Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Eriodictyon californicum


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

ABBREVIATION : ERICAL SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : ERCA6 COMMON NAMES : yerba santa mountain balm TAXONOMY : The currently accepted name of yerba santa is Eriodictyon californicum (H. & A.) Torr., in the family Hydrophyllaceae. There are no recognized subspecies or varieties [25]. LIFE FORM : Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Eriodictyon californicum
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Yerba santa occurs in California and Oregon. It is distrubuted along the Coast and Klamath ranges from Monterey County north to Siskiyou County, California. It occurs in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range from Kern County north to Klamath and Jackson counties, Oregon [12,25]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES20 Douglas-fir FRES21 Ponderosa pine FRES27 Redwood FRES28 Western hardwoods FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub STATES : CA OR BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 1 Northern Pacific Border 3 Southern Pacific Border 4 Sierra Mountains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : KOO5 Mixed conifer forest KOO6 Redwood forest K009 Pine - cypress forest K010 Ponderosa shrub forest K029 California mixed evergreen forest K030 California oakwoods K033 Chaparral K034 Montane chaparral SAF COVER TYPES : 229 Pacific Douglas-fir 232 Redwood 234 Douglas-fir - tanoak - Pacific madrone 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 250 Blue oak - Digger pine 255 California coast live oak SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Yerba santa is an occasionally dominant shrub in annual grassland and oak (Quercus spp.) woodland. It is listed as a dominant ecoassociation type (eas) in the following published classification: Area Classification Authority CA: Sierra Nevada Mts. CA hardwood eas Allen and others 1991


SPECIES: Eriodictyon californicum
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Domestic goats occasionally consume yerba santa leaves and twigs. Otherwise, livestock do not use it [10,18]. In winter and spring, plants are lightly browsed by black-tailed deer, contributing to about 6 percent of their total diet [3]. During winters when more desirable forage is scarce, yerba santa may become a critical element in the diet of deer [6]. In addition, deer consumption increases during the first two growing seasons following a fire. In Madera County, California, deer consumed 78 percent of new seedlings and sprouts of the first postfire growing season. At postfire year 2, consumption was down to 30 percent [27]. No information concerning seed consuption is available. Full seed capsules may be eaten by birds and rodents. The seeds alone are probably too small [0.04 to 0.06 inch (1.0-1.5 mm)] to be eaten by most animals, although insects probably consume them. PALATABILITY : Yerba santa leaves contain aromatic compounds that give them an unpleasant odor and bitter taste [9,27]. Consequently, it is not preferred browse. The browse rating of yerba santa for livestock and wildlife species is as follows [27]: cattle - poor sheep - poor horses - poor goats - poor mule deer - fair to poor NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Yerba santa is nutritious in spring. In one study, the dry-weight protein content of twigs and leaves varied from 5.4 percent in July to 17.0 percent in April [4]. In a separate study on mineral nutrition, yerba santa proved to be a better source of calcium and sulfur than any of 11 other chaparral browse species tested. The mineral content of yerba santa browse is as follows [28]: Mean Percent Mineral Composition phosphorus 0.11 sulfur 0.22 calcium 1.15 magnesium 0.55 potassium 0.83 COVER VALUE : Mature yerba santa shrubs are often spindly, with leaves at the tips of the branches and bare limbs below. Their cover value is poor. Younger shrubs provide cover for various birds and small mammals. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Yerba santa can be utilized in rangeland rehabilitation because the plant establishes well in disturbed soil. Yerba santa sprouts adventitiously when roots are exposed following mechanical site preparation [33]. In addition, seeds will germinate in disturbed areas. If yerba santa is to be used for rehabilitation, it is necessary to avoid excessively overturning the soil and damaging existing rhizomes, or burying seed too deeply for germination. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Yerba santa leaf extract was used by Native Americans and early settlers as a remedy for cough, colds, grippe, and asthma [25,27]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Range: Yerba santa can become dominant on heavily used rangelands, particularly in areas that have been converted from brushland to grassland. Livestock consume other plants before they browse yerba santa [27]. With reduced competition, yerba santa eventually forms dense pure stands [6,11,19]. Control: The best method of control is to move livestock off the range before desirable browse becomes overgrazed. Chemical control is possible but may be difficult. Some yerba santa populations are beginning to show resistance to phenoxy compounds such as 2,4-D. These chemicals can still be effective in some areas, however. Basal applications of karbutilate are also effective. Precautions for its use in pastures and rangelands have been detailed [7]. Karbutilate requires several months to break down. If treated in the summer or early fall, the rangeland could be seeded with desirable grass and/or herbaceous species in the early spring. Chemical control, along with reseeding, would probably be an effective eradication strategy.


SPECIES: Eriodictyon californicum
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Yerba santa is an erect, much-branched, native evergreen shrub from 2 to 8 feet (0.6-2.4 m) in height. The branches are glutinous or resinous; lanceolate leaves are glutinous on top. Mature leaves are often blackened by a sooty fungus [25,27]. The root system is shallow, with multibranching rhizomes. Most of the main roots are confined to the top 3 inches (7.6 cm) of soil [9,20]. The fruit is a small capsule, 0.08 to 0.12 inch (2-3 mm) long, containing two to eight small seeds [25]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sexual: Yerba santa reproduces from seed [25,27,28]. Seedlings may be adundant after fire [37]. They emerge 1 to 3 weeks later than seedlings of other brush species, and experience high mortality [28]. Yerba santa seedlings are poor competitors. Seedlings are particularly sensitive to emerging herbaceous species [6,19,28]. A seedbed rich in herbaceous species will competitively eliminate most emerging yerba santa seedlings [19]. Surviving seedlings grow rapidly. Schultz and Biswell [28] reported seedlings attaining heights of up to 20 inches within the first season. Plants become sexually mature within 2 or 3 years. Most seed falls beneath the parent plant. The seed is very small, and is readily buried beneath the litter layer, duff, and soil to become part of the seedbank. Seed germinates following a disturbance such as fire or mechanical site preparation [6]. Longevity of soil-stored seed is unknown [37]. Vegetative: Yerba santa regenerates asexually through rhizomes, which may be produced as early as the first growing season following seedling establishment [6,11,19,33]. Vegetative reproduction is the most successful method of self-propagation in established communities [6]. Biswell [37] reported that rhizomes may grow as much as 8 feet (2.5 m) in one summer, giving rise to plants every 8 to 10 inches (20-25 cm). Vegetatvie growth is not usually this rapid, such rapid grow may occur on ash beds after fire if soil is fertile and moisture adundant. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Yerba santa occurs on dry, rocky slopes and ridges. It is common on south- or east-facing slopes [25,33]. Elevation: Yerba santa occurs below 5,500 feet (1,676 m), with a mean elevation of 2,120 feet (636 m) [1,25]. Soil: Yerba santa grows in shallow to deep, slightly acidic soil. Soil texture varies from sandy loam to heavy clay [5,6,8,28]. It will tolerate serpentine soil [15,21]. Climate: Yerba santa occurs in a Mediterranean climate with wet, mild winters and hot, dry summers. Snow showers occur during the winter months but usually melt off rapidly [23]. Soil temperatures are frequently below freezing in winter [29]. Associated species: Associated species include chaparral whitethorn (Ceanothus leucodermis), wedgeleaf ceanothus (C. cuneatus), manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.), tree poppy (Dendromecon rigida), broadleaf and redstem filaree (Erodium botrys and E. cicutarium), soft chess (Bromus mollis), and foxtail fescue (Festuca megalura) [28,29,36]. (also see SAF cover types) SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Yerba santa is both a residual colonizer and a survivor in disturbed communities, establishing either from seed or by sprouting from rhizomes [6,24,29]. Mature shrubs are found in early seral communities. It is a diminished survivor, however. It is shade-intolerant, and plants gradually die out as the community matures. Yerba santa is displaced in climax communities by chaparral whitethorn, wedgeleaf ceanothus, and various manzanitas [21]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : The seasonal development of yerba santa is as follows [20,25,28]: vegetative growth begins - April flowers in bloom - May to June seed ripe - September seed dissemination - September to November germination - March seedlings emerge - April


SPECIES: Eriodictyon californicum
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Plant adaptations: Yerba santa establishs after fire by sprouting from rhizomes or through germination of seed stored in the seedbank [6,19,27]. Fire ecology: Yerba santa leaves secrete flammable resins and waxes which build up and make the leaf surface gummy [9,25,27]. The branches are also glutinous. Older, resinous leaves are dropped during summer, producing highly flammable litter. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Rhizomatous shrub, rhizome in soil Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Eriodictyon californicum
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Moderate-severity fire top-kills yerba santa; severe fire may kill it. Survival of underground rhizomes is most likely after low- to moderate-severity fire [28]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Yerba santa germinates from seed during the first postfire growing season. Seeds that have lain dormant in the soil for decades will germinate following a fire [6]. It is possible that yerba santa has hard-coated seeds that will not germinate except when scarified. Yerba santa seeds are very difficult to germinate under laboratory conditions [14]; and may have some mechanism that inhibits water imbibition and germination. Alternatively, fire may break the seed's dormancy by burning off the litter layer and exposing the seed to sufficient light to allow germination. Newly established seedlings grow rapidly, and may begin vegetative reproduction in the second postfire growing season [6]. Yerba santa sprouts from surviving rhizomes at the first postfire growing season [19]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Range: Repeated prescribed fires are not recommended for eradicating yerba santa. Eepeated rangeland fires have increased yerba santa populations and decreased the number of desirable browse species. The combination of fire and herbivory removes competing species. If fire is to be used as a management tool, a single fire is recommended to top-kill existing plants; thereafter herbicides should be used to kill sprouts and seedlings [6,19].


SPECIES: Eriodictyon californicum
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A California flora and supplement. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1905 p. [6155] 26. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 27. Sampson, Arthur W.; Jespersen, Beryl S. 1963. California range brushlands and browse plants. Berkeley, CA: University of California, Division of Agricultural Sciences, California Agricultural Experiment Station, Extension Service. 162 p. [3240] 28. Schultz, A. M.; Biswell, H. H. 1952. Competition between grasses reseeded on burned brushlands in California. Journal of Range Management. 5: 338-345. [16545] 29. Schultz, A. M.; Launchbaugh, J. L.; Biswell, H. H. 1955. Relationship between grass density and brush seedling survival. Ecology. 36(2): 226-238. [12503] 30. Scrivner, Jerry H.; Vaughn, Charles E.; Jones, Milton B. 1988. Mineral concentrations of black-tailed deer diets in California chaparral. Journal of Wildlife Management. 52(1): 37-40. [3055] 31. 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