Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Umbellularia californica

Introductory

SPECIES: Umbellularia californica
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Howard, Janet L. 1992. Umbellularia californica. 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 : UMBCAL SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : UMCA COMMON NAMES : California bay bay bay laurel baytree black myrtle California laurel cinnamon bush Coos Bay laurel laurel mountain laurel myrtle myrtletree myrtlewood Oregon myrtle Pacific myrtle pepperwood spice-tree white myrtle yellow myrtle TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of California bay is Umbellularia californica (Hook. & Arn.) Nutt. [9,22,31]. Recognized varieties and forms are as follows [9]: U. californica var. californica U. californica var. fresnensis Eastwood U. californica f. pendula Rehd. LIFE FORM : Tree, Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Umbellularia californica
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : California bay occurs in the Klamath, Siskiyou, and Coast Ranges from Douglas County, Oregon south to San Diego County, California, and on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada from Shasta County south to Kern County. It is found along drainages in the Central Valley, California [16,23,31,48]. Umbellularia californica var. fresnensis occurs in Fresno County, California [9]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES20 Douglas-fir FRES21 Ponderosa pine FRES24 Hemlock - Sitka spruce FRES26 Lodgepole pine FRES27 Redwood FRES28 Western hardwoods FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub FRES42 Annual grasslands STATES : CA OR BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 1 Northern Pacific Border 3 Southern Pacific Border 4 Sierra Mountains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K001 Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest K002 Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest K005 Mixed conifer forest K006 Redwood forest K008 Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest K009 Pine - cypress forest K010 Ponderosa shrub forest K011 Western ponderosa forest K012 Douglas-fir forest K026 Oregon oakwoods K028 Mosaic of K002 and K026 K029 California mixed evergreen forest K030 California oakwoods K033 Chaparral K034 Montane chaparral K048 California steppe SAF COVER TYPES : 218 Lodgepole pine 221 Red alder 223 Sitka spruce 224 Western hemlock 225 Western hemlock - Stika spruce 226 Coastal true fir - hemlock 229 Pacific Douglas-fir 230 Douglas-fir - western hemlock 231 Port-Orford-cedar 232 Redwood 233 Oregon white oak 234 Douglas-fir - tanoak - Pacific madrone 243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer 244 Pacific ponderosa pine - Douglas-fir 245 Pacific ponderosa pine 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 : California bay is sometimes codominant or dominant in various hardwood forests. Pure stands are rare, but there are a few California bay forests in the Coast Ranges and in Tehama County, California [7,11,15]. The tree also occurs in various coniferous forests, where it is a codominant or dominant in the subcanopy or is an understory associate. Published classifications listing California bay as codominant or dominant in community types (cts), ecoassociation types (eco), plant associations (pas), or vegetation types (vts) are as follows: AREA CLASSIFICATION AUTHORITY CA: outer Coast Ranges Ca. bay forest cts Holland 1986 CA: Coast Ranges Ca. hardwoods eco Allen & others 1991 nCA: Klamath; N.Coast Ranges cismontane woodland cts Holland 1986 nCA: Muir Woods NM redwood forest vts McBride & Jacobs 1980 sCA: S.Coast Ranges riparian pas Paysen & others 1980 sCA: Santa Ana Mts. canyon woodlands cts Vogl 1976 swOR: Siskiyou NF mixed evergreen cts Sawyer & others 1977 swOR: Siskiyou; Klamath tanoak-Ca. laurel pas Atzet & Wheeler 1984 Ranges

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Umbellularia californica
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : California bay wood is used for cabinets, furniture, interior trim, paneling, veneer, gunstocks, and turned woodenware. Burls, marketed as myrtlewood, are used for making novelty items and wood carvings [9]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : California bay leaves and twigs are browsed by black-tailed deer and livestock. The tree is in relatively short supply over most of its distribution, but is one of the principal browse species for deer in parts of the North Coast Ranges [42]. The seeds are eaten by birds, rodents, and domestic and wild pigs. [5,43,39]. Pigs also consume the roots [42]. PALATABILITY : New shoots are highly palatable to black-tailed deer. Utilization of 60 to 80 percent by weight of young shoots was recorded on chaparral deer ranges in Madera and Lake counties, California [6,39]. The degree of use shown by livestock and wildlife species for California bay leaves and twigs has been rated as follows [39]: cattle - fair to poor horses - poor goats - fair to poor sheep - fair to poor mule deer - good to fair NUTRITIONAL VALUE : California bay leaves and twigs are high in protein. Studies conducted at several sites in northern California found that the protein content varies from 25.6 percent in May to 11.3 percent in January [43]. COVER VALUE : California bay provides hiding and thermal cover for deer, wild pig, black bear, and various small mammals. It also provides nesting, hiding, and thermal cover for upland game birds and songbirds. It is heavily used for cover when it grows in ecotones between riparian and chaparral communities [10]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : California bay is used for a variety of rehabilitative purposes. It has been utilized in riparian and wildlife habitat reclamation projects in Berkeley, the Santa Clara Valley, and Los Angeles County, California [14,35,49]. It has also been used in watershed projects for flood control and stream channel restoration [17,32]. California bay is started from seed and transplants best when under 1 year of age. Cultivation methods have been detailed [42]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Native Americans made tea from the root bark of California bay and used the leaves for control of biting insects. The leaves were also used medicinally by Native Americans and pioneers for treatment of headache and rheumatism. California bay leaves are marketed as a food seasoning. The tree is used in ornamental landscaping and is available at commercial nurseries [9,20]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Hardwood timber: Silviculture of California bay may become more important as East Coast hardwood production lessens. Although California bay wood is valuable, young trees are not currently planted for future commercial harvest. A serious management problem of this species is heart rot. The fungus (Ganoderma applanatum) causing this disease will infect even young trees. Heart rot can be virtually eliminated from a stand by cutting down trees to stumps of less than 8 inches (20 cm) in height to promote root crown sprouting. Root crown sprouts have a very low incidence of heart rot. Slash disposal by broadcast burning is recommended to increase sprouting and kill fungi harbored in the slash [27]. California bay has no serious insect pests, although the powderpost beetle (Ptilinus basalis) and various oak bark beetles (Pseudopithyophthorus spp.) will sometimes attack injured trees [9]. California bay is not windfirm [27]. Conifer timber: California bay severely reduces growth of conifer timber seedlings through allelopathic inhibition. The leaves contain water-soluble terpenes which retard root elongation [16]. A study done in the Siskiyou National Forest of southwestern Oregon showed that root elongation of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) seedlings was 16 percent of normal following treatment with California bay leaf extract. This was a greater rate of suppression than that shown by 10 other chaparral species tested for potential conifer growth inhibition [44]. Unless controlled, the California bay understory in coniferous forests often becomes dominant or codominant within a few years following clear-cutting of mature timber trees [9]. Control: California bay can be controlled by aerosol or injection/cut surface treatment with 2,4-D [8]. (also see Fire Management Considerations regarding control by burning)

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Umbellularia californica
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : California bay is a highly-branched native evergreen tree that typically grows from 40 to 80 feet (12-24 m) in height [31]. The largest recorded tree is in Mendocino County California, and measures feet 108 feet (33 m) in height and 119 feet (36 m) in spread [51]. On poor sites the tree grows in scrub form [7,31]. The fruit is a drupe containing one large seed with a thin seedcoat [42]. The bark is thin and smooth on young trees, while older trees have thin, scaly bark that is continually shed. Authorities disagree on the rooting habit of California bay. Roots are described as either shallow or as deep and wide-spreading. Rootwads of windthrown trees in southern Oregon were found to be limited in extent with no taproot, and 100 percent of California bay trees excavated in the Berkeley Hills of California had their roots confined to the top 36 inches (90 cm) of soil [9]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sexual: California bay begins reproducing by seed at 30 to 40 years of age [7,9,31]. Seed crops are abundant in most years. Seed is disseminated by animals, water, and gravity. Limited research suggests that seed viability is retained over winter but diminishes rapidly after that time [42]. Some fresh seed will slowly germinate over a 3-month period without stratification or scarification. Germination rates improve, however, after a 2- to 3-month cold stratification at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 deg C). Scarified seed has a slightly higher germination rate than unscarified seed [9,42]. Germination is hypogeal. Germination and seedling establishment are favored in riparian areas where seed is buried by silt deposition or high water [27]. Seedling establishment is poor in drier environments unless the ground is disturbed [9]. Seedlings are good competitors against other species and grow under moderately dense canopies. Seedling recruitment is poor under other California bay trees, however [9]. Vegetative: California bay sprouts from the root crown, bole, or stump [9,34]. Sprouts arise wherever surviving meristematic tissue receives strong light [9]. Bole sprouts are more common on plants growing on south-facing slopes, while root collar sprouts usually appear on plants on north-facing slopes. Sixty sprouts have been reported growing on the trunk of one burned tree [34]. Sprouts have been observed growing from fallen California bay trees in Muir Woods National Monument, California [25]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : California bay grows on a variety of sites. It occurs on xeric chaparral, where the tree often grows in scrub form. Scrub trees are particularly common in serpentine chaparral [16]. California bay also occurs on exposed ridges, steep mountain slopes, coastal bluffs, or rocky outcrops. Best development occurs on mesic sites: deep, well-drained alluvial benches, valley bottoms subjected to occasional inundation, well-watered coastal slopes, or along foothill streams [9]. Soil: California bay grows in loam, sandy-loam, or clay soils. Soil pH ranges from 5.7 to 7.4 [9]. Climate: California bay grows in the cool, humid maritime climate of dense coastal forests and the mediterranean climate of California hardwood forests and chaparral [9]. Elevation: California bay is found from sea level to 4,000 feet (1,219 m) in northern California and Oregon and from 2,000 to 5,000 feet (610-1,524 m) in southern California [42]. Plant associates: Overstory associates include bigcone Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga macrocarpa), grand fir (Abies grandis), white fir (A. concolor), Colter pine (Pinus coulteri), sugar pine (P. lambertiana), western white pine (P. monticola), eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globus; E. camaldulensis), valley oak (Quercus lobata), and black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) [9,11,34]. (also see SAF cover types) Subcanopy and understory associates include California sycamore (Plantanus racemosa), bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), boxelder (A. negundo), interior live oak (Q. wislizenii), coast live oak (Q. agrifolia), canyon live oak (Q. chrysolepis), blue oak (Q. douglasii), California scrub oak (Q. dumosa), Sadler oak (Q. sadleriana), Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii), California buckeye (Aesculus californica), chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum), various manzanitas (Arctostaphylos nevadensis; A. mariposa; A. viscida), yerba santa (Eriodictyon californicum), California rhododendron (Rhododendron californicum), Pacific rhododendron (R. macrophyllum), and evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum) [9,11,34]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species California bay is seral in mixed evergreen forests, and climax in California hardwood forests, riparian communities, and chaparral [3,26,37]. In mixed-evergreen forest it is replaced by various conifers (see SAF cover types and Site Characteristics: Overstory associates). A sun- and shade-tolerant species, California bay occurs in all seral stages of mixed evergreen forest. Pioneer seedlings or residual sprouters appear in the initial community, and the species frequently persists as a subcanopy dominant in the late seral community [3,25]. In California hardwood forests, it is dominant or codominant with other hardwood species [1,18]. In chaparral, it replaces brush species in the absence of fire. California bay seedlings were found growing in a mature chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum) chaparral community in the San Gabriel Mountains of southern California 40 years following fire [33]. Such seedlings occasionally grow to maturity and outcompete existing shrubs before the next fire cycle. In riparian communities, California bay codominates with red alder (Alnus ruba), bigleaf maple, boxelder, and California buckeye [26,42]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : The seasonal development of California bay varies with latitude and elevation. The general development is as follows [9]: Northern Ca Southern Ca flowers out: April-Sept year-round new leaves out: May-June Dec-April seeds ripe: Sept-Nov Sept-Nov flora primordia develop: Sept-Nov Sept-Nov seed disseminated: Nov-Jan Nov-Jan

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Umbellularia californica
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Plant adaptations: California bay sprouts from the root crown or bole following fire [9,25,27,43,42]. Some studies indicate that germination of buried seed may slightly increase following light to moderate fire due to the cracking of the thin seed coat [28,42]. Fire ecology: California bay increases fuel loading by the continual shedding of its bark [9]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : survivor species; on-site surviving root crown off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2 secondary colonizer; off-site seed carried to site after year 2

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Umbellularia californica
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : The thin bark of this tree provides little protection against fire. Moderate-severity fire kills California bay seedlings and top-kills saplings and mature trees. Severe fire kills the seed [9,42]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Top-killed California bay recovers rapidly from fire. Taber and Dasmann [43] reported crown sprouts appearing 4 to 6 weeks after late winter and spring fires in the North Coast Ranges of California. Sprouting may also occur after summer or fall fires. Most California hardwoods sprout within a few weeks following fire in any season [29], and California bay presumably has this ability. Reproductive ability is regained quickly; flowers have been noted on first-year sprouts [9]. Seedlings establish from postfire year 1 until the next fire cycle. In the redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) forest of Muir Woods National Monument, for example, 567 seedlings per acre (1,400 seedlings/ha) were observed at postfire year 134. The dense understory was codominated by redwood and California bay trees that began as sprouts and seedlings following the 1845 fire [25]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Hardwood timber: Prescribed burning is an effective tool for reclaiming California bay in hardwood forests invaded by conifers [9]. Conifer timber: Prescribed burning alone is not effective in removing California bay from clear-cut timber areas. Prescribed fire will top-kill California bay, but follow-up mechanical or chemical control of sprouts will be necessary until conifer seedlings are established [9]. Other considerations: California bay was an integral part of a fire hazard reduction project in the Berkeley Hills, where highly flammable exotic eucalyptus were removed to release the less flammable understory of California bay and coast live oak [38]. California bay in riparian areas is not usually threatened because fire is rare there [19,40].

REFERENCES

SPECIES: Umbellularia californica
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Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Arboretum, Society for Ecological Restoration: 139-151. [14693] 33. Patric, James H.; Hanes, Ted L. 1964. Chaparral succession in a San Gabriel Mountain area of California. Ecology. 45(2): 353-360. [9825] 34. Paysen, Timothy E.; Narog, Marcia G.; Tissell, Robert G.; Lardner, Melody A. 1991. Trunk and root sprouting on residual trees after thinning a Quercus chrysolepis stand. Forest Science. 37(1): 17-27. [15040] 35. Perala, C.; Hoover, D. A. 1990. Hand-removal of exotics and planting of natives key to restoration of riparian forest understory. Restoration & Management Notes. 8(2): 118. [13791] 36. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 37. Ray, Dan; Woodroof, Wayne; Roberts, R. Chad. 1984. Management of riparian vegetation in the northcoast region of California's coastal zone. In: Warner, Richard E.; Hendrix, Kathleen M., eds. 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