SPECIES: Poa fendleriana
Howard, Janet L. 1997. Poa fendleriana. 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/ .
The currently accepted scientific name of mutton grass is Poa
fendleriana (Steud.) Vasey (Poaceae) [23,25,30,31,33,47,60]. Recognized
P. fendleriana ssp. albescens (A.S. Hitchc.) Soreng mutton grass
P. fendleriana ssp. fenderliana skyline bluegrass [33,47]
P. fendleriana ssp. longiligula (Scribn. & Will.) Soreng longtongue mutton grass [30,47]
The genus Poa is extremely uniform, and species determination is difficult. Mutton grass intergrades and hybridizes with many other Poa species [48,49,60]. Intergradation with coastline bluegrass (P. confinis), Wheeler bluegrass (P. nervosa), and Cusick's bluegrass (P. cusickii) is particularly strong . Welsh and others  consider Cusick's bluegrass synonymous with mutton grass. Based upon chloroplast DNA analysis and differences in morphologies and mating systems, however, Soreng [47,48,49] has classified the two taxa as distinct species. A separate report on Cusick's bluegrass is available in FEIS.
Poa × nematophylla Rydb. is a stable, apomictic taxon probably resulting from hybridization between mutton grass and a subspecies of Cusick's bluegrass (P. cusickii ssp. pallida) .
No special status
Mutton grass occurs from British Columbia east to Manitoba and south to
the Dakotas, western Texas, California, and northern Mexico [30,60].
Subspecies distribution: Poa fendleriana ssp. albescens occurs primarily in the Sierra Occidental of Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico, but its distribution reaches north to southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico [47,50].
Poa f. ssp. fendleriana occurs from Sonora north to Utah, Colorado, and western portions of the Dakotas [47,50].
Poa f. ssp. longiligula is the most widely distributed subspecies. It occurs from Baja California north to British Columbia; east to Manitoba; and south to Arizona and New Mexico [47,50].
Populations with intermediate morphology occur in transition zones between subspecies .
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES40 Desert grasslands
AZ CA CO ID MT NE NV NM ND OR
SD TX UT WA WY
AB BC MB SK
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
K015 Western spruce-fir forest
K020 Spruce-fir-Douglas-fir forest
K021 Southwestern spruce-fir forest
K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland
K024 Juniper steppe woodland
K031 Oak-juniper woodlands
K032 Transition between K031 and K037
K037 Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K052 Alpine meadows and barren
K055 Sagebrush steppe
K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe
K063 Foothills prairie
K069 Bluestem-grama prairie
206 Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir
210 Interior Douglas-fir
220 Rocky Mountain juniper
237 Interior ponderosa pine
238 Western juniper
240 Arizona cypress
247 Jeffrey pine
256 California mixed subalpine
101 Bluebunch wheatgrass
104 Antelope bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
107 Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass
216 Montane meadows
301 Bluebunch wheatgrass-blue grama
314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
317 Bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
322 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany-bluebunch wheatgrass
401 Basin big sagebrush
402 Mountain big sagebrush
403 Wyoming big sagebrush
409 Tall forb
410 Alpine rangeland
411 Aspen woodland
412 Juniper-pinyon woodland
413 Gambel oak
415 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany
416 True mountain-mahogany
417 Littleleaf mountain-mahogany
503 Arizona chaparral
504 Juniper-pinyon pine woodland
509 Transition between oak-juniper woodland and mahogany-oak association
Mutton grass is common in sagebrush (Artemisia spp.), scrub oak (Quercus
spp.), pinyon-juniper (Pinus-Juniperus spp.), mountain brush, ponderosa
pine (P. ponderosa), and fir-spruce (Abies-Picea spp.) communities. It
occurs on edges of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) communities,
riparian zones, and exposed alpine ridges. It is occasional in desert
shrub and mountain meadow communities and on talus . In Arizona, it
extends from the spruce-fir zone down to desert grassland and Arizona
cypress (Cupressus arizonica) woodland .
Kuchler  described mutton grass as a dominant understory species in yellow pine (Pinus ponderosa ssp. scopulorum and P. p. ssp. arizonica) forests of southern Arizona. Other publications describing plant communities in which mutton grass is a dominant component of the vegetation follow.
A preliminary classification of the natural vegetation of Colorado 
Sagebrush-steppe habitat types in northern Colorado: a first
A habitat type classification system for ponderosa pine forests of
northern Arizona 
Habitat types on selected parts of the Gunnison and Uncompahgre
National Forests 
A classification of spruce-fir and mixed conifer habitat types of
Arizona and New Mexico 
A preliminary classification of high-elevation sagebrush-grass
vegetation in northern and central Nevada 
Shrub-steppe habitat types of Middle Park, Colorado 
Plant associations (habitat types) of Region 2., 3rd ed. 
Mutton grass provides good to excellent forage for livestock. It is
considered one of the best forage grasses in Arizona, particularly as
summer feed for domestic sheep. In Colorado, livestock graze mutton
grass from early spring to mid-summer .
Mutton grass also provides good forage for wildlife. Mountain goat graze mutton grass . Deer and elk make heavy use of it, especially in early spring when other green forage is scarce [9,10,53,59]. Depending upon availability of other nutritious forage, deer may use mutton grass in all seasons . Mutton grass cures well and is an important fall and winter deer food in some areas . In northern Colorado, mule deer consumed mutton grass from December until March. After March, their diet was primarily forbs and green twigs of woody plants .
Palatability of mutton grass is excellent for cattle and horses and good
for elk, deer, pronghorn, and domestic sheep [11,29,32,53]. Mutton
grass cures well; palatability of fall foliage is rated as fair in
The palatability of mutton grass for small animals has been rated as follows :
UT WY Small mammals good good Small nongame birds fair good Upland game birds fair good Waterfowl poor poor
Average percent composition and energy content of fresh mutton grass, collected from various locations in the western United States, was as follows :
Protein (N x 6.25,%) 7.0 Digestible energy (kcal/kg) Digestible protein cattle 2.58 cattle 3.8 domestic sheep 2.69 domestic sheep 3.5 horses 3.5 domestic rabbit 4.1 domestic goat 3.1 ash 11.1% Crude fiber 33.5% Ether extract 2.4% N-free extract 46.0%Nutritional content of mutton grass on the Medicine Bow National Forest of Wyoming varied seasonally as follows :
Date Ether Crude Crude Collected Moisture Ash extract fiber protein Carotene ______________________________________________________________ (1947) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (µg/g) ______________________________________________________________ 6/10 5.34 7.12 2.72 32.42 8.56 100 7/9 5.85 10.40 2.47 32.87 7.51 59 8/7 6.10 10.39 2.19 32.50 6.12 54 9/4 5.65 11.87 2.29 30.51 5.40 23 10/3 5.99 12.62 1.71 29.54 5.34 7
The degree to which mutton grass provides cover for small animals has been rated as follows :
UT WY Small mammals fair good Small nongame birds fair fair Upland game birds fair fair Waterfowl poor poor
Mutton grass has a deep, fibrous root system that provides good soil erosion control . Use of mutton grass in restoration projects is limited, however, because mutton grass seed is not commercially available .
Mutton grass has a deep, fibrous root system that provides good soil erosion control . Use of mutton grass in restoration projects is limited, however, because mutton grass seed is not commercially available .
Mutton grass is able to withstand moderately heavy grazing [22,37].
Because of its high forage value and vigor, range managers generally
seek to improve or maintain mutton grass stands. On Arizona rangelands,
it is recommended that at least one-fourth of the previous year's seed
production remains by the time new mutton grass seedheads are ripe in
summer. Degraded ranges should be left to rest in July and August of
alternate years so that mutton grass can increase vigor and set good
seed crops .
In Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) rangeland of Arizona, mutton grass and other cool-season grasses were eliminated from the understories of allotments where continuous cattle grazing had been practiced for decades. The understories of continuously grazed allotments were near-monocultures of blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis) with 65 percent average bare ground. Mutton grass and other cool-season grasses were present and increasing in abundance on one allotment, however. The allotment had once been continuously grazed, but a deferred rest-rotation system had been practiced for the past 20 years. Average percent composition of mutton grass on ungrazed, continuously grazed, and rest-rotation grazed sites follows. Soils were similar on all sites except that soil structure was lacking on continuously grazed sites .
Ungrazed* Continuous Rest-Rotation grazing grazing ______________________________________ 45% 0% 25%*The ungrazed site was on a mesa, inaccessible to cattle, where relict vegetation was present.
Mutton grass is a cool-season perennial bunchgrass with occasional short
rhizomes. It is a short to mid-grass with 1- to 2-foot-long (0.3-0.6 m)
culms [29,32,53]. Basal diameter ranges from less than an inch (2.5
cm) to about 1 foot (0.3 m) . Mutton grass is dioecious. Plants
are mostly pistillate, with occasional staminate or perfect flowers
[29,30,50]. Most leaves are basal . The dry, papery sheath bases
of previous years do not readily disintegrate into fibers and are a
conspicuous feature of the species .
Mutton grass is drought resistant [7,53,60].
Mutton grass reproduces from seed, by tillering, and rarely, from short rhizomes . Both sexual and apomictic populations reproduce from seed . Lack of pollination is not likely to cause reproductive failure in mutton grass. Asexual regeneration, by tillering and apomixis, is more common in mutton grass than is sexual regeneration [48,49,57,58,61]. Most mutton grass populations have a high preponderance of female plants that produce viable seed without pollination. Averaged over their range, Soreng  estimated that Poa fendleriana ssp. fendleriana populations are about 85 percent female. Populations of P. f. ssp. longiligula are mostly or entirely female. Only one male specimen of P. f. ssp. longiligula has ever been collected in New Mexico .
Mutton grass occurs mainly on dry sites such as mesas, hillsides, and
dry woods [27,29,47]. It sometimes occurs on wetter sites, however. It
has been noted in riparian zones in Zion National Park, Utah .
In a study of 21 burn sites in the Great Basin of California and Nevada, Koniak  found that mutton grass was associated with east slopes.
Mutton grass tolerates a wide range of soil textures [16,18,26,53] and pH. Mutton grass occurs on limestone soils in the Grand Canyon . On the San Bernardino National Forest of California, mutton grass occurred on noncarbonate substrates and also on sites that were surfaced-mined for limestone .
Distributions of sexual and apomictic races of mutton grass are linked to climate. Sexually reproducing populations occur in mild climates that receive significant summer precipitation. Apomictic populations tolerate colder and sometimes wetter climates but are restricted by the Polar Front gradient in the north. They appear to be only slightly more tolerant to hot desert climates than sexual populations. Apomictic populations also occur at higher and lower elevations than do their sexually reproducing counterparts. The total geographic range of Poa fendleriana ssp. longiligula, for example, is about 20 times broader than that of sexual P. f. ssp. longiligula .
Elevational ranges of mutton grass are as follows:
Arizona - 5,000 to 11,000 feet (1500-3330 m) 
California - 10,800 to 13,100 feet (3300-4000 m) 
Colorado - 5,000 to 11,500 feet (1500-3450 m) 
New Mexico - 4,000 to 11,000 feet (1220-3350 m) 
Utah - 3,000 to 12,000 feet (910-3660 m) 
Mutton grass occurs in open sun [2,60] to partial shade [2,43]. It
tolerates open, dry conditions better than most herbaceous species. In
the Hualapai Mountains of Arizona, it is the only grass that commonly
occurs on open slopes . It may be more common in partial shade on
very dry sites, however. In Colorado pinyon-alligator juniper (Pinus
edulis-Juniperus deppeana) woodland of central Arizona, mutton grass was
more common under alligator juniper than in openings . In northern
Arizona, mutton grass coverage was significantly greater in communities
with 1 to 10 percent pinyon-juniper (Pinus-Juniperus spp.) canopy
coverage than in communities with lesser or greater percentages of tree
In pinyon-juniper communities, mutton grass is common in initial and/or early seral stages and persists in mature pinyon-juniper woodland [8,12,13,14].
Sampson  classified mutton grass as seral on wheatgrass (Triticeae) rangelands of the Intermountain West. He described mutton grass as a component of the mixed-grass-weed stage. This stage is preceded by the early and late weed stages and followed by the wheatgrass stage.
Mutton grass is frequently described as a component of or dominant in climax vegetation in sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) and forest habitat typings [19,26]. In northern Colorado, Francis  reported a mountain big sagebrush/mutton grass habitat type on shallow skeletal soils that is probably a topoedaphic climax. Forests with mutton grass tend to have open structure. Romme and others  list mutton grass as a component of dry-site old-growth ponderosa pine forest on the San Juan National Forest of Colorado.
Growth generally begins in early spring [29,53], although plants in the Southwest may begin growth in winter . Mutton grass flowers from February to July in New Mexico  and from May to August in California and the Great Plains [23,30]. Seed ripened in late May and June on a north-central Arizona site . Seed ripens in June or July in Nebraska .
Fires have been variously reported as harming [1,13,12], having no
effect on [57,58,61], or increasing  mutton grass. Mutton grass may
be harmed by severe wildfire [13,12]. Most studies suggest that it is
relatively unaffected by prescribed fall burning [24,57,58,61]. One
study, however, reported a long-term (7-year) decrease in mutton grass
after prescribed fall fire .
In fire-adapted forest ecosystems, fire is important in maintaining mutton grass in the herbaceous understory. Mutton grass occurs on open, sunny sites and in partial shade [2,43,60]; it has not been reported in closed-canopy forests. Mutton grass is likely to decline as canopy closure occurs with fire exclusion.
Mutton grass recovers from fire primarily by sprouting from burned plants. Some mutton grass seedlings establish after fire, but postfire tillering is probably more important than postfire seedling establishment in this species [57,58,61].
Mutton grass is unharmed to slightly harmed by light-severity fall fire.
Several studies have reported no significant change in mutton grass
following prescribed fall burning [24,57,58,61]. In some cases,
light-severity fall fire can benefit mutton grass by reducing
interference from other herbs .
Because mutton grass is a cool-season species that acquires most of its growth in spring, prescribed spring fire may be more harmful to mutton grass than prescribed fall fire. Literature regarding mutton grass recovery from spring fire is lacking, however. Mutton grass appears to be harmed by and slow to recover from severe fire [12,13].
Mutton grass response to fire probably depends upon fire severity. In
Utah juniper-Colorado pinyon of Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado,
mutton grass was present on burn sites representing all stages of
postfire succession except one: an initial postfire community resulting
from a severe fire. Erdman [12,13] sampled vegetation in new (postfire
years 1 to 4), 30-, and 90-year-old burns, and in a Utah juniper-pinyon
woodland that had not burned for 400 years. Mutton grass was not
present on the new burn at postfire year 1, although it is the most
common grass species in Mesa Verde and was present on adjacent unburned
areas. Mutton grass was still absent on the new burn at postfire year
4, the last year of the study. It is likely that mutton grass was
killed by the fire. The fire had killed a 100-year-old stand of
pinyon-juniper, and even sprouting shrubs such as Gambel oak (Quercus
gambelii) showed poor recovery. At postfire year 4, the community was
dominated by forbs and a few exotic perennial grasses that had been
Stand-replacing fires had also occurred on the older burns, but exotic grasses had not been seeded in after the older fires. Mutton grass was a dominant component of the vegetation on all older burns and on the site that had not burned for 400 years. The 30-year-old burn was codominated by mutton grass and several shrub species. The 90-year-old burn was dominated by shrubs and had subdominant pinyons and junipers; mutton grass dominated the herbaceous layer. The site that had not burned for 400 years was dominated by pinyons and junipers; mutton grass dominated the herbaceous layer. Mutton grass cover and frequency percentages on the burn sites were :
% Cover % Frequency ------- ----------- 4-yr-old burn 0 0 30-yr-old burn 4-10 88 90-yr-old burn <4 56 400-yr-old burn 4-10 80Mutton grass recovery after a June 1956 wildfire in shrub live oak-skunkbush sumac (Quercus turbinella-Rhus trilobata) chaparral in Arizona was as follows :
1956 1957 1958 1960 1961 Percent cover 1.0 2.0 2.5 4.0 3.0 Production (lbs/acre) trace trace 8 8 8
Mutton grass showed poor recovery after prescribed fall burning in one study. Over 8 years time, three prescribed November fires were conducted in ponderosa pine in Arizona, resulting in 2-, 5-, and 7-year-old burns. Mutton grass production was less on burned plots than on unburned control plots regardless of time since fire. In contrast, three other bunchgrass species recovered from the fires within 5 years: Their production on the 5- and 7-year-old burns matched or exceeded production on control plots. Production* of mutton grass was as follows :
2-yr-old burn 5-yr-old burn 7-yr-old burn burned plot 0.15 (0.12) 3.49 (1.66) 1.11 (0.34) control plot 3.56 (2.95) 7.44 (1.72)** 2.60 (0.51)** *Production is predicted dry weight (kg/ha) based on basal diameter and regression equations. Data are means (standard errors). **Indicates significant difference (p=0.05) between burn and control
Production of mutton grass and other herbaceous forage was increased by prescribed fire in ponderosa pine near Flagstaff, Arizona. Management objectives were to reduce fuels, thin the forest overstory, and increase ponderosa pine seedling establishment. Prefire litter depth was 1.5 to 3 inches (7 cm). Two one-quarter acre (0.1 ha) areas were burned. Surface fires with average flame lengths of 2 feet (0.6 m) were attained; estimated fire intensities at the two areas were 48 BTUs per second per foot and 90 BTUs per second per foot. Before the fire, herbage production was primarily mullein (Verbascum thapsus), an unpalatable forb. After fire, mutton grass, bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides), and palatable herbs were primary producers. Herbage production on one of the burned areas was 3 pounds per acre (3.4 kg/ha) before fire; 40 pounds per acre (45 kg/ha) at postfire year 1; and 40 pounds per acre (45 kg/ha) at postfire year 11. Herbage production on the other area was 5 pounds per acre (5.6 kg/ha) before fire; 5 pounds per acre (5.6 kg/ha) at postfire year 1; and 17 pounds per acre (19 kg/ha) at postfire year 11. The prescribed fire met management objectives, and increased production of palatable forage was an added bonus .
Vose, James M.; White, Alan S. 1991. Biomass response mechanisms of understory species the first year after prescribed burning in an Arizona ponderosa-pine community. Forest Ecology and Management. 40: 175-187. .
White, Alan S.; Cook, James E.; Vose, James M. 1991. Effects of fire and stand structure on grass phenology in a ponderosa pine forest. The American Midland Naturalist. 126(2): 269-278. ..
The study site is in a ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)/mixed grass community. Overstory structure of the community prior to the fires was a mosaic of patches, each dominated by one of three overstory strata: saplings, pole-sized trees, or sawtimber trees [57,58]. Average density, diameter, and basal area of ponderosa pine in each overstory stratum was :
Density Diameter Basal area _________ ________ __________ sapling 10,070/ha 4.5 cm 15/sq m/ha pole 1,730/ha 15 cm 31/sq m/ha sawtimber 120/ha 63 cm 35/sq m/haThe grass understory was a mixture of mutton grass (Poa fendleriana), mountain muhly (Muhlenbergia montana), and bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides). Biomass of mutton grass and mountain muhly in open sawtimber was approximately equal (57 kg/ha); biomass of bottlebrush squirreltail was less (40 kg/ha) . Wheeler's thistle (Cirsium wheeleri) and Wright's deervetch (Lotus wrightii) were important understory forbs. Fendler's ceanothus (Ceanothus fendleri) and Wood's rose (Rosa woodsii var. ultramontana) were also present .
Mutton grass had dispersed its seed and was dormant at the time of the fires .
The study site had been fenced prior to the study to exclude livestock
and was relatively undisturbed [58,61]. Elevation at the study site is
approximately 6,900 feet (2100 m). Soils are a Brolliar stony clay
loam. Annual precipitation ranges from 109 to 163 inches (430-640 mm)
and averages 127 inches (500 mm). Precipitation patterns are scattered
snowfall and rain in winter months, drought in May and June, and
frequent rains in July and August. Daily mean temperatures range from
23 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (-5 to 17 oC). July has the highest
monthly mean temperature (61 degrees Fahrenheit (16 oC)), and January
has the lowest (25 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 oC)). Precipitation for
the year following the study was above average [57,58,61].
Fire history of the area suggests that fires burned at approximate 2-year intervals until the late 1800's. Fires have been excluded since that time .
Study plots were prescribe burned on 2 consecutive days in late October 1982. Mean air temperatures were 64 and 57 degrees Fahrenheit (18 and 14 oC). Relative humidity was 21 percent on both days. Strip headfires and backfires were used. Fires were maintained in the understory. The fires consumed 25 to 95 percent of the fuel load and smoldered for several days [57,58]. Two site types were defined in the sawtimber stratum: sites between canopies (Open ST) with minimal litter, and sites below canopies (Below ST) with thick litter accumulations . Based upon heat-yield data and observations, fire severity was ranked: below-canopy sawtimber > pole > sapling > open-canopy sawtimber . Most understory plants in sawtimber patches were between canopies (Open ST), where heat yield averaged only 1,600 kJ/sq m. Fire behavior and fuel data are presented below .
Open ST Below ST Pole Sapling Fire behavior Intensity (kW/m) backfires 5 NA 14 17 headfires NA NA 346 294 Rate of spread (m/min) backfires 0.2 NA 0.2 0.3 headfires NA NA 4.5 7.6 Total heat yield (kJ/sq m) 1,600 NA 42,082 15,866 Prefire fuel load (Mg/ha) 17.1 145.9 46.2 30.5 Fuel consumption (%) 25 95 55 33
Neither seedlings nor mature mutton grass plants occurred in sufficient
density on sapling and below-canopy sawtimber plots to warrant analysis
. Data are given for pole and open sawtimber sites only.
Postfire seedling establishment: To help determine if mutton grass or other herbaceous species were present in the soil seedbank, soil samples were collected from each forest stratum before the fires. The samples were spread out on vermiculite in the greenhouse and watered. Mutton grass seedlings did not emerge from soil samples from any of the forest strata .
Seed rain was collected in seed traps on open sawtimber sites for the first postfire year. Nearly all mutton grass seed dispersed in June. Total mutton grass seed rain (seeds/sq m) for 1 year on burned and unburned control sawtimber sites was :
Burn Control ----- ------- 87.31 54.32The first June after the fires, density of mutton grass seedlings was 0.1 seedling per square meter on open sawtimber and pole plots. Mutton grass seedlings were not found on below-sawtimber and sapling plots. Density of mutton grass seedlings remained unchanged on plots of all strata through at least the first October after the fires .
Biomass Density _________________________ ______________________ burn control burn control open sawtimber 54.64 (4.81) 56.06 (7.73) 1.81 (0.03) 1.92 (0.04) pole 3.97 (0.56)* 5.08 (0.92) 0.46 (0.12) 0.75 (0.20) __________________________________________________________________ Values are adjusted means (standard errors) from analysis of covariance.*Significant (P<0.05) difference between burn and controlThe number of mutton grass plants producing seed did not change after fire. There were no significant differences in the number of mutton grass plants reaching the seed stage between burned and unburned plots in postfire years 1 and 2. Percentage of plants reaching the seed stage follows . Sample size is indicated in parentheses.
Pole Sawtimber ________________ ________________ Year Burned Unburned Burned Unburned Chi-sq P-value ___________________________________________________________ 1983 29 (7) 38 (8) 74 (19) 44 (18) 6.20 0.102 1984 42 (12) 63 (8) 70 (20) 59 (22) 2.53 0.469
The prescribed fall fires had little effect on mutton grass. In open
sawtimber, mortality rates in the first postfire year were not
significantly different between burned and unburned plots (4% on burned
and 0% on controls). Biomass, density, and number of plants producing
seed after fire were similar on burned and unburned open sawtimber plots
[57,58,61]. On pole plots, density was unaffected by fire. Biomass of
residual plants was significantly greater on unburned pole plots than on
burned pole plots. When biomass of seedlings and residual plants on
pole plots was combined, however, total biomass differences were
insignificant between burned and unburned plots. Lack of fire effect
may be because plants had senesced and were dormant when burned .
This study indicates that mutton grass will be unharmed or only slightly reduced by prescribed fall burning in southwestern ponderosa pine understories. Tillering was the most important mechanism of postfire mutton grass regeneration. Although some mutton grass seedlings established on burned plots, they did not establish in large numbers. Seed production was unaffected by fire.
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