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Piptochaetium fimbriatum



INTRODUCTORY


AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION:
Reeves, Sonja L. 2008. Piptochaetium fimbriatum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us /database/feis/plants/graminoid/pipfim/all.html [].

FEIS ABBREVIATION:
PIPFIM

NRCS PLANT CODE [35]:
PIFI

COMMON NAMES:
pinyon ricegrass
dropseed

TAXONOMY:
The scientific name of pinyon ricegrass is Piptochaetium fimbriatum (H.B.K.) Hitch (Poaceae) [13,14,15,19].

SYNONYMS:
None

LIFE FORM:
Graminoid

FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS:
No special status

OTHER STATUS:
Information on state-level protected status of plants in the United States is available at Plants Database.

INFORMATION AVAILABLE:
In January of 2008 an extensive search was done to locate information on pinyon ricegrass with little success (see FEIS's list of source literature). The following paragraphs provide details of what information was available.


GENERAL INFORMATION ON DISTRIBUTION


GENERAL DISTRIBUTION:
Pinyon ricegrass is native to North America, occurring from southern Arizona to western Texas and southward into Mexico [9,15,19,25,30]. It also occurs in Guatemala [5]. Grass Manual on the Web provides a distributional map of pinyon ricegrass.

HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES:
Pinyon ricegrass commonly occurs in pinyon-juniper woodlands of Arizona and New Mexico [8]. It is also known to occur in encinal oak woodlands of Arizona [20]. In western Texas, pinyon ricegrass is present in oak-scrub (chaparral) communities dominated by dwarf oak (Quercus intricata) [7]. Pinyon ricegrass occurs at low density in the ponderosa pine-Colorado pinyon-gray oak (Pinus ponderosa-P. edulis-Quercus grisea) community type in southwestern New Mexico [21].

Pinyon ricegrass is a dominant species in the following vegetation types.

Arizona/New Mexico: Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico: Big Bend National Park, Texas:

GENERAL INFORMATION ON BIOLOGY, ECOLOGY, AND FIRE


RAUNKIAER [28] LIFE FORM:
Hemicryptophyte

GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
This description provides characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology, and is not meant for identification. Keys for identification are available [15,19].

Pinyon ricegrass is perennial. Rhizomes are absent. Culms are 14 to 31 inches (35-80 cm) tall, glabrous, and sometimes pubescent below the nodes. The 5.5 to 8 inch (14-20 cm) inflorescence is a loosely disposed panicle. Each branch of the panicle has 2 or 3 spikelets near the apex; there may be up to 60 spikelets/plant. Spikelets are 3.5 to 5 mm long. Lemmas are 3.5 to 5 mm long, smooth, shiny, with deciduous macrohairs. Awns are 10 to 20 mm long, usually twice-geniculate, and persistent. The fruit is a caryopsis, usually 2.5 mm long [5,19].

Pinyon ricegrass was present in aboveground vegetation and the soil seed bank at Garden Canyon, Huachuca Mountains, Arizona [29].

SITE CHARACTERISTICS:
The table below provides general site characteristics for pinyon ricegrass in Arizona and New Mexico.

State Site Characteristics
Arizona rocky hills, limestone cliffs, and open woods,
4,000 to 7,000 feet (1,200-2,100 m) [15]
New Mexico rocky hills,
4,000 to 7,000 feet (1,200-2,100 m) [19].

The following table provides specific site information for habitat types in Arizona, south of the Mogollon Rim, and southwestern New Mexico, where pinyon ricegrass is a dominant species [3].

Site characteristics for habitat types where pinyon ricegrass is a dominant species [3]
Habitat type Soils Mean annual precipitation General site characteristics
Arizona white oak/pinyon ricegrass deep alluvium, cumulic and fluventic not given along dry washes,
5,400 to 5,800 feet (1,600-1,800 m)
border pinyon/pinyon ricegrass Typic Ustifluvents, cumulic; and Typic Ustochrepts 18 to 19 inches
(460-480 mm)
washes, drainages, and north slopes,
5,500 to 6,000 feet (1,700-1,800 m)
Chihuahua pine/pinyon ricegrass alluvial 24 inches
(610 mm)
upper alluvial terraces,
5,000 to 6,000 feet (1,500-1,800 m)

SUCCESSIONAL STATUS:
Evidence suggests that pinyon ricegrass is adapted to late successional environments and is possibly a climax species. Pinyon ricegrass has a high tolerance for low light intensities and conditions associated with high canopy cover [24,26,27]. It occurs mainly under pinyon and juniper canopies [24,26,27,31,33]. In the Sacramento Mountains of south-central New Mexico, pinyon ricegrass basal area was highest (P<0.0018) at mid-canopy and trunk positions on the north side of oneseed juniper (Juniperus monosperma) trees. It was not found at the edge of oneseed juniper canopies. The investigators suggest that pinyon ricegrass requires the microclimate with lower temperatures and light intensities found under the canopy. Pinyon ricegrass is also positively related (P<0.05) to trunk diameter, a reflection of tree age, suggesting that it requires time to become established [31]. Similarly, pinyon ricegrass was found only under tree canopies and was not present in early successional vegetation after mechanical disturbance (cabling/bulldozing) in south-central New Mexico pinyon-juniper stands [32].

PHENOLOGY:
Pinyon ricegrass is a cool-season grass [10,20,24,31]. In New Mexico, pinyon ricegrass flowers in August and September [19].

FIRE ECOLOGY:
As of this writing (2008), no information is available regarding fire adaptations or fire effects on pinyon ricegrass. The following is a general summary of fire regime characteristics of habitats where pinyon ricegrass occurs.

Fire history for habitat types within Big Bend National Park, Texas, were recorded using fire scars. Fires were surface or grass-carried fires. The average fire-return interval for the past 150 to 200 years was calculated for habitat types where pinyon ricegrass occurred, and is provided in the table below [22].

Average fire-return intervals (years) for habitat types within Big Bend National Park, Texas [22]
Habitat type Average fire-return interval (years)
Arizona cypress/Big Bend bluegrass (Poa strictiramea) 33.5
Arizona cypress/alligator juniper/pinyon ricegrass 24.5
Mexican pinyon/bullgrass (Muhlenbergia emersleyi) 33

FIRE REGIMES:
Fire regime characteristics for pinyon-juniper woodlands in the southwest, where pinyon ricegrass commonly occurs, are classified by Paysen and others [23] as mixed-severity with fire-return intervals of <35 years [23]. However, fire severities and return intervals in pinyon-juniper communities are variable and are influenced by site characteristics such as species composition and site productivity. See FEIS reviews on dominant species for more information on fire regimes in these communities.

The following table provides fire regime information that may be relevant to horrid pinyon ricegrass habitats. Follow the links in the table to documents that provide more detailed information on these fire regimes. Find further 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".

Fire regime information on vegetation communities in which pinyon ricegrass may occur. For each community, fire regime characteristics are taken from the LANDFIRE Rapid Assessment Vegetation Models [18]. These vegetation models were developed by local experts using available literature, local data, and/or expert opinion as documented in the PDF file linked from the name of each Potential Natural Vegetation Group listed below. Cells are blank where information is not available in the Rapid Assessment Vegetation Model.
Southwest
Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group) Fire severity* Fire regime characteristics
Percent of fires Mean interval
(years)
Minimum interval
(years)
Maximum interval
(years)
Southwest Woodland
Madrean oak-conifer woodland Replacement 16% 65 25  
Mixed 8% 140 5  
Surface or low 76% 14 1 20
Pinyon-juniper (mixed fire regime) Replacement 29% 430    
Mixed 65% 192    
Surface or low 6% >1,000    
Pinyon-juniper (rare replacement fire regime) Replacement 76% 526    
Mixed 20% >1,000    
Surface or low 4% >1,000    
*Fire Severities:
Replacement=Any fire that causes greater than 75% top removal of a vegetation-fuel type, resulting in general replacement of existing vegetation; may or may not cause a lethal effect on the plants.
Mixed=Any fire burning more than 5% of an area that does not qualify as a replacement, surface, or low-severity fire; includes mosaic and other fires that are intermediate in effects.
Surface or low=Any fire that causes less than 25% upper layer replacement and/or removal in a vegetation-fuel class but burns 5% or more of the area [11,17].

IMPORTANCE TO WILDLIFE AND LIVESTOCK:
Pinyon ricegrass is highly palatable and makes excellent forage for wildlife and livestock [12,15]. It is an important cattle forage species in the encinal oak woodlands of Arizona [20] and is utilized by Carmen Mountains white-tailed deer in Big Bend National Park, Texas [16]. The Chihuahua pine/pinyon ricegrass habitat type of Arizona and New Mexico is highly used by wildlife due to the diverse vegetation strata, generally close proximity to water, and abundant forage [6]. Pinyon ricegrass seeds are commonly utilized by different species of quail [4,37]. In Arizona, the Mearns quail is known to use pinyon ricegrass for nest making and is known to nest in the cover of pinyon ricegrass meadows [36]. Pinyon-juniper woodlands with an abundance of pinyon ricegrass are a preferred habitat for Gould's turkey in the Peloncillo Mountains of New Mexico and Arizona [37].

Further research is need on all aspects of pinyon ricegrass biology and ecology.


REFERENCES


1. Alexander, Robert R. 1988. Forest vegetation on national forests in the Rocky Mountain and Intermountain regions: habitat and community types. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-162. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 47 p. [5903]
2. Alexander, Robert R.; Ronco, Frank, Jr. 1987. Classification of the forest vegetation on the national forests of Arizona and New Mexico. Res. Note RM-469. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 10 p. [3515]
3. Bassett, Dick; Larson, Milo; Moir, Will. 1987. Forest and woodland habitat types (plant associations) of Arizona south of the Mogollon Rim and southwestern New Mexico. 2nd ed. Albuquerque, NM: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southwestern Region. Variously paginated. [20308]
4. Bishop, Richard A.; Hungerford, Charles R. 1965. Seasonal food selection of Arizona Mearns quail. Journal of Wildlife Management. 29(4): 813-819. [22955]
5. Cialdella, Ana Maria; Giussani, Liliana Monica. 2002. Phylogenetic relationships of the genus Piptochaetium (Poaceae, Pooideae, Stipeae): evidence from morphological data. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. 89(3): 305-336. [68494]
6. DeVelice, Robert L.; Ludwig, John A. 1983. Forest habitat types south of the Mogollon Rim, Arizona and New Mexico. Final report: Cooperative Agreement No. 28-K2-240. Las Cruces, NM: New Mexico State University. 47 p. [780]
7. Dick-Peddie, William A.; Alberico, Michael S. 1977. Fire ecology study of the Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park, Texas: Phase I. CDRI Contribution No. 35. Alpine, TX: The Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. 47 p. [5002]
8. Ffolliott, Peter F. 1999. Woodland and scrub formations in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. In: Ffolliott, Peter F.; Ortega-Rubio, Alfredo, eds. Ecology and management of forests, woodlands, and shrublands in the dryland regions of the United States and Mexico: perspectives for the 21st century. Co-edition No. 1. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona; La Paz, Mexico: Centro de Investigaciones Biologicas del Noroeste, SC; Flagstaff, AZ: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 23-37. [37043]
9. Gallina, Sonia; Ffolliott, Peter F. 1983. Overstory-understory relationships: oak-pine forests of Sierra Madre Occidental, Mexico. In: Bartlett, E. T.; Betters, David R., eds. Overstory-understory relationships in western forests. Western Regional Res. Publ. No. 1. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University Experiment Station: 19-20. [3312]
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11. Hann, Wendel; Havlina, Doug; Shlisky, Ayn; [and others]. 2005. Interagency fire regime condition class guidebook. Version 1.2, [Online]. In: Interagency fire regime condition class website. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service; U.S. Department of the Interior; The Nature Conservancy; Systems for Environmental Management (Producer). Variously paginated [+ appendices]. Available: http://www.frcc.gov/docs/1.2.2.2/Complete_Guidebook_V1.2.pdf [2007, May 23]. [66734]
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32. Schott, M. R.; Pieper, R. D. 1987. Succession of pinyon-juniper communities after mechanical disturbance in southcentral New Mexico. Journal of Range Management. 40(1): 88-94. [3913]
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37. York, Darryl L.; Schemnitz, Sanford D. 2003. Home range, habitat use, and diet of Gould's turkeys, Peloncillo Mountains, New Mexico. The Southwestern Naturalist. 48(2): 231-240. [47383]