession where alpine glacial lakes have been or are in the process of being filled with sediment and plant remains.  Tufted hairgrass is an associate but is not dominant in the drier climax sedge-grass communities [64]. Tufted hairgrass occurs in climax vegetation.  In northwestern Colorado it is a dominant in climax communities of wet to mesic subalpine and alpine zones [47].  In the Medicine Bow Mountains of Wyoming, tufted hairgrass is a component of climax snow-glade vegetation [4]. In glaciated plains, foothills, and mountains of western Montana, tufted hairgrass is a dominant in the climax vegetation of subirrigated and wetland range sites.  It is also a dominant in alpine grassland climax vegetation on deep to moderately deep, well drained to poorly drained soils; these grasslands occur on sloping to steep windswept mountain tops above timberline [81]. Tufted hairgrass is not generally a part of the understory of wooded areas [10] or of forests [4].  In Yellowstone National Park tufted hairgrass occurs in mesic subalpine meadows.  Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia) has been progressively invading the borders of these meadows (for at least 125 years) in the absence of fire.  Tufted hairgrass generally decreased along transects at the edge of meadows as the size and age of lodgepole pine increased [52]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : In alpine regions tufted hairgrass maintains green leaves throughout the winter and begins growth very soon after snow release, when temperatures at soil level are still near 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 deg C) [64].  In Utah tufted hairgrass starts growth early in the spring and remains green throughout the summer [94]. In Colorado tufted hairgrass phenological conditions at elevations between 9,843 and 12,468 feet (3,000-3,800 m) were observed.  Older tufted hairgrass leaves began developing autumn coloration about September 15, 1968; 1 month later it was in winter condition.  Tufted hairgrass had immature green leaves in winter; the new leaves developed prior to the initiation of dormancy and remained at one-eighth to one-fourth the length of mature leaves throughout the winter.  Through the winter green leaf surfaces were protected by a covering of dead but undeteriorated leaves from the previous summer.  In the spring no observable leaf elongation occurred until about 10 days after snow release [1]. In alpine regions tufted hairgrass reaches maximum flowering approximately 3 weeks after the initiation of growth [64].  Tufted hairgrass flowering times are:           Arizona           June-September  [56]           California        May-August      [74]           Colorado          July-September  [26]           Illinois          June-July       [69]           Montana           June-September  [26]           North Carolina    June-July       [78,102]           Virginia          June-July       [102]           West Virginia     June-July       [89]           Wyoming           July-September  [26]           Great Plains      June-August     [37,63]                     Northeastern US   May-August      [29]           Southeastern             Canada          May-August      [29] In alpine regions tufted hairgrass seed matures 7 to 8 weeks after initiation of leaf growth in the spring [64].


SPECIES: Deschampsia cespitosa
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Tufted hairgrass generally survives all but the most severe fires [24]. It usually sprouts from the root crown after aerial portions are burned. Tufts formed by the leaves [37] often protect basal buds from fire damage.  Tufted hairgrass seeds occur in the seedbank [15]; after fire tufted hairgrass may regenerate from soil-stored seed. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Tussock graminoid    Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Deschampsia cespitosa
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Tufted hairgrass culms and leaves are often killed by fire, though dense tufts may protect some green biomass during low-severity fire.  Tufted hairgrass root crowns usually survive all but the most severe fires [25]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Within just a few years tufted hairgrass usually recovers to prefire levels [25]. In the Medicine Bow Mountains of Wyoming, tufted hairgrass occurs in wet or dry subalpine meadows that were produced when forests were burned in 1871.  Above 9,800 feet (3,000 m) elevation burned areas remain open for 50 to 100 years after stand-replacing fire.  After a century or more, the drier meadows usually are covered by young spruce (Picea)-fir (Abies) forests and tufted hairgrass declines.  However, tufted hairgrass in wet meadows above 9,800 feet (3,000 m) may remain dominant for centuries [4]. In the same area, tufted hairgrass is a component of successional tundra meadow that developed following a severe 1809 crown fire in ribbon forest [4]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : Wildfire Case Study Tufted hairgrass response was studied following a lightning-ignited fire in Ellis Meadow, a 30-acre (12 ha) subalpine meadow within the Roaring River drainage of Kings Canyon National Park, California, in the southern Sierra Nevada. The prefire community was subalpine meadow vegetation within forest dominated by Sierra lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta spp. murrayana). The meadow community was dominated by beaked sedge (Carex rostrata), tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa), Idaho bentgrass (Agrostis idahoensis), and Mexican rush (Juncus mexicanus).  Other common herbaceous species were primrose monkeyflower (Mimulus primuloides), Parish's yampah (Perideridia parishii), small white violet (Viola macloskeyi), and several species of fireweed (Epilobium spp.) [24,25]. The study site is at 9,154 feet (2,790 m) elevation.  The area is a generally flat, basin-type meadow.  The meadow surface consists of low-lying troughs between hummocks formed by the root crowns of tufted grasses and sedges.  An organic layer up to 12 inches (30 cm) deep overlays a loamy sand soil.  The water table usually remains within a few inches of the surface throughout the summer.  However, precipitation had been 45 to 50 percent below the normal average of 41.1 inches (1,044 mm) for each of the 2 years before the fire.  The summer of the fire was very dry. The wildfire occurred in early August, and was light to severe [24,25]. On September 30, 1977, immediately following the fire, two permanent transects were established on a severely burned portion of the meadow. Severely burned sites were differentiated by the extent to which the organic layer was consumed; meadow surfaces were lower in the more severely burned areas than in other areas, and ash depth exceeded 0.8 inch (2 cm) [24,25]. A lightning storm in early July 1977 ignited several fires in the vicinity of Ellis Meadow.  These were allowed to burn, and fire reached Ellis Meadow in early August.  By late summer, large contiguous areas of the sedge-tallgrass community within Ellis Meadow had burned.  About 60 percent of the meadow had burned by the end of September, when autumn precipitation extinguished the fire [24,25]. The fire smoldered where it was severe, spreading at a rate of less than 2 inches per minute (5 cm/min).  In these areas the fire burned nearly all the organic layer, including subsurface and aboveground organic matter.  Fire consumed some tufted hairgrass plants entirely by a combination of surface and subsurface fire.  In some cases subsurface fire combined with sporadic surface flare-ups, resulting in nearly complete consumption of the root mass and organic matter in the surface soil layer while leaving portions of the aboveground vegetation intact [24,25]. Ash depth where present ranged from 0.4 to 8 inches (1-20 cm), averaging 3.5 inches (9 cm).  Mean ash depths were significantly (p<.05) greater when charred vegetation remained at the surface in association with ash than when only ash was present [24,25]. Where fire was of light to moderate severity, most of the dry above-surface tufted hairgrass material and some of the green biomass were burned.  However, subsurface fire was light or absent and ash depth rarely exceeded 0.8 inch (2 cm).  A distinct pattern was observed on hummocky microtopography.  Where fires were of low severity, fire was largely confined to the troughs between hummocks.  Tufted hairgrass, common on hummocks, was not seriously injured by these fires, and was seldom observed to have suffered damage to the root crown even when the tops were heavily burned [24,25]. Where fire was severe and smoldered for some time, both troughs and hummocks were burned.  Here fire burned nearly all of the organic layer, including tufted hairgrass subsurface and aboveground matter, and tufted hairgrass was killed.  The surface of the meadow in these areas was lowered between 4 and 10 inches (10-25 cm) relative to adjacent vegetation. During the final week of September or the first week of October each year between 1978 and 1981 the two transects were sampled by measuring the foliar cover of individual plant species [24,25]. Immediately after fire:  42.7 percent of all vegetation on the lengths of the transects had been reduced to ash.  Ash segments on the transects included prefire spaces between root crowns as well as individual plants consumed entirely by a combination of surface and subsurface fire.  On another 41.1 percent of the total transect lengths the root mass and upper soil layer had been completely burned by subsurface fire, though partially burned aboveground herbage remained.  These transect sections corresponded to the prefire root crowns of sedges, rushes, and tufted grasses of which tufted hairgrass was a dominant.  Only about 2.3 percent of the original vegetation survived on the lengths of the two transects [24,25]. Postfire year 1:  Tufted hairgrass was widely distributed throughout the severely burned portions of the meadow; it was generally more abundant than in the measured transects.  Tufted hairgrass appeared to have established from seeds and also reestablished vegetatively.  In less severely burned areas tufted hairgrass aboveground biomass and cover appeared comparable to that on unburned sites, even where tops had been charred or removed by fire [24,25]. Tufted hairgrass percent cover on transects over the 4 years following fire was as follows [24,25]:                           Percent Cover               1978        1979        1980        1981                0.2        11.1        18.5        17.8 The lack of prefire vegetation data prevents precise comparison, but tufted hairgrass cover on the most severely burned portions of Ellis Meadow seemed to be succeeding toward that which had been characteristic of the prefire state [24,25]. Tufted hairgrass root crowns in subalpine meadows generally survive all but very severe fires.  Tufted hairgrass regenerates from the root crowns and also from seed in the seedbank [24,25]. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Deschampsia cespitosa
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