SPECIES: Gaultheria procumbens
SPECIES: Gaultheria procumbens
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Coladonato, Milo. 1994. Gaultheria procumbens. 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 : GAUPRO SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : GAPR2 COMMON NAMES : wintergreen teaberry TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for wintergreen is Gaultheria procumbens L. (Ericaceae) . There are no recognized subspecies, varieties, or forms. LIFE FORM : Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY
SPECIES: Gaultheria procumbens
DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Wintergreen occurs from Newfoundland and New England south in the mountains to Georgia and west to Minnesota [13,32]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES10 White - red - jack pine FRES11 Spruce - fir FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES15 Oak - hickory FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood FRES18 Maple - beech - birch FRES19 Aspen - birch STATES : AL CT DE GA IL IN KY ME MD MA MI MN NH NJ NY NC OH PA RI TN VT VA WV WI MB NB NF NS ON PE PQ BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100 K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest K095 Great Lakes pine forest K099 Maple - basswood forest K100 Oak - hickory forest K101 Elm - ash forest K102 Beech - maple forest K103 Mixed mesophytic forest K104 Appalachian oak forest K106 Northern hardwoods K107 Northern hardwoods - fir forest K108 Northern hardwoods - spruce forest K110 Northeastern oak - pine forest K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest SAF COVER TYPES : 1 Jack pine 12 Black spruce 13 Black spruce - tamarack 14 Northern pin oak 15 Red pine 16 Aspen 17 Pin cherry 18 Paper birch 19 Gray birch - red maple 20 White pine - northern red oak - red maple 21 Eastern white pine 23 Eastern hemlock 24 Hemlock - yellow birch 25 Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch 26 Sugar maple - basswood 27 Sugar maple 28 Black cherry - maple 30 Red spruce - yellow birch 32 Red spruce 33 Red spruce - balsam fir 37 Northern white-cedar 38 Tamarack 39 Black ash - American elm - red maple 40 Post oak - blackjack oak 42 Bur oak 43 Bear oak 45 Pitch pine 46 Eastern redcedar 53 White oak 55 Northern red oak 57 Yellow-poplar 60 Beech - sugar maple 62 Silver maple - American elm 73 Southern redcedar 75 Shortleaf pine 79 Virginia pine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Wintergreen is commonly found in the understory of pine (Pinus spp.) and hardwood forests of New England. In western Nova Scotia and the Great Lake States, it occurs in jack pine (P. banksiana) and spruce-larch (Picea spp.-Larix spp.) forests [4,20,53,59]. It is a common understory species in maple-oak (Acer spp.-Quercus spp.) forests of upper Michigan . It is a dominant understory shrub of oak-poplar/fern (Quercus spp.-Populus spp./Pteridium spp.) communities of southern New York . Wintergreen is named as a dominant or codominant understory species in the following classifications: Habitat classification system field guide: northern Lake States Region (Upper Peninsula of Michigan and northeast Wisconsin)  Forest-type studies in the Adirondack Region  Field guide to forest habitat types of northern Wisconsin  Vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains  Understory species commonly associated with wintergreen include huckleberries (Gaylussacia spp.), blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), raspberries (Rubus spp.), grapes (Vitis spp.), mountain-laurel (Kalmia latifolia), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana), bog Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum), partridgeberry (Mitchella repens), and lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum canadense), [7,24,35,42].
SPECIES: Gaultheria procumbens
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Wintergreen is not taken in large quantities by any species of wildlife, but the regularity of its use enhances its importance. Its fruit persists through the winter and it is one of the few sources of green leaves in winter . White-tailed deer browse wintergreen throughout its range, and in some localities it is an important winter food. Other animals that eat wintergreen are wild turkey, sharp-tailed grouse, northern bobwhite, ring-necked pheasant, black bear, white-footed mouse, and red fox. Wintergreen is a favorite food of the eastern chipmunk, and the leaves are a minor winter food of the gray squirrel in Virginia [26,37]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : The leaves of wintergreen are used to make oil of wintergreen  OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Wintergreen is ordinarily plentiful in the woodlands of the Northeast, and no special care is needed to perpetuate it. Seedlings or clones are established by plantings beneath taller shrubs or in other partially shaded sites. When plants have established, fruit production is stimulated by thinning timber stands and removing overtopping vegetation . Wintergreen can be controlled by phenoxy herbicides .
SPECIES: Gaultheria procumbens
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Wintergreen is a spreading, evergreen, rhizomatous shrub which grows 4 to 8 inches (10-20 cm) tall [5,11,28]. Wintergreen creeps along the ground, forming a dense carpet of shiny leaves that are 2 to 6 inches (5-15 cm) long. The small flowers are less than 0.5 inches (1.2 cm) long and are borne at the base of the leaves . The fruit is berrylike capsule with a large fleshy calyx . The roots are 1 inch (2.5 cm) or less in depth [14,31]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Hemicryptophyte Geophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Reproduction in wintergreen is both sexual and asexual. It typically reproduces vegetatively from rhizomes. Vegetative growth is initiated as additional branching on old stems, or as new stems on creeping rhizomes . The long, infrequently branching rhizomes distribute ramets over large areas; it exploits gaps in litter for clonal propagation [23,50]. Bird-disseminated seeds are probably the source of new plants colonizing old fields [32,41]. In the oak-pine upland forest of the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, wintergreen occurrence was positively correlated (p<0.05) with the presence of litter and dead wood . SITE CHARACTERISTICS : As long as the soil is acidic, wintergreen grows well on many substrates including peat, sand, sandy loam, and coal spoils. It has been found growing where soil pH ranged from 3.5 to 6.9 on the surface to 4.0 to 6.9 below the surface. However, a pH of 4.5 to 6.0 has been reported as optimum for growth, with 7.0 the maximum wintergreen tolerates. Wintergreen mainly occurs on moist sites but tolerates moisture conditions ranging from dry to poorly drained [2,32]. In jack pine communities in upper Michigan, wintergreen was present on xeric, transitional, and mesic sites with frequencies of 11, 62, and 86 percent, respectively . In Nova Scotia, wintergreen is found on the tops of ridges and knolls in very shallow soil . SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species Wintergreen is shade tolerant. Fruiting, however, usually occurs in openings [23,32,50]. It is a common understory species in the Northeast . In a Minnesota Norway pine (P. resinosa) forest, wintergreen had greatest abundance of cover under intermediate light intensities . Wintergreen is found in the oldest vegetation in Grass River Bog, an undrained sand plain in the Adirondacks . Wintergreen is part of the understory vegetation in climax pine forests of northern Minnesota . In eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) climax forest in northeastern Pennsylvania, wintergreen frequency ranged from 0 to 6 percent . In the Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, wintergreen was present in early and climax stages of forest succession . Frequency in the birch-poplar (Betula spp.-Populus spp.) stage was 58 percent; it was "abundant" in the pine stage. Frequency was 36 percent in the fir-spruce (Abies spp.-Picea spp.) stage. Wintergreen was not present in the sugar maple (Acer saccharum) stage, but frequency was 14 percent in eastern hemlock climax forest . SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Wintergreen flowers from the end of May to September depending on geographic location [10,37]. In Illinois, wintergreen flowers initiated during June open in mid-July, with the fruit maturing in September . In New Jersey and Penn Sylvia, the flowering period is from mid-July through early August . The leaves usually persist throughout the winter [27,32]. The fruit may remain attached till the following spring .
SPECIES: Gaultheria procumbens
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Wintergreen is not well-adapted to fire that removes litter and/or the organic layer of soil. Rhizomes are restricted to the upper 0.8 to 1.2 inches (2-3 cm) of the organic layer, and wintergreen usually does not survive if the organic layer is removed by fire . The rhizomes are especially vulnerable to severe fire . If wintergreen survives, the fire was probably of short duration or light enough that the fire removed only aboveground vegetation and little litter . Wintergreen rhizomes can tolerate brief exposure to high temperatures. In one study its rhizomes were collected in spring, summer, and fall and subjected to wet heat. Maximum shoot growth and number of stems occurred after spring-collected rhizomes were placed in a water bath at 131 degrees Fahrenheit (55 deg C) for 5 minutes. Rhizomes died when subjected to a 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 deg C) bath for 5 minutes . POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Rhizomatous low woody plant, rhizome in organic mantle Secondary colonizer - off-site seed
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE :
SPECIES: Gaultheria procumbens
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Fire top-kills wintergreen . Surviving rhizomes may sprout [16,30,33,54]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : The response of wintergreen to fire and its role in fire related succession seems to be highly variable. In southwestern Nova Scotia, wintergreen survived a July fire. The following summer density (stems/9 sq ft) and frequency (%) on covered and uncovered quadrats were as follows : covered exposed Density 0.3 0 Frequency 20 0 In southeast Manitoba, five plots were burned in April. No prefire data were given. Results from the end of August showed the average frequency of wintergreen was 54 percent and the average cover was 3.8 percent. Different levels of shade (0-100 %) had little or no effect . Percent frequency of wintergreen was monitored for 2 years after a fall (September) prescribed fire on a jack pine clearcut in northern Michigan. Little change occurred, at least in the first year. Results are given : Unburned blocks Burned blocks % frequency % frequency 1980 5.6 5.4 1981 4.6 0.8 Some research indicates that wintergreen is sensitive to fire. A spring controlled fire was conducted on bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum)-grassland in Wisconsin. Sampling was done in July and August of the year of the fire. The average frequency of wintergreen decreased by 25.8 percent . In the Pine Barrens of northern Wisconsin, wintergreen average frequency decreased from 28 to 14 percent 1 year after a spring fire . In the New Jersey Pine Barrens, wintergreen became less important with increasing fire frequencies. Fire frequencies ranged from annual to 15-year intervals . Wintergreen in this area exploit fire-generated gaps in litter through clonal propagation . Other studies indicate that fire may favor wintergreen. In northwest Minnesota, a severe May fire burned only the uppermost centimeters of the forest floor. Wintergreen cover in unburned stands was 0 to 5 percent. After fire it was present in several associations and increased through the sixth year following fire to a maximum cover of 6.2 percent. Biomass increased after fire, more in dry than moist stands, but leveled off after the second year, perhaps because of the low-bush growth form of wintergreen . In a survey of the burned-over forest lands in southwestern Nova Scotia, frequencies of wintergreen related to years since fire were as follows : postfire yr % frequency 1 10.5 2 16.6 9 4.0 22 40 29 48.2 40 40
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY
SPECIES: Gaultheria procumbens
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