Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Sorbus americana


SPECIES: Sorbus americana
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Sullivan, Janet. 1992. Sorbus americana. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : SORAME SYNONYMS : Pyrus americana L. SCS PLANT CODE : SOAM3 COMMON NAMES : American mountain-ash mountain ash dogberry small-fruited mountain ash roundwood missey-mossey cormier (Quebec) TAXONOMY : The accepted scientific name for American mountain-ash is Sorbus americana Marsh. [10,23,39]. There are no recognized subspecies, varieties or forms. American mountain-ash hybridizes naturally with black chokeberry (Pyrus melanocarpa), producing P. xmixta Fern., and with purple chokeberry (P. floribunda), producing P. xjackii (Rehd) Fern. [12]. LIFE FORM : Tree, Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Sorbus americana
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : American mountain-ash occurs in northeastern North America from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia south to New Jersey and Pennsylvania and in the mountains to South Carolina and Georgia, west to Minnesota and eastern North and South Dakota [10,12,20,21]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES10 White - red - jack pine FRES11 Spruce - fir FRES18 Maple - beech - birch FRES19 Aspen - birch STATES : CT GA IL KY ME MD MA MI MN NH NJ NY NC ND OH PA RI SC SD TN VT VA WI MB NB NF NS ON PE PQ BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest K095 Great Lakes pine forest K096 Northeastern spruce - fir forest K097 Southeastern spruce - fir forest K099 Maple - basswood forest K100 Oak - hickory forest K102 Beech - maple forest K103 Mixed mesophytic forest K104 Appalachian oak forest K106 Northern hardwoods K107 Northern hardwoods - fir forest K108 Northern hardwoods - spruce forest SAF COVER TYPES : 1 Jack pine 5 Balsam fir 12 Black spruce 13 Black spruce - tamarack 15 Red pine 16 Aspen 17 Pin cherry 18 Paper birch 19 Gray birch - red maple 20 White pine - northern red oak - red maple 21 Eastern white pine 22 White pine - hemlock 23 Eastern hemlock 24 Hemlock - yellow birch 25 Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch 26 Sugar maple - basswood 27 Sugar maple 28 Black cherry - maple 51 White pine - chestnut oak 60 Beech - sugar maple 107 White spruce 108 Red maple SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : American mountain-ash is listed as codominant with balsam fir (Abies balsamea) on Isle Royale, Michigan. The primary associates in the shrub layer include American yew (Taxus canadensis), mountain maple (Acer spicatum), and honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis). Ground layer associates include yellow beadlily (Clintonia borealis), northern clubmoss (Lycopodium annotium), twinflower (Linnea borealis), woodfern (Dryopteris disjuncta), naked miterwort (Mitella nuda), alpine circaea (Circaea alpina), wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), and red raspberry (Rubus idaeus var. strugosis) [19].


SPECIES: Sorbus americana
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : The wood of American mountain-ash is light, soft, weak, and close grained. The heartwood is pale brown; the sapwood is thick and lighter in color [39]. The wood is not commercially important [21]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : American mountain-ash is a preferred browse for moose and white-tailed deer [22,43,46,48]. Moose will eat foliage, twigs, and bark. Up to 80 percent of American mountain-ash stems were browsed by moose in control plots adjacent to exclosures on Isle Royale [55]. Fishers, martens, snowshoe hares, and ruffed grouse also browse American mountain-ash [2,54]. The berries of American mountain-ash are eaten by numerous species of birds and small mammals, including ruffed grouse, ptarmigans, sharp-tailed grouse, blue grouse, American robins, other thrushes, waxwings, jays, squirrels, and rodents [10,33,54]. PALATABILITY : Aldous [2] rates American mountain-ash as one of the most palatable foods for deer. Moose prefer American mountain-ash; it can comprise up to 57 percent of their summer diet, depending on availability [26]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : The berries of American mountain-ash were found to have the following nutrient values [50]: % of dry weight crude protein 5.44 available protein 4.25 crude fiber 8.02 ether extract 4.66 Nitrogen-free extract 78.78 lignin 9.57 cellulose 6.87 tannin 4.08 Stiles [48] found that the berries were 4.66 percent crude fat (by dry weight), which is considered relatively low. Twigs of American mountain-ash were analyzed by Hughes and Fahey [22]: % of dry weight % of dry weight in forest in clearcut crude protein 9-12 10-20 cell solubles 62-80 68-86 cellulose 10-12 4-8 lignin 4-8 2-6 COVER VALUE : American mountain-ash is rated fair for wildlife cover in North Dakota [15]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : American mountain-ash is valued as an ornamental in many areas but is not successful where there is insufficient moisture. It is not well adapted to warmer habitats [10,15,20]. American mountain-ash is also planted for windbreaks [20]. The berries are edible for humans but are too acidic to be eaten raw [6]. They can be cooked with meats or made into jelly [6,21]. The fruit and inner bark of American mountain-ash have been used for medicinal purposes [21]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : American mountain-ash is preferentially browsed by moose and white-tailed deer. In a study of the effects of moose browsing on American mountain-ash on Isle Royale, Michigan, a small to moderate number of mature trees were reported on unbrowsed sites, but American mountan-ash was nearly nonexistent on browsed sites. The number of seedlings and saplings were similar on browsed and unbrowsed sites; the authors stated that stump sprouting has probably sustained stem densities on these sites [46]. In long-term moose exclosures, American mountain-ash declined in abundance, probably due to shading by other trees. There was an increase in abundance of American mountain-ash on control plots adjacent to exclosures, but individuals were severely retarded in vertical growth [43]. Krefting [26] reported that in some areas of Isle Royale, American mountain-ash is sparse because of browsing by moose. Stunted and severely deformed plants may survive for more than 50 years. In general, browsing by moose may slow succession [43]. American mountain-ash cannot withstand more than light use, and productivity will decline under heavy browsing [2,26]. The availability of American mountain-ash as food for white-tailed deer is often limited due to excessive browsing. Small plants are locally abundant, and are kept small by constant browsing [2]. White-tailed deer have eliminated American mountain-ash in some areas of Pennsylvania and New York [3]. American mountain-ash is rated as having good survival on exposed cut-over areas [52]. In a study to obtain release of conifers after logging disturbance, herbicide treatments (including 2,4-D, 2,4,5-T, triclopyr and glyphosate) reduced the amount of cover of hardwoods, including American mountain-ash, from 46 percent to 14 percent, with a concomitant increase in growth of spruce (Picea spp.) and fir (Abies spp.). The authors of this study believe that this type of treatment approximately 5 to 7 years after logging is economical and safe and will help maintain even-aged spruce-fir regeneration for 60-year rotations. With this type of management, over 30 percent of all age classes can remain in highly desirable browse condition (browse species including American mountain-ash) for most of the year [35]. American mountain-ash seeds can be sown unstratified in early fall or winter. Sowing in July or August for germination the following spring is also satisfactory, since a warb treatment prior to chilling is beneficial. Seedlings are quite hardy and not readily susceptible to insects or disease. Unprotected seedlings may be nipped by deer [20]. Soil requirements for cultivation include a pH of 4.7 to 6.0, a minimum of 1.7 percent organic matter and a minimum of 7 percent silt and clay particles with ground water at 1.5 to 2.5 feet (0.5-0.8 m), and 15 percent silt and clay particles with ground water at 2.5 or more feet (0.8 m or more) [52]. American mountain-ash is listed as a favored food for gypsy moth larvae during all larval stages. It may be subject to severe defoliation at high levels of infestation [16].


SPECIES: Sorbus americana
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : American mountain-ash is a native, smooth-barked, deciduous shrub or small tree 10 to 30 feet (3-9 m) tall, with an average d.b.h. of 4 to 10 inches (10-25 cm). It has a short trunk; slender, spreading branches; and a narrow, open round-topped crown. In closed canopies it tends to have a longer trunk, with the lower portions branch-free [10,12,21]. It tends to be slow growing and short-lived. The roots are fibrous [39]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sexual reproduction: There are approximately 388,000 seeds per pound (352,000/kg) [48]. The seeds are largely dispersed by birds. In studies to determine the amount of time the seeds are retained in the gut of various birds, the maximum time between ingestion and defecation was 30 minutes, indicating that the distance of dispersal is probably not great but could be on the order of a few hundred feet to a few miles [48]. The seeds require 60 or more days of cold stratification at 33 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit (0.6-5 deg C) [20]. American mountain-ash reproduces well over a wide range of forest stand and site conditions on Isle Royale, Michigan. The greatest amount of reproduction occurred in birch (Betula spp.)-fir-spruce cover types [19]. Seedling numbers from 400 to 2,920 per acre (1,000-7,300/ha) were reported on Isle Royale and adjacent islands in Minnesota. The number of saplings ranged from 40 to 1,064 per acre (100-2,660/ha), while the number of adults ranged from 2 to 3 per acre (4-6/ha) (browsed sites) and from 18 to 149 per acre (45 to 373/ha) (unbrowsed sites) [46]. Asexual reproduction: American mountain-ash will sprout from the stump when top-killed [7,8,9]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : American mountain-ash prefers moist habitats from the borders of swamps to rocky hillsides. It is commmon in openings or in woods, scattered on uplands along edges of woods, roadsides, and under semiopen stands [10,28]. It will grow well in a stunted form on relatively dry soils [21]. Most American mountain-ash in the White Mountains of New England occurs from 2,310 to 4,290 feet (700-1,300 m), decreasing in abundance at the higher elevations [30,42]. Soils in this area are youthful, shallow, and infertile; the climate is cool, windy, and humid [42]. In the Adirondack Mountains of New York, American mountain-ash rarely occurs below 3,135 feet (950 m) and is generally found on well-drained to imperfectly drained Spodsols or Inceptisols [10,28,31]. In the boreal forests of Ontario, density of American mountain-ash was highest on sites with scattered mature or semimature coniferous and deciduous species and lowest on conifer sites with relatively closed canopies or on sites that had been logged and then planted [34]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species American mountain-ash is shade intolerant [28]. American mountain-ash is listed as a subordinate species in advanced old-field succession community types [45]. In a study of secondary succession in high-elevation spruce-fir forests, American mountain-ash had an average of 152 stems per acre (382/ha) and an average d.b.h. of 1.5 inches (3.9 cm) (smaller than average), with a moderate amount of reproduction (1 seedling per 25 sq m plot). This density is higher than usually found in mature canopies, which is on the order of 4 to 20 stems per acre (10 to 50/ha) in red spruce (Picea rubens)-balsam fir (Abies balsamea) [1,29]. It therefore appears to be more abundant in early seral communities, but it is present at low densities in old-growth stages of spruce-fir communities [13,44,45]. Seven years after logging, browse species (including American mountain-ash) were 3 to 8 times more abundant on logged sites than on undisturbed control plots [35]. In Tennessee, American mountain-ash increased in biomass as the canopy cover of Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) decreased with fir mortality [5]. Cooper [9] noted that American mountain-ash was part of an early seral community in rock crevices on the shores of Isle Royale, Michigan, establishing with or shortly after shrubs. In 17 years, the stunted shrubs of American mountain-ash in these rocky clefts had grown to a height of 6 feet (1.8 m) [9]. The number of American mountain-ash twigs almost doubled over 3 years following clearcutting. Most of the twigs were on stems that survived the logging [22]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : American mountain-ash flowers from May to July; fruit ripens in August. The berries remain on the tree and are available to birds all winter [10,12].


SPECIES: Sorbus americana
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : American mountain-ash is not well adapted to survive fire; it is small, has thin bark, and occurs largely in areas that do not burnt at frequent intervals [47,53]. It will, however, sprout from the stump if top-killed by fire [9]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Tree with adventitious-bud root crown/root sucker Tall shrub, adventitious-bud root crown Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community) Secondary colonizer - off-site seed


SPECIES: Sorbus americana
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : While no direct documentation on the immediate effect of fire on American mountain-ash was available, it is reasonable to presume that it is readily top-killed by fire due to its thin bark and small stature. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : On Isle Royale, Michigan, American mountain-ash was found sprouting from the stumps 5 years after a wildfire [9]. Ohmann and Grigal [37] reported a steady increase in the size of individual American mountain-ash stems but no increase in the number of individuals in the first 5 years after wildfire in Minnesota. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : In red spruce stands that are logged and burned (either by prescribed fire or wildfire), hardwoods, because they sprout from the stumps, tend to overtake the spruce regeneration. American mountain-ash was found to have a density of 80 stems per acre (200/ha) on a site that had been cut then burned twice (8 and 10 years before the study). The large amount of residue occurring when red spruce stands are logged increases the risk of severe fires that can reduce spruce regeneration [24].


SPECIES: Sorbus americana
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