SPECIES: Hudsonia ericoides

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Hudsonia ericoides: INTRODUCTORY

INTRODUCTORY

SPECIES: Hudsonia ericoides

 

2002 John E. Maunder, Pouch Cove
Newfoundland, Canada



AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION:
Gucker, Corey L. 2005. Hudsonia ericoides. 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/ [].

FEIS ABBREVIATION:
HUDERI

SYNONYMS:
None

NRCS PLANT CODE [38]:
HUER

COMMON NAMES:
pinebarren goldenheather
false heather
golden-heather

TAXONOMY:
The currently accepted scientific name of pinebarren goldenheather is Hudsonia ericoides L. (Cistaceae) [12,17,30].

LIFE FORM:
Shrub

FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS:
None

OTHER STATUS:
Pinebarren goldenheather is listed as endangered in Connecticut. This state defines endangered as a "native species...in danger of extirpation throughout all or a significant portion of its range...that has no more than 5 occurrences in the state" [3]. Pinebarren goldenheather is listed as threatened in New Hampshire [38].

DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Hudsonia ericoides
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION:
Pinebarren goldenheather occupies a limited area. It occurs along the Atlantic coast from Delaware north to Newfoundland, Canada [4,34]. A disjunct population of pinebarren goldenheather resides in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. The species is considered rare in South Carolina [12,14,18,36].

Plants database provides a map of pinebarren goldenheather's distribution.

ECOSYSTEMS [11]:
FRES12 Longleaf-slash pine
FRES13 Loblolly-shortleaf pine
FRES15 Oak-hickory

STATES/PROVINCES: (key to state/province abbreviations)
UNITED STATES
CT DE ME MD
MA NH NJ NY
RI SC VT

CANADA
NF NS PE PQ


BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS [1]:
None

KUCHLER [19] PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:
K110 Northeastern oak-pine forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
K114 Pocosin

SAF COVER TYPES [8]:
43 Bear oak
45 Pitch pine
52 White oak-black oak-northern red oak
55 Northern red oak
69 Sand pine
70 Longleaf pine
71 Longleaf pine-scrub oak
75 Shortleaf pine
76 Shortleaf pine-oak
80 Loblolly pine-shortleaf pine
83 Longleaf pine-slash pine
110 Black oak

SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES [35]:
808 Sand pine scrub

HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES:
Pinebarren goldenheather is described in several pine barrens, pine-scrub oak, and pine plains communities in several coastal New England states.

Massachusetts: On Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket islands, pinebarren goldenheather occurs in several vegetation types. Pinebarren goldenheather frequency is greater than 50% in native sandplain grasslands characterized by coastal plains blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium fuscatum), flaxleaf whitetop aster (Ionactis linariifolius), toothed whitetop aster (Sericocarpus asteroides), and bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi); in communities where wavy hairgrass (Deschampsia flexuosa) is dominant; in heath grasslands dominated by lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) and poverty oatgrass (Danthonia spicata), and in heath and huckleberry-scrub oak vegetation types where black huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata) and bear oak (Quercus ilicifolia) are important. Pinebarren goldenheather frequency is greater than 70% in low shrublands where bearberry and broom crowberry (Corema conradii) are common [7].

New York: Pinebarren goldenheather, black huckleberry, and hillside blueberry (V. pallidum) are all present in pitch pine (Pinus rigida)-dominated habitats of Long Island. Other possible species in the open canopy of pitch pine-oak-heath woodlands include white oak (Q. alba), scarlet oak (Q. coccinea), and black oak (Q. velutina). In pitch pine-scrub oak communities, the understory is dominated by bear oak [20]. In the pine plains vegetation, stunted growth forms of pitch pine dominate and bear oak is again prevalent [20,29].

New Jersey: The pine plains vegetation described in New Jersey is similar to that in New York. Pinebarren goldenheather is most common in the pine plains dominated by dwarf pitch pine that is normally less than 6 feet (2 m) tall [24]. Other species described in the New Jersey pine plains are blackjack oak (Q. marilandica), bear oak, mountain-laurel (Kalmia latifolia), sheep-laurel (K. angustifolia), black huckleberry, dangleberry (G. frondosa), bearberry, and flowering pixiemoss (Pyxidanthera barbulata) [13,25,41].

Pinebarren goldenheather is also found in pine barrens vegetation of New Jersey. Pine barrens are still dominated by pitch pine, but pitch pine trees are often greater than 33 feet (10 m) tall [24,28]. Bear oak, shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata), and dwarf chinquapin (Q. prinoides) are also encountered in this vegetation type. Also present is a shrub layer between 3 and 13 feet (1-4 m) tall dominated by mountain-laurel, dangleberry, piedmont staggerbush (Lyonia mariana), and highbush blueberry (V. corymbosum). In the pine barrens, pinebarren goldenheather is restricted to sandy dry areas and disturbed sites. Pinebarren goldenheather is typical of old-field sites as well [28,40].

South Carolina: The isolated pinebarren goldenheather population in South Carolina is described in vegetation dominated by longleaf pine (P. palustris), slash pine (P. elliottii), and/or pineland threeawn (Aristida stricta) that occupies sandy soils and experiences frequent surface fires [14].

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Hudsonia ericoides
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
This description provides characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology, and is not meant for identification. Keys for identification are available [4,12,30,34].

Pinebarren goldenheather is a native, low-growing, mat-forming shrub. Vegetation is dense, spreads to 3 feet (1 m) across, but is rarely over 1.3 feet (0.4 m) tall [4,12,30,34]. Pinebarren goldenheather has a single taproot that extends up to 6 inches (15 cm) deep and numerous fibrous roots concentrated in the top 1 to 4 inches (2.5-10 cm) of soil. After excavating many plants from the New Jersey pine barrens, Laycock [21] revealed a single occurrence of root grafting by this species. The taproot grew around and fused with another plant's taproot. The species of the other plant was not identified. Pinebarren goldenheather is considered a nonphreatophyte, a plant with roots not reaching the water table and rarely growing on sites with shallow water tables [21].

Above ground, pinebarren goldenheather has a short thick crown that gives rise to multiple branches [18]. The many branches have alternate, needle-like, evergreen leaves. Leaves measure 2 to 7 mm in length and are less than 0.5 mm wide [4,12,30,34]. The fruit produced is a 1- or 2-seeded, cylindrical capsule that is glabrous except for hairs at the tip. Seeds are 0.6 to 0.7 mm long [4,30,34]. This species is adapted to drought conditions, limited nutrients, and frequent fires [40].

RAUNKIAER [31] LIFE FORM:
Chamaephyte

REGENERATION PROCESSES:
Pinebarren goldenheather reproduces from seed [41]. Information regarding the reproductive biology, seed bank longevity, and seedling survival of pinebarren goldenheather is largely lacking.

Breeding system: Flowers are perfect [18].

Seed dispersal: The only mention of potential seed dispersal comes from observations by Windisch [41] who described pinebarren goldenheather seed as "small and non-dispersed."

Seed banking: The seed bank produced by pinebarren goldenheather is long lived [41].

Germination: Severe fires that remove the organic soil layer may stimulate germination [41].

Seedling establishment/growth: Canopy removal may encourage seedling growth [41].

Asexual regeneration: Following high-severity fires in heathlands of Massachusetts and pine barrens of New Jersey, pinebarren goldenheather did not regenerate asexually [6,41]. The excavation of several plants from the New Jersey pine barrens revealed no rhizome production [21].

SITE CHARACTERISTICS:
Pinebarren goldenheather prefers dry sandy soils in open sites. It is described in thin pinelands, on dunes, upper beaches, dry open flats, and along roadsides on New England's Atlantic Coast [4,34]. Pinebarren goldenheather is considered "locally abundant" in pine barrens vegetation from New Hampshire to Delaware [12].

Climate: Mild, humid, and windy conditions prevail in pinebarren goldenheather habitat. In pinebarren goldenheather communities of Long Island, New York, average precipitation is 39.4 to 45.3 inches (1,000-1,150 mm) annually, humidity levels are greater than 50% for most of the year, but summer drought conditions are possible. The typical number of frost-free days ranges from 175 to 215 and wind speeds of 9 to 22 mi/h (15-35 km/h) are common all year (referenced in [29]). Temperatures in the southern New Jersey pine barrens average a low of 32 F (0 C) in January and a high of 76 F (24.5 C) in July (referenced in [9]).

Soils: Pinebarren goldenheather grows in acidic, nutrient-poor, sandy soils. In the pine barrens of New Jersey, pinebarren goldenheather substantially increased on sites with increased loam depth and preferred soils with "exaggerated" sand E horizons. The pH of soils in this area was 3.8 [41]. In the pine barrens of Long Island, New York, pinebarren goldenheather occupied upland pine plains sites with "moderate to excessively drained soils" [29]. Whittaker [40] describes pine barren soils as acidic and sandy. The large amounts of rainfall on these sites coupled with their rapid drainage allows a substantial leaching of nutrients. Fimbel and Kuser [9] found upland soils in the New Jersey pine barrens had less than 1% organic matter and a cation exchange capacity of less than 5me/100g. In Massachusetts, researchers analyzed the soils in several vegetation types where pinebarren goldenheather is typical. The soils had pH levels between 3.17 and 3.55, sand contents of 89.7% to 92.5%, clay quantities of between 1.7% and 4.4%, and silt contents of 3% to 6.5%. Soil nutrient content is provided in the table below [7]:

Nutrient Mg Ca Na K C:N
Parts per million 6.2-9.2 15.1-36.3 1.6-3.2 5.3-9.1 23.3-34.4

Elevation: Specific pinebarren goldenheather elevation tolerances were not reported; however, this species is narrowly distributed along the Atlantic Coast and presumably found at only low elevations.

SUCCESSIONAL STATUS:
Pinebarren goldenheather is a shade-intolerant, pioneer species that prefers early seral site conditions. Several researchers describe pinebarren goldenheather in conjunction with open disturbed sites. In xeric pine-oak forests of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, Whittaker [40] reports pinebarren goldenheather on disturbed sites. In the pine plains of Long Island, New York, Olsvig and others [29] report that pinebarren goldenheather is typical of open, disturbed sites. Olsson [28] describes pinebarren goldenheather along roadsides, on burned sites, in abandoned fields, and on disturbed sites. Little [23] suggests that the openings and increased light created from road construction favor pinebarren goldenheather. Dunwiddie [5] considered pinebarren goldenheather a pioneer species of the coastal sandplains.

Another researcher considers pinebarren goldenheather a "pyric successional species." The ordination of data from 85 plots and 13 environmental variables in the New Jersey pine barrens revealed that pinebarren goldenheather is most closely associated with sites having more open canopy, more bare sand, and experienced high-severity fires in the past. Pinebarren goldenheather had the greatest abundance on sites that burned most frequently. Increases in pinebarren goldenheather occurred on sites that burned severely following a prolonged absence of fire [41].

Several studies highlight pinebarren goldenheather's presence in early successional communities. After clearing pine barrens vegetation in Long Island, revegetation by pinebarren goldenheather, bearberry, and grasses occurs within a few years [16]. Pinebarren goldenheather is also described early in the succession of abandoned clearings on dry pine barren sites of New Jersey [23].

Pinebarren goldenheather may also benefit from historical human-induced disturbances. In Cape Cod, Massachusetts pinebarren goldenheather was most frequent on sites that were severely disturbed historically (ploughed, disturbed soils) [26]. On Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, Dunwiddie [5] evaluated sites with different disturbance histories in 1990. One site was grazed by domestic sheep until 1948, and the other had not been grazed for more than 100 years. On the historically grazed site, pinebarren goldenheather coverage was 0.6% and frequency was 8.6%. On ungrazed sites coverage was 0 and frequency was 1.1%.

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT:
Along the Atlantic Coast of New England, pinebarren goldenheather flowers between May and July [4,12,34]. In South Carolina, pinebarren goldenheather flowers sometime between June and August, and fruit set occurs in August or September [14,30].

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Hudsonia ericoides
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS:
Fire adaptations: Pinebarren goldenheather is well adapted to early seral conditions and readily establishes from on-site seed sources following fire [41].

Fire regimes: Most researchers consider that fire maintains pine barrens vegetation in which pinebarren goldenheather occurs. Lutz [24] reports that before 1923, in southern New Jersey the pitch pine plains (pitch pine height normally <6 feet (1.8 m)) burned at least once every 8 years, transition communities (pitch pine height 11-25 feet (3.4-7.6 m)) burned once every 12 years, and the pine barrens (pitch pine height 26-55 feet (7.9-16.8 m)) burned once every 16 years. He suggests that the pitch pine plains are a result of frequent anthropogenic fires [24]. Windisch [41] reports that moderate-severity fires burned at an interval of 5 to 10 years in dwarf pitch pine-dominated ecosystems of New Jersey prior to the early 1900s. This historic fire regime is vastly different from today's. Now fires are less frequent, more severe, and occur at 15- to 54-year intervals. These changes in the fire regime threaten the integrity of the pine barrens ecosystem [41].

Some suggest that high evaporation rates and not fires are responsible for the maintenance of dwarfed vegetation in the pitch pine plains. Seifriz [33] points out that evaporation rates on the plains are much greater than those of nearby forests. He alleges that new shoots growing above thicket level experience very high transpiration levels and are essentially "burned off by wind."

However, the prevailing research regarding pitch pine-dominated vegetation suggest a linkage with frequent fire. Following the settlement of Suffolk County, New York, people often used fires to clear grazing and farming land. The amount of area burned increased following the construction of railroads. The engines set fires by spitting out sparks from their coal burning engines. Trains also allowed people to use fire to clear land in previously inaccessible areas. Authors suggest that this widespread burning increased the area covered by pitch pine-oak-heath and pitch pine-scrub oak vegetation from the 17th century until early in the 20th century, when fire exclusion became the practice [20].

To determine changes in the pine barrens vegetation following the fire exclusion era, researchers compared different-aged aerial photographs. Photographs revealed that from 1938 to present, fire size has significantly (p=0.001) decreased, and average area burned has decreased in central Suffolk County. From 1938 to 1996, approximately 55% of the study area was unburned. Records indicate that spring fires, occurring prior to plant leaf out, were most common. These "high-intensity top-killing" fires burned when winds were high, humidity was low, and fine fuels and litter were readily combustible. Researchers suggest that mimicking this type of fire today is difficult due to the small areas dominated by pine barrens vegetation and their proximity to wildland urban interfaces [16].

In the longleaf pine-, slash pine-, and/or pineland threeawn-dominated vegetation of South Carolina that is pinebarren goldenheather habitat, fires are frequent. Surface fires on these sites historically occurred at 1- to 10-year intervals [14].

The following table provides fire return intervals for plant communities and ecosystems where pinebarren goldenheather is important. For further information, see the FEIS review of the dominant species listed below.

Community or Ecosystem Dominant Species Fire Return Interval Range (years)
shortleaf pine Pinus echinata 2-15
shortleaf pine-oak P. echinata-Quercus spp. <10
slash pine P. elliottii 3-8
sand pine P. elliottii var. elliottii 25-45 [39]
longleaf-slash pine P. palustris-P. elliottii 1-4 [27,39]
pitch pine P. rigida 6-25 [2,15]
chestnut oak Quercus prinus 3-8
northern red oak Q. rubra 10 to <35
black oak Q. velutina <35 [39]


POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY [37]:
Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Hudsonia ericoides
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT:
Given that pinebarren goldenheather regenerates from the soil seed bank following fire, it is likely that this species is killed by fire.

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT:
No additional information is available on this topic.

PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE:
Pinebarren goldenheather is a non-sprouting shrub [6,41]. It establishes from banked seed following fire [41].

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE:
Most fire studies indicate that pinebarren goldenheather increases following fire. The ordination of data from 85 plots and 13 environmental variables in the pine barrens of New Jersey revealed pinebarren goldenheather's close association with sites having more open canopies, more bare sand, and experiencing high-severity past fires. Pinebarren goldenheather's frequency and abundance were greatest on the most frequently burned sites, and increases occurred on long unburned sites that burned severely. Pinebarren goldenheather seedlings revegetated burned sites. The researcher suggests that pinebarren goldenheather produces a long-lived seed bank that is stimulated to germinate following severe canopy removing fires [41].

During burning and herbicide treatments in the southern New Jersey pine plains, researchers observed that pinebarren goldenheather occurred only on road edges and on fire breaks that burned 5 times in the past 14 to 18 years. On sites burned only once by a "light" backfire, pinebarren goldenheather occupied only roadside sites [22].

The 1995 Sunrise Wildfire burned portions of the Long Island pine barrens vegetation. Approximately 70% of the burned area had not burned since 1930, and pitch pines in the area were more than 40 years old. Aerial photographs taken in 1996 revealed an increased abundance of pinebarren goldenheather on burned sites compared to unburned sites [16].

However, following high-severity spring fires in the heathlands of Nantucket and Cape Cod, pinebarren goldenheather decreased slightly. The fires burned when fuel loads were between 850 and 1,000 g/m and flame lengths were between 6.6 and 32.8 feet (2-10 m). Before the fire in Nantucket, pinebarren goldenheather coverage and frequency were 3% and 41%, respectively. The 1st postfire year coverage was less than 1%, and frequency was 35%. The prefire coverage and frequency of pinebarren goldenheather on Cape Cod were less than 1% and 9%, respectively. Four years following the fire coverage was unchanged, and frequency was 7% [6]. This study suggests that pinebarren goldenheather coverage and frequency may not increase following fire, may experience short-lived post-fire increases, or may require more than 4 years to exceed prefire measurements on some sites. See the Research Project Summary Vegetation change in grasslands and heathlands following multiple spring, summer, and fall prescription fires in Massachusetts for further information on prescribed fire and postfire response of plant community species, including pinebarren goldenheather, in this study.

FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Managing for pinebarren goldenheather will likely require the use of fire. However, the fragmented nature of pinebarren goldenheather habitat today could make mimicking past fire frequencies and severities challenging.

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Hudsonia ericoides
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE:
The literature does not directly discuss the use of pinebarren goldenheather by animal species. However, the dwarf pine plains habitats of Long Island, New York where pinebarren goldenheather is typical, are important to several bird species. The prairie warbler and brown thrasher nest in this habitat. The pine warbler and ovenbird are also frequently found in this vegetation type. The dwarf pine plains are also highlighted as prime buck moth habitat [32].

Palatability/nutritional value: No information is available on this topic.

Cover value: No information is available on this topic.

VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES:
No study addressed the intentional planting of pinebarren goldenheather on disturbed sites. Yet, on the very disturbed New Jersey National Guard Weapons Range, pinebarren goldenheather was 1 of several species to invade restoration sites. Invading species did best on sites planted with pitch pine and treated with 16 Mg/ha of composted sewage sludge. The density of all invading shrub species including pinebarren goldenheather was low [9].

OTHER USES:
No information is available on this topic.

OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Pinebarren goldenheather is a pioneer species that requires early seral habitat. In areas where the reintroduction of fire is impossible, other land clearing practices may encourage pinebarren goldenheather growth.

Hudsonia ericoides: References


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