SPECIES: Purshia glandulosa


INTRODUCTORY

SPECIES: Purshia glandulosa
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION:

Zlatnik, Elena. 1999. Purshia glandulosa. 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:

PURGLA

SYNONYMS:

Purshia tridentata var. glandulosa (Curran) M.E. Jones [15]

NRCS PLANT CODE:

PUGL2

COMMON NAMES:

desert bitterbrush
Mojave antelope brush

TAXONOMY:

The fully documented scientific name of desert bitterbrush is Purshia glandulosa Curran (Rosaceae) [17,47]. Desert bitterbrush appears to be a hybridization of Stansbury cliffrose (P. mexicana var. stansburiana) and antelope bitterbrush (P. tridentata) [26,28,42,47].

Desert bitterbrush hybridizes with Stansbury cliffrose, antelope bitterbrush [19,22,26,28], and possibly Apache-plume (Fallugia paradoxa) [30].

LIFE FORM:

Shrub

FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS:

No special status

OTHER STATUS:

No entry


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Purshia glandulosa
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION:

Desert bitterbrush occurs in southern California, Arizona, southern Nevada, and Utah [12,23].

ECOSYSTEMS:

FRES29   Sagebrush
FRES30   Desert shrub
FRES33   Southwestern shrubsteppe
FRES34   Chaparral-mountain shrub
FRES35   Pinyon-juniper

STATES:

AZ    CA    NV    UT

BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS:

  3   Southern Pacific Border
  4   Sierra Mountains
  6   Upper Basin and Range
  7   Lower Basin and Range
12   Colorado Plateau

KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:

K023   Juniper-pinyon woodland
K024   Juniper steppe woodlands
K037   Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub
K038   Great Basin sagebrush
K039   Blackbrush
K040   Saltbush-greasewood
K041   Creosotebush
K042   Creosotebush-bursage

SAF COVER TYPES:

209   Bristlecone pine
238   Western juniper
239   Pinyon-juniper
243   Sierra Nevada mixed conifer

SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES:

210   Bitterbrush
211  Creosotebush scrub
212  Blackbush
401  Basin big sagebrush
402  Mountain big sagebrush
412  Juniper-pinyon woodland
413  Gambel oak
415  Curlleaf mountain-mahogany
416  True mountain-mahogany
417  Littleleaf mountain-mahogany
421  Chokecherry-serviceberry-rose
504  Juniper-pinyon pine woodland
509  Transition between oak-juniper woodland and mahogany-oak association

HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES:

Desert bitterbrush is found in several semi-arid shrub types throughout its range, including blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima), Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia), chaparral, and singleleaf pinyon (Pinus monophylla)-California juniper (Juniperus californica) woodlands [8,15,47].

In California, desert bitterbrush is commonly found with basin big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata ssp. tridentata), blackbrush, singleleaf pinyon, and California juniper. It also occurs with Joshua tree, creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), Stansbury cliffrose, and Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva). Shrubs often form more than 90% of the cover in desert bitterbrush stands. Perennial grasses are a minor element, and forbs are even less important [28].

In Nevada, desert bitterbrush is a component of the mountain brush community with snowberry (Symphoricarpos spp.), antelope bitterbrush, Stansbury cliffrose, mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus spp.), Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii), Juneberry (Amelanchier pallida), wild crab apple (Peraphyllum ramosissima), and chokecherry (P. virginiana).

In the San Gabriel Mountains of California, desert bitterbrush occurs in the sagebrush scrub community with basin big sagebrush, Joshua tree, single-leaf pinyon, rubber rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus), spiny horsebrush (Tetradymia spinosa), Nevada broomsage (Lepidospartum latisquamum), beavertail prickly-pear (Opuntia basilaris), shadscale (Atriplex confertifolia), and fourwing saltbush (A. canescens) [14].


MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Purshia glandulosa
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE:

Desert bitterbrush is an important forage species for livestock, deer, and pronghorn [8,16,35,48], especially in winter [30].

PALATABILITY:

In Utah, desert bitterbrush is generally of medium palatability to livestock and wildlife [22].

In California, palatability of desert bitterbrush is ranked excellent to good for domestic sheep, domestic goats, and deer, fair for cattle, and fair to useless for horses [35].

Desert bitterbrush is less palatable to deer than its close relative, antelope bitterbrush [12,30].

NUTRITIONAL VALUE:

Crude protein content of desert bitterbrush is 9.0% [46]. Because desert bitterbrush is an evergreen shrub, its winter protein levels are generally higher than those of antelope bitterbrush and other deciduous forage [25].

COVER VALUE:

Upright growth forms of desert bitterbrush provide cover for game animals [24].

VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES:

Due to its ability to layer from dormant buds along the stem, desert bitterbrush is an excellent soil stabilizer [16,22,28,30]. Desert bitterbrush is useful for stabilizing soils where annual precipitation averages 11 inches (279 mm) or more [29]. With appropriate seed treatment, desert bitterbrush establishes well on disturbed sites either by seed or from transplants [29]. However, seeding can be difficult due to the dormancy of desert bitterbrush seed [48]. Desert bitterbrush can be propagated from stem cuttings. Cuttings should be collected in early spring or in August and September and treated with 0.8 to 2.0 IBA powder [16].

OTHER USES AND VALUES:

No entry

OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:

Desert bitterbrush is browsing tolerant [30].


BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Purshia glandulosa
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:

Desert bitterbrush is a native evergreen shrub [22,24,26,28,30] that grows from 1 to 15 feet tall (0.3-4.5 m), depending on environmental conditions [28,47].

Desert bitterbrush is a deeply rooted species, with a taproot sometimes exceeding 16 feet (4.8 m) [16,28,] and very few shallow, lateral roots [21]. Because of its taproot, desert bitterbrush is drought tolerant [16,24,25].

Given sufficient moisture, desert bitterbrush is capable of producing nitrogen-fixing root nodules, although this response is not consistent [27,33,34].

Note: Desert bitterbrush has many botanical and ecological characteristics in common with antelope bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata), on which much more research has taken place. Please refer to that FEIS species summary for more general information about the genus.

RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM:

Phanerophyte

REGENERATION PROCESSES:

Desert bitterbrush regenerates by sprouting from the root crown, by stem layering, and by seed [29,37].

Seed crops are inconsistent, and germination and seedling establishment is extremely low [24,28,36,48]. Flowers are insect-pollinated and self-incompatible [36]. Seed production usually does not occur in plants younger than 10 years old [28]. Due to the large, heavy seed, desert bitterbrush is dependent on rodents and other agents for seed dispersal [10,28]. Seeds are dormant due to a hard seedcoat [9,28,48,49]. Dormancy can be overcome by stratifying seed from 5 to 6 weeks at 41 °Fahrenheit (40.5 oC). In 1 California study, Nord [28] found that seed remaining in the ground for more than 1 season rarely germinated. But in another study in Bishop, California, 60% of desert bitterbrush seeds germinated after 25 years of uncontrolled storage. Germination percentage in that study reached a high of 86% after 3 years of storage [39,40].

Stem layering is common among desert bitterbrush plants, particularly when environmental conditions (particularly high elevation) or phenotype result in a prostate life form [28].

Desert bitterbrush may also regenerate from roots severed below the soil surface, even up to 10 feet deep [28].

SITE CHARACTERISTICS:

Desert bitterbrush grows from 900 to 10,000 feet (700-3000 m) throughout its range [8,15,28,37,38,47].

Desert bitterbrush grows on a wide variety of soils, both alkaline and acidic [28,29]. Desert bitterbrush requires excellent drainage [15] and dominates on relatively young to very deep, coarse-textured, and well-drained soils. Desert bitterbrush grows particularly well on granitic alluvial fans, pumice or cinder deposits, or well-leached deposits of old lakebeds. The plant is able to survive on very harsh sites with little soil and high insolation. Desert bitterbrush performs most poorly on clay soils or on soils with a clay pan within 2 feet (61 cm) of the surface [28].

Desert bitterbrush grows in areas with around 10 inches (254 mm) annual precipitation [37], typically drier sites than those that support antelope bitterbrush. The plant is intolerant of frequent summer water [15].

SUCCESSIONAL STATUS:

Desert bitterbrush is a pioneer species on some extremely eroded and volcanic rock sites [28], and a mid-seral species on moderate sites. Following fire in blackbrush-dominated sites, desert bitterbrush precedes blackbrush for at least 28 years [2,5].

Desert bitterbrush is not shade tolerant [15].

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT:

Initial growth of desert bitterbrush in southern Arizona begins in late February, yet seed does not mature until early June. In Utah, desert bitterbrush flowers in May and fruit matures by mid-July at low elevations and mid-August at high elevations [4].

Phenological development of desert bitterbrush grown in an experimental plot in Boise, Idaho, was as follows [36]:
Stage Date
Leaf growth initiated April 26
First leaf expanded May 18
Floral buds visible April 28
Anthesis May 25
Fruit development initiated May 28
Leader growth initiated May 20
Fruit mature July 18


FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Purshia glandulosa
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS:

Desert bitterbrush recovers from fire by sprouting from undamaged root crowns below the soil surface and by establishing from seeds cached by rodents [6,7,8,28,45].

Fire regimes of the California singleleaf pinyon-California juniper woodlands in which desert bitterbrush appears are dominated by long-interval canopy fires and slow recovery [44]. Fires in desert bitterbrush habitats probably were infrequent, since fuel in sagebrush-bitterbrush and juniper-bitterbrush communities tends to be light. In decadent stands, extremely dry and windy conditions can cause a severe fire [32].

To learn more about the fire regimes in communities in which desert bitterbrush appears, refer to the FEIS summary for associated species, such as big basin sagebrush, redberry juniper (Juniperus erythrocarpa), Gambel oak, Joshua tree, singleleaf pinyon, and California juniper, under "FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS."

POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY:

Tall shrub, adventitious-bud root crown
Small shrub, adventitious bud/root crown
Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)


FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Purshia glandulosa
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT:

Desert bitterbrush is considered fire tolerant [1,22,29]. Plants sprout in response to being top-killed, but can be killed if heat is sufficient to kill the root crowns [10,18,45].

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT:

No entry

PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE:

Desert bitterbrush often sprouts vigorously following fire [6,8,28], even in dry conditions [7]. Even root crowns charred below the surface have sprouted [28]. In some studies, however, desert bitterbrush has been killed by fire [10,18,45]. The fire literature does not specify whether the decumbent or erect form of desert bitterbrush is more susceptible to fire.

Stem layering is another response to fire if heat has not killed all aboveground tissue. Layering following fire is particularly evident on burned-over areas with finer-textured rather than coarse-textured soils [28].

Following spring prescribed burns near Ely, Nevada, mean rodent desert bitterbrush seed cache densities were significantly (p=0.05) higher within the burned areas than outside. Only 2 desert bitterbrush sprouted following these prescribed burns, and they lacked vigor and died the spring following the fires. The presence of large numbers of rodent caches may result in the continued presence of desert bitterbrush on the site [45].

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE:

No entry

FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:

Fall mortality of desert bitterbrush following fire is higher than after spring burns [6,7,18].


Purshia glandulosa: References


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