Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Ambrosia deltoidea

Introductory

SPECIES: Ambrosia deltoidea
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Marshall, K. Anna. 1994. Ambrosia deltoidea. 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 : AMBDEL SYNONYMS : Franseria deltoidea Torr. [13] SCS PLANT CODE : AMDE4 COMMON NAMES : triangle bursage TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientfic name for triangle bursage is Ambrosia deltoidea (Torr.) Payne [24]. It is a member of the aster family (Asteraceae). There are no recognized subspecies, varieties, or forms. LIFE FORM : Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY

DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Ambrosia deltoidea
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Triangle bursage occurs throughout much of the Sonoran Desert.  It extends southward from southwestern Arizona into Sonora and Baja California, Mexico [2,3,16,24,27]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES30  Desert shrub    FRES40  Desert grasslands STATES :      AZ  MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :     7  Lower Basin and Range    12  Colorado Plateau KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K042  Creosotebush - bursage    K043  Paloverde - cactus shrub SAF COVER TYPES :    242 Mesquite SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Triangle bursage is a dominant or codominant member of the Arizona Upland Subdivision of the Sonoran Desert [5,8,16].  Although it mostly occurs in the ecotone between upper and lower bajadas, it also grows on upper bajadas, in lowland communities dominated by creosotebush (Larrea tridentata), and in desert grassland communities [3,4,10,16,33]. In the ecotone between upper and lower bajadas, characterized by steep, gravelly slopes, triangle bursage occurs in a paloverde (Cercidium spp.)-cacti-mixed scrub series and the desert scrub community type. Associated species include yellow paloverde (C. microphyllum), saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea), condalia (Condalia lycioides), ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), jatropha (Jatropha cardiophylla), and prickly pear (Opuntia spp.) [3,8,16]. On upper bajadas, triangle bursage is codominant with jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis), yellow paloverde, mesquite (Prosopis juliflora), and ironwood (Olneya tesota) [4]. In desert grassland communities that have been overgrazed, triangle bursage can be found among other invading perennial shrubs including corvillea (Corvillea tridentata), yellow paloverde, jojoba, ocotillo, wolfberry (Lycium spp.), acacia (Acacia spp.), canotia (Canotia holacantha), velvet mesquite (Prosopis juliflora var. velutina), and saguaro [33]. Publications listing triangle bursage as a dominant or codominant species include: The Natural Vegetation of Arizona [19] Sonoran Desertscrub [32] Vegetation of the Santa Catalina Mountains: community types and   dynamics [20] Other species associated with triangle bursage but not previously mentioned are brittle bush (Encelia farinosa), false-mesquite (Calliandra eriophylla), Berlandier wolfberry (Lycium berlandieri), hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus engelmanii), ferocactus (Ferocactus acanthodes), and white ratany (Krameria grayi).

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Ambrosia deltoidea
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : According to Stubbendieck and others [28], triangle bursage is worthless as forage for livestock. PALATABILITY : Triangle bursage is unpalatable [31].  McAuliffe and others [43] report that it is highly unpalatable to mammalian herbivores. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Triangle bursage may stabilize critical areas such as surface-mined lands in arid regions.  It can be established by direct seeding or with containerized plants [30]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : The paloverde/triangle bursage community is an aesthetically attractive plant community, and it is often preserved as a form of landscaping when urban development occurs [20]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Domestic grazing has caused a decrease in grasses and subsequent lack of fuel for burning in the Sonoran Desert.  As a result, bursage (Ambrosia spp.) has increased in the Sonoran Desert [2].  During a 30-year period of protection from grazing, triangle bursage decreased while perennial grasses and palatable shrubs increased [1].  Hessing and Johnson [11] found that removing woody plants, including triangle bursage, contributed to greater herb growth. Because of its dense, low-lying canopy, triangle bursage may protect the seedlings of other species from herbivory.  McAuliffe [17] found that rabbits consumed a greater proportion of seedlings in the open than under triangle bursage. Triangle bursage is the principal nurse plant for saguaro at Organ Pipe National Monument.  Its shade reduces maximum soil surface temperatures, and it also provides a microhabitat with elevated soil nitrogen levels [9].

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Ambrosia deltoidea
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Triangle bursage is a native, drought-deciduous, microphyllous shrub growing up to 1.65 feet (50 cm) tall [24, 29].  Innumerable slender and brittle branches spring up from the base forming a compact, roughly hemispherical crown [27, 35].  Mature triangle bursage crowns contain many dead branches which are shed only as a result of weathering [27]. The branches and young leaves of triangle bursage are tomentulose and resinous.  Leaves become glabrous above with age.  Leaf length is 0.6 to 0.8 inches (1.5-2 cm) or smaller [24,27]. Staminate heads are borne terminally.  Two-flowered, pistillate involucres are clustered below the staminate spikes or on lateral branches.  They produce globose, spiny achenes [24,27]. Triangle bursage possesses one long taproot with well-developed laterals [35].  Triangle bursage roots are slender, brittle, and longitudinally ridged with cork [6].  They are confined to the soil above the caliche hardpan--about 8 to 16 inches (20-40 cm) deep [6,35].  Besides roots arising from the main root, Cannon [6] found 50 adventitious roots about 0.12 inches (3 mm) in diameter which arose from the root crown, growing horizontally.  Filamentous rootlets formed on many roots of triangle bursage after the soil had been moistened by rains, but such rootlets were short lived [6]. Triangle bursage is relatively short lived for a desert shrub.  It has an observed longevity of about 50 years [10,27]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :       Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Triangle bursage reproduces sexually.  Seed is produced abundantly, and seedlings establish in open space.  In the Sonoran Desert, the relative abundance of triangle bursage seedlings was some 45 times the density of mature triangle bursage plants.  The density of mature triangle bursage was similar to that of mature creosotebush, but 1,001 triangle bursage seedlings were counted while only 124 creosotebush seedlings were found [17]. Triangle bursage seeds are spiny and are probably dispersed by mammals. One study reports that triangle bursage has very limited ability to sprout after top-kill [18].  No other research describes the ability of triangle bursage to sprout. Triangle bursage reproduces from cuttings with the application of auxin [15]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Triangle bursage commonly grows in open spaces [17] on pediments, upper bajada surfaces, and basin floors on a variety of substrates including volcanic, granitic, metamorphic, alluvial, and caliche soils.  There was no significant difference in cover of triangle bursage among volcanic, granitic, metamorphic, and alluvial substrates [21]. Triangle bursage is a frequent dominant on gravel outwashes, bajadas, and the ecotone between upper and lower bajadas [3,17,35].  Triangle bursage occurs almost entirely on very coarse soils that are relatively uniform in composition with little differentiation into horizons [3,14,15], although it occurs rarely on sand [27].  Precipitation percolates rapidly through the soil and drains quickly away along the underlying caliche layer [1,35]. Rainfall averages 4 to 12 inches (100-300 mm) annually with a bimodal distribution [16,25].  Temperatures at Organ Pipe National Monument and elsewhere in the Sonoran Desert fluctuate daily and seasonally.  The mean frost frequency at the monument from 1956 to 1985 was 17 frosts per year (standard deviation=7, range=5-34) [21]. Parker [22] studied the soil characteristics of sites dominated by triangle bursage at Organ Pipe National Monument.  Overall, triangle bursage was most abundant on flat terrain, but its cover was reduced on the lower bajadas and in the western portion of the Monument where pH was relatively high [22].  In the Ajo Mountains on south-facing slopes, sites had low pH and high available magnesium.  In the Blanco Mountains, Senita Basin, and Quitobaquito Hills, available magnesium was low.  In the Bates Mountains, Puerto Blanco Mountains, lower elevations of the Ajo Mountains, and flats in Senita Basin, triangle bursage grew on north-facing slopes in volcanic soil.  In the Sonoyta Mountains, triangle bursage grew on northwest- to northeast-facing slopes.  Leitner [14] found that triangle bursage preferred the cooler, more humid conditions of north-facing slopes at Punta Cirio, Sonora, Mexico, although it occurred on both north- and south-facing slopes.  Triangle bursage grows from 1,000 to 3,000 feet (300-900 m) [13]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species Triangle bursage is often the first plant to occupy an open area. Recruitment of other species rarely occurs in the open.  Once established, triangle bursage acts as a nurse plant for other species, providing improved microhabitat and protection from herbivory [17,9]. Most mature triangle bursage plants have an associated perennial. Eighty-two out of 103 triangle bursage plants lacking associated perennials were small (and presumably young)--2 inches (5 cm) or less in root crown diameter.  Only 2 of 101 triangle bursage plants that had other perennials associated with them had basal diameters of 2 inches (5 cm) or less [17]. Succession in the desert is difficult to characterize.  Although changes in relative abundances of species may occur, plants rarely disappear from the ecosystem altogether because severe disturbance is usually lacking [17].  McAuliffe [17] described changes in desert vegetation in terms of community dynamics instead of succession.  For instance, in communities codominated by triangle bursage, triangle bursage colonizes open space and acts as a nurse plant for other perennial shrubs.  Some larger, presumably older individuals within the population bear no evidence of former associations with triangle bursage, probably because they have outlived it.  Triangle bursage continues to colonize other open space.  Relative abundance of species may be altered, but triangle bursage presence is maintained [17]. Triangle bursage is known to establish on overgrazed desert grasslands. Tueller [31] suggested that partial or complete protection from grazing on triangle bursage-invaded rangeland will promote secondary succession. Secondary succession results in the establishment of climax grasses and palatable shrubs and a decrease in unpalatable shrubs such as triangle bursage. When growing among creosotebush and jumping cholla (Opuntia fulgida), triangle bursage occupies a distinct root zone so interspecific competition is minimized [35].  In one study, no roots of neighboring plants grew near triangle bursage roots [6]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Most new leaves on triangle bursage develop and mature during the winter and early spring [29].  Triangle bursage flowers from February to July [33].  Seeds are produced after both summer and winter rains [27].

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Ambrosia deltoidea
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Because triangle bursage establishes in open spaces, it survives fires that burn with a mosaic pattern [26]. Although triangle bursage seedlings establish after fire, the literature does not mention whether the seed originates on- or off-site. Fires occur frequently in the desert grassland at the eastern margin of the Sonoran Desert.  Fires in the desert proper, however, are infrequent and generally of low severity because production of annual and perennial herbs seldom provides a fuel load capable of sustaining fire [18]. Fires occur occasionally in the Sonoran Desert, mostly in the Arizona Upland where the biannual rainfall produces relatively lush rangeland [23,26].  Following a moist year, the desert floor is covered with sufficient annual plant fuel and litter to carry a fire [23].  When winter annuals thrive, fire is more likely [2,17].  Exotic annuals may be more productive than native species and fuel more frequent, more severe fires [2]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : NO-ENTRY

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Ambrosia deltoidea
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Triangle bursage is usually top-killed or killed by fire [18,26]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Burning generally decreases bursage (Ambrosia spp.) cover [2,7,18,26,34]. It is not clear whether top-killed triangle bursage sprout after fire. One study found 1 percent of top-killed triangle bursage sprouting 4 years after a fire [18].  No other research describes the ability of triangle bursage to sprout. Triangle bursage produces a large amount of seed, and seedlings establish after fire.  Following fires that occurred in 1974 in south-central Arizona, no triangle bursage sprouted, but several survived in unburned patches.  Density of triangle bursage in postfire year 1 was 275 plants per 1,500 square meters; 3 to 4 years later, density was 49 plants per 1,500 square meters.  Eighty-two percent of all seedlings were triangle bursage [26]. Desert fires reduce perennial plant cover, often for several years [26]. In an Upper Sonoran Desert site on the Tonto National Forest, prefire coverage of perennial plants, including triangle bursage, was 30.7 percent.  Perennial cover immediately after fire was 9.3 percent.  The physical characteristics of the study site, including soil surface albedo, microsite maximum and minimum temperatures, and soil water repellency were not greatly altered [23]. The killed portion of a woody, desert plant such as triangle bursage usually represents many years of growth.  Repeated fires, even when they do not kill woody taxa outright, keep them in a juvenile, nonfruiting stage [12]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : A low-severity lightning fire occured in late June of 1979 in the Sonoran Desert near Florence, Arizona.  The prefire vegetative community was typical of the Arizona Upland Subdivision of the Sonoran Desert. The dominant species were triangle bursage, yellow paloverde, creosotebush, saguaro, buckhorn cholla (Opuntia acanthocarpa), hedgehog (Echinocereus fasciculatus), barrel cactus (Ferocactus wislizenii), and prickly pear (Opuntia phaeacantha).  Small patches of vegetation were skipped throughout the burn.  With the exception of these skips, nearly all trees and shrubs were completely top-killed [18]. The density of triangle bursage 19 months after the fire was 540 plants per hectare, compared to 6,790 plants per hectare in the unburned control area.  Percent cover of triangle bursage was 0.7 percent in burned areas and 7.4 percent in control areas.  Ninety-three percent of all triangle bursage plants in burned areas were top-killed; overall mortality of triangle bursage was 92 percent.  By 1981, only 1 percent of top-killed triangle bursage plants were sprouting [18]. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : McLaughlin and Bowers [18] hypothesized that two consecutive wet winters may be required for the development of a fuel load adequate to sustain fire in the Sonoran Desert.  The first wet winter would result in higher production of annuals and the addition of large numbers of seeds to the soil.  The second wet winter would facilitate sprouting of the increased number of seeds and production of enough annuals to sustain fire. Native American Hohokam farmers (A.D. 11150-1350) cleared fields, ditches, and broad patches of the desert by fire.  Hohokam farmers found that burning could increase the variety of plants available to be gathered and mammals to be hunted.  The fossil record shows about 40 percent bursage (Ambrosia spp.) pollen in Hohokam times compared with 74 percent in modern times [2]. Desert fires may create potential soil stability problems [23].

FIRE CASE STUDIES

SPECIES: Ambrosia deltoidea
FIRE CASE STUDY CITATION: Marshall, K. Anna., compiler. 1994. Effects of prescribed and wildfires on triangle bursage on the Tonto National Forest, Arizona. In: Ambrosia deltoidea. 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/ []. REFERENCES : Cave, George Harold, III. 1982. Ecological effects of fire in the upper Sonoran Desert. Tempe, AZ: Arizona State University. 124 p. Thesis. [7]. Patten, Duncan T.; Cave, George H. 1984. Fire temperatures and physical characteristics of a controlled burn in the upper Sonoran Desert. Journal of Range Management. 37(3): 277-280. [23]. SEASON/SEVERITY CLASSIFICATION : summer/low-severity STUDY LOCATION : The study was located in Bulldog Canyon in Tonto National Forest, Arizona, at 33 degrees 15 minutes north latitude and 111 degrees 33 minutes west longitude. PREFIRE VEGETATIVE COMMUNITY : The prefire vegetative community was typical of the Upper Sonoran Desert paloverde-cactus-shrub association (Cercidium spp.-Opuntia spp. and Carnegiea gigantea-Ambrosia spp.).  Plants occupied about one-third of the total ground cover.  Triangle bursage (A. deltoidea) occupied about 15 percent of the total ground cover.  Annual forbs and grasses in this association are abundant after winter and heavy summer rains, providing enough fuel to carry a fire. TARGET SPECIES PHENOLOGICAL STATE : At the time of the fire, triangle bursage would have been flowering and/or fruiting. SITE DESCRIPTION : Topography is flat except for one small, dry wash bisecting the site.  The soil is composed of sandy loam argids with a desert pavement surface.  Elevation at the site is 1,485 feet (450 m). The burn site is adjacent to an area burned by wildfire on April 26, 1980.  The 1980 wildfire may have been more severe since both 1979 and 1980 were years of above average precipitation, and the standing herbaceous vegetation was probably relatively lush.  The study compares the prescribed fire and the wildfire sites. FIRE DESCRIPTION : The fire was ignited on June 12, 1981.  Conditions were typical for summer months in the Upper Sonoran Desert.  Air temperatures ranged from 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 deg C) in the shade to 132.8 degrees Fahrenheit (56 deg C) 0.4 inches (1 cm) above the unshaded soil surface. Relative humidity remained at 29 percent during the fire.  Mean air movement for the duration of the fire was low at 0.001 meters per second.  Mean wind velocity for gusts was 2.75 meters per second.  Mean soil moisture percent in the upper 2 inches (5 cm) of soil was 0.61 percent in open areas and 0.80 percent in shaded areas.  Litter fuel averaged 143.3 grams per square meter. FIRE EFFECTS ON TARGET SPECIES : In 1981, 1 year after the wildfire and immediately following the controlled burning, the density of triangle bursage was greater on the wildfire site than on the prescribed fire site, mainly because of the establishment of triangle bursage seedlings on the wildfire site. Postfire cover measurements were nearly the same. Triangle bursage density was reduced by 82 percent on the prescribed fire site immediately after the controlled burning.  The prefire density of triangle bursage on the prescribed fire site was 6,275 plants per hectare.  Immediately after the controlled burning, triangle bursage density was 1,141 plants per hectare.  One year later, triangle bursage density had not changed significantly. FIRE MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS : NO-ENTRY

REFERENCES

SPECIES: Ambrosia deltoidea
REFERENCES :  1.  Blydenstein, John; Hungerford, C. Roger; Day, Gerald I.; Humphrey, R.        1957. Effect of domestic livestock exclusion on vegetation in the        Sonoran Desert. Ecology. 38(3): 522-526.  [4570]  2.  Bohrer, Vorsila L. 1992. New life from ashes II: A tale of burnt brush.        Desert Plants. 10(3): 122-125.  [18805]  3.  Bowers, Michael A. 1988. Plant associations on a Sonoran Desert bajada:        geographical correlates and evolutionary source pools. Vegetatio. 74:        107-112.  [4408]  4.  Brooks, William H. 1978. Jojoba--a North American desert shrub; its        ecology, possible commercialization, & potential as an introd. into        other arid regions. Journal of Arid Environments. 1: 227-236.  [5162]  5.  Burgess, Tony L.; Bowers, Janice E.; Turner, Raymond M. 1991. Exotic        plants at the Desert Laboratory, Tucson, Arizona. Madrono. 38(2):        96-114.  [15362]  6.  Cannon, William Austin. 1911. The root habits of desert plants.        Washington, DC: The Carnegie Institution of Washington. 96 p.  [5003]  7.  Cave, George Harold, III. 1982. Ecological effects of fire in the upper        Sonoran Desert. Tempe, AZ: Arizona State University. 124 p. Thesis.        [12295]  8.  Daniel, Thomas F.; Butterwick, Mary L. 1992. Flora of the South        Mountains of south-central Arizona. Desert Plants. 10(3): 99-119.        [19896]  9.  Franco, A. C.; Nobel, P. S. 1989. Effect of nurse plants on the        microhabit and growth of cacti. Journal of Ecology. 77: 870-886.  [9766] 10.  Goldberg, Deborah E.; Turner, Raymond M. 1986. Vegetation change and        plant demography in permanent plots in the Sonoran Desert. Ecology.        67(3): 695-712.  [4410] 11.  Hessing, M. B.; Johnson, C. D. 1982. Disturbance and revegetation of        Sonoran Desert vegetation in an Arizona powerline corridor. Journal of        Range Management. 35(2): 254-258.  [4320] 12.  Humphrey, Robert R. 1963. 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