Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Pinus coulteri


Introductory

SPECIES: Pinus coulteri
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Cope, Amy B. 1993. Pinus coulteri. 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 : PINCOU SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : PICO3 COMMON NAMES : Coulter pine California Coulter pine big-cone pine nut pine pitch pine TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of Coulter pine is Pinus coulteri D. Don [10,35]. There are no recognized subspecies or varieties. Coulter pine hybridizes with Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi) [8,10,31,35]. LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Pinus coulteri
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Coulter pine occurs from Contra Costa County, California, south through the Coastal, Transverse, and Peninsular ranges to the Mexican border [10,34,35,39,41,55]. It is cultivated in Hawaii [58]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES20 Douglas-fir FRES23 Fir - spruce FRES28 Western hardwoods FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub FRES27 Redwood STATES : CA HI BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 3 Southern Pacific Border KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K006 Redwood forest K020 Spruce - fir - Douglas-fir forest K029 California mixed evergreen forest K030 California oakwoods K033 Chaparral K034 Montane chaparral SAF COVER TYPES : 211 White fir 232 Redwood 234 Douglas-fir - tanoak - Pacific madrone 246 California black oak 247 Jeffrey pine 248 Knobcone pine 249 Canyon live oak 250 Blue oak - Digger pine 255 California coast live oak SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Coulter pine occurs in a variety of plant associations, but seldom forms extensive pure stands [18]. Where they do occur, communities dominated by Coulter pine intergrade with chaparral and lower montane coniferous forest [5,24,27,47]. Coulter pine is named as a dominant species in the following published classifications: Terrestrial natural communities of California [22] Vegetation types of the San Bernadino Mountains [25] Vegetation of the San Bernadino Mountains [37] A vegetation classification system applied to southern California [42] Mixed evergreen forest [45] Vascular plant communities of California [47] Montane and subalpine forests of the Transverse and Peninsular ranges [48] An introduction to the plant communities of the Santa Ana and San Jacinto Mountains [52] Associated trees not mentioned in Distribution and Occurrence include sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana), bristlecone fir (Abies bracteata), incense-cedar (Libocedrus decurrens), Sargent cypress (Cupressus sargentii), black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa), California bay (Umbellularia californica), bigcone Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga macrocarpa), Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii), and birchleaf mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides var. betuloides) [4,7,22,24,47,48,55]. Understory associates include chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum), Eastwood manzanita (Arctostaphylos glandulosa), Pringle manzanita (A. pringlei), pointleaf manzanita (A. pugens), deerbrush (Ceanothus integerrimus), annual hairgrass (Deschampsia danthonioides), rareflower heterocodon (Heterocodon rariflorum), golden violet (Viola douglasii), and annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) [4,19,37,48,52].

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Pinus coulteri
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Coulter pine wood is rarely used except as fuelwood and second-grade lumber [26,41,50]. It is light, weak, coarse-grained, and brittle [41]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Females of the southern race of white-headed woodpeckers forage for insects almost exclusively on lower main trunks of Coulter pine, while male white-headed woodpeckers extensively use the cones [33]. The seeds are also a dependable year-round food source for western gray squirrels [7]. Black-tailed deer rarely browse even young trees [23]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : Coulter pine is used as an ornamental [23]. The cones are used for decoration and crafts [26]. Coulter pine seeds were eaten by Native Americans [13,15,29,41]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Coulter pine distribution has apparently decreased in recent years. This may be due to past policies of fire suppression [55]. See the Fire Effects frame for a discussion on this problem. Annual grasses deplete moisture from the top layer of soil, which decreases survival of young Coulter pine [12,23]. Mature Coulter pine, however, are drought tolerant [23]. Coulter pine cone processing and tree planting methods are discussed in the literature [23,31]. A discussion of damaging agents can also be found in the literature [1,7,21,28].

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Pinus coulteri
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Coulter pine is a native evergreen conifer that lives up to 100 years of age [23]. It attains a height of 30 to 83 feet (9-25 m) and a d.b.h. of 12 to 31 inches (30-80 cm) [23,29,31,41]. The bark is thick and roughly furrowed at maturity [29,36,38]. The crown is pyramidal and may be dense or open, depending upon the site [23,38,41]. Needles occur in groups of three and are 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) long [29,41,50]. The massive, spiny cones are 9 to 15 inches (24-40 cm) long, occurring in whorls of four [29,41]. Young trees first bear cones on the trunk. As trees mature, cones are also borne on strong branches [7]. Although geographically isolated, nine Coulter pine populations were very similar in all of three morphological characteristics studies. Oleoresins (volatile portion) were also similar [55]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Coulter pine first bears cones at 10 to 15 years of age [7,31,38]. The interval between good seed crops is 3 to 6 years [31]. Cones may persist up to 5 or 6 years [31,41]. Seed dispersal is limited due to the large size of seed. Seed viability is generally high. Seedling establishment is best on mineral soil in full sun. Early growth is rapid [7,23,31,38]. (See the Fire Ecology frame for a discussion of the role of fire in Coulter pine regeneration.) SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Coulter pine occurs in a mediterranean climate. Winter rains are infrequent, and the summer is dry with occasional summer thunderstorms [37,40,52]. Coulter pine is most frequent on steep south-facing slopes and ridges [4,22,52]. Soils may be poor to fertile, and are typically dry. Coulter pine is an indicator of serpentine soils, but also occurs on a variety of other substrates. Soils range from loamy to gravelly or rocky in texture [22,29,30]. Coulter pine occurs between 500 to 7,000 feet (150-2,120 m) elevation [47,55]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species Coulter pine occurs in both initial communities and later seres. Stands are often even-aged, establishing after fire [7,18,39]. Mature Coulter pine is shade intolerant [2], but seedlings can grow in partial shade [7,23]. At higher elevations of the Coast Ranges, Coulter pine sometimes replaces blue oak (Quercus douglasii) [3]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Coulter pine cones open for pollination in May and June [31,41,50]. Cones ripen in August and September of the second year following pollination [29,31,50]. Mature cones may open at or soon after maturity, slowly over a several-year peroid, or only after fire, depending upon ecotype. Cones of nonserotinous ecotypes open and disperse seed from October through Novermber [7,31,37].

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Pinus coulteri
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Coulter pine displays ecotypical variation in degree of cone serotiny. Serotiny is prevalent in Coutler pine/chaparral, Coulter pine-canyon live oak, and Coulter pine/Sargent cypress communities. Cones of Coulter pine in these communities typically do not open until heated by fire. Consequently, the bulk of Coulter pine regeneration in these communities occurs after fire. Coulter pine ecotypes associated with coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), however, typically bear cones that open at maturity or shortly thereafter [7]. Coulter pine seedling development is best in mineral soil in open areas [38]. Such conditions are created by fire. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Tree without adventitious-bud root crown Crown residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Pinus coulteri
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Large Coulter pine are resistant to all but severe surface fires. Younger trees are apparently killed by moderate-severity surface or crown fires [23,54]. No data are available concerning the effect of crown fire on large-diameter Coulter pine. A "hot" surface fire on Mt. Diablo killed nearly all Coulter pine, including large trees. In an area of the mountain where fire was less severe, however, 9 of 52 Coulter pine survived. Of these trees, all of those greater than 16 inches (40 cm) in d.b.h. survived, and only one tree less than 16 inches in d.b.h. survived. Surviving trees had needle scorch only on lower branches [54]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Coulter pine readily establishes from seed on burned sites [52]. Persisting cones on surviving trees, and sometimes on those killed by fire, provide a source of seed [38,52]. Seedling establishment is usually greatest during the first postfire year [7]. The severe Marble Cone Fire in the Santa Lucia Mountains destroyed Coulter pine stands. At postfire year 1, a large number of Coulter pine seeds germinated. Three seasons following the fire, Coulter pine seedling density ranged from 18 to 4,213 per acre (7-1,685/ha). The lower seedling densities probably resulted from interference by annual ryegrass [19]. Vale [54] found that pine seedling density was much greater after the Mt. Diablo fire than before it (newly-germinated pines could not be identified by species). Pine seedling numbers were greatest in areas where fire was less intense. In these areas, relative frequency of pine seedlings was 100 percent; density was 2 seedlings per square meter. In areas where fire was severe, relative frequency was only 56 percent, and density was one seedling per square meter. Vale suggested that the intense heat in the heavily burned areas may have destroyed seeds within the cones of trees, but the less intense heat in the more lightly burned areas may have opened cones without destroying seeds. Pine seedlings were disproportionately located on areas where mineral soil was exposed. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Intense fire may be responsible for reducing the distribution of Coulter pine [52,57]. Fire intensity in chaparral, woodland, and forest vegetation is probably greater since inititation of fire suppression [56], and intense fire reduces Coulter pine populations. Frequent, moderate-severity surface fires, however, would probably benefit this species. The differential survival of large trees in less intensely burned areas and enhanced reproduction on exposed mineral soil in such areas both suggest that most Coulter pine evolved under a regime of frequent, light- to moderate-severity surface fires [54]. Managers should keep in mind, however, that Coulter pine in Coulter pine-coast live oak communities may be harmed by fire [7]. Prescribed burning has been used in Coulter pine/manzanita stands to reduce fuel loading [11,51]. Severe fires or fires at too-frequent intervals, however, convert such communities to mixed stands of manzanita and ceanothus [52,55]. Frequent fire selects for Coulter pine over bigcone Douglas-fir in canyon live oak (Quercus chrysolepis) communities [38]. Under long fire return intervals, Coulter pine invades oak savanna [17,22,45].

REFERENCES

SPECIES: Pinus coulteri
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