Fire Effects Information System (FEIS)
FEIS Home Page

Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Fendlera rupicola
Cliff fendlerbush. Wikimedia Commons image By Andrey Zharkikh from Salt Lake City, UT.


SPECIES: Fendlera rupicola
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Tesky, Julie L. 1993. Fendlera rupicola. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. Revisions: On 6 July 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS from: fendlerbush to: cliff fendlerbush. Images were also added. ABBREVIATION : FENRUP SYNONYMS : Fendlera rupicola var. rupicola Fendlera rupicola var. falcata Gray, sickle-leaf fendlerbush [12,16,22] SCS PLANT CODE : FERU COMMON NAMES : cliff fendlerbush false mockorange fendlera fendlerbush TAXONOMY : The scientific name of cliff fendlerbush is Fendlera rupicola Gray (Hydrangeaceae) [12,16,20,22,24]. LIFE FORM : Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Fendlera rupicola
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Cliff fendlerbush is found from the Sabinal River to the Pecos River in scattered locations in Texas. It is common in the higher mountains of the Trans-Pecos region. It also occurs in the Davis, Chisos, and Guadalupe mountains; northward and westward into New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona; and southward into Mexico [12,22].
Distribution of cliff fendlerbush in the United States. Map courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC [2018, July 6] [20].
   FRES29  Sagebrush
   FRES30  Desert shrub
   FRES32  Texas savanna
   FRES33  Southwestern shrubsteppe
   FRES35  Pinyon - juniper
   FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub
   FRES40  Desert grasslands


    7  Lower Basin and Range
   12  Colorado Plateau
   13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont

   K023  Juniper - pinyon woodland
   K024  Juniper steppe woodland
   K031  Oak - juniper woodlands
   K032  Transition between K031 and K037
   K037  Mountain-mahogany - oak scrub
   K053  Grama - galleta steppe
   K054  Grama - tobosa prairie
   K058  Grama - tobosa shrubsteppe
   K086  Juniper - oak savanna

   238  Western juniper
   239  Pinyon - juniper


Cliff fendlerbush is often found in desert shrub, pinyon-juniper
(Pinus-Juniperus spp.)/mountain shrub and blue grama (Bouteloua
gracilis) communities throughout its range [7,15].

Cliff fendlerbush is often found associated with oneseed juniper (Juniperus
monosperma), alligator juniper (J. deppeana), true pinyon (Pinus
edulis), wavyleaf oak (Quercus undulata), skunkbush sumac (Rhus
trilobata), mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus breviflorus), and antelope
bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata) [7,15].


SPECIES: Fendlera rupicola
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Cliff fendlerbush is browsed by goats, deer, bighorn sheep, and cattle [12]. In the San Cayetano Mountains, Arizona, cliff fendlerbush made up 11 percent of the white-tailed deer diet during the hot, dry season (April- June); this season appears to be the most critical period of the year for deer herds in the desert southwest [1,2]. PALATABILITY : Cliff fendlerbush palatability is high for goats in New Mexico. It is closely grazed by cattle in central Arizona [21], and is a frequent diet item of white-tailed deer in the San Cayetano Mountains, Arizona [1,2]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : Cliff fendlerbush is grown as an ornamental. It is suitable for rock gardens in well-drained, sunny situations, and has been grown as far north as New England [4,12,18]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Cliff fendlerbush decreases in response to grazing [25]. Cliff fendlerbush has vesicular-arbuscular endomycorrhizal associations [6,26]. These fungi increase cliff fendlerbush growth by increasing phosphorus absorption [26].


SPECIES: Fendlera rupicola
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Cliff fendlerbush is a native, deciduous, widely-branched shrub [12,22,24]. It grows 3 to 9 feet (1-3 m) high [4,12,22,24]. The leaves are thick, twisted, 0.2 to 1.6 inches (5-40 mm) long and 0.08 to 0.28 inches (2-7 mm) wide [13,24]. The flowers are solitary or two to three together at the ends of short branches [24]. The fruit is a four-celled capsule which remains on the plant all year [11,13]. Cliff fendlerbush bark is shreddy [11]. It generally has deep roots [4]. Cliff fendlerbush can endure intense heat and considerable drought [21]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Cliff fendlerbush reproduces by seed [4,22]. Commercial production is accomplished through seed that is stratified at 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 deg C) for 60 to 90 days [4]. Cliff fendlerbush can also reproduce via branch cuttings [4,22]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Cliff fendlerbush is commonly found on rocky ledges and steep slopes of cliffs and canyons at elevations of 3,000 to 7,000 feet (914-2,133 m) [16,22,23]. Cliff fendlerbush thrives on very dry, well-drained, poor soils that may be rocky and/or alkaline [4,21,22]. Less than 15 inches (38.1 cm) of annual precipitation have been measured in its natural habitat [4]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Cliff fendlerbush occurs in nearly all stages of succession. It is most common in mid- to late-seral communities. In Mesa Verde National Park, cliff fendlerbush maximum cover and frequency was not reached until 80 years after a fire in a pinyon-juniper community. In an adjacent 400-year-old climax pinyon-juniper stand, cliff fendlerbush cover was only 2 percent; frequency was 8 percent [7]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Cliff fendlerbush generally flowers from March through June, depending on the location [12,22]. In the Trans-Pecos, Texas, cliff fendlerbush sometimes flowers through August [16]. Cliff fendlerbush fruits mature in July and August [22].


SPECIES: Fendlera rupicola
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Little information is available regarding cliff fendlerbush fire ecology and adaptations. Erdman [7] suggested that cliff fendlerbush probably recovers after fire by sprouting from the root crown. Pinyon-juniper communities where cliff fendlerbush is commonly found historically burned every 10 to 30 years, which favored dominance by grasses. However, for the last 70 years, heavy livestock grazing has reduced grass competition and fuel, and shrub cover has increased. This has decreased fire occurrence and lowered the intensity of fires that do occur [27,28]. On 23 grazed transects in desert shrub communities where cliff fendlerbush occurs in the Guadalupe Mountains, New Mexico, shrubs had only 6.4 to 6.6 percent cover. Bare ground cover was 33.8 to 42.4 percent, and litter cover was 6.1 to 12 percent [25]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Small shrub, adventitious-bud root crown Secondary colonizer - off-site seed 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".


SPECIES: Fendlera rupicola
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Information was not available regarding the immediate effects of fire on cliff fendlerbush. Cliff fendlerbush is probably top-killed or killed by most fires. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : In Mesa Verde National Park, 4 years after a July/August, 1959 natural fire in a pinyon-juniper community, cliff fendlerbush had no significant cover. Cliff fendlerbush frequency was 2 percent. Twenty-nine years following a July fire in a nearby pinyon-juniper community, cliff fendlerbush made up 1 percent of the cover and had 6 percent frequency. Cliff fendlerbush maximum cover and frequency was not reached until almost 80 years after a pinyon-juniper fire in Mesa Verde National Park. At this time cliff fendlerbush made up 14 percent of the cover and had 48 percent frequency [7]. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Fendlera rupicola
REFERENCES : 1. Anthony, Robert G. 1976. Influence of drought on diets and numbers of desert deer. Journal of Wildlife Management. 40(1): 140-144. [11558] 2. Anthony, Robert G.; Smith, Norman S. 1977. Ecological relationships between mule deer and white-tailed deer in southeastern Arizona. Ecological Monographs. 47: 255-277. [9890] 3. 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] 4. Borland, Jim. 1989. Fendlera rupicola. American Nurseryman. 169(5): 146. [21970] 5. Dick-Peddie, W. A.; Moir, W. H. 1970. Vegetation of the Organ Mountains, New Mexico. Science Series No. 4. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University, Range Science Department. 28 p. [6699] 6. 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] 7. Erdman, James A. 1970. Pinyon-juniper succession after natural fires on residual soils of Mesa Verde, Colorado. Brigham Young University Science Bulletin. Biological Series. 11(2): 1-26. [11987] 8. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 9. 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] 10. Goodrich, Sherel. 1985. Utah flora: Saxifragaceae. Great Basin Naturalist. 45(2): 155-172. [15656] 11. Harrington, H. D. 1964. Manual of the plants of Colorado. 2d ed. Chicago: The Swallow Press Inc. 666 p. [6851] 12. Kearney, Thomas H.; Peebles, Robert H.; Howell, John Thomas; McClintock, Elizabeth. 1960. Arizona flora. 2d ed. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1085 p. [6563] 13. Kelly, George W. 1970. A guide to the woody plants of Colorado. Boulder, CO: Pruett Publishing Co. 180 p. [6379] 14. 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] 15. Pieper, Rex D.; Montoya, James R.; Groce, V. Lynn. 1971. Site characteristics on pinyon-juniper and blue grama in south-central New Mexico. Bulletin 573. Las Cruces, NM: New Mexico State University, Agricultural Experiment Station. 21 p. [4540] 16. Powell, A. Michael. 1988. Trees & shrubs of Trans-Pecos Texas including Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks. Big Bend National Park, TX: Big Bend Natural History Association. 536 p. [6130] 17. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 18. Steger, Robert E.; Beck, Reldon F. 1973. Range plants as ornamentals. Journal of Range Management. 26: 72-74. [12038] 19. 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] 20. U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2018. PLANTS Database, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (Producer). Available: [34262] 21. 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] 22. Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p. [7707] 23. Weber, William A. 1987. Colorado flora: western slope. Boulder, CO: Colorado Associated University Press. 530 p. [7706] 24. Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p. [2944] 25. Wester, David B.; Wright, Henry A. 1987. Ordination of vegetation change Guadalupe Mountains, New Mexico, USA. Vegetatio. 72: 27-33. [11167] 26. Williams, Stephen E.; Aldon, Earl F. 1976. Endomycorrhizal (vesicular arbuscular) associations of some arid zone shrubs. Southwestern Naturalist. 20(4): 437-444. [5517] 27. Wright, Henry A.; Bailey, Arthur W. 1982. Fire ecology: United States and southern Canada. New York: John Wiley & Sons. 501 p. [2620] 28. Leopold, Aldo. 1924. Grass, brush, timber, and fire in southern Arizona. Journal of Forestry. 22(6): 1-10. [5056]

FEIS Home Page