Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Pinus contorta var. murrayana

Introductory

SPECIES: Pinus contorta var. murrayana
Sierra lodgepole pine in Emigrant Wilderness Area. Photo by Janet L. Fryer, USFS, Fire Sciences Laboratory.
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : 
Cope, Amy B. 1993. Pinus contorta var. murrayana. 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 : PINCONM PINCON SYNONYMS : Pinus murrayana Balf. Pinus contorta ssp. murrayana (Grev. & Balf.) Critchfield SCS PLANT CODE : PICOM COMMON NAMES : Sierra lodgepole pine tamarack pine lodgepole pine Sierra-Cascade lodgepole pine TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of Sierra lodgepole pine is Pinus contorta var. murrayana (Grev. & Balf.) Engelm. [37]. Sierra lodgepole pine is one of four recognized varieties of lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta). The other three varieties are listed below [37]: shore pine (Pinus contorta var. contorta), Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia) Mendocino White Plains lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. bolanderi) This write-up will focus on Sierra lodgepole pine. LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY

DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Pinus contorta var. murrayana
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Sierra lodgepole pine occurs in the Cascade Range of southern Washington, Oregon, and California [34]; it also occurs in the Sierra Nevada and Klamath Mountains. Disjunct populations occur farther south in the Transverse and Peninsular ranges and the Sierra de Juarez of Baja California [7,12,34,41]. Sierra lodgepole pine is also found in the Virginia and Sweetwater mountains of the Great Basin [36]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES20 Douglas-fir FRES21 Ponderosa pine FRES23 Fir - spruce FRES24 Hemlock - Sitka spruce FRES26 Lodgepole pine STATES : CA HI NV OR WA MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 1 Northern Pacific Border 2 Cascade Mountains 3 Southern Pacific Border 4 Sierra Mountains 5 Columbia Plateau KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K001 Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest K002 Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest K004 Fir - hemlock forest K005 Mixed conifer forest K007 Red fir forest K008 Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest K012 Douglas-fir forest K013 Cedar - hemlock - pine forest K015 Western spruce - fir forest SAF COVER TYPES : 205 Mountain hemlock 206 Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir 207 Red fir 208 Whitebark pine 211 White fir 215 Western white pine 218 Lodgepole pine 219 Limber pine 224 Western hemlock 229 Pacific Douglas-fir 230 Douglas-fir - western hemlock 243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer 244 Pacific ponderosa pine - Douglas-fir 245 Pacific ponderosa pine 247 Jeffrey pine 256 California mixed subalpine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Sierra lodgepole pine is a dominant or codominant species in upper montane and subalpine forests [8,33,43,48,57]. A poorly defined lodgepole pine zone occurs above the red fir (Abies magnifica) zone and below the subalpine forests of mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana), whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis), and western white pine (P. monticola) [48]. Sierra lodgepole pine forms extensive, pure stands in the Sierran lodgepole pine zone [2,12,48]. Sierra lodgepole pine is listed as a dominant or indicator species in the following published classifications: Preliminary plant associations of the southern Oregon Cascade Mountain Province [2] Preliminary plant associations of the Siskiyou Mountain Province [3] Vegetation types of the San Gabriel Mountains [23] Riparian zone associations of Deschutes, Ochoco, Fremont, and Winema National Forests [33] Vegetation types of the San Bernadino Mountains [40] Montane forests of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Ranges [45] Subalpine forests of the Transverse and Peninsular Ranges [56] Vascular plant communities of California [57] Plant associations of the central Oregon Pumice Zone [59]

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Pinus contorta var. murrayana
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : The wood of Sierra lodgepole pine is straight grained, light, and uniform in texture, with small knots [41,63]. The wood is suited for common lumber grades, and used for light framing materials, interior paneling, exterior trim, posts, railroad ties, pulp and paper, and has potential for structural particle board [7,39,61,63]. The uniform size of Sierra lodgepole pine makes harvesting efficient. In some areas, however, it is costly to harvest because access to steep slopes is difficult with machinery [39,61]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Thirty-one mammals and almost 50 bird species use Sierra lodgepole pine forests for food, cover, or habitat [63]. Dead or dying trees provide nesting sites for cavity-nesting birds. The fallen branches from these trees provide sites for ground-nesting birds and mammals. Although dead trees may be hazardous to elk and deer that are traveling quickly [63], dense stands of Sierra lodgepole pine provide excellent escape and resting cover [7,61]. Spruce grouse feed on Sierra lodgepole pine needles during the winter. The seeds are a food source for squirrels, chipmunks, birds, and mice [39]. Livestock graze in Sierra lodgepole pine stands, but these stands are not as important to livestock as Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine stands are. In the Cascades, livestock often find better forage in associated vegatation types. Livestock use of lodgepole pine in the Sierra Nevada has been little studied, but stands there are probably of low significance to livestock [7]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Sierra lodgepole pine regenerates well on poor soils, rocky slopes, and exposed sites; it is widely planted in Great Britian and New Zealand for this reason [61,63]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Sierra lodgepole pine serves as a nurse tree for Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa), and Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii). Its rapid juvenile growth makes it a useful short-rotation crop [61]. Sierra lodgepole pine forms an edaphic climax on some sites, and careful consideration should be taken before converting these stands to other species [11]. Sierra lodgepole pine has great potential for long-term population maintenance, even in the absence of disturbance [44]. Overstocking results in limited diameter growth of Sierra lodgepole pine and stagnant stands [2,39]. When planted on steep to moderate slopes and high bluffs, Sierra lodgepole pine had one of the highest survival and growth rates in both first- and second-year evaluations [10]. Sierra lodgepole pine is susceptible to windfall [55]. Annosus root disease (Heterobasidion annosum) infects Sierra lodgepole pine in central Oregon and kills trees under stress on dry sites. Other diseases that affect Sierra lodgepole pine are discussed in the literature [11,13,22,36,55]. Lodgepole pine dwarf mistletoe (Arceuthobium americanum) is the most serious parasite of Sierra lodgepole pine [13,38]. Treatment methods are discussed in the literature [24,25,39]. The mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) is the most severe insect pest affecting Sierra lodgepole pine. Epidemics can kill 33 to 66 percent of large trees in a stand [63]. Infestations commonly last 5 to 7 years, and occur in 20- to 40-year cycles [63]. Mountain pine beetle outbreaks create a large amount of fuel build-up. Watersheds can release up to 30 percent more water because of the dead trees killed by mountain pine beetle [63].

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Pinus contorta var. murrayana
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Sierra lodgepole pine is a native conifer from 90 to 100 feet (28-30 m) in height and averaging 16.5 inches (42 cm) in d.b.h. [38,41,55,64]. Trees growing near timberline are shrubby in form [12]. Sierra lodgepole pine is long-lived; some trees have lived in excess of 600 years [64]. Its bark is thin [39,41]. The branches are short and finely subdivided into branchlets of small diameter [62]. Needles are from 1.2 to 2.4 inches (3-6 cm) long and occur in fascicles of two [29,41]. The nonserotinous cones are 1.6 to 2.4 inches (4-6 cm) in length, and often occur in clusters [12,27,29,62,65]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sierra lodgepole pine is prolific, reliable seed producer, with good seed crops occurring every 1 to 3 years [12,27,34,55]. Cones first appear between the ages of 4 and 8 [13,34]. The percentage of viable seed is high. Germination studies have shown that seed viability is between 75 to 77 percent in southern Oregon and 72 percent in the Sierra Nevada [13]. Seeds are wind dispersed and fall approximately 200 feet (60 m) from the source [13]. They have remained viable for up to 17 years in cold storage [34]. Seeds require a minimum of 20 percent full sunlight to germinate [13,39]. Bare mineral soils or disturbed duff that is free of competing vegetation have the highest rates of germination [55]. A study in the central Sierra Nevada showed that Sierra lodgepole pine establishes in large numbers in localized areas of disturbance, such as tree-fall sites [43]. In the southern Cascade region, squirrels may cause significant cone losses [12]. However, seed loss to birds and rodents does not greatly affect Sierra lodgepole pine reproduction because of the heavy cone crops and high germination capacity of seeds [55]. Browsing by elk and deer is usually not a major cause of seedling mortality. Grazing or trampling by livestock can, however, result in some losses [39]. Gopher herbivory also kills young seedlings [14]. Sierra lodgepole pine does not sprout from the root crown [55]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Sierra lodgepole pine grows in areas with cold, wet winters and dry, warm summers [38,53]. In the southern part of its range, Sierra lodgepole pine grows under xeric conditions [23,56]. Annual precipitation ranges from 30 to 60 inches (750-1,500 mm), mostly in the form of snow [48,52]. Sierra lodgepole pine thrives on a broad spectrum of soil types, from water-logged organic soils to well-drained glacial outwashes [13,62]. It also grows in soils with underlying hardpan. Soil parent materials include pumice, ash, and granite [22,45,52,55]. Sierra lodgepole pine most commonly grows in soils with a pH of 5.1 to 5.3 [45]. It cannot tolerate soils approaching a pH of 8 [11]. Sierra lodgepole pine occurs from 5,000 to 11,600 feet (1,515-3,508 m) in elevation in California and from 3,000 and 7,000 feet (910-2,130 m) in Oregon [38,41,56]. Other canopy associates not mentioned in Distribution and Occurrence include quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) and western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis ssp. australis) [40,48,57]. Sierra lodgepole pine understory is sparse [48]. Associate understory shrubs include birchleaf mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius), pinemat manzanita (Arctostaphylos nevadensis), gooseberry currant (Ribes montigenum), purple mountain heather (Phyllodoce breweri), bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata), whitethorn ceanothus (Ceanothus cordulatus), bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), and western huckleberry (Vaccinium occidentale) [3,33,48]. Herbaceous associates include sedges (Carex spp.), bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides), western needlegrass (Stipa occidentalis), pinegrass (Calamagrostis rubescens), rockcress (Arabis spp.), sulfur buckwheat (Erogonum umbellatum), and pussypaws (Spraguea umbellata) [39,48,59]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species Sierra lodgepole pine establishes soon after disturbance and is moderately shade tolerant [13,18,20,26]. It forms stable climax communities in the zone just above red fir and white fir-mountain hemlock forests [1,43,48]. It is dominant on more xeric or infertile sites within the white fir-mountain hemlock forest [1,7,52], but is generally a seral tree within that forest type [1]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Pollen is shed in June. Fertilization occurs 13 months after pollination, usually in June or July [12,13,55]. Cones open and disperse seed from late August to mid-October, and do not persist on the tree [12,13].

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Pinus contorta var. murrayana
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Sierra lodgepole pine is fire sensitive [2,48]. After stand-replacing fire, it typically establishes from wind-dispersed seed. Agee [1] reported that establishment of Sierra lodgepole pine in Crater Lake National Monument, Oregon, was favored by fires of moderate to high severity. Fire-return intervals in Sierra lodgepole pine forests vary. On the western slope of the Cascade Range in Oregon, stand-replacing fires may occur several hundred years apart. On the eastern slopewhere drier conditions prevail, such fires may occur at intervals of less than 20 years [2]. Keeley [64] reported a fire-return interval of several hundred years was also common on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. Stand-replacing fires are related to insect attacks, particulary by pine mountain beetle, and declining vigor and high fuel loading in older stands [2,16,63]. When fires occur in Sierra lodgepole stands, they are usually intense and extensive [2]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Tree without adventitious-bud root crown Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Pinus contorta var. murrayana
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Sierra lodgepole pine is usually killed by fire because of its shallow root system and thin bark [60]. After a lightning-ignited fire in the Sierra Nevada at Ellis Meadow in Kings Canyon National Park, most of the trees surrounding the meadow were killed [15]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Fire prepares an ideal seedbed, and Sierra lodgepole pine is an early postfire colonizer [13,30]. Following stand-replacing fire, it initially establishes in even-aged stands. Smaller-scale disturbances such as windfall and avalanches are thought to convert Sierra lodgepole pine forests to the uneven-aged structure typical of this variety [43]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : The Fire Study Shrub control by burning before timber harvest discusses controlling shrubs in ponderosa pine-Sierra lodgepole pine mixed-conifer communties on the Pringle Falls Experimental Forest, Oregon. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Sierra lodgepole pine has increased in importance in some white fir forests. It typically invades such forests in the first few decades following fire. Historically, Sierra lodgepole pine in understories of white fir forests were killed by the next fire. Past policies of fire suppression in Crater Lakes National Monument, however, have resulted in a significant increase in density of Sierra lodgepole pine within the white fir zone [1]. Lodgepole pine dwarf mistletoe adds to vertical distribution of fuel. Periodic fire, however, aids in keeping dwarf mistletoe, fungal, and insect infestations under control [25]. Heart and root rot fungi may invade fire-scarred Sierra lodgepole pine [18].

REFERENCES

SPECIES: Pinus contorta var. murrayana
REFERENCES : 1. Agee, James K. 1981. Initial effects of prescribed fire in a climax Pinus contorta forest Crater Lake National Park. CPSU/UW 81-4. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, College of Forest Resouces, Cooperative Park Studies Unit, National Park Service. 10 p. [6559] 2. Atzet, Thomas; McCrimmon, Lisa A. 1990. Preliminary plant associations of the southern Oregon Cascade Mountain Province. Grants Pass, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Siskiyou National Forest. 330 p. [12977] 3. Atzet, Thomas; Wheeler, David L. 1984. Preliminary plant associations of the Siskiyou Mountain Province. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 278 p. [9351] 4. Allen-Diaz, Barbara H. 1991. Water table and plant species relationships in Sierra Nevada meadows. American Midland Naturalist. 126: 30-43. [16149] 5. Amman, Gene D.; Cole, Walter E. 1983. Mountain pine beetle dynamics in lodgepole pine forests. Part II. Population dynamics. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-145. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 59 p. [8315] 6. Bancroft, Larry. 1979. Fire management plan: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. San Francisco, CA: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Western Region. 190 p. [11887] 7. Bartolome, James W. 1983. Overstory-understory relationships: lodgepole pine forest. In: Bartlett, E. T.; Betters, David R., eds. Overstory-understory relationships in western forests. Western Regional Research Publication No. 1. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University Experiment Station: 1-4. [3308] 8. Benedict, Nathan B. 1984. Classification and dynamics of subalpine meadow ecosystems in the southern Sierra Nevada. In: Warner, Richard E.; Hendrix, Kathleen M., eds. California riparian systems: Ecology, conservation, and productive management: Proceedings of the conference; 1981 September 17-19; Davis, CA. 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Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090] 52. Stuart, John D.; Agee, James K.; Gara, Robert I. 1989. Lodgepole pine regeneration in an old, self-perpetuating forest in south central Oregon. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 19: 1096-1104. [9347] 53. Stuart, J. D.; Geiszler, D. R.; Gara, R. I.; Agee, J. K. 1983. Mountain pine beetle scarring of lodgepole pine in south-central Oregon. Forest Ecology and Management. 5: 207-214. [9706] 54. Sweeney, James R. 1968. Ecology of some "fire type" vegetation in northern California. In: Proceedings, California Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference; 1967 November 9-10; Hoberg, CA. Number 7. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 111-125. [6573] 55. Tackle, David. 1961. Silvics of lodgepole pine. Misc. Publ. 19. 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