Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Calamagrostis purpurascens


SPECIES: Calamagrostis purpurascens
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Tesky, Julie L. 1992. Calamagrostis purpurascens. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : CALPUR SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : CAPU COMMON NAMES : purple reedgrass alpine reedgrass purple pinegrass TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for purple reedgrass is Calamagrostis purpurascens R. Br. [12,17,18,19,20]. Recognized subspecies and varieties include [12,19,20]: Calamagrostis purpurascens ssp. purpurascens (or var. purpurascens) Calamagrostis purpurascens ssp. arctica (Vasey) Hult. Calamagrostis purpurascens var. maltei Polunin LIFE FORM : Graminoid FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Calamagrostis purpurascens
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Purple reedgrass occurs from Greenland to Alaska, and south to California in the Olympic and Cascade Mountains.  It also occurs east to Quebec and south to Colorado through the Rocky Mountains [12,14,17,18,23]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES20  Douglas-fir    FRES21  Ponderosa pine    FRES22  Western white pine    FRES23  Fir - spruce    FRES26  Lodgepole pine    FRES36  Mountain grasslands    FRES37  Mountain meadows    FRES44  Alpine STATES :      AK  CA  CO  ID  MN  MT  NV  OR  SD  UT      WA  WY  AB  BC  MB  NF  NT  ON  PQ  SK      YT BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :    2  Cascade Mountains    4  Sierra Mountains    8  Northern Rocky Mountains    9  Middle Rocky Mountains    11 Southern Rocky Mountains    13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont    15 Black Hills Uplift KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K008  Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest    K015  Western spruce - fir forest    K017  Black Hills pine forest    K018  Pine - Douglas-fir forest    K019  Arizona pine forest    K020  Spruce - fir Douglas-fir forest    K021  Southwestern spruce - fir forest    K052  Alpine meadows and barren SAF COVER TYPES :    206  Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir    208  Whitebark pine    209  Bristlecone pine    218  Lodgepole pine    219  Limber pine    256  California mixed subalpine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Purple reedgrass generally occurs as a dominant or codominant understory species on exposed, high-elevation rocky ridgetops and upper slopes [10,16,21,29].  Publications listing this grass as a dominant or codominant in habitat types (hts), community types (cts), or vegetation types (vts) are listed below: Area                    Classification               Author CO: Arapaho &           forest hts                   Hess & Alexander 1986     Roosevelt NF CO: Gunninson &         forest hts                   Komarkova 1986     Umcompahgre NF Yukon                   vts                          Stanek 1980 WA & BC:North Cascades  cts                          Douglas & Bliss 1977


SPECIES: Calamagrostis purpurascens
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Early in the season this grass is grazed readily by all classes of livestock, but after midsummer it is grazed only lightly or moderately by cattle and horses.  It is also consumed by bighorn sheep [30]. PALATABILITY : The relish and degree of use shown by livestock for purple reedgrass in Utah is rated as good for cattle, fair for sheep, and good for horses [9]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Purple reedgrass has been rated as fair in energy value and poor in protein value [9]. COVER VALUE : The degree to which purple reedgrass provides environmental protection during one or more seasons for wildlife species is as follows [9]:                           CO       UT       WY Pronghorn                ----     Poor     Poor Elk                      ----     Poor     Poor Mule deer                ----     Poor     Poor White-tailed deer        Poor     ----     ---- Small mammals            ----     Good     Fair Small nongame birds      ----     Good     Fair Upland game birds        ----     Fair     Fair Waterfowl                ----     ----     Poor VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Reclamation of disturbed subalpine and alpine ecosystems is almost totally dependent upon the use of adapted native species such as purple pinegrass [4].  Fibrous roots as well as the ability to colonize hostile sites makes this species a good soil builder and an effective tool in erosion control [14].  This grass recovers well after oil spills and is a useful species for reclamation of these sites [14].  Purple reedgrass has been found on spoil heaps of abandoned subalpine coil-mined land [27].  It has some potential for use in reclamation in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, but further research on genetic variability, seed handling, and early management is needed [14].  Seeds of this grass should be planted on disturbed sites in autumn in order to maximize the opportunity for natural stratification.  Seeds should be stored at low temperatures [0 deg F (-18 deg C)] to maximize their longevity [4]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Calamagrostis purpurascens
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Purple reedgrass is an erect, densely tufted, native perennial grass [14,17,19,23].  The culms, which are rough and rather stiff, generally grow 1 to 3 feet (30-100 cm) tall.  Old blades are typically persistent at the base of the plant [23,17,19].  The roots are fibrous and the rhizomes are short and thick [14,23,30]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Hemicryptophyte   Geophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sexual reproduction:  Purple reedgrass compact heads are wind pollinated, [28], and the seeds are wind dispersed [15].  Seed viability varies each year because of the severe and unpredictable nature of its environment [4].  Seeds collected from the Beartooth Plateau, Montana, had a mean viability of 79 percent [5].  No significant response to light conditions has been observed, but seeds have been found to germinate better under wet-cold conditions than dry-cold conditions [5]. Vegetative reproduction:  Purple reedgrass will regenerate vegetatively from underground rhizomes [14]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Purple reedgrass typically grows near or above timberline on open ridges, dry rocky hills, and dry woods, as well as in moist parks and meadows [12,14,23,25,30].  It generally occurs from 8,000 to over 13,000 feet (2,591-3,962 m) in elevation [9].  This grass grows on sandy to coarse textured soils [14,16].  It mostly occurs on basic soils and will tolerate mildly saline sites and drought conditions.  Purple reedgrass grows best in full sunlight but will survive at reduced vigor under partial shade [14]. Plant associates:  Purple reedgrass is commonly associated with the following species:  limber pine (Pinus flexilis), lodgepole pine (P. contorta), Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii), Ross sedge (Carex rossii), timberline bluegrass (Poa rupicola), western yarrow (Achillea millefolium var. lanulosa), oatgrass (Helictotrichon mortonianum), Rocky Mountain selaginella (Selaginella densa), and upland bluegrass (P. glaucantha) [10,16,21,25,29]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Purple reedgrass is an initial off-site colonizer of alpine communities and will frequently persist in early to late seral stages [5].  This grass also occurs among climax and successional fell-field vegetation [3]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Spring bud break of purple reedgrass in Colorado occurs in early to mid-May [1].  In Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming, flowering generally begins in early June to July and ends in August [9].  Autumn die-back occurs October 10 to 15 [1].


SPECIES: Calamagrostis purpurascens
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Purple reedgrass can establish on burned sites by wind-dispersed seeds [8].  It can also sprout from on-site surviving rhizomes after fire. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil    Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Calamagrostis purpurascens
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Purple reedgrass mortality following fire has not been widely documented.  Fire, however, will presumably kill aboveground vegetation of purple reedgrass.  Severe fires may kill belowground rhizomes. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Purple reedgrass will typically colonize sites after fire through wind-dispersed seeds [8].  After low-severity fires this grass will presumably sprout from on-site surviving rhizomes.  In the Rockies of Alaska, purple reedgrass typically invades dry south-facing slopes after fire.  This grass will persist here until the canopy closes; this process, however, appears to be very slow in many places [8]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : The Research Project Summary Vegetation response to restoration treatments in ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir forests of western Montana provides information on prescribed fire and postfire response of plant community species, including purple reedgrass, that was not available when this species review was written. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : In subalpine and alpine habitats where purple reedgrass commonly occurs, vegetation recovers slowly from disturbance because of the cold climate and short growing season [7,8].  The exposed nature of these sites may increase the possibility of lightning strike, but the lack of fuels reduces the likelihood of fire spreading through the stand.  The subalpine grasslands that form the early successional stage may last a century or more [7].


SPECIES: Calamagrostis purpurascens
REFERENCES :  1.  Bell, Katherine L. 1974. Autumn, winter and spring phenology of some        Colorado alpine plants. American Midland Naturalist. 91(2): 460-464.        [233]  2.  Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals,        reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's        associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO:        U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p.        [434]  3.  Billings, W. D. 1969. Vegetational pattern near alpine timberline as        affected by fire-snowdrift interactions. Vegetatio. 19: 192-207.        [12824]  4.  Chambers, Jeanne C. 1989. Seed viability of alpine species: variability        within and among years. Journal of Range Management. 42(4): 304-308.        [7978]  5.  Chambers, Jeanne C.; MacMahon, James A.; Brown, Ray W. 1987. Germination        characteristics of alpine grasses and forbs: a comparison of early and        late seral dominants with reclamation potential. Reclamation and        Revegetation Research. 6: 235-249.  [2804]  6.  Chambers, Jeanne C.; MacMahon, James A.; Haefner, James H. 1991. Seed        entrapment in alpine ecosystems: effects of soil particle size and        diaspore morphology. Ecology. 72(5): 1668-1677.  [16961]  7.  Crane, Marilyn F. 1982. Fire ecology of Rocky Mountain Region forest        habitat types. Final Report Contract No. 43-83X9-1-884. Missoula, MT:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Region 1. 272 p. On file        with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain        Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT.  [5292]  8.  Daubenmire, Rexford. 1953. Notes on the vegetation of forested regions        of the far northern Rockies and Alaska. Northwest Science. 27: 125-138.        [10816]  9.  Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information        network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and        Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior,        Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p.  [806] 10.  Douglas, George W.; Bliss, L. C. 1977. Alpine and high subalpine plant        communities of the North Cascades Range, Washington and British        Columbia. Ecological Monographs. 47: 113-150.  [9487] 11.  Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and        Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p.  [905] 12.  Grelen, H. E. 1990. Ilex opaca Ait.  American holly. In: Burns, Russell        M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North        America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 379-385.  [9131] 13.  Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others].        1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range        ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p.  [998] 14.  Hardy BBT Limited. 1989. Manual of plant species suitability for        reclamation in Alberta. 2d ed. Report No. RRTAC 89-4. Edmonton, AB:        Alberta Land Conservation and Reclamation Council. 436 p.  [15460] 15.  Hayward, C. Lynn. 1952. Alpine biotic communities of the Uinta        Mountains, Utah. Ecological Monographs. 22(2): 93-120.  [11657] 16.  Hess, Karl; Alexander, Robert R. 1986. Forest vegetation of the Arapaho        and Roosevelt National Forests in central Colorado: a habitat type        classification. Res. Pap. RM-266. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment        Station. 48 p.  [1141] 17.  Hitchcock, A. S. 1951. Manual of the grasses of the United States. Misc.        Publ. No. 200. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Agricultural Research Administration. 1051 p. [2nd edition revised by        Agnes Chase in two volumes. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.].  [1165] 18.  Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur; Ownbey, Marion. 1969. Vascular        plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 1: Vascular cryptograms,        gymnosperms, and monocotyledons. Seattle, WA: University of Washington        Press. 914 p.  [1169] 19.  Hulten, Eric. 1968. Flora of Alaska and neighboring territories.        Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 1008 p.  [13403] 20.  Kartesz, John T.; Kartesz, Rosemarie. 1980. A synonymized checklist of        the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. Volume        II: The biota of North America. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North        Carolina Press; in confederation with Anne H. Lindsey and C. Richie        Bell, North Carolina Botanical Garden. 500 p.  [6954] 21.  Komarkova, Vera. 1986. Habitat types on selected parts of the Gunnison        and Uncompahgre National Forests. Final Report Contract No. 28-K2-234.        Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky        Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 270 p.  [1369] 22.  Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation        of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York:        American Geographical Society. 77 p.  [1384] 23.  Lackschewitz, Klaus. 1991. Vascular plants of west-central        Montana--identification guidebook. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-227. Ogden, UT:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research        Station. 648 p.  [13798] 24.  Lyon, L. Jack; Stickney, Peter F. 1976. Early vegetal succession        following large northern Rocky Mountain wildfires. In: Proceedings, Tall        Timbers fire ecology conference and Intermountain Fire Research Council        fire and land management symposium; 1974 October 8-10; Missoula, MT. No.        14. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 355-373.  [1496] 25.  Marr, John W. 1961. Ecosystems of the east slope of the Front Range in        Colorado. Studies Series in Biology 8. Boulder, CO: University of        Colorado. 134 p.  [5724] 26.  Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant        geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p.  [2843] 27.  Russell, W. B. 1985. Vascular flora of abandoned coal-mined land, Rocky        Mountain Foothills, Alberta. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 99(4): 503-516.        [10461] 28.  Spence, John R.; Shaw, Richard J. 1981. A checklist of the alpine        vascular flora of the Teton Range, Wyoming, with notes on biology and        habitat preferences. Great Basin Naturalist. 41(2): 232-242.  [9839] 29.  Stanek, Walter. 1980. Vegetation types and environmental factors        associated with Foothills Gas pipeline route, Yukon Territory. BC-X-205.        Victoria, BC: Environment Canada, Canadian Forestry Service, Pacific        Forest Research Centre. 48 p.  [16527] 30.  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 1937. Range plant        handbook. Washington, DC. 532 p.  [2387] 31.  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982.        National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names.        SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p.  [11573] 32.  Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern        Rocky Mountain forests. 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]