SPECIES: Baccharis pilularis
| photo courtesy of
Rhizosphere Image Gallery
Coastal strand communities occur along most of the California coast on sandy beaches and dunes. Coyote bush grows in a prostrate form with beach wormwood (Artemisia pycnocephala), silver burr ragweed (Ambrosia chamissonis), silky beach peavine (Lathyrus littoralis), bush lupine (Lupinus arboreus), chamisso bush lupine (Lupinus chamissonis), verbena (Abronia spp.), beach primrose (Camissonia cheiranthifolia), beach saltbush (Atriplex leucophylla), beach strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis), Douglas' bluegrass (Poa douglasii), California heathgoldenrod (Ericameria ericoides), and slenderleaf iceplant (Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum) [3,47]. In coastal sage scrub of the South Coast Ranges, coyote bush grows in prostrate and erect forms. Coastal sage scrub associates include California sagebrush (Artemisia californica), white sage (Salvia apiana), black sage (S. mellifera), purple sage (S. leucophylla), eastern Mojave buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), lemonade sumac (Rhus integrifolia), California brittlebrush (Encelia californica), wedgeleaf horkelia (Horkelia cuneata), and golden-yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum) . Coyote bush typically grows in erect form in chaparral, where associates include chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum), toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), California coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica), Nuttall's scrub oak (Quercus dumosa), birchleaf mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides), Our Lord's candle (Yucca whipplei), California flannelbush (Fremontodendron californicum), hollyleaf cherry (Prunus ilicifolia), ceanothus (Ceanothus spp.), manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.), and chaparral pea (Pickeringia montana) [4,7,47].
Coyote bush grows in erect form in shrub communities seral to foothill woodlands, closed-cone pine forests, and mixed-evergreen forests. In foothill woodlands coyote bush, wedgeleaf ceanothus (Ceanothus cuneatus), California redbud (Cercis orbiculata), and rock gooseberry (Ribes quercetorum) are seral to gray pine (Pinus sabiana), Coulter pine (P. coulteri), blue oak (Q. douglasii), canyon live oak (Q. chrysolepis), coast live oak (Q. agrifolia), interior live oak (Q. wislizenii), valley oak (Q. lobata), California bay (Umbellularia californica), and California buckeye (Aesculus californica) [43,47]. Closed-cone pine forest associates include bishop pine (P. muricata), Monterey pine (P. radiata), Mexican pinyon (P. cembroides), Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa), and Gowen cypress (C. goveniana). Mixed evergreen forests include tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflorus), Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii), coast Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii), golden chinkapin (Chrysolepis chrysophylla), California bay, bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), canyon live oak, California black oak (Q. kelloggii), Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii), and ceanothus .Vegetation classifications describing coyote bush-dominated communities include: [3,36,40,52,53,59]
Coyote bush grows a taproot up to approximately 10.5
feet (3.2 m) long;
lateral roots are also well developed [9,68]. Individuals live 10 to 15 years, but basal sprouting and
extend this lifespan .
RAUNKIAER  LIFE FORM:
Breeding system: Members of the Baccharis genus are dioecious.
Pollination: Steffan  identified 55 insect species visiting male and female flowers in late September and early October. The most abundant species included Argentine ants (Linepithema humile), parasitic hymenoptera (Agathis gibbosa, Synopeas spp., and Dolichogenidea spp.), and honey bees (Apis mellifera).
Seed production: No information.
Seed dispersal: Achenes are dispersed primarily by wind, but also by mammals [48,68].
Seed banking: No information.
Germination: Coyote bush seed germinates well on mineral soil and has no stratification or temperature requirement. Most germination occurs within about 15 to 30 days; germination rates within this time frame ranged from 40 to 92% in the greenhouse .
Seedling establishment/growth: Coyote bush seedling growth is rapid during spring; high root growth rates continue as long as the taproot grows faster than moisture recedes. Mortality often results if roots fail to reach adequate moisture, so best establishment of coyote bush in grasslands occurs in wet years . Seedling establishment is best on mineral soil; coyote bush is excluded or reduced by competition from grasses and other species that have larger seeds with more carbohydrate storage. DaSilva and Bartolome  found high soft chess (Bromus hordeaceus) seedling density reduced survivorship and growth of coyote bush seedlings, particularly under low-moisture, controlled conditions. Growth rates over the 1st 9 weeks of life showed coyote bush's high root:shoot ratio, typical of taprooted shrubs in dry areas. Results are summarized below (data are means).
|Age of seedlings (days)||Root (cm)||Shoot (cm)||Root: shoot ratio|
Asexual regeneration: Coyote bush sprouts from the root crown and roots. It may also grow roots where branch nodes contact soil .SITE CHARACTERISTICS:
Coyote bush occurs on a range of soil types but is best adapted to medium- to coarse-textured soils .SUCCESSIONAL STATUS:
Generally coyote bush-dominated scrub transition to mixed evergreen forest takes place in about 50 years and is reversible with periodic fire . Coyote bush can be a small component of early successional communities following clearcuts of tanoak, coast Douglas-fir, Pacific ponderosa pine, Pacific madrone, oak, incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens), Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia), and/or canyon live oak [24,43]SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT:
Fire regimes: Fire frequency largely determines the extent of grasslands, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and oak woodlands and whether coyote bush is present in each of these types. In grasslands, low fire frequency permits establishment of coyote bush and the gradual exclusion of herbaceous species [27,64]. In coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and oak woodland, decreasing fire frequency allows coyote bush to be replaced by more shade-tolerant species . In mixed evergreen forests, closed-cone pine stands, and coast Douglas-fir stands, coyote bush is only important in early seral vegetation after fire or logging . Transition from coyote bush scrub to mixed evergreen forest can occur in 50 years without fire. In some cases, however, tree recruitment is limited by crown closure, and fire exclusion does not result in type conversion but rather maintenance of a dynamic mosaic wherein reversion and succession allow both vegetation types to persist .
One study of vegetation dynamics in coastal sage scrub, grassland, and oak woodland near Santa Barbara found without fire or livestock grazing, coastal sage scrub was replaced by oak woodland at a rate of 0.3% annually. Grassland to coastal sage scrub transition occurred at a rate of 0.69% per year, and oak woodland reverted to grassland at a rate of 0.08% per year. On burned areas without livestock grazing or on unburned sites with livestock grazing, rates of transition of grassland to coastal scrub and coastal scrub to oak woodland were lower. On areas burned without grazing or grazed without burning the rate of oak woodland reversion to grassland was higher than on areas with neither burning nor grazing .
Coastal sage and coastal scrub: These community types are fire-dependent, with prominent shrubs establishing by seed and sprouting [35,36,66,67]. It is a flammable vegetation type that may burn 1 to 2 years after fire if dry conditions exist. With fire in less than 5-year intervals, or with overgrazing, coastal scrub generally reverts to annual nonnative grassland [34,59]. Fire exclusion in coastal sage scrub and mesic chaparral communities allows coast live oak, California bay, and other shade tolerant species to increase in density and reduce understory diversity and abundance [44,64]. In the absence of fire, coast live oak recruitment in chaparral and grassland is commensurate with their aerial extents; in coastal sage scrub, however, coast live oak recruitment exceeds that expected by chance alone. This is primarily because coyote bush is a nurse shrub for shade-tolerant tree seedlings, particularly coast live oak and California bay. With tree development, coyote bush is reduced or excluded .
Chaparral: Coyote bush is generally absent from mature chaparral, but after fire it occurs with other relatively short-lived shrubs and sub-shrubs including California sagebrush, rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus spp.), California brittlebrush, yerba santa (Eriodictyon spp.), eastern Mojave buckwheat, golden-yarrow, monkeyflower (Mimulus spp.), and others . Shade created by abundant sprouting of chaparral shrubs limits coyote bush seedling establishment; seedlings are most abundant in gaps where nonsprouting shrubs are eliminated and mineral soil is exposed [34,69]. As in coast scrub associations, high fire frequency can create annual grasslands of native and nonnative species .
Coastal prairie: Fire exclusion in coastal prairie allows coyote bush establishment, with best establishment in wet years [39,68]. Complete conversion of purple needlegrass (Nassella pulchra) tussock grassland to coyote bush/ripgut brome (Bromus diandrus) stands has been observed with 24 years of fire exclusion . Coyote bush forms a closed canopy in about 2 to 3 years after invasion . Keeley  maintains that California prairies that have been invaded by shrubs were, in most cases, disclimaxes maintained by fires set by Native Americans.
Greenlee and Langenheim  described fire regimes of potential coyote bush habitats in the Monterey Bay area; their results are summarized below. In all habitats there was a large decrease of fire frequency in the recent era, beginning in 1929 with restrictions against burning. "Probable mean fire interval" refers to estimates of fire intervals that are derived from historical or very limited physical evidence.
|Fire regime||Vegetation where burning concentrated||Vegetation where burning incidental||Recorded or calculated mean fire intervals (years)||Probable mean fire intervals (years)|
|Aboriginal (until approximately 1792)||Prairies||1-2|
|Spanish (1792 to 1848)||Prairies||1-15|
|European-American (1847 to 1929)||Prairies||20-30|
|Recent (1929 to present)||Prairies||20-30|
Fire regimes for plant communities and ecosystems in which coyote bush occurs are presented below. More information regarding fire regimes and fire ecology of these communities can be found in the 'Fire Ecology and Adaptations' section of the FEIS species summary for the plant community or ecosystem dominants below.
|Community or Ecosystem||Dominant Species||Fire Return Interval Range (years)|
|California steppe||Festuca-Danthonia spp.||< 35 |
|Pacific ponderosa pine*||Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa||1-47 |
|coastal Douglas-fir*||Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii||40-240 [1,46,55]|
|California mixed evergreen||Pseudotsuga menziesii var. m.-Lithocarpus densiflorus-Arbutus menziesii||< 35|
|California oakwoods||Quercus spp.||< 35 |
|coast live oak||Quercus agrifolia||2 to 75 |
|canyon live oak||Quercus chrysolepis||<35 to 200|
|blue oak-foothills pine||Quercus douglasii-Pinus sabiniana||<35|
|Oregon white oak||Quercus garryana||< 35 |
|California black oak||Quercus kelloggii||5-30 |
|redwood||Sequoia sempervirens||5-200 [1,17,61]|
Coyote bush establishes well from seed following fire.
The seeds are
light, easily dispersed, and germinate well on mineral soil [48,68]. One study of coastal chaparral near Santa Barbara found
seedling density of coyote bush averaged 1,787 per acre (4,425/ha)
1 year after fire .
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE:
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Prescribed fire in coastal sage scrub has been recommended to reduce fuel loading and risk of property-damaging wildfire, and to reduce establishment of coast live oak and other trees . Prescribed burning has been used in coastal prairie to reduce invasion of coyote bush and other shrubs [19,42]. Fire managers in southern California have made fire control lines in riparian woodlands when planning broadcast burning of adjacent chaparral and coastal scrub. Control lines are burned to create a fuelbreak . Green's  1981 report offers much information on prescribed fire planning, fuels, ignition techniques, and fire behavior in California shrub communities.
Beyers and Wirtz  suggested the endangered California gnatcatcher could potentially be adversely affected by prescribed burning in coastal sage scrub. The species requires approximately 50% shrub cover and over 3.3 feet (1 m) in shrub height for nesting territories. Under optimal conditions, this stand structure may be achieved in 4 or 5 years after fire. If connectivity exists between burned and unburned habitats, prescribed fire can be used without adverse impact. The authors recommend maintaining both mature and burned scrub areas to reduce fuel loads while mitigating impacts to shrub-dependent species such as the California gnatcatcher.From the perspective of protecting property from fire, fuel modification is of greatest value in the immediate area around development. Recommendations for property protection include: planting trees away from structures, trimming low branches, selecting less flammable landscaping species, using nonflammable construction materials, and, where trees already grow near homes, removing overhanging branches [14,18]. See the Firewise website for specific recommendations. Domestic goat grazing (at a rate of 240 goats/acre (600 goats/ha) for 1 day), in conjunction with prescribed fire, has been used to reduce fuel loading and continuity in dense shrub communities housing developments .
Palatability/nutritional value: Coyote bush has low protein value and low palatability to grazers and browsers . Little evidence is found of livestock browsing mature shrubs .
Cover value: Coyote bush establishment in grasslands improves cover for rabbits and other small mammals that graze herbaceous biomass. Increasing small mammal populations thus facilitate shrub development and/or establishment and reduce the rate of reversion to grassland. Coyote bush/grassland ecotones often have a boundary of bare ground maintained by small mammal grazing .VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES:
Seed can be collected with a cloth and is best if dried in a warm ventilated room or in sun without wind. Sometimes the pappus is removed before planting. In nurseries, seeds are sown in fall or early spring using sandy soil or a vermiculite, perlite, and sphagnum moss mix .OTHER USES:
Coyote bush facilitates coastal scrub development in grassland. Grazing and/or prescribed fire have been recommended where the management objective is grassland maintenance .
Coyote bush is susceptible to 2,4-D .Coyote bush commonly supports galls created by the host- specific midge Rhopalomyia californica .
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