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SPECIES:  Chilopsis linearis


SPECIES: Chilopsis linearis
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Uchytil, Ronald J. 1990. Chilopsis linearis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : CHILIN SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : CHLI2 COMMON NAMES : desert willow desertwillow flowering willow flowering-willow willowleaf catalpa desert catalpa catalpa willow false-willow bow willow mimbre Flor de Mimbre jano TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of desert willow is Chilopsis linearis (Cav.) Sweet [17,27,49]. Chilopsis is a monotypic genus native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It is a member of the Bignoniaceae family, and is most closely related to the genus Catalpha Scop. Presented below is a taxonomic revision of Chilopsis, which divides the species into 3 subordinate taxa based primarily on leaf morphology and growth form [13]: Chilopsis linearis (Cav.) Sweet Chilopsis linearis subsp. linearis Chilopsis linearis var. linearis - Chihuahuan Desert Chilopsis linearis var. tomenticaulis Henrickson - eastern Mexico Chilopsis linearis subsp. arcuata (Fosberg) Henrickson - Sonoran and Mojave Deserts LIFE FORM : Tree, Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Chilopsis linearis
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Desert willow is distributed from southwestern and Trans-Pecos Texas west to extreme southwestern Utah, southern Nevada, and southern California [21]. It is also found in northern Mexico. Subspecies linearis var. linearis occurs primarily east of the Rio Grande River in eastern New Mexico and western Texas, while subspecies arcuata occurs primarily west of the Rio Grande River [13]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES30 Desert shrub FRES32 Texas savanna FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe FRES40 Desert grasslands STATES : AZ CA NV NM TX UT MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 7 Lower Basin and Range 12 Colorado Plateau 13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K027 Mesquite bosque K041 Creosotebush K042 Creosotebush - bursage K043 Paloverde - cactus shrub K044 Creosotebush - tarbush K054 Grama - tobosa prairie K058 Grama - tobosa shrubsteppe K059 Trans-Pecos shrub savanna K061 Mesquite - acacia savanna SAF COVER TYPES : 242 Mesquite SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Desert willow sometimes codominates desert washes and water courses with other phreatophytes [see SITE CHARACTERISTICS for a list of codominant plants]. Published classification schemes listing desert willow as an indicator species or dominant part of the vegetation in community types (cts) or plant associations (pas) are listed below: Area Classification Authority s CA general veg. pas Paysen & others 1980 s CA general veg. cts Burk 1977


SPECIES: Chilopsis linearis
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Desert willow is occasionally used for fence posts and fuel [14,46]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Livestock: Livestock generally do not browse desert willow. It is consumed only when other forage is scarce [18,46]. Wildlife: Various species of birds eat desert willow seeds [12,46]. Hummingbirds are attracted to the showy flowers and feed on the nectar [3,12]. Mule deer eat small quantities of the leaves and fruit [34]. PALATABILITY : Desert willow is considered to be unpalatable to livestock and low in palatability to wildlife [5]. The presence of cyanogenic glycosides may account for its low palatability [50]. Following fire, however, tender sprouts may be highly palatable. Two months after a July wildfire in southern California, 55 percent of available desert willow sprouts were browsed by mule deer, bighorn sheep, and cottontail rabbits, but this use declined to about 1 percent within 1 year [41]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : The sucrose in desert willow nectar is a good energy source for bees and hummingbirds [3]. COVER VALUE : Desert willow provides nesting sites for desert songbirds and cover for other wildlife species [20]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Desert willow is used in soil stabilization plantings. It is often used along highways and in well-drained barrow ditches [36]. Numerous cultivars are available, including 'Barranco', released by the Soil Conservation Service [40], and 'White Storm', 'Dark Storm', 'Marfa Lace', 'Alpine', and 'Tejas', released in 1988 from the Texas A&M Research and Extension Center [36,39]. It is usually transplanted from nursery stock. Removing competing vegetation around transplants and irrigating during the first season after transplanting is recommended [48]. Methods for growing seedlings in a nursery have been discussed [15,48]. Plants may be successfully propagated by both softwood and hardwood cuttings [7,48]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Desert willow is cultivated as an ornamental because of its attractive flowers [38]. It has been used for roadside beautification, border rows, screenings, and mass plantings [48]. In the 1930's the Civilian Conservation Corps planted desert willow in shelterbelts [35]. Indians used the wood to make bows and baskets [35,46]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Use of desert willow by livestock generally indicates overbrowsing or overstocking of the range [45,48].


SPECIES: Chilopsis linearis
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Desert willow is a large deciduous shrub or small tree that may grow 10 to 30 feet (3-9 m) tall, and often has a leaning trunk and an open, spreading crown [18,25,46]. Basal diameter of the trunk rarely exceeds 5 inches (12.5 cm) [14]. The dark brown bark is very thin, up to about 0.25 inch (6.3 mm) thick [14]. Pale green willowlike leaves are about 5 inches (12.5 cm) long and less than 0.5 inch (1.25 cm) wide with smooth margins [27,46]. The pink to light violet flowers are 1.25 inches (3.2 cm) long and wide, and occur in clusters up to 4 inches (10 cm) long at the end of the twigs [25]. The fruit is a narrow, elongated two-celled podlike capsule 4 to 10 inches (10-30 cm) long [48]. First year twigs are green but later turn gray to reddish-brown [46]. Henrickson [13] provides a key for separating subspecies and varieties. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Desert willow reproduces sexually by producing abundant seed. Flowers are primarily pollinated by numerous species of bees and hummingbirds [3]. Large numbers of flowers are produced continuously over several weeks [31]. Desert willow flowers are self-incompatible. Fruit set may be limited by insufficient amounts of outcrossed pollen and by inadequate movement of pollinators between trees [31]. Fruit production does not appear to be limited by inadequate moisture, probably because plants are primarily found along washes. Several 0.33 inch (8 mm) long, light brown, oval seeds are encased within a two-celled capsule [26]. Seeds have a fringe of soft white hairs at each end which aid in wind dispersal [26,30]. Seeds do not display dormancy, and probably only remain viable until the spring following dispersal [26]. There are between 50,000 and 100,000 seeds per pound (110,200-220,400/kg) [26,45]. Germination has been reported between 40 and 60 percent [45]. Commercial seed has shown 92 percent purity and 87 percent soundness [26]. Sprouting: Following damage to the aboveground portion of the plant, such as by fire, most plants regenerate by sprouting from the root crown [41]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Desert willow primarily occupies dry washes, intermittent streams and other water courses, and moist canyons in deserts and mountain foothills [4,16,18,27,35,49]. These sites generally have underground water available year-round. Plants can withstand seasonal flooding quite well, and often occupy the middle of drainage channels, sometimes covering broad expanses in wash areas [10,16]. Soils: Sites are mostly well drained, neutral to basic and mildly saline [48]. Soils are mostly sandy to gravelly alluvium [29,35,48]. Associated species: Common associates of desert washes include blue paloverde (Cerdidium floridum), desert ironwood (Olneya tesota), catclaw acacia (Acacia greggii), smoketree (Dalea spinosa), mesquites (Prosopis spp.), desertbroom (Baccharis sarothroides), netleaf hackberry (Celtis reticulata), littleleaf sumac (Rhus microphylla), Arizona walnut (Juglans major), velvet ash (Fraxinus velutina), spitleaf brickellia (Brickellia laciniata), cottontop (Digitaria californica) and southwestern condalia (Condalia lycoides) [4,10,16,29,31,48]. Elevational range by location: Range State Reference below 4,000 feet (1,219 m) AZ [18] below 5,000 feet (1,524 m) CA [27] from 2,000 to 5,000 feet (610-1,524 m) TX [32] below 4,920 feet (1,500 m) UT [49] SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Desert willow sometimes invades freshly deposited channel sediments following seasonal water runoff. As plants develop they may trap sediments, leading to the formation of islands within the channel [10]. Desert willow plants are long-lived and help stabilize the banks of water courses. Desert willow is a component of desert wash communities that are somewhat stable. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Since desert willow is primarily restricted to washes or water courses with available underground water, it is able to maintain a full compliment of leaves during the summer months even though it is not well adapted to high temperatures [4]. Plants are winter deciduous and drop leaves in late fall following the first hard frost [6]. Leaf drop may be photoperiodically controlled, as plants in temperature controlled greenhouses lose their leaves during the winter [6]. Flowering occurs mostly in May and June but may occur later in the summer after rain [46]. Most fruits ripen from late summer to fall, and the capsules persist overwinter [46,48]. Under extremely dry conditions, plants may fail to form fruits [31]. In a wash near Tucson, Arizona, flowering occurred mostly in May and June, and most fruits were mature by September 2 [31]. Flowering time by location is as follows: Time of flowering Location Reference May - September s CA [27] April - August AZ [18] April - September w TX [32]


SPECIES: Chilopsis linearis
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Desert willow primarily occurs in washes that rarely burn [48]. It is able to sprout from the root crown following top-kill by fire [41,42]. 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 : survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex


SPECIES: Chilopsis linearis
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Most fires probably top-kill desert willow. In southern California, a July wildfire in a chaparral-desert ecotone resulted in nearly all desert willow plants being charred and defoliated, but less than 10 percent of the plants were killed [41]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Following top-kill by fire, desert willow survives by producing numerous root crown sprouts. Following a July wildfire in southern California, more than 90 percent of desert willow plants survived [41]. These residual plants started sprouting within 2 months after the fire. Plants developed a multistemmed growth form and averaged 171 sprouts per plant 10 months after this fire. Sprout growth is summarized below [41]: Average # Average length of Ave. productivity sprouts/plant unbrowsed sprouts per plant in grams (inches) (cm) (oven dry weight) 2 months after fire (Sept) 16 2.2 5.5 2 4 months after fire (Nov) 21 10.7 27.1 40 7 months after fire (Feb) 48 18.7 47.6 132 10 months after fire (June) 171 19.4 49.3 892 DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY

References for species: Chilopsis linearis

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