Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Menziesia ferruginea


SPECIES: Menziesia ferruginea
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Habeck, R. J. 1992. Menziesia ferruginea. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : MENFER SYNONYMS : Menziesia glabella (Gray) Peck SCS PLANT CODE : MEFE COMMON NAMES : menziesia false huckleberry fool's huckleberry false azalea mock azalea rusty menziesia smooth menziesia Pacific menziesia skunkbrush rustyleaf TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of menziesia is Menziesia ferruginea (Smith) [26]. In existence are two varieties distinguished by morphological variations and geographic location [25,26,32,33]: M. ferruginea var. ferruginea M. ferruginea var. glabella (Gray) Peck LIFE FORM : Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Menziesia ferruginea
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : M. ferruginea var. ferruginea is found north along the Alaskan Coast, and south along the Pacific Coast to northern California, inland across the Cascades and Rocky Mountains to Wyoming [25,33]. M. ferruginea var. glabella is distributed from British Columbia to Alberta, south to Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, eastern Washington, and Oregon; down the Columbia River to Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams, where the two varieties freely interbreed [25,27]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES20  Douglas-fir    FRES22  Western white pine    FRES23  Fir - spruce    FRES24  Hemlock - Sitka spruce    FRES25  Larch STATES :      AK  CA  ID  MT  OR  WA  WY  AB  BC BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :    1  Northern Pacific Border    2  Cascade Mountains    4  Sierra Mountains    5  Columbia Plateau    8  Northern Rocky Mountains    9  Middle Rocky Mountains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K001  Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest    K002  Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest    K003  Silver fir - Douglas-fir forest    K004  Fir - hemlock forest    K012  Douglas-fir forest    K013  Cedar - hemlock - pine forest    K014  Grand fir - Douglas-fir forest    K015  Western spruce - fir forest SAF COVER TYPES :    205  Mountain hemlock    206  Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir    210  Interior Douglas-fir    212  Western larch    213  Grand fir    215  Western white pine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Menziesia is an understory dominant on moist, wooded north- and east-facing slopes of the montane to upper subalpine zones.  Overstory components mostly include subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa), Pacific silver fir (A. amabilis), western redcedar (Thuja plicata), mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana), western hemlock (T. heterophylla), and Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) [25].  Menziesia's associates generally include blue huckleberry (Vaccinium globulare), smooth woodrush (Luzula hitchcockii), and on higher sites, white rhododendron (Rhododendron albiflorum) [33].  In Alaska, menziesia is a common understory shrub in the coastal spruce-hemlock forest, often under a dense canopy.  It also grows in the southern part of the boreal forest in white spruce (Picea glauca) and white spruce-paper birch (Betula papyrifera) stands [53]. Publications listing menziesia as an indicator or dominant species in habitat types (hts), community types (cts), or plant associations (pas) are presented below: Area                       Classification       Authority   AK                        forest (cts)        Reynolds 1990 c ID                        forest (hts)        Steele & others  1981 n ID                        forest (hts)        Cooper & others  1991 e ID and w WY               forest (hts)        Steele & others  1983   MT                        forest (hts)        Pfister & others 1977   OR: Mt. Hood &       Willamette N.F.       forest (pas)        Hemstrom & others 1982   OR: Wallowa-Whitman       National Forest       forest (pas)        Johnson & Simon   1987   WA: Mount Rainier N.P.    forest (pas)        Franklin & others 1988   WA: Gifford Pinchot       National Forest       forest (pas)        Brockway & others 1983


SPECIES: Menziesia ferruginea
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Menziesia's value to wildlife is primarily as food.  In Idaho and Montana, elk used menziesia in considerable amounts in July, and to a lesser extent in October.  Elk rarely eat menziesia when it occurs with more palatable browse species.  Menziesia filled a browse requirement during July when elk were primarily on an herbaceous diet in western Montana and Idaho [14,54].  Mule deer use menziesia moderately in summer and fall in the western states [31].  Menziesia accounted for over 15 percent of the summer moose diet in the spruce-fir cover types of Jackson Hole, Wyoming [28].  Alaskan spruce grouse use small amounts of menziesia capsules in their October diet [15].  Following a burn treatment in western Montana, menziesia came back as an important source of fruits and seeds used by rodents such as deer mice, chipmunks, and voles [21]. PALATABILITY : The palatability of menziesia is generally rated poor.  This shrub provides fair summer browse for deer and elk [35].  Menziesia's palatability was considered very low for moose in Jackson Hole, Wyoming [23]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Nutrient value of menziesia is considered poor to medium [20]. Menziesia contains toxic resinoids that are known to cause livestock losses when leaves and roots are eaten [43]. Mean values of percent composition of macro- and micronutrients for menziesia are as follows [22]:                     MACRO                              MICRO              (percent dry weight)                 (ppm dry weight) ---------------------------------------------------------------------           N   P    K    Ca   Mg   Na           Cu     Mn    Fe   Zn --------------------------------------------------------------------- Leaves  2.48 0.24 1.19 0.62 0.40 0.47         10.0  16,656 62.0 86.6 Stems   1.18 0.15 0.85 0.35 0.17 0.09         11.8  7139.2 22.8 40.5 COVER VALUE : Menziesia provides shelter and cover for a variety of wildlife species. Dense thickets provide good cover for many small birds and mammals. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : Menziesia is a desirable ornamental due its crimson-orange autumn foliage [26]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Menziesia is mostly threatened by logging activities.  Following clearcutting of Pacific silver fir and mountain hemlock, menziesia exhibits a difficult time regenerating [6].  In northwestern Montana, menziesia decreased considerably from its high abundance following a clearcut in an old-growth stand [2].  Soil layers restricting root growth and high water tables are common enough that compaction or erosion-causing activities should be carefully controlled [6]. There appears to be little destruction of mature menziesia plants in spruce-fir forests when selective logging is done during the winter [9]. If menziesia is a major component of the mature forest understory, it will continue to dominate the postharvest plant community [10]. Mechanical site preparation:  Coates [8] found that recovery of menziesia on Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir sites after clipping and mechanical scarification was very limited and confined to the production of new shoots from buds on old stems rather than from basal sprouts or suckers.  Two seasons after cutting, new shoots had not reached the height of precut stems, and did not overtop spruce or pine seedlings planted at the time of cutting. Menziesia control by Esteron brush killer was best achieved when this herbicide was mixed with diesel and sprayed by helicopter from 150 to 200 feet (46-61 m) high [40].  After 2 years, Tordon 101 and Banvel 720 killed 100 percent of menziesia when sprayed on leaf foliage [39].


SPECIES: Menziesia ferruginea
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Menziesia is an erect, deciduous shrub 3.3 to 6.6 feet (1-2 m) tall. Ovate-elliptic to elliptic-obovate leaves are 1.5 to 2.5 inches (4-6 cm) long and exude a skunky odor when crushed.  Menziesia has scaly bark on older branches, while the young twigs are covered with fine hair [20]. The fruits are oval capsules containing many seeds 0.20 to 0.28 inch (5-7 mm) long.  The leaves and stems of this shrub are sticky to the touch [25,26,44]. Menziesia decreases in height with increasing elevation.  This would imply that menziesia's height is generally at its maximum on western hemlock sites, and at its minimum on mountain hemlock and subalpine fir sites [34]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :       Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Seed production and dispersal:  Numerous small seeds are produced in capsules which dehisce naturally at maturity.  Seeds are wind or gravity dispersed. Vegetative Reproduction:  Menziesia sprouts from root crowns and adventitious stem buds after destruction of aboveground parts.  When covered with ash from Mt. St. Helen's, menziesia produced adventitious roots [3].  This plant also appears to be capable of layering.  Layering is an effective means of growth and expansion at high elevations where heavy snowpacks press menziesia branches close to the ground [10].  On steep slopes, menziesia tends to grow downhill with the tips of its branches ascending [35]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Menziesia is a common shade-tolerant shrub, found predominantly on steep, northerly exposures with abundant moisture [17,20,25,26]. Menziesia generally occurs from 3,300 to 7,500 feet (1,000-2,300 m) in elevation on 15 to 60 percent slopes [11,29,50].  Absence from extreme northern distributions may imply a limitation to cold temperatures. Menziesia may be restricted to areas with adequate snow cover, which protects plants from winter desiccation [25].  In Oregon, menziesia is typically found on high-elevation sites where frequent frost, heavy snowpacks, and short growing seasons are common [6]. The presence of menziesia has been reported as being a particularly good indicator of site potential [13].  Menziesia often grows under dense canopies, in openings, and on cut-over forest land, especially on well-drained slopes [53].  Mueggler [42] found the distribution of menziesia in cedar-hemlock stands to be positively associated with low soil potassium content, and high organic matter content (5.6 to 8.0 percent). Soils:  Soil depth usually ranges from 17 to 70 inches (43-178 cm). Soils are generally derived from loam to sandy-loam pumice layers to a depth of 15 to 30 inches (38-76 cm) [6,11,24].  In central Idaho, soil acidity ranges from pH 5.1 to 6.2; litter depth can average at least 3.5 inches (9 cm) [6,11].  Effective rooting depth in Oregon is approximately 46 inches (117 cm) [6]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Menziesia is most always associated with cold, wet habitat types. Menziesia is very shade tolerant.  It can persist in heavily shaded forests where light levels are typically 5 percent of full sunlight. Alaback [1] reported that menziesia decreased in biomass productivity in Alaskan spruce-hemlock forests over 30 years of age.  Menziesia biomass was lowest in stands 31 to 130 years old, but after this period increased.  In western Montana, burning increased menziesia fourfold from immature stands (less than 90 years) to old stands (greater than 150 years) [2]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Phenology:  Menziesia flowers from late May through July; capsules mature in July and August [53].  Leaves expand rapidly in early June at the time flowers open and begin to senesce in mid-August and September at high elevations in southern British Columbia [10].  Menziesia has been found to live at least 30 years in northern forests [1].  


SPECIES: Menziesia ferruginea
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Menziesia is a fire-sensitive species [51].  It responds to fire by sprouting from the root crown [38].  Since menziesia is indicative of cool, moist sites, fire plays a minor role in its development.  Barrett and Arno [4] found that the subalpine fir/menziesia cover type in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, Idaho, had a mean fire interval of 174 to 181 years, achieving lethal/nonuniform fire behavior. 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 :    survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex


SPECIES: Menziesia ferruginea
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Menziesia is very susceptible to fire-kill.  Moderate to severe fires reduce survival and slow redevelopment [44].  Wildfires apparently removed menziesia totally from experimental plots in Washington and Oregon for up to 16 years [58]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : In western Montana, Stickney [51] found that postfire survival of menziesia was poor; menziesia was very slow to redevelop after fire, especially in areas that had been intensely burned.  The average percent cover of menziesia doubled from unburned plots to lightly burned plots, and tripled from moderately burned plots in western Montana [48]. Another study found menziesia to increase its density of aboveground parts the first year after burning [37].  Model projections predict that menziesia will reach a height of 2.4 feet (.73 m) 2 years after a burn, and that the average height of menziesia will peak at 5.1 to 5.6 feet (1.5-1.7 m) 20 to 25 years after burning [34].  Mueggler [42], however, found no significant difference in cover and frequency between burned and unburned sites in northern Idaho. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : The following Research Project Summaries provide information on prescribed fire use and postfire response of plant community species including menziesia: Hamilton's Research Papers (Hamilton 2006a, Hamilton 2006b) also provide information on prescribed fire and postfire response of plant species, including menziesia, that was not available when this species review was originally written.  


SPECIES: Menziesia ferruginea
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