Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Eragrostis lehmanniana

Introductory

SPECIES: Eragrostis lehmanniana
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Uchytil, Ronald J. 1992. Eragrostis lehmanniana. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [].

ABBREVIATION : ERALEH SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : ERLE COMMON NAMES : Lehmann lovegrass TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of Lehmann lovegrass is Eragrostis lehmanniana Nees [31]. There are no recognized varieties or subspecies. LIFE FORM : Graminoid FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Eragrostis lehmanniana
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Lehmann lovegrass is native to South Africa.  It was first introduced in the arid Southwest in the 1930's for range restoration purposes. Between 1940 and 1980, ranchers and government land managers established Lehmann lovegrass on more than 172,000 acres (70,000 ha) [10]. However, because of edaphic and climatic requirements of the plant, most stands in Texas, New Mexico, and central Arizona disappeared within 5 years of planting [11].  In 1988, Lehmann lovegrass was considered a major plant species on about 347,000 acres (140,000 ha), with the majority of this acreage in southeastern Arizona [12]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES30  Desert shrub    FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub    FRES40  Desert grasslands STATES :      AZ  HI  NM  OK  TX  UT  MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :     7  Lower Basin and Range    12  Colorado Plateau    13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont    14  Great Plains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K037  Mountain-mahogany - oak scrub    K041  Creosotebush    K042  Creosotebush - bursage    K044  Creosotebush - tarbush    K053  Grama - galleta steppe    K058  Grama - tobosa shrubsteppe    K059  Trans-Pecos shrub savanna SAF COVER TYPES :    242  Mesquite SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : NO-ENTRY

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Eragrostis lehmanniana
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Lehmann lovegrass's greatest forage value for cattle is its ability to produce more green herbage in the winter and early spring than native grasses.  At this time of the year it is readily grazed [7,16]. In southeastern Arizona, the Hispid cotton rat and the Botteri's sparrow were found to be more abundant in stands of African lovegrasses (E. lehmanniana and E. curvula) than in native grasslands.  This is apparently because the exotic grasses mimic native grassland habitats prefered by these wildlife species.  However, other desert grassland birds and rodents were less abundant in stands of the exotic lovegrasses [4]. PALATABILITY : The palatability of Lehmann lovegrass for cattle is low during the summer and it is generally lightly grazed at that time [12,16].  Cattle make greater use of this grass during fall, winter, and spring because the foliage remains green longer than most native grasses [12,30]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Lehmann lovegrass's nutritional importance to livestock is greatest in the winter when its crude protein content is higher than that of many native warm-season grasses [30]. The National Academy of Sciences [21] lists fresh, mature, aerial portions of Lehmann lovegrass as having the following crude and digestible protein contents:         protein (N x 6.25) = 6.7 %         digestible protein for cattle = 3.6 %         digestible protein for goats = 2.8 %         digestible protein for horses = 3.2 %         digestible protein for rabbits = 3.8 %         digestible protein for sheep = 3.2 % COVER VALUE : Small birds of Southwestern grasslands, such as the eastern meadowlark and several species of sparrows, nest in stands of Lehmann lovegrass, but it is not preferred habitat and they more frequently nest in native grasses [3].  VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Lehmann lovegrass has been widely used for roadside stabilization and range restoration in the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts [30].  The Highway Division of the Arizona Department of Transportation uses Lehmann lovegrass in seed mixes with other grasses to minimize erosion and sediment damage to highways during construction [5].  Several cultivars are available [28].  OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Establishment:  Lehmann lovegrass is fairly easy to establish on adapted sites.  Most cultivars are adapted for semiarid environments below 4,500 feet (1,372 m) in elevation which receive at least 10 to 12 inches (25-30 cm) of annual precipitation [28].  The best time for planting in Arizona is just prior to summer rains.  The light-sensitive seeds should be shallowly buried in sand, loamy sand, or sandy loam soils only. Seedlings generally do not emerge from seed planted on silt loam, loam, or clay loam soils regardless of planting depth [10].  Details for drilling or broadcasting Lehmann lovegrass seed have been outlined [1]. Planted areas should not be grazed for 2 years to allow the new seedlings to become well established [16]. Concern:  People interested in maintaining native grasslands are concerned about Lehmann lovegrass's aggressive, spreading habit, and the displacement of native grasses.  Winn [33] suggested that where control is warranted, Lehmann lovegrass may be killed with herbicide applications, followed by seeding of native species.

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Eragrostis lehmanniana
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Lehmann lovegrass is an introduced, warm-season, perennial bunchgrass growing from 1.5 to 2 feet (45-61 cm) in height [16].  Its bunch habit is somewhat open in that individuals do not form a compact crown with numerous stembases.  Furthermore, although more or less erect, some stems are procumbent and these often root at the nodes.  This often results in somewhat continuous stands where individuals are difficult to identify [30].  Lehmann lovegrass has short, involuted leaves, which are about 0.06 inch (1.5 mm) wide and 2 to 6 inches (5-15 cm) long.   RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :       Hemicryptophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Lehmann lovegrass is a good seed producer.  The seeds are small, with 4.2 to 6.5 million per pound (9.2-14.3 million/kg) [1,32].  Nearly all fresh seeds are dormant, requiring at least 6 to 9 months of afterripening.  In the laboratory, dry heat treatments of 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 deg C) scarifies the seedcoat and increases the rate of inbibition [15].  Under natural conditions, seed on the ground may be scarified by fire or by high summertime seedbed temperatures [27].  Most seeds require exposure to red light to germinate; thus little germination occurs when seeds are deeply buried in soil or are under a dense herbaceous canopy.  In southeastern Arizona, high seedling emergence typically occurs following summer rains on sites where the canopy has been removed such as by burning, mowing, or grazing [25]. Vegetative regeneration:  Lehmann lovegrass is described as weakly stoloniferous.  Stems that come in contact with the ground may root at the nodes [30].  SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Lehmann lovegrass has persisted and spread primarily in desert shrub and desert grassland ecosystems of southeastern Arizona at elevations between 3,250 and 4,800 feet (1,000 and 1,460 m).  The plant has a narrow range of climatic and edaphic requirements, growing best on sites with sandy- to sandy loam-textured soils, and where winter temperatures rarely drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 deg C) and summer rainfall ranges between 6 and 8.6 inches (15 and 22 cm) [10,12]. In southeastern Arizona, Cox and others [10] observed that where summer rainfall was between 6 and 8.6 inches (15-22 cm), Lehmann lovegrass grew vigorously and colonized adjacent unplanted areas.  On areas where summer rainfall was about 4 inches (10 cm), stands maintained themselves but did not spread.  Where summer rainfall was between 2.8 and 3.3 inches established stands died. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Obligate Initial Community Species Lehmann lovegrass reseeds itself quickly after disturbance.  It is very competitive, and where adapted, tends to replace native grasses over a period of years.  Lehmann lovegrass has replaced Arizona cottontop (Trichachne californica), threeawn grasses (Aristida spp.), and grama grasses (Bouteloua spp.) over much of the Santa Rita Experimental Range in Arizona [7]. Lehmann lovegrass's ability to replace native grass species is attributed to:  (1) its low palatability during summer, which results in cattle selectively grazing native grasses during the active growth period and thus reducing their vigor; (2) its ability to produce seed stalks early in the summer, which allows it to maintain itself when it is grazed; and (3) its ability to establish new stands from seed after disturbance [7,12]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Seed of Lehmann lovegrass matures earlier than seed of native perennial grasses [7].

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Eragrostis lehmanniana
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Plant adaptations to fire:  Lehmann lovegrass is a seed-banking species. Following fire, soil-stored seeds germinate when moisture conditions become favorable.  Within a few months after fire seedling establishment is typically abundant, resulting in replacement stands even after hot fires that kill mature plants.  Fire promotes germination because (1) heat from the fire scarifies the hard seed coat and (2) removing the grass canopy results in greater soil temperature fluctuations and greater irradiance of red light, which increase germination [25,27]. Although Lehmann lovegrass often suffers high rates of mortality from fire, surviving individuals may reproduce vegetatively by nodal propagation.  Eighty percent of mature plants died following a November burn on the Santa Rita Experimental Range in Arizona, but many of the surviving plants rooted from the nodes of decumbent tillers, resulting in 0.3 new plants per square foot (3.2/sq meter) [26]. Fire behavior:  Temperatures during an October burn, in a nearly pure stand of Lehmann lovegrass on the Santa Rita Experimental Range, were as follows:  (1) greater than 752 degrees Fahrenheit (400 deg C) at the soil surface, (2) about 356 degrees Fahrenheit (180 deg C) in Lehmann lovegrass crowns, and (3) only slightly above normal 0.8 inch (2 cm) below the soil surface [27]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Ground residual colonizer (onsite, initial community)

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Eragrostis lehmanniana
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Fire effects on Lehmann lovegrass vary with fire severity.  Fires during hot, dry months result in a high percentage of plants being killed, while "cool" winter fires tend to kill very few plants.  For example, a late June fire on the Santa Rita Experimental Range burned or charred mature plants to within 0.13 to 0.75 inch (0.33-1.9 cm) of the root crown, killing 98 percent of them.  This reduced the density of mature plants per square foot from 2.67 before the fire to 0.04 1 month after the fire [6].  Following a July wildfire in which "virtually all aboveground vegetation was completely burned away", lovegrass (E. lehmanniana and E. curvula) cover decreased dramatically.  One month after this fire, lovegrass canopy cover was about 18 percent on burned plots and 68 percent on nearby unburned plots [3].  Conversely, few plants are killed by "cool" winter fires.  On the Tonto National Forest, only 4.7 percent of Lehmann lovegrass plants died within 1 year of a February fire.  Lehmann lovegrass mortality on nearby unburned areas was 1.6 percent [23]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Lehmann lovegrass generally recovers relatively quickly following fire because of abundant seedling establishment.  For example, following a late June fire on the Santa Rita Experimental Range in which 98 percent of mature Lehmann lovegrass plants were killed, large numbers of seedlings became established following summer rains.  By September 10, the density of these new plants was 6 times greater than the original stand [6]. Within 1 year Lehmann lovegrass plant density usually equals or exceeds prefire levels [20,22,23], but it may take 2 or 3 years for new stands to reach prefire biomass [3,9]. This fire response was documented in an extensive of body of research on fire effects in semidesert grassland, oak savanna, and Madrean oak woodlands of southeastern Arizona. See the Research Project Summary of this work for more information on burning conditions, fires, and fire effects on more than 100 species of plants, birds, small mammals, and grasshoppers. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : Cox and others [9] observed that Lehmann lovegrass leaves appear within 14 days after burning whether burned in spring, summer, fall, or winter. However, it took longer for fall-burned stands to attain prefire biomass than stands burned at other times of the year.  This was attributed to the killing of cold-sensitive new leaves during October and November on fall-burned sites when night time temperatures varied between 41 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit (5 and 10 deg C).  In contrast, new leaves on sites burned in February, June, or July remained active until night time temperatures dropped below 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 deg C) in mid-December. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Following severe fires which kill mature plants, Lehmann lovegrass increases its dominance in mixed stands, especially when found with grama grasses, because it establishes from seed more easily [27]. Cable [8] suggests that Lehmann lovegrass may be a useful fuel source for shrub control in semidesert environments because it produces about twice as much fuel as black grama (Bouteloua eriopoda).  In southern Arizona, mortality of velvet mesquite (Prosopis velutina) larger than 2 inches (5 cm) in basal diameter, was 4 times as high when burned in Lehmann lovegrass stands than when burned in black grama stands. Prescribed fall burns are not recommended for Lehmann lovegrass because fall-burned stands take longer to recover than stands burned at other times of the year.  Fall burning also removes a grazing resource for 200 to 245 days.  It will take 2 to 3 years for Lehmann lovegrass biomass to reach prefire levels in southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico [9].

References for species: Eragrostis lehmanniana


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9. Cox, Jerry R.; Ibarra-F, F. A.; Martin-R, M. H. 1990. Fire effects on grasses in semiarid deserts. In: Krammes, J. S., technical coordinator. Effects of fire management of southwestern natural resources: Proceedings of the symposium; 1988 November 15-17; Tucson, AZ. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-191. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 43-49. [11272]
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16. Humphrey, Robert R. 1970. Arizona range grasses: Their description, forage value and management. Bulletin 298. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona, Agricultural Experiment Station. 159 p. [5567]
17. Humphrey, R. R.; Everson, A. C. 1951. Effect of fire on a mixed grass-shrub range in southern Arizona. Journal of Range Management. 4: 264-266. [1218]
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20. Martin, S. Clark. 1983. Responses of semidesert grasses and shrubs to fall burning. Journal of Range Management. 36(5): 604-610. [1539]
21. National Academy of Sciences. 1971. Atlas of nutritional data on United States and Canadian feeds. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences. 772 p. [1731]
22. Pase, Charles P. 1971. Effect of a February burn on Lehmann lovegrass. Journal of Range Management. 24: 454-456. [6359]
23. Pase, Charles P.; Knipe, O. D. 1977. Effect of winter burning on herbaceous cover on a converted chaparral watershed. Journal of Range Management. 30(5): 346-348. [1828]
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27. Sumrall, L. B.; Roundy, B. A.; Cox, J. R.; Winkel, V. K. 1991. Influence of canopy removal by burning or clipping on emergence of Eragrostis lehmanniana seedlings. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 1(1): 35-40. [14992]
28. Thornburg, Ashley A. 1982. Plant materials for use on surface-mined lands. SCS-TP-157. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 88 p. [3769]
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30. Mooney, H. A.; Bonnicksen, T. M.; Christensen, N. L.; [and others]. 1981. Proceedings of the conference: fire regimes and ecosystem properties; 1978 December 11-15; Honolulu, HI. Gen. Tech. Rep. WO-26. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 594 p. [4375]
31. Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. The Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p. [2944]
32. Wheeler, W. A.; Hill, D. D. 1957. Grassland seeds. Princeton, NJ: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc. 628 p. [18902]
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