Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Dasylirion leiophyllum


SPECIES: Dasylirion leiophyllum
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Tesky, Julie L. 1993. Dasylirion leiophyllum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : DASLEI SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : DALE COMMON NAMES : smooth-leaf sotol smooth sotol sotol TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of smooth-leaf sotol is Dasylirion leiophyllum Engelm. [2,15]. There are no recognized subspecies, varieties, or forms. LIFE FORM : Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Dasylirion leiophyllum
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Smooth-leaf sotol occurs from southern Texas in the Rio Grande region north into New Mexico and south to central Chihuahua, Mexico. In Texas, it also occurs at Presidio, Eagle Pass, and Van Horn; in New Mexico smooth-leaf sotol occurs in the Florida Mountains [2,15]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES30 Desert shrub FRES32 Texas savanna FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub FRES35 Pinyon - juniper FRES40 Desert grasslands STATES : NM TX MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 7 Lower Basin and Range 13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K023 Juniper - pinyon woodland K024 Juniper steppe woodland K031 Oak - juniper woodlands K032 Transition between K031 and K037 K033 Chaparral K037 Mountain-mahogany - oak scrub K040 Saltbush - greasewood K041 Creosotebush K042 Creosotebush - bursage K043 Paloverde - cactus shrub K044 Creosotebush - tarbush K045 Ceniza shrub K046 Desert: vegetation largely lacking K053 Grama - galleta steppe K054 Grama - tobosa prairie K057 Galleta - three-awn shrubsteppe K058 Grama - tobosa shrubsteppe K059 Trans-Pecos shrub savanna SAF COVER TYPES : 72 Southern scrub oak 239 Pinyon - juniper 241 Western live oak SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Smooth-leaf sotol is dominant in the Chihuahuan Desert region on gravelly to bouldered low south-facing slopes of the Guadalupe Escarpment, New Mexico and Texas [7]. It is listed as a dominant species of sotol-agave (Dasylirion-Agave) and walnut/sotol (Juglans/sotol) vegetation types in: Vegetation of the Guadalupe Escarpment, New Mexico-Texas [7].


SPECIES: Dasylirion leiophyllum


SPECIES: Dasylirion leiophyllum
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Smooth-leaf sotol is a large leaf-succulent shrub [2,15]. The leaves are 0.7 to 0.9 inches (2-2.5 cm) broad, 23 to 31 inches (60-80 cm) long, and basally clumped from a short trunk [2,15]. The inflorescence is a stout, narrow, spicate panicle [about 1 foot (0.3 m) long] borne on a rather tall scape. The fruit is an indehiscent, winged capsule [15]. No specific information was found in the literature regarding longevity or roots. However, a similar species, Texas sotol (Dasylirion texanum) has a large number of roots, each about 0.2 inch (0.5 mm) in diameter, forming a cluster at the base of the stem. The roots of Texas sotol run downward at an acute angle and also extend horizontally into the soil. The roots are coarse and are found between 5.9 to 14.1 inches (15-36 cm) below the soil surface. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Chamaephyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sexual reproduction - Smooth-leaf sotol plants are dioecious. They produce thousands of tiny flowers in a long narrow cluster [11]. The seed is contained in a one-celled three-winged capsule [15]. Vegetative reproduction - Smooth-leaf sotol reproduces vegetatively by sprouting from the terminal bud, which is located at the base of the leaf [1,9]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Smooth-leaf sotol is found on hillsides, in deciduous woodlands, and in grasslands of desert regions [2,7]. It is often found growing in soils with limestone substrate [7,11]. Smooth-leaf sotol is commonly found on south-facing boulder slopes and streambeds at elevations between 4,200 and 5,500 feet (1,280-1,676 m). This shrub is generally not abundant where permanent surface water is present [7]. Smooth-leaf sotol is often associated with lechuguilla (Agave lecheguilla), walnut (Juglans spp.), prickly pear (Opuntia spp.), yucca (Yucca spp.), nolina (Nolina spp.), Pinchot juniper (Juniperus pinchotii), wavyleaf oak (Quercus undulata), skeleton goldeye (Viguiera stenoloba), curlyleaf muhly (Muhlenbergia setifolia), grama (Bouteloua spp.), threeawn (Aristida spp.) and slim tridens (Tridens muticus) [7,9,17]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : NO-ENTRY SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : No specific information on seasonal development of smooth-leaf sotol was found. However, a similar species, Wheeler sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri), flowers in spring or early summer [2]. In the Chihuahuan Desert, New Mexico, Wheeler sotol flower buds are initiated in mid- to late May, flowering occurs in June and July, and fruits are mature by August [16].


SPECIES: Dasylirion leiophyllum
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Smooth-leaf sotol occurs in southwestern desert and semidesert plant communities of North America that are subject to naturally occurring fire [9]. Small, presumably young, plants have green leaves extending to the ground and are usually only slightly scorched by fire [9]. The sheath of dead leaves surrounding the trunk of mature smooth-leaf sotols makes them especially susceptible to fire, and plants with fire-girdled trunks usually die [1]. Mature smooth-leaf sotols are tall enough and have sufficient fuel at the base that fires will ignite after plants are struck by lightning [9]. These large plants contribute to fire travel, but their spacing is such that other fuel is often required to carry fire from one smooth-leaf sotol to another. Plant material covered only about 60 percent of the ground in grama grass-rosette scrub communities in the Chisos Mountains, Texas [19]. Smooth-leaf may burn for hours. If the stem burns through, the top of the plant may spread fire by falling and rolling downhill. Suppression crews frequently chop mature smooth-leaf sotols off at their trunks and split them open to check fire spread [9]. Smooth-leaf sotol regrows from the terminal bud after fire [1]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Small shrub, adventitious-bud root crown


SPECIES: Dasylirion leiophyllum
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : The ability of smooth-leaf sotol to survive fire is dependent upon individual plant morphology and the frequency and severity of fire. On 3- to 7-year-old burned sites near the northern limits of the Chihuahuan Desert, smooth-leaf sotol showed losses in excess of 50 percent [1]. Coverage and frequency of smooth-leaf sotol were 75 percent lower on burned sites than on unburned sites [1]. Two years after an August fire in a desert mountain shrub community, density of smooth-leaf sotol was reduced 30 percent. Coverage on the control (unburned site) was 9.06 percent, while it was only 2.44 percent on the burned site [18]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Smooth-leaf sotol occasionally sprouts from the terminal bud if lightly or moderately burned [1,9]. Surviving sotol regain most of their postfire cover within 3 years, but 15 to 20 years are required for plants to accumulate shaggy bases of dead leaves [1,9]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Periodic fires can be used to maintain or even increase grass cover at the expense of shrubs such as smooth-leaf sotol in desert communities [1,9].


SPECIES: Dasylirion leiophyllum
REFERENCES : 1. Ahlstrand, Gary M. 1982. Response of Chihuahuan Desert mountain shrub vegetation to burning. Journal of Range Management. 35(1): 62-65. [296] 2. Benson, Lyman; Darrow, Robert A. 1981. The trees and shrubs of the Southwestern deserts. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press. [18066] 3. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434] 4. Cannon, William Austin. 1911. The root habits of desert plants. Washington, DC: The Carnegie Institution of Washington. 96 p. [5003] 5. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 6. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998] 7. Gehlbach, Frederick R. 1967. Vegetation of the Guadalupe Escarpment, New Mexico-Texas. Ecology. 48(3): 404-419. [5149] 8. Kearney, Thomas H.; Peebles, Robert H.; Howell, John Thomas; McClintock, Elizabeth. 1960. Arizona flora. 2d ed. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1085 p. [6563] 9. Kittams, Walter H. 1973. Effect of fire on vegetation of the Chihuahuan Desert region. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1972 June 8-9; Lubbock, Texas. No. 12. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 427-444. [6271] 10. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384] 11. MacMahon, James A. 1985. The Audubon Society nature guides: Deserts. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 638 p. [4956] 12. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 13. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090] 14. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573] 15. Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p. [7707] 16. Kemp, Paul R. 1983. Phenological patterns of Chihuahuan desert plants in relation to the timing of water availability. Journal of Ecology. 71: 427-436. [5054] 17. Brown, David E. 1982. Chihuahuan desertscrub. In: Brown, David E., ed. Biotic communities of the American Southwest--United States and Mexico. Desert Plants. 4(1-4): 169-179. [3607] 18. Spears, Brian M.; Barr, William F. 1985. Effect of jointworms on the growth and reproduction of four native range grasses of Idaho. Journal of Range Management. 38(1): 44-46. [2205] 19. Dick-Peddie, William A.; Alberico, Michael S. 1977. Fire ecology study of the Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park, Texas: Phase I. CDRI Contribution No. 35. Alpine, TX: The Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. 47 p. [5002]

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