Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Prunus ilicifolia

Introductory

SPECIES: Prunus ilicifolia
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : McMurray, Nancy E. 1990. Prunus ilicifolia. 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 : PRUILI SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : PRIL COMMON NAMES : hollyleaf cherry holly-leaved cherry islay evergreen cherry TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of hollyleaf cherry is Prunus ilicifolia (Nutt.) Walp. Subspecies are [51]: P. i. ssp. ilicifolia hollyleaf cherry P. i. ssp. lyonii (Eastw.) Raven Catalina cherry LIFE FORM : Shrub-tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Prunus ilicifolia
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Hollyleaf cherry is distributed throughout the central and southern Coast Ranges of California, extending from Napa County southward into Baja California [28,33,34]. Catalina cherry occurs on the Channel Islands and mainland Baja California [35,51]. It is cultivated in Hawaii [55]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES20 Douglas-fir FRES21 Ponderosa pine FRES28 Western hardwoods FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub STATES : CA HI MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 1 Northern Pacific Border 3 Southern Pacific Border KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K009 Pine - cypress forest K029 California mixed evergreen forest K030 California oakwoods K033 Chaparral K034 Montane chaparral K035 Coastal sagebrush K036 Moasaic of K030 and K035 SAF COVER TYPES : 234 Douglas-fir - tanoak - Pacific madrone 250 Blue oak - Digger pine 255 California coast live oak SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Hollyleaf cherry is a common shrub component of mesic situations within foothill woodland, chaparral, and coastal scrub communities [12,16,34]. It has not been included as a dominant or indicator in published classification schemes. Occurring as one of a number of widespread woody dominants within mature chaparral communities, hollyleaf cherry grows most abundantly within scrub oak (Quercus dumosa) chaparral. Hanes [16] lists hollyleaf cherry as an important constituent of coastal scrub-chaparral communities occupying outwashes and drainageways in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Described as a mesic phase of coastal sage scrub, these mixed communities exhibit a distinct physiognomy and develop a lush herbaceous understory in the spring. On north slopes in the central Coast Ranges and Santa Lucia Mountains, hollyleaf cherry often codominates scrubby woodlands along with California buckeye (Aesculus californica), and California bay (Umbellularia californica) [12]. Although rarely forming pure stands, hollyleaf cherry becomes particularly prominent in the foothill woodlands of San Luis Obispo County where California buckeye is uncommon [12]. Common associates within scrub oak chaparral include birchleaf mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides), toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), redberry (Rhamnus crocea), California coffeeberry (R. californica), chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum), poison-oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum), and honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) [12].

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Prunus ilicifolia
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Hollyleaf cherry is browsed by a number of big game species including California mule deer and bighorn sheep [5,40]. Use typically occurs in the late summer or fall when herbaceous species are largely unavailable [32]. The juicy, sweet-tasting berries are readily consumed by many songbirds [14,40]; rodents and other small mammals eat the seeds [8]. The seeds or pits of many species of cherry (Prunus spp.) are poisonous to most livestock [14,40]. PALATABILITY : Palatability of hollyleaf cherry browse depends on plant condition and community associates [14,32]. Postfire sprouts are highly preferred deer browse on chaparral sites in the central Coast Range [1]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : Hollyleaf cherry is one of an array of broadleaved shrubs constituting scrub oak chaparral [15,16]. Tall shrub communities dominated by scrub oak lend structural and compositional diversity to a landscape otherwise dominated by shorter statured chamise chaparral. As a result, they provide important nesting and hiding cover for numerous birds and small mammals. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Hollyleaf cherry can stabilize steep, erodible hillsides [40]. Plants are easily propagated from seed sown in flats, open seedbeds, or directly onto the ground [7,8]; if direct planted, seeds are often consumed by rodents [8]. Seedlings grow best in full sunlight and porous soil [7] and will tolerate considerable abuse in handling [40]. Once transplanted, hollyleaf cherry requires little maintenance. Transplants usually begin seed production within 2 years of setting out and subsequent volunteers are numerous [8]. On relatively poor chaparral sites, transplants can reach heights and spreads of 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 m) within 20 years [8]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Due to its shiny, evergreen leaves and profusion of feathery blooms, hollyleaf cherry is often cultivated as an ornamental hedge [7,8]. The fruits can be dried for storage or eaten raw [5]. Historical uses included grinding the pits into flour and fermenting the berries into an intoxicating drink [5,7]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Prunus ilicifolia
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Hollyleaf cherry is a native, sclerophyllous, broadleaved shrub or small tree [6,28,34]. Although it commonly assumes a shrubby growth habit, heights may range from 3 to 26 feet (1 to 8 m) [34]. Treelike forms usually occur on more favorable sites, with some individuals reaching 24 feet (7.3 m) in height and 11.5 feet (3.5 m) in circumference [6,13]. Branches are gray or reddish brown in color [5]. The foliage is typically dense and compact [40]. The thick, evergreen, spiny-toothed leaves are dark green and shiny above with pale undersides; leaves are simple, approximately 0.8 to 2 inches (2 to 5 cm) long, and arranged alternately on the stem [5,34]. Small, inconspicuous, bisexual flowers are produced in short cylindrical clusters and are white in color. The fruit is a small, red or purple (sometimes yellow) drupe consisting of a thin, sweetish pulp and a smooth, boney seed [34]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Hollyleaf cherry can regenerate sexually or vegetatively. It is a widespread component of fire-prone environments and maintains itself primarily through vigorous sprouting. Little or no seedling establishment occurs immediately following fire [24,43]. Extended fire-free periods create conditions favorable to seedling establishment and population expansion [25,26]. Seed regeneration: Hollyleaf cherry starts producing seed as early as 3 years of age [14]. As with most chaparral shrubs, seed is produced almost annually after the first flowering [38], and production does not appear to decrease with age [22]. Seeds are dispersed in the fall [25]. Large numbers of the fleshy, one-seeded fruits fall directly beneath the parent plant, but widespread dispersal also occurs through animal vectors, particularly birds [14,23,40,49]. The seeds are short-lived. Viability is retained no longer than 9 months when seed is allowed to dry at room temperatures [25]. Seeds germinate readily under suitable moisture and temperature conditions; they do not require the stimulus of heat or charred wood for germination [25,38,50]. Germinative capacity of stored seeds was 24 percent when stratified for 90 days in a moist medium at temperatures ranging from 33 to 41 degrees F (0.6 to 5 degrees C) [14]. Germination is apparently inhibited by constant darkness [25]. In the nursery, seedling emergence occurred within 20 to 40 days after sowing [8]. Natural germination apparently takes place during the winter or spring immediately following dispersal [38]. Unlike many chaparral species, hollyleaf cherry is not dependent on fire-created gaps for establishment [23,43]. Instead, hollyleaf cherry is able to establish seedlings during fire-free periods, utilizing gaps created by the death of shorter-lived species [44]. Limited hollyleaf seedling establishment has been observed in a 25-year-old stand of chamise chaparral in openings previously occupied by hoaryleaf ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius) [20]. Increased seedling establishment is generally restricted to more mature chaparral stands, usually those ranging from 60 to 100+ years of age [26,36]. Germination and seedling growth are apparently favored on mesic sites (north slopes) which possess a well-developed litter layer [26,36]; litter layers beneath mature stands of scrub oak chaparral may reach up to 8 inches (20 cm) in depth [17]. Seasons of above-normal precipitation may also be important for hollyleaf cherry seedling establishment [24,43]. Although seedlings may initially establish beneath mature chaparral, seedling recruitment into the population is never very abundant [23,26]; seedlings are frequently stunted and are susceptible to browsing by small mammals [36,45,46]. For chaparral species capable of establishing between periodic fires, Zedler [44] suggests that gap size may be crucial to a seedling's ability to survive to the stage where it can sprout following fire. Suitable gaps for the successful establishment of hollyleaf cherry are apparently more prevalent in older stands of chaparral. On favorable growth sites in a 65-year-old stand of scrub oak chaparral, hollyleaf cherry seedlings reached heights of 28 inches (70 cm) within 6 years [36]. Vegetative regeneration: In the absence of fire, many long-lived sprouters within stands of mature chaparral rejuvenate their canopy by continually producing new sprouts from established rootcrowns [24,26]. Generalized information on obligate sprouting species within chaparral suggests that hollyleaf cherry also maintains itself in this manner [24]. Following disturbances such as fire or cutting, hollyleaf cherry also regenerates vegetatively from adventitious buds located on stumps or root crowns [5,40]. This species apparently does not develop an ontogenetically derived lignotuber [23,24]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Hollyleaf cherry is usually associated with relatively mesic situations within chaparral and foothill woodland communities throughout the southern Coast Ranges [6,23]. Typical sites include dry, well-drained slopes and fans at elevations below 5,000 feet (1,525 m) [5,34,35]. Soils include sand, loam, or clay [40]. Hollyleaf cherry is apparently quite tolerant of alkaline soils [40]. In chaparral communities, hollyleaf cherry occupies relatively moist, cool sites such as north exposures, erosion channels, arroyos, depressions, and the toes and shoulders of slopes [15,41]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Hollyleaf cherry is a long-lived, shade tolerant species which is a widespread component of chaparral and woodland-chaparral communities [15,17,22,23]. A highly persistent species within these communities, it is most abundant in more mature stands occupying north-facing slopes and other mesic locales [6,15]. These stands typically experience reduced fire frequencies and are dominated by scrub oak chaparral [23]. During extended fire-free intervals, hollyleaf cherry is able to outlive, overtop, and shade out many shorter-lived shrubs; seedlings then establish in newly created gaps beneath the mature canopy [18,19,20,23,36]. Successional studies within scrub oak chaparral indicate that hollyleaf cherry can establish seedlings within stands which remain unburned for 10 to 20 years and becomes a conspicuous component of the vegetation in 20- to 40-year-old stands [20,36]. Hollyleaf cherry, scrub oak, redberry, and toyon codominate the vegetation of 65-year-old stands. As stands mature beyond this point, hollyleaf cherry and scrub oak continue to increase in dominance [18]. Significant recruitment of new individuals appears most prevalent in very old stands, usually those 65 to 100+ years of age [26,36]. Hollyleaf cherry persists within mature chaparral until the next fire occurs, at which time sprouting individuals become part of the initial postfire environment [4,40]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Hollyleaf cherry typically flowers from April through May [34]. Fruits persist until December [40]. Generalized trends in the phenological development of hollyleaf cherry in California are presented below [14]. Phenological stage Date Flowering March - May Fruit ripening September - October Seed dispersal October - December

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Prunus ilicifolia
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Following fires which kill aerial stems, hollyleaf cherry sprouts vigorously via dormant buds located on a root crown [40]. The root crown serves as a source of numerous dormant buds and stored carbohydrates, enabling hollyleaf cherry to rapidly reoccupy the initial postfire environment [24,31]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Tree with adventitious-bud root crown/soboliferous species root sucker

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Prunus ilicifolia
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Limited information indicates that hollyleaf cherry is generally resistant to fire mortality [18,48]. Although aerial portions are readily top-killed, most plants survive fire [18]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Hollyleaf cherry is an obligate sprouter following fire [24, 44]. This species reestablishes after fire primarily through vigorous sprouting [22,25]. Hollyleaf cherry rarely establishes seedlings in the postfire environment [23,43]. Vegetative regeneration: Hollyleaf cherry sprouts vigorously following fires which kill the aerial stems [15,47]. Sprouts are initiated from surviving perennating buds located on the root crown [40]. Since root crowns possess aggregations of dormant buds, newly sprouted individuals occur as "sprout clumps" [40]. Hollyleaf cherry cover is initially reduced following burning, but most plants rapidly regain prefire size and biomass. Following a wildfire on scrub oak chaparral sites in southern California, hollyleaf cherry produced sprouts 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 m) tall within 4 years [18]. Seedling regeneration: Hollyleaf cherry seedlings are rarely observed during the first postfire season [42]. Unlike many chaparral species, seeds of this species are not well adapted to resist fire nor for long-term survival in the soil [25,43]. Since hollyleaf cherry seeds germinate readily without heat treatment, some postfire establishment may occur through bird dispersal of off-site seed [24,43,49]. Generalized information on obligate sprouting species indicates that sprouting plants begin to produce seed crops 1 to 2 years after fire and that postfire fruit crops are often substantial [24]. Although uncommon, limited initial establishment of hollyleaf cherry seedlings has been reported following burning of a 65-year-old stand of scrub oak chaparral in southern California [18]. As a result of postfire seedling establishment, the average number of hollyleaf cherry individuals increased 330 percent within 4.5 years of burning [18]. Obligate sprouters such as hollyleaf cherry apparently establish a flush of seedlings following periods of high rainfall [24,43,44]. Keeley [24] speculates that a series of years with above average precipitation not only produces an abundant seed crop but also creates a moisture regime favorable to successful seedling establishment. Successful hollyleaf cherry seedling recruitment, however, is generally restricted to mesic sites beneath mature chaparral where litter layers are well developed [24,26,36]. Recruitment of new individuals is never very abundant and occurs primarily between fires [20,36,43]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Burn frequency: Hollyleaf cherry is a characteristic species of relatively infrequently burned stands of chaparral [18,30,36]. Microsites necessary for population expansion are largely unavailable in stands with short fire-free intervals [44]. Consequently, stand age at the time of burning can have a significant impact on the abundance of this species. Following fire in a 65-year-old stand of scrub oak chaparral, hollyleaf cherry comprised 18 percent of the postfire vegetation, whereas it comprised only 2 percent of the postfire vegetation in a 40-year-old stand [18]. Increases in abundance of hollyleaf cherry are unlikely in stands where prescribed burns are conducted frequently enough to decrease the potential for wildfire [44]. Since scrub oak chaparral lacks an herbaceous understory, fires do not carry as readily as in chamise or coastal sage scrub communities [3,11]. Hollyleaf cherry is common in stands which are transitional between chaparral and coastal sage scrub [16]. Stands of this type support an herbaceous understory and have become increasingly prone to man-caused fires [3]. Reduced intervals between fires may eventually cause a decrease in abundance of hollyleaf cherry within these stands. Wildlife management: Burning initially increases the palatability of hollyleaf cherry [1]. Deer utilization on some sites may be so heavy that plants are weakened to the point where mortality ensues [1].

REFERENCES

SPECIES: Prunus ilicifolia
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Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 10. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998] 11. Green, Lisle R. 1982. Prescribed burning in the California Mediterranean ecosystem. In: Conrad, C. Eugene; Oechel, Walter C., technical coordinators. Proceedings of the symposium on dynamics and management of Mediterranean-type ecosystems; 1981 June 22-26; San Diego, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-58. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station: 464-471. [6052] 12. Griffin, James R. 1977. Oak woodland. In: Barbour, Michael G.; Malor, Jack, eds. Terrestrial vegetation of California. New York: John Wiley and Sons: 383-415. [7217] 13. 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