Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Lycium berlandieri

Introductory

SPECIES: Lycium berlandieri
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Matthews, Robin F. 1994. Lycium berlandieri. 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 : LYCBER SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : LYBE COMMON NAMES : Berlandier wolfberry wolfberry desert thorn TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of Berlandier wolfberry is Lycium berlandieri Dunal. (Solanaceae) [23,31,41]. A typical variety and L. b. var parviflorum (Gray) Terrac. are recognized by some authors [23,31]. Vines [41] also recognizes L. b. forma parviflorum (Gray) Hitchc., L. b. var. longistylum Hitchc., and L. b. var. brevilobum Hitchc. LIFE FORM : Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Lycium berlandieri
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Berlandier wolfberry ranges from Arizona to Texas and south into Mexico [23,31,41].  Lycium berlandieri var. berlandieri is common in southern Texas and is distributed from southern and western Texas to central Mexico.  Lycium b. var. parviflorum is more common in the Trans-Pecos than the typical variety and is distributed from Arizona to western Texas and south to northern Mexico [31].  Lycium b. f. parviflorum occurs in Arizona and Mexico, L. b. var. longistylum is from southern Arizona, and L. b. var. brevilobum occurs in Texas and Mexico [41]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES28  Western hardwoods    FRES30  Desert shrub    FRES32  Texas savanna    FRES33  Southwestern shrubsteppe    FRES38  Plains grasslands    FRES39  Prairie    FRES40  Desert grasslands STATES :      AZ  NM  TX  MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :     7  Lower Basin and Range    12  Colorado Plateau    13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont    14  Great Plains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K027  Mesquite bosque    K040  Saltbush - greasewood    K041  Creosotebush    K042  Creosotebush - bursage    K043  Paloverde - cactus shrub    K044  Creosotebush - tarbush    K045  Ceniza shrub    K053  Grama - galleta steppe    K054  Grama - tobosa prairie    K058  Grama - tobosa shrubsteppe    K059  Trans-Pecos shrub savanna    K060  Mesquite savanna    K061  Mesquite - acacia savanna    K062  Mesquite - live oak savanna    K065  Grama - buffalograss    K076  Blackland prairie    K077  Bluestem - sacahuista prairie SAF COVER TYPES :     68  Mesquite    235  Cottonwood - willow    241  Western live oak    242  Mesquite SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Berlandier wolfberry occurs in many habitats but usually does not attain dominance.  It is characteristic of Sonoran or Chihuahuan desert scrub vegetation and is associated in those regions with ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea), range ratany (Krameria parvifolia), ironwood (Olneya tesota), jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis), false-mesquite (Calliandra eriophylla), brittle bush (Encelia farinosa), leatherstem (Jatropha cardiophylla), feather dalea (Dalea formosa), yucca (Yucca spp.), agave (Agave spp.), prickly pear and cholla (Opuntia spp.), and catclaw (Acacia spp.) [3,10,30,35,37].  In the Chihuahuan Desert, Berlandier wolfberry may also occur in alkali sacaton (Sporobolus airoides) grasslands on deep calcareous alluvial deposits near arroyos and in intermontane habitats along the margins of honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa var. glandulosa) communities [20]. In southern Texas Berlandier wolfberry is associated with hackberry (Celtis spp.), prickly pear, catclaw, bluewood (Condalia obovata), Texas persimmon (Diospyros texana), lotebush (Zizyphus obtusifolia), whitebrush (Aloysia lycioides), agrito (Mahonia trifoliolata), desert yaupon (Schaefferia cuneifolia), curlymesquite (Hilaria belangeri), tobosa (Hilaria mutica), grama (Bouteloua spp.), and dropseed (Sporobolus spp.) [8,24,28].  Mesquite-hackberry (Celtis spp.)-Berlandier wolfberry communities are most common on smaller drainages within sandy areas where soil textures are sandy loams, and along edges of saline waterways near the coast [28]. Berlandier wolfberry also occurs in openings in riparian or arroyo margin woodlands dominated by Arizona sycamore (Platanus wrightii), Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), Goodding willow (Salix gooddingii), and saltcedar (Tamarix chinensis) [29,30].

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Lycium berlandieri
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Berlandier wolfberry fruits are important food for birds and some rodents [39].  Livestock may browse Berlandier wolfberry foliage [23,31]; however, it was available on southern Texas plains but was not reported in cattle diets [11].  Black-tailed jackrabbit winter diets in southern Texas consisted of 3 percent Berlandier wolfberry [40]. In southern Arizona Gambel's quail were closely tied to habitats characterized by mesquite (Prosopis spp.), netleaf hackberry (Celtis reticulata), falsemesquite, and Berlandier wolfberry along sandy washes or around stock tanks.  There was an average of 60 Berlandier wolfberry plants per 0.4 hectare plot in areas most used.  Gambel's quail used Berlandier wolfberry for cover, roosting and feeding sites, and for raising broods.  These habitats were also important for introduced masked bobwhites when preferred habitat was limited.  There was an average of 83 Berlandier wolfberry plants per 0.4 hectare plot in scaled quail habitat found in adjacent grasslands dominated by low grasses, broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae), and Berlandier wolfberry. Scaled quail used Berlandier wolfberry for hiding cover and preferred plants 1.7 to 5.0 feet (0.5-1.5 m) tall for loafing cover [16]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Specific information regarding the use of Berlandier wolfberry for rehabilitating disturbed sites is not available in the literature. Wolfberries (Lycium spp.), however, have been used to rehabilitate abandoned farmlands in Sonoran Desert lowlands and on disturbed sites near Red Rock, Arizona.  The sites were restored by establishing berms on the contour and then seeding with wolfberry and other desert shrubs [22]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Historically, Native Americans have eaten Berlandier wolfberry berries and have used the plant for a wide variety of medicinal purposes [23,31]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Berlandier wolfberry had a frequency of 0.4 percent on sites protected from livestock grazing for 50 years at the Desert Laboratory near Tucson, Arizona.  It was not present on unprotected sites, but the differences were not significant [3]. Woody species such as Berlandier wolfberry often invade grasslands and reduce the amount of valuable forage.  Fall aerial applications of picloram, 2,4,5-T, or a mixture of the two were relatively ineffective for control of Berlandier wolfberry in southern Texas [5].  However, aerial applications of tebuthiuron were effective in killing all Berlandier wolfberry plants within 1 year on a 130-acre (52-hectare) study plot on the Jornada Experimental Range, New Mexico [14].

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Lycium berlandieri
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Berlandier wolfberry is a spiny shrub up to 7 feet (2 m) tall with few, spreading branches.  The axillary flowers are bell-shaped and are borne singly or in clusters.  The fruit is a red juicy berry with 8 to 30 seeds [41].  Berlandier wolfberry sheds its leaves and becomes dormant during drought but quickly refoliates when conditions are more favorable [23].  Berlandier wolfberry is long-lived, with an average life span of about 90 years [35].  Individuals of at least 72 years of age have been observed at the Desert Laboratory near Tucson, Arizona [15]. The roots of wolfberry species are tough and fibrous.  Root systems are relatively extensive in comparison with the aerial portions, often extending 25 to 30 feet (7.5-9.0 m) from the plant [39]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :       Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Berlandier wolfberry regenerates from cuttings, root suckering, and layering [41].  It may also sprout from the base when damaged [41]. Berlandier wolfberry seeds are dispersed by birds and other animals [27]. Good seed crops are produced by wolfberry species almost every year. After extraction, seeds should by dried and stored in sealed containers at 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 deg C), or stratified in moist sand. Stratified seeds of other wolfberry species maintain good viability for 6 months.  Dormancy in wolfberry seeds is variable.  Some wolfberries germinate well without pretreatment, while germination of others was improved by stratification.  Seeds can be sown in the fall as soon as the fruits ripen, or stratified seed can be sown in the spring and covered lightly with about 0.25-inch (0.64-cm) of soil.  Two-year-old seedlings may be outplanted [34].   SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Berlandier wolfberry is found on flats, along washes or arroyos, on dry, gravelly to sandy hills and bajadas, and on rocky slopes [6,23,31,30]. It also grows on or around saline flats or playas in the Chihuahuan Desert, but is not restricted to such sites [19,28].  Berlandier wolfberry is generally found at elevations up to 3,000 feet (900 m) in Arizona and Texas [23,41] but occurs from 2,100 to 4,600 feet (636-1,400 m) elevation in the Trans-Pecos region [31]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : On the Rio Grande Plains of southern Texas, succession may proceed from grassland or savanna to closed canopy shrublands or woodlands.  Mesquite (Prosopis spp.) generally invades the grasslands or savanna initially, and may act as a nurse tree for the establishment of other woody species.  Mesquite and the nursed plants form discrete clusters. Berlandier wolfberry establishes in these clusters about 45 to 52 years after initial establishment of mesquite.  The clusters eventually become continuous and form a closed canopy [1,2].  Berlandier wolfberry is found in mesic mesquite-hackberry shrublands that are considered climax associations on certain sites in southern Texas [28]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Berlandier wolfberry flowers from March to September in Arizona [23] and from February to October in the Trans-Pecos region [31].  It flowered in October after fall rains in the lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas [42].

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Lycium berlandieri
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Berlandier wolfberry sprouts from the root crown following fire [17,26], but it may take many years to regain its former density on a burned site [33].  Its sprouting ability is most likely dependent on fire severity. Wolfberry species seedling establishment was noted after a fire at a Sonoran Desert site.  The seeds may have survived the fire in the soil or on burned plants, or may have been dispersed from adjacent unburned areas [33].  Large clumps of woody species in southern Texas chaparral communities do not burn completely.  Fire-caused mortality in clumps not mechanically treated was greatest on the windward side.  Recurring fires may have eliminated individual plants and small clumps but allowed larger clumps to survive [7]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Tall shrub, adventitious-bud root crown    Secondary colonizer - off-site seed

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Lycium berlandieri
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Severe fires may kill Berlandier wolfberry but low- to moderate-severity fires probably only consume its aerial portions.  Many small Berlandier wolfberry plants were "completely destroyed" by a fire in savanna vegetation in southern Texas [7]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Berlandier wolfberry frequency was significantly (p<.01) reduced following a fall prescribed fire at the Welder Wildlife Foundation Refuge in southern Texas.  Prefire frequency was 15 percent while frequency in postfire year 1 was 4 percent.  Postfire canopy cover was 83 percent less than prefire cover.  The area was dominated by mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), huisache (Acacia farnesiana), and seacoast bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium var. littoralis) and had been pretreated with shredding, chopping, or scalping 2 years earlier to produce fuel sufficient for a uniform burn.  There was significantly (p<.05) less brush cover on pretreated than on untreated sites. Berlandier wolfberry had the following percent canopy cover in postfire year 1 under the different treatments [7]: Treatment                    Burned             Unburned __________________________________________________________ Control                       0.1                  0.5 Shredded                     Trace                 0.2 Chopped                      Trace                 0.1 Scalped                      Trace                 0.2   Brush canopy reduction, including that of Berlandier wolfberry, was greatest at this site when treated plots were burned in the fall or winter of 2 successive years, rather than once [8]. On the Rio Grande Plains of southern Texas, buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris) pastures have been invaded by woody species such as mesquite (Prosopis spp.), blackbrush acacia (Acacia rigidula), twisted acacia (A. tortuosa), Berlandier wolfberry, and others.  Two cool-season prescribed fires were applied to a buffelgrass pasture, one in February 1977 and one in February 1979, to control woody species invasion.  Both fires reduced brush species to ground level.  However, the suppression of growth was short-lived and canopy diameters (including that of Berlandier wolfberry) had recovered to prefire levels by the end of the first growing season following the initial fire.  Mortality was insignificant even after the second fire.  The fires did allow a cumulative increase in forage production of buffelgrass for up to three postfire growing seasons [17,18]. The Research Project Summary Ibarra-F and others 1996 provides information on mortality of Berlandier wolfberry after prescribed fires in buffelgrass pastures in Sonora, Mexico. Wolfberry species sprouted rapidly after controlled June fires in Sonoran desert scrub vegetation near Phoenix, Arizona.  The well-developed wolfberry root systems escaped damage from the fire, allowing them to capitalize on increased water and nitrogen availability in the postfire environment.  Wolfberries had established their former density and cover by 35 postfire months.  Wolfberry plants had similar responses in both open shrub and tree microhabitats [26]. Wolfberry species sprouted and seedlings established within 3 years following a June wildfire in a Sonoran Desert scrub community near Phoenix, Arizona.  No information was given on fire severity or intensity [33]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Box and White [8] recommended fire for controlling woody species on southern Texas savanna communities dominated by mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), huisache, and seacoast bluestem.  Fall and winter burning effectively reduced brush canopy and frequency, although fall burning was slightly more effective.  Fire was not particularly useful unless sites had been mechanically pretreated to create a uniform fuel bed. Best results are probably obtained by waiting a sufficiently long time following mechanical treatment for crushed woody fuel to dry and a crop of herbaceous species to mature among the woody debris. Frequent fires in mesquite-hackberry-Berlandier wolfberry communities on southern Texas plains may convert the vegetation to seacoast bluestem-brownseed paspalum (Paspalum plicatulum)-balsamscale (Elionurus tripsacoides) associations [28]. Fires are not prevalent in many desert communities due to wide spacing between shrubs and sparse ground cover [9,21].  Unusually heavy winter rains, however, may produce a cover of annual species dense enough to carry a fire when cured [21].  Many perennial desert shrubs are poorly adapted to fire [9].  Postfire recolonization by long-lived desert shrubs is very slow initially and may take hundreds of years [9,33]. Rogers and Steele [33] suggested a conservative approach when using fire to manage desert regions.

FIRE CASE STUDIES

SPECIES: Lycium berlandieri
FIRE CASE STUDY CITATION : Matthews, Robin F., compiler. 1994. Fire temperatures and the effect of burning on Berlandier wolfberry on the Welder Wildlife Refuge, south Texas. In: Lycium berlandieri. 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/ []. REFERENCE : White, Richard S. 1969. Fire temperatures and the effect of burning on south Texas brush communities. Lubbock, TX: Texas Technological College. 74 p. Thesis.  [44]. SEASON/SEVERITY CLASSIFICATION : March/variable STUDY LOCATION : The study plot was located in Section 40, lots 7 and 8 of the Welder Wildlife Foundation Refuge which is approximately 20 miles north of Corpus Christi, Texas. PREFIRE VEGETATIVE COMMUNITY : The regional vegetation of the area was described as Gulf prairies and marshes.  Plant communities in the study area were dominated by mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), huisache (Acacia farnesiana), and seacoast bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium var. littoralis).  Other woody species present included Berlandier wolfberry (Lycium berlandieri), lotebush (Zizyphus obtusifolia), blackbrush acacia (Acacia rigidula), twisted acacia (A. tortuosa), agarito (Mahonia trifoliolata), Texas persimmon (Diospyros texana), and hackberry (Celtis spp). TARGET SPECIES PHENOLOGICAL STATE : Berlandier wolfberry possessed a full complement of leaves at the time of burning and 2 weeks following burning. SITE DESCRIPTION : NO-ENTRY FIRE DESCRIPTION : A prescribed fire was applied to a 10 acre (4 hectare) plot.  One portion was burned March 8, 1968; the rest was burned March 12, 1968.  The following conditions were recorded at the time of burning:                                             Date Burned Condition                            3/8/68             3/12/68 ______________________________________________________________________ Time of burning                   3:00-3:30 pm      10:00 am-4:00 pm Air temperature (deg F)                60                  55 Relative humidity (%)                  90                  45 Wind velocity (mph)                    10                20-30 Soil moisture (%)                      40                  37 Plant moisture (%)                      9                   7 Average height of flames (ft)           7                   8      In subunit 1, the fuel was evenly distributed and high in loading, and the brush was generally open.  Subunit 2 had an uneven fuel distribution, fuel loading was moderate, and brush was dense.  There was a low amount of evenly distributed fuel in subunit 3, and brush cover was open.                    FIRE EFFECTS ON TARGET SPECIES : The canopy cover of all woody species, including Berlandier wolfberry, was reduced by burning.  Overall mortality of Berlandier wolfberry was 8 percent.  Berlandier wolfberry had the following percent canopy cover before and 3 months after the fire:                                     Percent Canopy Cover Subunit     Fuel load            Prefire           Postfire -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Subunit 1 (3,686 lbs/acre)         trace              trace          Subunit 2 (1,932 lbs/acre)         trace                1 Subunit 3 (1,970 lbs/acre)           1                trace The extent of topkill and mortality of Berlandier wolfberry seemed to increase with increasing fuel loads, but differences were not statistically significant (p>.10).  Overall brush mortality was significantly (p<.01) higher in subunit 1, where fuel loadings were highest.  In subunit 2, where brush cover was dense, the fire was severe enough to damage brush at the edges of clumps and significantly (p<.05) reduce overall brush cover.  In subunit 3, with low fuel loads and open cover, brush cover was not significantly (p>.10) reduced. FIRE MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS : Overall, fire was an effective method for topkilling woody species but did not result in high mortality.  Low mortality may have been due to high soil moisture and relatively low air temperatures.  Under these conditions, fire would have to be applied several times over a period of years to kill many woody species.  Maximum mortality may be obtained by burning when woody plants are small and fuel quantities are high.

REFERENCES

SPECIES: Lycium berlandieri
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