Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Chrysolepis sempervirens


SPECIES: Chrysolepis sempervirens
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Howard, Janet L. 1992. Chrysolepis sempervirens. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : CHRSEM SYNONYMS : Castanopsis sempervirens (Kell.) Dudley SCS PLANT CODE : CASE8 COMMON NAMES : bush chinquapin bush chinkapin chinquapin Sierra chinquapin Sierra evergreen chinquapin Dudley Sierra chinquapin TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of bush chinquapin is Chrysolepis sempervirens (Kell.) Hjelmqv. It is a member of the Fagaceae, or oak family [9,21,33]. The older name of Castanopsis sempervirens (Kell.) Dudley is still frequently encountered in the literature. There are no subspecies, varieties, or forms. Bush chinquapin hybridizes with giant chinquapin (C. chrysophylla) in western Siskiyou County, where distributions of the two species overlap [16,25]. LIFE FORM : Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Chrysolepis sempervirens
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Bush chinquapin occurs in mountainous regions of California and southern Oregon. It is distributed along the Pacific Coast from the San Jacinto and San Bernadino mountains north through the Coast Ranges to southwestern Oregon. Eastward it is distributed through the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range to south-central Oregon [9,25,33]. Giant chinquapin has a shrub form that is difficult to distinguish from bush chinquapin, and there is some confusion as to the exact distribution of each [25]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES20 Douglas-fir FRES21 Ponderosa pine FRES24 Hemlock - Sitka spruce FRES26 Lodgepole pine FRES27 Redwood FRES28 Western hardwoods FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub FRES35 Pinyon - juniper FRES44 Alpine STATES : CA OR BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 1 Northern Pacific Border 2 Cascade Mountains 3 Southern Pacific Border 4 Sierra Mountains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K002 Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest K003 Silver fir - Douglas-fir forest K004 Fir - hemlock forest K005 Mixed conifer forest K006 Redwood forest K007 Red fir forest K008 Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest K010 Ponderosa shrub forest K011 Western ponderosa forest K012 Douglas-fir forest K013 Cedar - hemlock - pine forest K024 Juniper steppe woodland K028 Mosaic of K002 and K026 K029 California mixed evergreen forest K030 California oakwoods K034 Montane chaparral K052 Alpine meadows and barren SAF COVER TYPES : 229 Pacific Douglas-fir 230 Douglas-fir - western hemlock 231 Port-Orford-cedar 232 Redwood 233 Oregon white oak 238 Western juniper 243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer 244 Pacific ponderosa pine - Douglas-fir 245 Pacific ponderosa pine 246 California black oak 247 Jeffrey pine 249 Canyon live oak 256 California mixed subalpine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Bush chinquapin is a common codominant of montane chaparral. Occurring at higher elevations than other types of chaparral, montane chaparral consists of low-growing, often dense thickets of sclerophyllous shrubs in the coniferous forest zone. Forest cover is lacking, usually due to removal of trees by fire or logging [22,23]. Mountain whitethorn (Ceanothus cordulatus), snowbrush ceanothus (Ceanothus viscidiflorus), and greenleaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos patula) are frequent codominants [6,22]. Together these shrubs may form almost impenetrable stands [6]. Bush chinquapin also occurs in pure stands. These are not extensive in montane chaparral but are common in alpine zones [11,36]. Bush chinquapin often dominates or codominates the understories of mid-seral coniferous forests adjacent to montane chaparral [18]. Coniferous forests may also contain scattered thickets of bush chinquapin on sites unfavorable to conifer growth, such as rocky outcrops or dry ridges [26]. Bush chinquapin occupies breaks in the overhead canopy where windthrow or tree death has occurred [8]. On the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range, bush chinquapin is associated with the western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis)-big sagebrush (Artemesia tridentata)-bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegenaria spicata) community of the Great Basin [13,32]. Publications listing bush chinquapin as a dominant or codominant species are as follows: California chaparral [18]. Terrestrial natural communities of California [22]. Vegetation types of the San Bernadino Mountains [23]. Vegetation and fire history of a ponderosa pine-white fir forest in Crater Lake National Park [31] A vegetation classification system applied to southern California [36].


SPECIES: Chrysolepis sempervirens
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : The seeds of bush chinquapin are a staple diet item of various birds and rodents [9,24,26]. Twigs and leaves are rarely browsed by either livestock or big game animals [24,32,40]. PALATABILITY : Bush chinkapin is rated as poor to useless for sheep, goats, black-tailed deer, and bighorn sheep and useless for cattle and horses [9,40]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Managers have been largely frustrated in attempts to use bush chinquapin for site rehabilitation, although it is recommended for such use on disturbed watersheds and wildlife habitations [24]. The species is difficult to cultivate. Hormone-treated cuttings fail to root [24,26], and containerized seedlings do not transplant well [24,39]. Seedlings outplanted on a favorable central Sierra Nevada site denuded by a large broken water pipe showed poorer survival (81 percent) after 2 years than any of six other native species. Average height and stem diameter of surviving bush chinquapin was significantly (p>0.05) less than other outplanted species [7]. Many managers have experienced 100 percent mortality of transplants [24]. No attempts at establishing plants from seed sown directly on-site were found in the literature, although this method is recommended [26]. Managers have found onsite sowing of seed to be the most effective in establishing the closely-related native California oaks (Quercus spp.) because taproots develop normally [17]. Seed collection and processing information is available in the literature [24]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : The golden sheen of the lower leaf epidermis, showy cream-white male catkins, and attractive burred fruits makes bush chinquapin of interest as an ornamental, but commercial cultivation of the species has not been successful [24,26]. The seeds are palatable to humans, either raw or roasted. They were a common diet item of Native Americans [25]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Rangeland: Large numbers of bush chinquapin in rangelands are considered indicators of overgrazing [40]. Timber: Bush chinquapin suppress growth of young conifers in the shrub understory. In one such case, a brushfield of bush chinquapin, greenleaf manzanita, and Sierra mountain misery (Chamaebatia foliolosa) on the Blodgett Forest Research Station of El Dorado County, California, was cleared and planted with sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum). Within 16 years, the bush chinquapin and greenleaf manzanita had grown to 6 feet (1.8 m) in height. Sequoia saplings were suppressed at or below this level. Researchers removed all brush and sprayed sprouting brush with herbicide the following year. Released sequoias developed much broader crowns and grew from 3 to 4 feet (0.9-1.2 m) within 2 years [20]. Control: Mature bush chinquapin sprouts after initial herbicide spraying and requires repeated treatments to effect a high percentage of kill. Foliar sprays of phenoxy herbicides applied in early spring are effective [15]. Bush chinquapin cover was significantly (p>0.05) reduced on a burn planted with Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi) following treatment with 2,4,5-T [5]. Diseases: Bush chinquapin is susceptible to oak wilt, a potentially lethal disease caused by a fungal pathogen (Ceratocyctic fagacearum). Oak wilt is spreading westward from the Great Plains area [38].


SPECIES: Chrysolepis sempervirens
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Bush chinquapin is a monecious, native, evergreen, schlerophyllous shrub. It may grow up to 8 feet (2.5 m) tall [9] but is typically from 1 to 5 feet (0.3-1.5 m) in height [22]. Plants have a prostrate to spreading, round-topped growth form [9]. Male catkins are produced from the tips of terminal and side branches [26]. One to three female flowers grow at the base of the male catkins or on short separate catkins [9,24]. The fruit is a nut with a woody seed coat enveloped by a densely burred involucre [9,26,32]. Nuts contain from one to three seeds, usually one [33]. No information concerning the bark thickness or rooting habit of bush chinquapin is available. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Chinquapins are wind pollinated [29]. The age of sexual maturity and maximum seed production are not reported in the literature. Most seed falls under the parent. Some seed may be disseminated by animals when the nut burs catch on furs or hides. Other seed is dissemminated by seed-eating birds and rodents [30]. Seed predation is high [24]. Some seed is probably buried by seed-caching animals, and unconsumed seed so buried may have higher rates of germination. Germination is hypogeal and occurs from 16 to 25 days after nuts split and release seed. Cold stratification does not increase germination rates. Investigations of fresh seed viability are scant, but one study showed 30 percent germination of seeds 25 days following sowing. Chinquapins seeds has remained viable for 5 years with cold, dry laboratory storage [24]. Research on the long-term viability of seed in seed banks is lacking. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Bush chinquapin grows on steep, often south-facing slopes within the coniferous forest zone [22,23,43]. It is also found on the more gentle slopes of that zone where disturbance has removed the original forest cover [23]. Low-growing forms of this shrub occur above timberline and can be found on Sonora, Tioga, and Carson passes [39]. Bush chinquapin occurs as high as 12,000 feet (3,658 m) [26] but is most common from 1,500 to 6,000 feet (459-1,829 m) in elevation [22]. The climate of montane chaparral is dry in summer, with precipitation usually plentiful from October until May. Some precipitation is in the form of snow. One 5,500-foot (1,676 m) site on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California, receives an average of 38 inches (985 mm) of annual precipitation, half as snow [6]. Soil conditions are generally the same as those of adjacent coniferous forests [18]. Overstory associates not listed in Distribution and Occurrence include sequoia, sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana), incense-cedar (Libocedrus decurrens), Sierra western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis var. australis), Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia), bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), and Pacific dogwood (Curnus nuttallii) [2,12,19,34,35]. Shrub associates not previously mentioned include Sierra mountain misery, pinemat manzanita (Arctoshaphylos nevadensis), Saskatoon serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia), sharpleaf snowberry (Symphoricarpos mollis), Parish snowberry (S. parishii), huckleberry oak (Quercus vaccinifolia), and bitter cherry (Prunus emarginata) [2,8,19,34,43]. Herbaceous associates include bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum), feather Solomon's-seal (Smilacina racemosa), rockcress (Arabis platysperma), Penstemon spp., fleabane (Erigeron breweri), and goosefoot violet (Viola purpurea). Grass associates are few but include crested stipa (Stipa coronata var. depauperata), California needlegrass (S. californica), bluebunch wheatgrass, and bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) [2,31,34,35,41]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species Montane chaparral is seral to various coniferous forests [4]. Bush chinquapin is an enhanced survivor in these early- to mid-seral communities. Its cover is greatest in the late mid-seral stage, when tree canopy begins to close [8]. Bush chinquapin is moderately shade tolerant and grows in the lower strata of near-climax open coniferous forests. When fire is excluded from coniferous forests for long periods of time, bush chinquapin is shaded out [19,43]. Montane chaparral represents a topographic or edaphic climax on some sites, such as steep, south-facing slopes or areas with shallow rocky soil. Bush chinquapin is considered part of climax vegetation on such sites [22,23,43]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Plants flower continuously from July through September in most of their range [9,33]. Bush chinquapin on the western edge of the Great Basin bloom from June until the onset of winter [32]. Seed ripens in the late summer or early fall of the second year of development [9,24,26,32]. Nuts open in mid-fall [25,26].


SPECIES: Chrysolepis sempervirens
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Bush chinquapin survives fire by sprouting from the roots, root crown, and stump when aboveground portions of the plant have burned [9,30,32,40]. Because bush chinquapin occurs in many plant communities, natural fire regimes vary. Thickets growing in rock outcrops escape fire for long periods of time [12]. Plants in the understory of coniferous forests historically burned often. Mixed coniferous, sequoia, ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), and Jeffrey pine forests burned at 2- to 8-year intervals prior to fire suppression [4]. Frequent fire in these forests favors understories of bush chinquapin over understories of coniferous seedlings [23]. High-elevation thickets of bush chinquapin in the whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) cover type typically escape burning for 50 to 300 years [1]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Small shrub, adventitious-bud root crown Geophyte, growing points deep in soil


SPECIES: Chrysolepis sempervirens
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Fire top-kills bush chinquapin [4,30]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Very little research has been conducted on postfire recovery of bush chinquapin. Most sprouting schlerophyllous shrubs of California and Oregon begin growth within weeks of fire, even when soils are dry [10]. Bush chinquapin presumably sprouts soon after fire. Following a wildfire of unreported severity in a mixed coniferous forest of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, bush chinquapin sprouts did not grow as quickly as greenleaf manzanita seedlings but outcompeted snowbrush ceanothus. Bush chinquapin density at postfire year 5 was 9,650 plants per acre (3,860 plants/ha), with plants averaging 1.7 feet (0.6 m) in height. There were no bush chinquapin seedlings present [30]. Reports of seedling colonization of other burn sites were not found in the literature. Montane chaparral species, including bush chinquapin, recover from fire more slowly than species of other types of chaparral due to the shorter growing season [22]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Countryman [11] supplies data regarding characteristics of bush chinquapin fuel, including ash content, density, surface-to-volume ratio, heating value (Btu/lb), and weight of solvent extractives present in leaves. He also details fuelbed characteristics of bush chinquapin and mixed bush chinquapin-mountain whitethorn-snowbush ceanothus stands, including standing fuel loading and standing fuel vertical distribution, dead fuel loading, and litter loading. Carpenter [6] provides data regarding seasonal moisture content of bush chinquapin leaves, twigs, and stems. Frequent fires in ponderosa or Jeffrey pine forests following logging operations may convert these communities to montane chaparral [23].

References for species: Chrysolepis sempervirens

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