Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Schoenoplectus acutus

Introductory

SPECIES: Schoenoplectus acutus
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Esser, Lora L. 1995. Schoenoplectus acutus. 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 : SCHACU SYNONYMS : Scirpus acutus Muhl. [27,32,44,45,82,89] Scirpus lacustris L. [32] SCS PLANT CODE : SCAC3 COMMON NAMES : hardstem bulrush tule TAXONOMY : The scientific name of hardstem bulrush is Schoenoplectus acutus (Muhl.) A. & D. Love (Cyperaceae). There are 2 subspecies: [93,94]: Schoenoplectus acutus (Muhl.) A. & D. Love var. acutus, hardstem bulrush Schoenoplectus acutus (Muhl.) A. & D. Love var. occidentalis (S. Watson) S. G. Smith, common tule Hardstem bulrush hybridizes with softstem bulrush (S. tabernaemontani) [15,35,63] and softstem bulrush [35]. LIFE FORM : Graminoid FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO ENTRY


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Schoenoplectus acutus
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Hardstem bulrush occurs from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland west to southern British Columbia and south to North Carolina, Arkansas, Texas, and California [27,45,51]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES37  Mountain meadows    FRES38  Plains grasslands    FRES39  Prairie    FRES41  Wet grasslands STATES :      AZ  AR  CA  CO  CT  DE  ID  IL  IN  IA      KS  KY  ME  MD  MA  MI  MN  MO  MT  NE      NV  NH  NJ  NM  NY  NC  ND  OH  OK  OR      PA  RI  SD  TN  TX  UT  VT  VA  WA  WV      WI  WY  AB  BC  MB  NB  NF  NS  ON  PQ      SK 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     8  Northern Rocky Mountains     9  Middle Rocky Mountains    10  Wyoming Basin    11  Southern Rocky Mountains    12  Colorado Plateau    13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont    14  Great Plains    16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K049  Tule marshes SAF COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :    216  Montane meadows    217  Wetlands    422  Riparian HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Hardstem bulrush often forms monocultures in marshes throughout its range [17,76,88].  It is a member of sandhill, spring fen, graminoid fen, and wet meadow communities [6,11,17,70]. In California hardstem bulrush is a member of montane, coastal, and valley freshwater marsh communities.  Common associates include Olney threesquare (Scirpus americanus), California bulrush (S. californicus), slenderbeak sedge (Carex athrostachya), Nebraska sedge (C. nebracensis), swamp carex (C. senta), cottonsedge (Eriophorum spp.), common reed (Phragmites australis), and yellow nutgrass (Cyperus esculentus) [37,83].  In the western and central United States, a common cattail (Typha latifolia)-hardstem bulrush habitat type has been described [1,10,73]. In Montana hardstem bulrush habitat, dominance, and riparian types have been described [4,29,31].  Common associates include softstem bulrush, beaked sedge (Carex rostrata), seaside arrowgrass (Triglochin maritima), common spikesedge (Eleocharis palustris), and common buckbean (Menyanthes trifoliata).  In Utah hardstem bulrush is commonly associated with saltmarsh bulrush (Scirpus maritimus), alkali bulrush (S.  paludosus), saltgrass (Distichlis spicata), and sago pondweed (Potamogeton pectinatus) [5,7,10,66]. In North Dakota hardstem bulrush is dominant in marshes and meadows. Associates include whitetop (Scolochloa festucacea), common cattail, and common reed [17,46].  In Minnesota hardstem bulrush occurs in emergent marshes with river bulrush (Scirpus fluviatilis), giant burreed (Sparganium eurycarpus), prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata), and marsh groundsel (Senecio congestus) [34,72]. In Canada hardstem bulrush is found in the Delta Marsh of Manitoba [52,54].  It is also found in marshes and basins in Saskatchewan and Alberta [16,77].  The following publications list hardstem bulrush as a community dominant or codominant: Classification and management of riparian and wetland sites in   northwestern Montana [4] Classification and management of riparian and wetland sites in central   and eastern Montana [28] Riparian dominance types of Montana [29] Classification and management of riparian sites in southwestern Montana   [31] Preliminary descriptions of terrestrial natural communities of   California [37] Wetland community type classification for west-central Montana [56] Classification of aquatic and semiaquatic wetland natural areas in Idaho   and western Montana [58]

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Schoenoplectus acutus
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Hardstem bulrush herbage production is high, but forage value is low. It is seldom grazed by livestock if other forage is available [29].  If upland forage becomes limited and soil conditions dry, livestock and big game animals may utilize hardstem bulrush [4,29,30]. Hardstem bulrush is a staple food for muskrat [4] and other small mammals [29,38].  Seeds are eaten by passerines and waterfowl [4,29,38]. In California hardstem bulrush comprised 26 percent of American coot diets [3]. PALATABILITY : Hardstem bulrush palatability is rated as poor for sheep and fair for cattle and horses [90].  NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Hardstem bulrush nutritional values are rated as follows [4,90]:                            UT        WY        MT        ND elk                       poor      poor      poor      ---- mule deer                 poor      poor      fair      poor white-tailed deer         ----      poor      poor      poor pronghorn                 poor      poor      ----      poor upland game birds         poor      fair      good      poor waterfowl                 good      good      good      good small nongame birds       fair      good      good      fair small mammals             good      good      fair      ---- Energy rating is fair and protein content is poor [4,90].  In-vitro dry matter digestibility, crude protein, and phosphorus levels decrease linearly from late spring to late summer [42].  COVER VALUE : Hardstem bulrush cover values are rated as follows [4,90]:                             UT       WY       MT       ND upland game birds          good     good     good     good waterfowl                  good     good     good     good small nongame birds        good     good     good     good small mammals              good     good     fair     fair Hardstem bulrush provides valuable nesting cover and escape cover for a variety of passerines and waterfowl throughout its range [4,6,14,29,33]. In the prairie pothole region hardstem bulrush is preferred nesting cover for redhead and canvasback hens [71].  In Utah hardstem bulrush is important heron and egret nesting cover [7].  In Montana muskrat uses hardstem bulrush in hut construction [4].  VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Hardstem bulrush erosion control and short-term and long-term revegetation potential are rated as medium [4,90].  Hardstem bulrush buffers wind and wave action on lakes and ponds, which may enhance the establishment of vegetation along shorelines [38].  In California 1.6 foot (0.5 m) segments of hardstem bulrush rhizomes were transplanted in a tidal zone for erosion control in October 1978.  Hardstem bulrush survival rate was 4 percent in February 1979 [83]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : In Montana waterfowl managers often attempt to increase the proportion of the hardstem bulrush dominance type relative to the common cattail dominance type as a means of improving habitat [29,38].  Consumption of hardstem bulrush by waterfowl and muskrats may decrease aboveground standing biomass [66].  Hardstem bulrush may be replaced by cattail (Typha spp.) in continuously flooded marshes following drawdown [34]. However, during years of drought coupled with heavy livestock grazing, hardstem bulrush may increase at the expense of common cattail [92].  In northern prairie wetlands hardstem bulrush replaces river bulrush and sedges under intensive grazing [40]. Miller [49] suggests that hardstem bulrush may be reduced in some ponds or fields where it dominates by draining the water off and then letting drought conditions desiccate plants; mowing and burning following drainage are recommended.  Generally it is necessary to plow and summer fallow the area for one season for best results. Hardstem bulrush is used in artificial wetlands to filter agricultural wastewater [38]. 

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Schoenoplectus acutus
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Hardstem bulrush is a native, perennial graminoid.  Culms are slender and erect, usually 3.3 to 10 feet (1-3 m) tall, but occasionally reaching heights of 16.5 feet (5 m) [24,27,38,45,48].  Leaves are reduced to basal sheaths with blades up to 3.2 inches (8 cm) long [51]. Hardstem bulrush is densely colonial from extensive, stout rhizomes [29,38,45,48,51]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Geophyte Helophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sexual reproduction:  Hardstem bulrush reproduces by seed [29,54,56]. Seed is dispersed by wind and water [29,55,56,65].  It establishes well from seed stored in the seedbank [34,54,55].  Hardstem bulrush seed establishes and germinates best on moist, bare soil [29,56], but will germinate submerged in up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) of water in the laboratory [65]. Vegetative reproduction:  Hardstem bulrush reproduces from rhizomes [51,62].  Adventitious shoots may arise from rhizomes that have extended into pools from the littoral zone [62]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Hardstem bulrush grows best on sites with saturated soil or standing water for most of the year.  It occurs in marshes, swamps, seeps, washes, floodplains, along lake and stream margins, and in wet meadows [27,35,38,44,82].  It grows in fresh or brackish water [18,45,51,57]. Soils are usually poorly drained [18,76] or continually saturated [4,9,15,56].  Hardstem bulrush can grow in areas where the water table is up to 5 feet (1.5 m) above or 0.33 feet (0.1 m) below the soil surface [29,36,56,76].  In Montana hardstem bulrush is an obligate wetland species [4] and an indicator of relatively stable water conditions (areas where free water remains in the rooting zone for at least part of the growing season and can be periodically flooded up to 6.6 feet [2 m]) [56].  In Utah hardstem bulrush is subordinate to Olney threesquare because of limitations in salinity tolerance, shallow water, and competitiveness [5].  Hardstem bulrush is fairly drought tolerant; it can persist through several years of dry conditions [29].  Hardstem bulrush grows in silt loam, clay, sandy loam, gravel, marl, and peaty soils [12,29,33,38,76]. Elevations for hardstem bulrush are as follows:                                   feet              meters Arizona                        2,500-9,000         750-2,700    [41] California                    <5,000-8,500      <1,500-2,550    [51] Colorado                       3,500-9,000       1,050-2,700    [32,90] Montana                        2,180-6,650         665-2,028    [4,31] Oregon                         4,125-4,224       1,250-1,280    [88] Utah                           3,620-8,800       1,097-2,640    [82,90] Wyoming                        6,500-7,000       1,950-2,100    [90] Yellowstone National Park      5,990-6,633       1,815-2,010    [8] Saskatchewan                   1,650-2,640         500-800      [77] SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Hardstem bulrush is a dominant emergent on moist and saturated sites in the northern plains and prairie states [13,40,54,72].  In Montana hardstem bulrush colonizes newly exposed mudflats and drawdown areas [29].  In Saskatchewan hardstem bulrush is one of the earliest rooted macrophytes to invade flooded areas [15]. After hardstem bulrush becomes established in the hardstem bulrush riparian site type in Montana, most other plant species are precluded because of the saturated conditions and hardstem bulrush aggressiveness [31].  Hardstem bulrush forms a stable dominance type on sites with relatively constant water regimes; permanent standing water may result in compositional shifts toward sedges (Carex spp.) [29]. In marl-bed vegetation of the Byron-Bergen Swamp of New York, hardstem bulrush is dominant but may be replaced by shrubby cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa) with accumulated litter [62]. Hardstem bulrush is found in the third sere of succession in Wisconsin marshes, preceded by submerged and floating plant stages and followed by sedge meadows, shrubs, and trees [20]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Hardstem bulrush flowering dates are as follows: California          May-Aug          [51] Colorado            June-Aug         [90] Montana             June-Aug         [90] Wyoming             June-Aug         [90] Great Plains        June-mid Aug     [45] Nebraska            June-Aug         [24] North Dakota        July-Aug         [90] North Carolina      July             [59] Tennessee           July             [59] Virginia            June-Sept        [87]

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Schoenoplectus acutus
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Hardstem bulrush sprouts from rhizomes following fire [65,66].  After a prescribed fire in the Great Salt Lake Marsh, Utah, on September 2, 1981, hardstem bulrush sprouts were 1.6 feet (0.5 m) tall before winter freeze-up [68].  This fire occurred during an extended drought. Postfire regeneration included germination from buried seed [65], and probably also germination of off-site seed dispersed by wind and water. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil    Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)    Secondary colonizer - on-site seed    Secondary colonizer - off-site seed

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Schoenoplectus acutus
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Hardstem bulrush is top-killed or killed by most fires [7,65,88].  DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Hardstem bulrush sprouts from rhizomes following fire [65,66], and probably sprouts from the root crown as well.  It establishes from buried seed or seed dispersed onto burned sites [29,34,55,65]. Inflorescence production may increase for at least 1 postfire year [88]. Fire increases protein content in sprouting hardstem bulrush [67]. At the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Utah, herons and egrets nest almost exclusively in dead hardstem bulrush stands.  Green and dead stem densities (mean +/- SE) were studied on a March 1981 prescribed burn site and on unburned nesting colony sites. The results are as follows [7]: site                              green stems/sq m      dead stems/sq m Burn, postfire month 4              38.3 +/- 3.2              0              Burn, postfire month 16             52.6 +/- 2.5         34.7 +/- 2.7 Great blue heron colony             43.5 +/- 4.1         59.0 +/- 6.5 Black-crowned night heron colony    41.7 +/- 3.2         65.2 +/- 4.9 Snowy egret colonies                59.4 +/- 5.          80.2 +/- 7.2 DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Burning dead hardstem bulrush stands may have a negative effect on breeding herons and egrets [7].  Herons and egrets use dead hardstem bulrush stems as nesting material.  On the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, fire eliminated all dead hardstem bulrush stems.  Live stems may be utilized later in the nesting season.  Herons and egrets have been reported to abandon traditional colonial nest sites that have been burned [91]; thus, burning dead stands may have a negative effect on breeding herons and egrets [7]. Wetland vertebrates may select certain marsh plant species due to protein increases following fire [66].  The effects of fire and grazing on wetland plants after drawdowns in Utah's Great Salt Lake Marsh were studied [65,66,68].  Five acres (2 ha) were prescribed burned on September 2, 1981, then reflooded 1 week later.  Data were recorded in areas grazed by waterfowl and muskrats, and in exclosures protected from grazing.  Mean annual production (g/sq m/yr) +/- SD of hardstem bulrush (S. acutus and S. validus were both referred to as S. lacustris) under grazed and burned treatments was measured from May to August 1982.  Results were as follows [66]:                     burned             unburned grazed            915 +/- 366        1084 +/- 495 ungrazed         1559 +/- 811        1556 +/- 684 The effect of prescribed burning on hardstem bulrush standing crop was minimal.  The total annual production of the hardstem bulrush vegetation type after fire was not significantly different (P >.10) than the production of these types in unburned areas.  Grazing, however, had a significant impact (P <.05) on production in hardstem bulrush stands. Grazing significantly reduced the total annual production of the hardstem bulrush type within the burned sites [66,68].  Roots and rhizome numbers were lower on the burned than unburned units, but mortality was not great enough to significantly reduce total productivity [68].

FIRE CASE STUDIES

SPECIES: Schoenoplectus acutus
FIRE CASE STUDY CITATION : Esser, Lora L., compiler. 1995. Fire effects on hardstem bulrush on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon. In: Schoenoplectus acutus. 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/ []. REFERENCE : Young, Richard P. 1986. Fire ecology and management in plant communities of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Portland, OR: Oregon State University. 169 p. Thesis. [88]. SEASON/SEVERITY CLASSIFICATION : late fall/moderate-high severity early spring/moderate-high severity STUDY LOCATION : The study was located in Harney Basin in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), Oregon.  PREFIRE VEGETATIVE COMMUNITY : A monotypic, palustrine hardstem bulrush (Schoenoplectus acutus) wetland community type occurs throughout the Malheur NWR.  Standing dead fuel was assessed 2 to 10 days preceding a fire.  A series of quadrats were located throughout the cover type; on the quadrats, vegetation was harvested to ground level and collected for oven drying and weighing. TARGET SPECIES PHENOLOGICAL STATE : All prescribed fires were conducted during periods of vegetative dormancy.  SITE DESCRIPTION : The study site was located on a flat to gently rolling landscape at 4,015 to 4,225 feet (1,250-1,280 m) elevation.  Harney Basin is characterized by a semiarid climate and moderate to cold temperatures. Annual precipitation averages 10 to 12 inches (250-300 mm), but extremes of 4 inches (100 mm) and 20 inches (500 mm) have been recorded.  The bulk of precipitation occurs in winter and spring, whereas summers are typically dry.  The riverine and palustrine systems occupy the bottomlands draining into Malheur and Harney lakes.  These are typically long, narrow wetland zones composed of a continuum of ponds, sloughs, marshes, and wet meadows.    FIRE DESCRIPTION : Hardstem bulrush prescribed burn sites were at least 5 acres (2 ha) and were located in areas that would facilitate safe and efficient controlled burning.  Prefire fuels and fire weather conditions at the Malheur NWR were as follows: fire dates                      9 December 1980          7 April 1981 prefire fuel load (g/sq m)   mean                            1,817                    1,707   range                           1,062-2,402              887-2,208   fuel height (cm)                  184                      122 litter depth (cm)                 74                       66 fuel moisture (%)                 4.6                      5.8 temperature (C)                   3-5                      4-9 relative humidity (%)             27-34                    31-35 wind speed (km/h)                 2-16                     6-10 Fire behavior and effects on fuels were as follows: fire dates                          9 Dec 1980           7 April 1981 rate of spread (m/min)   headfire                            5-30                 20-25   backfire                            1-1.5                1-2 flame length (m)   headfire                            3-10                 3-4   backfire                            1-2                  1-2 postfire residual fuels (g/sq m)   mean                                309                  154   range                               27-568               12-328 reduction (%)                         83                   91 Rate of spread was strongly influenced by wind speed.  FIRE EFFECTS ON TARGET SPECIES : Regenerative tissues arising form rhizomes were protected from heat injury under conditions of dormant season, surface fires.  Winter and spring burning of hardstem bulrush increased reproduction for at least 1 year.  Inflorescence production increased by 25 percent for at least 1 year.  Burning increased aboveground standing crop and shoot densities for 2 years.  Mean shoot weight decreased slightly.  FIRE MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS : Prescribed fires reduce the amount of litter in hardstem bulrush stands, which may increase hardstem bulrush productivity. 

REFERENCES

SPECIES: Schoenoplectus acutus
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