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SPECIES:  Ceratiola ericoides
Sand heath. Used with permission of Mark A. Garland, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.


SPECIES: Ceratiola ericoides
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION: Coladonato, Milo. 1992. Ceratiola ericoides. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. Revisions: On 5 July 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS from: rosemary to: sand heath. Images were also added.
ABBREVIATION: CERERI SYNONYMS: NO-ENTRY NRCS PLANT CODE: CEER3 COMMON NAMES: sand heath rosemary TAXONOMY: The scientific name of sand heath is Ceratiola ericoides Michx. [11]. There are no subspecies, varieties, or forms. Sand heath is a monotypic genus placed with two other genera (Empetrum and Corema) in the Empetraceae or Crowberry family, which is closely related to Ericaceae [14]. LIFE FORM: Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: No special status OTHER STATUS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Ceratiola ericoides
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Sand heath is distributed along the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains from southeastern South Carolina to the Escambia River in the Florida Panhandle. Continuous populations exist in northern and central Florida. Discontinuous populations occur in the coastal counties of Georgia and Mississippi [3,5,28].
Distribution of sand heath. Map courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC [2018, July 5] [27].
   FRES12  Longleaf - slash pine
   FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine
   FRES14  Oak - pine
   FRES16  Oak - gum - cypress

     FL  GA  MS  SC


   K089  Black Belt
   K111  Oak - hickory - pine forest
   K112  Southern mixed forest
   K113  Southern floodplain forest
   K115  Sand pine scrub

    69  Sand pine
    71  Longleaf pine - scrub oak
    74  Cabbage palmetto
    80  Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine
    83  Longleaf pine - slash pine
    89  Live oak


In addition to overstory associates mentioned above, common associates
include loblolly-bay (Gordonia lasianthus), myrtle oak (Quercus
myrtifolia), sand live oak (Q. virginiana var. geminata), chapman oak
(Q. chapmanii), hickory (Carya spp.), and red bay (Persea borbonia).
Shrub species found with sand heath include rusty lyonia (Lyonia
ferruginea), yaupon (Ilex vomitoria), gallberry (I. glabra), fetterbush
(L. lucida), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), cabbage palmetto (Sabal
palmetto), and wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera) [5,6,8].
San heath habitat. Image used with permission of Mark A. Garland, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.


SPECIES: Ceratiola ericoides
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE: Lesser scaup and occasionally black bear eat the fruit of sand heath [12,28]. PALATABILITY: NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE: NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE: Sand heath stands provide nesting sites for the northern cardinal, yellow-rumped warbler, gray catbird, common yellow throat, mourning dove, and the federally threatened Florida scrub jay [4,29]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES: NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES: NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: In the Florida scrub, sand heath does not present any management problems because it does not compete or hinder the growth of pines (Pinus spp.) or evergreen scrub oaks (Quercus spp.) [25]. The seeds of sand heath are attacked primarily by fungi and insects [14].


SPECIES: Ceratiola ericoides
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Sand heath is a native, evergreen, dioecious, needle-leaved shrub that grows to about 8 feet (2.5 m) tall. It has bushy branches and a distinct, erect form. The slender stems are straight, and the small leaves are alternate or whorled on the twigs. The buds are at the stem tips. The very small sessile flowers are borne along the twigs at the base of the leaf axils. The fruit is a juicy yellow drupe containing two seeds [2,7,22]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM: Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES: Sand heath is a prolific seed producer; the literature suggests that regeneration from seed is its only mode of reproduction. Seed production begins at 15 to 20 years, peaks at 25 to 30 years, and then declines. The seed is dispersed by several species of birds; it passes through their digestive tracts unharmed. Many seeds are lost to mice and insect predation [21,22,28]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Sand heath commonly occurs in scrub oak woods, dry open pinelands, and stable dunes in the southeastern United States. It grows on well-drained to excessively drained, infertile, acid to strongly acid sandy soils of the order Entisols. The soils are made of quartz sands, white to grayish with very little clay, silt of humus mixture, and no horizon development. Sand heath often forms pure stands on the slightly higher elevations which are surrounded by scrubby flatwoods [3,6,24]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Sand heath is a pioneer species. When there is a disturbance from a tree falling, a road, or a fire, sand heath seedlings appear. As the site matures, the oaks and palmettos begin to shade out sand heath [3,14]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Sand heath flowers from early spring to early summer. The fruit ripens in the late summer and the seed is dispersed in the late fall [8,28].


SPECIES: Ceratiola ericoides
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Fire-stimulated germination of seed is sand heath's only known fire survival mechanism, since it does not reproduce vegetatively. It is adapted to a fire cycle of not less than 10 years and no more than 40 years. Fire intervals of less than 10 years would deplete the seed bank. Fire intervals of longer than 40 years would selectively favor plants that produce large seed crops when past the age of 40 years [14,18,20]. 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: Shrub without adventitious-bud root crown Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Ceratiola ericoides
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT: Sand heath is readily killed by fire [13,14]. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE: Sand heath seeds germinate in response to fire [1,26]. Johnson [15] reported that sand heath biomass increases slowly from postfire years 2 to 4, rapidly from postfire years 4 to 10, and less rapidly from postfire years 10 to 34. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Burning dune scrub at intervals shorter than 15 to 20 years prevents sand heath shrub from reaching reproductive maturity [16].


SPECIES: Ceratiola ericoides
REFERENCES: 1. Abrahamson, Warren G. 1984. Species response to fire on the Florida Lake Wales Ridge. American Journal of Botany. 71(1): 35-43. [9608] 2. Austin, Daniel F. 1976. Florida scrub. Florida Naturalist. 49(4): 2-5. [2900] 3. Austin, Daniel F.; Posin, Freda R.; Burch, James N. 1987. Scrub species patterns on the Atlantic Coastal Ridge, Florida. Journal of Coastal Research. 3(4): 491-498. [9340] 4. Breininger, D. R.; Schmalzer, P. A. 1990. Effects of fire and disturbance on plants and birds in Florida oak/ palmetto scrub community. American Midland Naturalist. 123(1): 64-74. [9875] 5. Brendemuehl, R. H. 1990. Pinus clausa (Chapm. ex Engelm.) Vasey ex Sarg. sand pine. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 294-301. [13392] 6. Craighead, Frank C., Sr. 1971. The trees of south Florida. Vol. 1. The natural environments and their succession. Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press. 212 p. [17802] 7. Davis, John H., Jr. 1943. The natural features of southern Florida especially the vegetation, and the Everglades. Geological Bull. No. 25. Tallahassee, FL: State of Florida, Department of Conservation, Florida Geological Survey. 311 p. [17747] 8. Zobel, Donald B. 1990. Effects of low temperature, seed source, and seed age on germination of Chamaecyparis lawsoniana. Canadian Journal of Forestry Research. 20: 1053-1059. [12096] 9. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 10. 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] 11. Godfrey, Robert K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of northern Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 734 p. [10239] 12. Harlow, Richard F. 1961. Characteristics and status of Florida black bear. Transactions, 26th North American Wildlife Conference. 26: 481-495. [15402] 13. Hartnett, David C.; Richardson, Donald R. 1989. Population biology of Bonamia grandiflora (Convolvulaceae): Effects of fire on plant and seed bank dynamics. American Journal of Botany. 76(3): 361-369. [9647] 14. Johnson, Ann F. 1982. Some demographic characterisitcs of the Florida rosemary Ceratiola ericoides Michx. American Midland Naturalist. 108(1): 170-174. [19142] 15. Johnson, Ann F.; Abrahamson, Warren G.; McCrea, Kenneth D. 1986. Compar. of biomass recovery after fire of a seeder (Ceratiola ericoides) and a sprouter (Quercus inopina) species from south-central Florida. American Midland Naturalist. 116(2): 423-428. [10217] 16. Johnson, Ann F.; Barbour, Michael G. 1990. Dunes and maritime forests. In: Myers, Ronald L.; Ewel, John J., eds. Ecosystems of Florida. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Press: 430-480. [17394] 17. 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] 18. Laessle, Albert M. 1958. The origin and successional relationship of sandhill vegetation and sand-pine scrub. Ecological Monographs. 28(4): 361-387. [9780] 19. 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] 20. Mulvania, M. 1931. Ecological survey of a Florida scrub. Ecology. 12(3): 528-540. [9992] 21. Myers, Ronald L. 1985. Fire and the dynamic relationship between Florida sandhill and sand pine scrub vegetation. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 112(3): 241-252. [11606] 22. Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. 1183 p. [7606] 23. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 24. Richardson, Donald Robert. 1977. Vegetation of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge of Palm Beach County, Florida. Florida Scientist. 40(4): 281-330. [9644] 25. Richardson, D. R.; Williamson, G. B. 1988. Allelopathic effects of shrubs of the sand pine scrub on pines and grasses of the Sandhills. Forest Science. 34(3): 592-605. [5427] 26. Cress, William A. 1982. The effect of varied watering regimes on proline production in Atriplex canescens, Hilaria jamesii, and Agropyron smithii. In: Aldon, Earl F.; Oaks, Wendall R., eds. Reclamation of mined lands in the Southwest: a symposium; 1982 October 20-22; Albuquerque, NM. Albuquerque, NM: Soil Conservation Society of America--New Mexico Chapter: 165-169. [711] 27. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2018. PLANTS Database, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (Producer). Available: [34262] 28. Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 362 p. [4240] 29. Woolfenden, Glen E. 1973. Nesting and survival in a population of Florida scrub jays. Living Bird. 12: 25-49. [16723]

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