Juniper-Pinon Woodland

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1. A savanna of High Plains grassland of blue grama, black grama, buffalograss, silver bluestem, galleta, wolftail (Lycurus phleoides), and threeawns with scattered one-seed juniper (Juniperus monosperma)— Under disturbance this savanna community is often transitory to juniper-pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) woodland which may in turn increase in tree density to form a closed canopy forest over the climax mixed prairie or shortgrass plains. This latter state is afforestation, an anthropogenic woody invasion. It is one of the worst forms of range deterioration (retrogression) in North America. This massive-scale retrogression is due to numerous factors like overgrazing, fire suppression, transportation systems, and adjoining commercial and residential development. Changing climate and succession to another climax is possible, but likely does not explain the huge increases in juniper-pinyon woodland across the American West.

Note: Changes in vegetation due to cycles of changing climate was a popular concept among pioneer plant ecologists (eg. sunspot activity was a “pet” theory) a century before some contemporary climatologists and ecologists starting grandstanding and crowing about human-induced “global warming” and possible consequent modifications of vegetation.
Guadalupe County, New Mexico. July. SRM 707 (Blue Grama-Sideoats Grama-Black Grama) X SRM 412 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodlands) combination. No single FRES or Kuchler designation describes this cover type which probably covered more land than the Juniper-Pinyon Woodland Ecosystem (FRES No. 35), K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland) presented immediately below. The vegetation seen here, which again is probably representative of most of the pre-Columbian plant communities that included these conifers as associates, would be best categorized as FRES No. 38 (Plains Grasslands Ecosystem), Kuchler-58 (Gramagrass-Buffalograss), with overstory elements of FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Woodland [or Shrubland] Ecosystem), K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). Mixed grama-juniper association of New Mexico Natural Heritage Program (authors not shown; undated). Southwestern Tablelands- Central New Mexico Plains Ecoregion, 26o (Omernik and Griffith, 2006).
 

2. Pinyon pine- juniper woodland- The highest reaches of the Upper Sonoran life zone or perhaps the Transition life zone in the Capitan Mountains of southern New Mexico support this textbook example of the pinyon pine-juniper woodland. This stand on a northeast slope is probably the climax vegetation and not the woody invasion of a deteriorated mountain grassland range. In addition to pinyon pine and one-seed juniper, alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana), Gambel oak, and an occasional ponderosa pine "round out" a woodland community with a sparse understory of short- and mid-grasses.

Lincoln County, New Mexico. June. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodlands); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper). Brown et al. (1998) recognized a pinyon-juniper woodland climax only in the Great Basin biotic province hence: Piyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community.Pinyon-Juniper Series of New Mexico Natural Heritage Program (authors not shown; undated). Arizona/New Mexico Mountains- Madrean Lower Montane Woodlands Ecoeregion,, 23b (Omernik and Griffith, 2003).

 

3. Interior and soil profile of a pinyon pine-juniper woodland community here dominated by the pinyon pine as a consociation— A few one-seeded junipers are scattered throughout. Lincoln County, New Mexico. June.

FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodlands); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper). Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998). Pinyon-Juniper Series of New Mexico Natural Heritage Program (authors not shown; undated). Arizona/New Mexico Mountains- Madrean Lower Montane Woodlands Ecoeregion,, 23b (Omernik and Griffith, 2003).

 

4. Pinyon pine-juniper-bunchgrass savanna- a grass-shrub-tree savanna of Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis hymenoides)-wintrfat (Eurotia lanata)-oneseed juniper (Juniperus monosperma) within the pine-juniper belt of the Colorado Plateau. Except for a few plants of sideoats grama there was basically no other grass species in the herbaceous layer of this range plant community. The only forb of much consequence over most of this range community was the naturalized, Eurasian chenopod known as Russian thistle or, by the generic common name, tumbleweed (Salsola pestifer= S. iberica=S. kali tenuifolia). This annual weed was very prominent in this as well as the next four photographs.

This range was suffering through a prolonged drought (eleven of the last twelve years had been drought, and the current summer was a growing season of Extreme Drought). Obviously there had been sufficient soil moisture to germinate seeds of the annual Russian thistle. Likewise, the "dead tops" (straw-colored herbage) of Indian ricegrass were senesced, cool-season shoots that had been produced roughly a month to seix weeks prior to "phototransects" presented in this section. In fact, the immediately preceding cool-season (late winter through spirng) of plant growth had been a favorable one (a short reprieve from an otherwise on-going drought) as evidenced by the residue of peak standing crop.

Occurrence of Indian ricegrass as a "nearly pure" consociation (single-species stand) of semidesert grassland is the climax (potential natural) vegetation on various range sites in the Intermountain Region (see location note immediately below). The savannah form of juniper-pine woodland (= grass-shrub-juniper savanna) presented in this short section was essentially an Indian ricegrass "grassland" as a dominant herbaceous layer combined with a shrub component and scattered junipers.

Cibola County, New Mexico. Late July; summer dormancy of Indian ricegrass. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodlands); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper).Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998). Arizona/New Mexico Plateau-Semiarid Tablelands Ecoregion 22j (Omernik and Griffith, 2003).

 
Location note: examples of Indian ricegrass-dominated desert plains grassaland were included in the chapter, Semidesert Grassland.
 

5. Reassembling climax savanna- A pair of "nested "photoplots" showed physiogonomy, structure, and species composition of an Indian ricegrass-winterfat-juniper savanna that comprised a three-layer range plant community in the Colorado Plateau in the Intermountain Region. This was the potential climax vegetation (Excellent range condition class) for this range site. There were some plants of sideoats grama, but otherwise the herbaceous layer was a single-species stand--a population--of Indian ricegrass except, of course, for the annual exotic invader, Russian thistle alluded to in the preceding caption.

The junipers in this range plant community were not old-growth individuals, but these short, "squatty" trees were adults. All plant species taken together, along with structure and physiogonomy of this vegetation, comprised a "textbook example" of what most vegetation scientists like plant geographers and vegetation mappers, regarded as the pre-Columbian climax vegetation (see for eg. Kuchler, 1964, p.23). The climax was reassembling itself.

Cibola County, New Mexico. Late July; summer dormancy of Indian ricegrass. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodlands); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper).Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998). Arizona/New Mexico Plateau-Semiarid Tablelands Ecoregion 22j (Omernik and Griffith, 2003).

 

6. Principal players of a reassembly- A "photoplot" of an Indian ricegrass-winterfat-oneseed juniper savanna in the Colorado Plateau province of the Intermountain Region showing the "star phytoactors" on this range "stage". Two adults of oneseed juniper, lots of now-dormant Indian ricegrass plants, a nearly senesced ("pert-dar dead") plant of winterfat, and several young individuals of Ruussian thistle completed this "allstar cast" of range plants that made up this climax range community. Except for the Russian thistle, these plant species were re-developing the potential natural vegetation for this range site. They were reassembling what to the best of current knoledge appeared to be the pre-Columbian range vegetation. Readers were referred to Kuchler (1964, p. 23).

Cibola County, New Mexico. Late July; summer dormancy of Indian ricegrass. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodlands); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper).Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998). Arizona/New Mexico Plateau-Semiarid Tablelands Ecoregion 22j (Omernik and Griffith, 2003).

 

7. Sward (if it could be called such)- The herbaceous and shrub layers (herbacous layer and a shrub component might be more precise) of a oneseed juniper savanna in the Colorado Plateau of southwestern North America. The dominant herbaceous species was the festucoid grass, Indian ricegrass with sideoats grama being a minor--and a decreaser--species. The only shrub of any notable occurrence was winterfat. The forb was Russian thistle, a naturalized Eurasian weed.

The most cursory comparison of this "photoquadrant" with the lower vegettion in immediately preceding photographs revealed tha that there was proportionately greater cover and biomass of winterfat in this "photo-sqample" of range vegetation compared to that in the larger spatial-scale photographs. More specifically and importantly, there was substantially less cover and herbage of Indian ricegrass in this photograph. This bias (misrepresentation) was unavoidably introduced by the photographer because he wanted to shown more than one plant of winterfat yet include the two grass species as well as Russian thistle, the primcipal forb species.

Cibola County, New Mexico. Late July; summer dormancy of Indian ricegrass. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodlands); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper).Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998). Arizona/New Mexico Plateau-Semiarid Tablelands Ecoregion 22j (Omernik and Griffith, 2003).

 
For the record: As of this writing, neither of the two soil surveys for this general area of New Mexico included range site descriptions. One soil survey did show "natural communities", none of which were relevant to the range site presented immediately above. The other soil survey did have have a section on Range Management, but this publication did not include a table of range sites. That soil survey did have tables for sanitary features, building construction, windbreaks, and recreation. Nothing for range. This was unsatisfactory. This author awarded the range portion of that soil survey--which was so sorry this author refused to dignify it by designating it here--a letter grade of flat-out F. Pathetic! Tax-payers deserve better of the United States Department of Agriculture. Shameful!
 

8. Trees in a canyon or a "dendrorama"- Mesoscale perspective of a canyon landscape with pinyon pine-juniper woodland on upper heights (elevation) and ponderosa or western yellow pine (Pinus pondersosa)-interior Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) forest on lower elevational limits (deeper down; closer to bottom) of Walnut Canyon in the Colorado Plateau of northeastern Arizona.

The first of these two views was of a pinyon pine (Pinus edulis)-Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum)-Utah juniper (J. osteosperma)-one-seed juniper (J. monosperma)-shrub-bunchgrass (Bouteloua gracilis, dominant) woodland on the rim (at the top) of the canyon. Plants in immediate foreground of this view were Rocky Mountain juniper (left margin) and pinyon pine (lower right). The second of these views was from center to bottom of the canyon eith pinyon pine-juniper-grass woodland in the upper portion of the canyon wall while a ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir community was the natural vegetation from roughly midway to base of canyon. Box elder (Acer negundo) was the principal hardwood species in the western yellow pine-Douglas-fir forest with others in this natural range community being New Mexico or desert olive (Foresteria pubescens= F. neomexicana var. arizonica= F. arizonica) and hop tree (Ptelea trifoliata= P. angustifolia).

Geologica strata of Walnut Canyon was vividly pronounced with the upper (younger) geologic layer or stratum being Kaibab Limstone and the lower (older) stratum being Coconino Sandstone.

Location note: the ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir forest in Walnut Canyon was covered in Range Types of North America in the chapter entitled Southern and Central Rocky Mountain Forests.

Walnut Canyon National Monument, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July; estival aspect under ExtremeDrought so that most herbage was from preceding year. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodlands); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper). Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998p. 38). Arizona/New Mexico Plateau, Ecoeregion,, 22 (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

 

9. Two kinds of juniper- A Utah juniper (left foreground) flanked by two Rocky Mountain junipers (one to the immediate right of and another to far-left rear of Utah juniper) on a pinyon pine-juniper-bunchgrass woodland in the Colorado Plateau of northeastern Arizona. These trees were part of a climax pine-juniper-bunchgrass woodland at rim of and down roughly midway in Walnut canyon. Blue grama dominated herbaceous understorey of this range vegettion.

Walnut Canyon National Monument, Coconino County Arizona. Mid-July; estival aspect under Extreme Drought. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodlands); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper) . Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998, p. 38). Arizona/New Mexico Plateau, Ecoeregion,, 22 (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

 

10. Outward appearances- Physiogonomy, structure, and composition, of pinyon pine-juniper-shrub-bunchgrass savanna or woodland on the Colorado Plateau in northeast Arizona.. Whether this was a woodland or savanna depended on or varied with interpretation, value judgment, experience, etc. of the individual viewer. It would also vary to some degree on which part of this tree-shrub-grass community was being viewed at any given time.

Conifer species in these fields of view included pinyon pine, Utah juniper, and one-seed juniper. Some specimens of Rocky Mountain juniper grew on more mesic microhabitats on parts of this savanna range. Specific distinction of Juniperus plants was not possible in any of the photographs of this range plant community. The predominant (not necessarily the same as dominant) shrub in this range plant community was cliffrose (Cowania stansburiana= C. mexicana= Purshia stansburiana), but there were also a lot of plants of basin big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata subsp. tridentata). Specimens of this latter shrub on this upland habitat did not attain sizes more typical of this spubspecies on its preferred lowland environments. Kearney and Peebles (1960. p. 941) stated that A. tridentata "varies greatly in size according to habitat". Land seen here was certainly marginal habitat for this subspecies that typically grows on deep, fertile soils. Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa) was present on this range (= allotment), but at such a wide dispersion tht it was not encountered in any of the photographs of this range plant community. Apache plume was, in net, inconsequential in the range vegetation presented in this short section.

Blue grama was the dominant herbaceous species. Associate herbaceous species varied at local scale but consissted primarily of Arizona threeawn (Aristida arizonica) black dropseed (Sporobolus interruptus), and New Mexico feathergrass (Stipa neomexicana) which also native perennial grasses. Galleta, which was frequently to typically a co-dominant with blue grama throughout this part of the Colorado Plateau, was remarkably scarce at this location. Galleta "was conspicuous by its absence", and conspicuously so. For all practical purposes there were no forbs in the range plant community presented. Two forb species that grew in the outside fencerow adjoining this allotment were small-flower globe mallow (Sphaeralcea parvifolia= S. arizonica) and winged wild-buckwheat (Eriogonum alatum). Specimens of these two species growing in this fencerow were presented and described farther down in this section.

Two closer-in views of this same range plant community were presented in the next slide-caption set.

Coconino National Forest, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July; estival aspect under Extreme Drought so that most herbage was from preceding year. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodlands); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper) . Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998, p. 38). Arizona/New Mexico Plateau, Ecoeregion,, 22 (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

 

11. Composition of a conifer-shrub-grass savanna- Composition and structure of a pinyon pine-multi-juniper species-shrub-bunchgrass woodland or savnna (depending on viewers' interpretations) that developed on the Colorado Plateau in northeastern Arizona. These two "photoplots" were of the same range (= pasture = management unit) introduced in the immediately preceding sike-caption set.

Conifers in the first of these photographs were Rocky Mountain juniper and one-seed juniper. The second photograph had two pinyon pines along with representatives of the two Juniperus species.Although Utah juniper is typically more abundant than Rocky Mountain juniper in many pine-juniper woodlands in this area none of these single-bole (one-trunked) "cedars" were in either of these two "photoplots". Also present in the second photograph (right-center midground) was a comparatively large (and apparently a very old) plant of cliffrose. This cliffrose specimen was the subject of the "next-in-line" slide-caption unit. A few plants of basin big sagebrush appeared in both of these slides, including the larger sagebrush plant (by standards of habitat suitable for basin big sagebrush at this location) in the second slide (left-of-center foreground).

The pronounced herbaceous layer of this range vegetation was almost exclusively native eragrostoid bunchgrasses of which blue grama was the "far-and-away" dominant. Associate species varied from one local grass stand to the next, but the three most abundant secondary grasses were Arizona threeawn, black dropseed, and New Mexico feathergrass or needlegrass. There were so few plants of galleta as to make this species inconsequential at this location. The author did not find any slender wheatgrass (Agropyron trachycaulum) on this range although this cool-season, festucoid grass was fairly common on an adjoining range (see below).

There were almost no forbs on this range. A few--very few--plants of small-flower globe mallow and winged wild-buckwheat grew in the fencerow immediately outside this allotment. Examples of these two forb species in this fencerow were included shortly below.

Coconino National Forest, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July; estival aspect under Extreme Drought so that most herbage was from preceding year. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodlands); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper) . Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998, p. 38). Arizona/New Mexico Plateau, Ecoeregion,, 22 (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

 

12. An ancient one- A large and, probably, quite old plant of cliffrose or Mexicn cliffrose on a pinyon pine-multijuniper species-shrub-bunchgrass woodland (or savanna). This was the plant that was in the immediately preceding photograph (right-center midground). Several examples of Mexican cliffrose from this and an adjoining range jere shown and described below.

Coconino National Forest, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July; peak full-bloom stage of phenology.

 

Herbaceous layer- Two "photoquadrants" of the herbaceous layer of a pinyon pine-multiple-juniper species-shrub-bunchgrass woodland (or savanna given wider dispersion of individual conifers) on the Colorado Plateau. The first of these "photoquadrants" consisted of a local stand of blue grama. The second "photoplot" included the four other Gramineae species present in the understorey of this woodland (or savannah) range. Three of these grass species "traded off" locally in ranking as associate species: Arizona threeawn, black dropseed, and New Mexico feathergrass. Common squirreltail or bottlebrush squirreltail (Sitanion hystrix) was a fourth, though minor, grass species. Galleta was represented by so few plants on this range as to be "missing". The author did not encounter any plants of slender wheatgrass on this range although this cool-season, festucoid species was reasonably abundant on an adjoining range (covered below).

Almost all of the grass herbage in these slides was last year's growth due to prolonged drought. Recent "showers of blessing" (students should have already noticed the moist soil surface) had initiated "green-up" (one-third through summer) visible as outer rings of green shoots around the perimeter of these cespotose plants. Blue grama was so nearly exclusively dominant that it grew as local consociations (essentially single-species stands) across relatively large portions of this woodland (savannah) range. In other local "spots" all of the important grass species were present (as in the second photograph).

Coconino National Forest, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July; estival aspect under Extreme Drought so that most herbage was from preceding year. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodlands); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper) . Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998, p. 38). Arizona/New Mexico Plateau, Ecoeregion,, 22 (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

 

13. An adjoining and partly burnt-over range- Conterminous (contiguous) with the pinyon pine-juniper-shrub-bunchgrass woodland range described immediately above was the range featured here and in the next two slide-caption sets. This pine-juniper-shrub-bunchgrass savanna range had burnt off in a wild fire eight years ago (eight years prior to this photograph). That fire had crowned out sporatically killing a few, scattered conifers such as a large pinyon pine whose once-upon-a-time presence on this range was clearly marked by presence of its partly rotted log seen here. The range plant community on this burned-across range was noticeably different from the vegetation of the adjoining range that had not been burned by the wild fire eight years earlier. There were several plants of broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae) on this burnt-over range (eight plants visible in this photograph, at least when the slide was projected). In addition there was greater cover, density, etc. of Apache plume on the burnt range as compared to to that in vegetation on the adjacent and unburnt range.

Another difference in the plant community on the burned range was substantial cover of slender wheatgrass (Agropyron trachycaulum), a festucoid (and the only cool-season) grass, which was apparently absent from the unburned range. Of course, this author did not know species compositions of the two ranges before the fire so it was impossible to even hazard a 50:50 guess as to whether the fire had any influence on botanical make-up of the burned-over range.

Conifers were more widely scattered with less relative or absolute cover on this wild fire-"treated" range, but this situation could have been present before the fire, which obviously had killed some pinyon pines and junipers. There was more of a savanna physiogonomy on the wild fire range, but this outer appearance was limited to the majority of the range that had been subjected to fire. Isolated areas on the burnt range that had been "by-passed" by the fire had conifer canopy similar to that of the adjacent unburned range described immediately above.

Coconino National Forest, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July; estival aspect under Extreme Drought so that most herbage was from preceding year. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodlands); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper) . Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998, p. 38). Arizona/New Mexico Plateau, Ecoeregion,, 22 (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

 

14. Sward of a diffrent composition (sorta)- Herbaceous layer of a pinyon pine-multi-juniper species-shrub-bunchgrass savanna that had been been burned by wild fire eight years earlier. Herbaceous cover in the "photoplot" seen here was almost exclusively bule grama though there were some plants of black dropseed. An Extreme Drought (Palmer Scale) had been in effect until two weeks prior to the photographs shown in this short section. Students should make note (if you had not already) of the moist soil surface.

Grass green-up was in "full-swing" (a condition more easily seen in the immediately following slide). This range allotment had not been grazed by permitted cattle the preceding year so most of last year's herbage (minus disappearance due to decomposition or wildlife grazing) was still present along with current growing season's new shoots.

Coconino National Forest, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July; estival aspect under Extreme Drought so that most herbage was from preceding year. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodlands); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper) . Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998, p. 38). Arizona/New Mexico Plateau, Ecoeregion,, 22 (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

 

15. Drought-stressed line-up- After having just been in Extreme Drought (Palmer Index), grasses in the herbaceous layer of a pinyon pine-multi-juniper species-shrub-bunchgrass woodland (or savanna) range had not only survived, but were now "greening up" from recent rains about a third of the way through summer. Species in this "photoquadrant" included (left to right): two small plants of black dropseed, two adult-sized plants of black dropseed, one small plant of Arizona threeawn, and two large adult plants of blue grama, this latter species being the herbaceous dominant. (Blue grama was less dominant in this slide because the author selected a non-typical "photoplot" to be able to show viewers the major grass species in a photographic line-up.

These plants had been largely ungrazed because this range allotment had not been grazed by permitted cattle either this or the preceding year. Dead herbage (last year's shoots) or necromass was last year's production or standing crop (minus, of course, decay and disappearance by grazing wildlfe).

Viewers should have already "picked up on" the recent rain-blessed surface of this stoney soil.

Coconino National Forest, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July; estival aspect under Extreme Drought so that most herbage was from preceding year. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodlands); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper) . Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998, p. 38). Arizona/New Mexico Plateau, Ecoeregion,, 22 (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

 

16. Harsh habitat even by juniper woodland standards- Shallow, rocky, south slope on a one-seed juniper savanna in the Arizona Transition Zone. A consociation of brittlebush or incienso (Encelia farinosa) had developed on the xeric, edaphic environment of this rock outcrop range site within a one-seed juniper savanna surrounding Montezima's Well, a karst sinkhole. At least two Indian groups--the 1) Hohokam and later, 2) Northern Sinagua--had lived at this site for hundreds of years using water from the sink hole for a technologically promitive form of irrigated agriculture. Human impact on/of this naturally harsh habitat for plants site was unavoidably severe from the standpoint of the native vegetation.

Brittlebush or white brittlebush, a native subshrub composite, was doing quite well on what soil there was amid the limestone rocks that covered a high proportion of this rangeland. Associate shrubs were Engelmann's or desert pricklypear (Opuntia engelmannii), brown-spine(d) pricklypear (O. phaeacantha), catclaw, Gregg's catclaw, or tearblanket (Acacia gregii), and broom snakeweed (Gutierrzia sarothrae).

Apparetnly there has been remarkably little published with regard to brittlebush, but fortunately (and also remarkably that it got into the sole volume) Encelia farinosa got good treatment in Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories (Francis, 2004, ps. 302-306). As could be expected white brittlebush also was given coverage (brief hough it was) in Important Western Browse Plants (Dayton, 1931, ps. 164-165). The feature of brittleness oocurs when the flower-bearing shoots senesce and dry out. Dayton (1931, p.164) descriped the browse value of brittlebush as "rather low except that cattle and sheep pick off the sunflowerlike foower heads, but animals of any diescription will very seldom nibble the leaves."

The leaves of brittlebush are of two forms: 1) large, sparsely pubescent during wet seasons and 2) smaller with densr pubescence during dry perioss, (Dayton, 1931, p. 164; Francis, 2004, p.303). Natural selection in white brittlebush has resulted in its morphological adaptation to aridity and pronounced seasonal differences in soil moisture. According to the analysis in Francis (2004, p. 304) insects--both pollinators and foliage-feeders--are the animals that make most use of brittlebush as a food source. "The plants are reported to be browsed by bighorns" Kearney and Peebles, 1960, p. 904).

The light-brown or tan-colored herbage was dead (matured, grain-bearing) shoots of the naturalized, annual, red brome (Bromus rubens). Red brome (known variously as foxtail brome, foxtail chess (Gould, 1951, ps. 50-51; ) has become the exotic equivalent of cheatgrass (B. tectorum) throughout much of southwestern North America, especially in arid portions of that region. Red brome has more successfully invaded Sonoran Desert ranges (Tellman, 2002, ps. 166-171) than pinyon pine-juniper woodlands and savannahs, but this opportunistic, naturalized, Eurasian species has also invaded degraded PJ woodland ranges. Forage value of red brome is probably of Fair (at best), and this when it is still green and prior to development of panicles whose spikelets can be mildly injurious--and certainly reduce its palatability--range animals. In addition, plants of red brome are readily pulled out of the ground when grazed resulting in soil remaining on roots which further reduces acceptability of this species to grazing animals (Humphrey, 1960, ps. 31-32). He further noted that on some ranges, especially degraded ranges, red brome often produced most of the herbage available as forage. Under these conditions it was recommended that red brome "should be heavily grazed early in the spring to make maximum useof available forage before seedheads mature" (Humphrey, 1960, p. 32; redated, Ruyle and Young, 2003, p. 43).

On the plant-stressful environment of this almost assuredly degraded rock outcrop site foxtail brome provided the only herbage available as forage ro range animals. Brittlebush offered almost zero browse to range animals (even invertebrates). In addition to this dire feed situation, range vegetation had been in Extreme Drought (Palmer Scale) that had just broken with recent rain showers.

Montezuma's Well unit, Montezuma's Castle National Monument, Yavapai County, Arizona. Mid-July; estival aspect (post-maturity stage of most feed species). FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodlands); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper) . Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998, p. 38). Arizona/New Mexico Plateau, Ecoeregion,, 22 (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

 

Junipers or, sometimes among locals, cedars (Juniperus species) comprise the dominant genus of woody plants in the juniper-pinyon (pinyon pine) woodland throughout the semiarid and arid North American Southwest. There are four principal Juniperus species in the juniper-pinyon pine woodland and midgrass-shortgrass-juniper-pinyon savanna in this region. The distinction between woodland and savanna forms of this general range plant community is not typically clear, but is instead one of interpretation consistent with knowledge that tree density and crown cover is less on savanna vegetation.

Vines (1960. ps. 30-34) and Lamb (1989, ps. 96-101) provided descriptions of these Juniperus species including features of wood, except that the first author did not include J. scopulorum. J. monosperma and J. scopulorum) are on the Master List of 200 range plant species of for the Society for Range Management International Range Plant Identification Contest (Stubbendieck et al., 1992, ps. 322-325).

In this rangeman's observations across the more mesic parts of the pinyon-juniper woodland in southwestern North America the two most common junipers--and those contributing most crown cover--are one-seed juniper (J. monosperma) and Rocky Mountain juniper (J.scopulorum). The other two major Juniperus species of southwestern juniper-pinyon woodland are Utah juniper (J. osteosperma) and alligator juniper (J. deppeana). The former two Juniperus species were presented immediately below whereas the latter two appeared father down in this chapter.

 

17. One of four common kinds- A typical plant of oneseed juniper (Juniperus monosperma) seen in its general form or habit (first photograph) and branching pattern along with foliage (second photograph). Generally, this is the most abundant or common Juniperus species in southwestern parts of the Intermountain Pinyon-Juniper Woodland Type, SRM 504 (Shiflet, 1994, p.64) and SAF 239 (Eyre, 1980, p. 116), but Utah juniper has been interpreted as the dominant of this forest range type overall (Kearney and Peebles, 1961, p. 60; Eyre, 1980, p. 116).

Oneseed juniper typically develops a more bushy appearance (regardless of size) with growth of large limbs beginning on lower portions of the bole. Thus J. monosperma commonly does not have a pronounced single trunk or a more treelike (arborescent or arborous) appearance. This is in contrast to the more pronounced tree form of Utah juniper. Kearney and Peeples (1961, p. 59) described these features in this way: "...trunk almost invariably wanting, the plant spreading, with curved limbs arising at or below ground level..." In some specimens there are "several trunks" (Stubbendieck et al., 1991, p. 323).

Oneseed juniper is dioecious. The plant seen here was a female (her fleshy cones were shown in the next two slides).

Montezuma Well Unit, Montezoma Castle National Monument, Yavapai County, Arizona. Mid-July.

 

Note on equipment: These two slides and the next two sets of slide showing (or trying to show) trunk and crown of Juniperus scopulorum and the set with two specimens of Pinus edulis were slides of Provia 100F film scanned with an Epson Perfection V700 scanner in contrast to most subsequent slides of Kodachrome 64 film scanned with a Hewlett Packard. 7400C Scan Jet XPA. The difference in quality was sadly striking. While color accuracy and overall quality was much superior with Kodachrome versus Provia film, most of the difference was due to the wantonly inferior performance of the shoddy Epson scanner. After hand-scanning hundreds of slides with the Hewlet Packard scanner the author invested (his own money) in the more automatic (less hand-intensive scanning) and much faster Epson scanner. This latter turned out to be a pricey piece of junk. Color reproduction or accuracy (when the color was not "bleached out") was superior in the Epson machine, but the overly bluish coloration of the Hewlett Packard scanner was much more consistent. It was much easier and accurate to use Adobe PhotoShop to correct back to the original color (or some semblance thereof) using the Hewlett Packard Scan Jet than the Epson Perfection V700. The HP never over-scanned or bleached out part of the image the way the Epson scanner routinely did. Scanning with Epson equipment is a game of chance.

NEVER INVEST IN EPSON EQUIPMENT.

 
 

18. Samples of a one-seeded kind- Fleshy seeds or fleshy cones and needles (leaves) of one-seed juniper. These two "photo-specimens" were on the tree introduced in the two sldies of the immediately preceding slide-caption set. Oneseed juniper is dioecious. Covered cones of oneseed juniper were described by Kearney and Peeples (1961, p. 59) as being "succulent".

Montezuma Well Unit, Montezoma Castle National Monument, Yavapai County, Arizona. Mid-July.

 

19. Example of its coniferous kind- Younger specimen of Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) with less shoot and limb development (first slide) than in older trees of this species (see next slide-caption set). Typical gross morphology and foliage pattern of a younger and less developed tree of Rocky Mountain juniper or cedar (second slide) is a reflection of smaller limbs that remain closer to the basal shoot at younger ages. This pattern of growth and habit are similar to those for oneseed juniper that was described above Stubbendieck et al, 1992, ps. 323, 325). Also, both of these species are dioecious.

Coconino National Forest, Coconino County, Arizona..Mid-July.

 

20. Another example of its coniferous kind- An older tree of Rocky Mountain juniper (first slide) and representative needles and fleshy seeds or fleshy cones of this species (second slide). This older individual had greater limb development than is the case for most younger trees of Rocky Mountain junipe or cedar such as the individual presented in the immediately preceding slide-caption set. The more open crown and more sprawling habit of older trees occurs as limbs grow out from the basal bole with advancing age and mature growth form.

The fleshy cones of this Rocky Mountain juniper are brighter blue in color than those of oneseed juniper (Stubbendieck et al., 1992, ps. 323, 325). These fleshy seeds of both species are "succulent" (Kearney and Peeples, 1961, p. 59).

Walnut Canyon National Monument, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July.

 

21. Namesake dominant- Two specimens--first, erect form; second, decumbent form--of pinyon pine, Colorado nut pine, or Colorado pinyon (Pinus edulis), the dominant Pinus species of the vast pinyon pine-juniper woodland. Pinyon pines of the more upright form tyically have a single bole that does not began branching until higher up on this stem whereas pines of the "bushy" (or "bushier") habit usually have two or more main trunks or, at least, begin branching low on a single trunk (ie. close to ground level or soil surface).

Las Animas County, Colorado. August.

 

22. Pine nuts on tap- Foliage (first slide) and immature ovuliferous (female) cones (second slide) of pinyon pine in the foothills of the Southern Rocky Mountains. Las Animas County, Colorado. August.
 
Samples from the browse family: The single most valuable family of browse plants in North America is the Rosaceae (second place goes to Chenopodiaceae). The rose family on the North American continent consist of four subfamilies (Smith, 1977, ps. 148-149). Examples of each of these four subfamilies appear variously throughout Range Types of North America. Immediately below are four species of subfamily, Rosoideae that grew on juniper-pinyon pine-grass savanna and/or woodland in the southeastern Colorado Plateau in Arizona and New Mexico.
 

23. Cliff blooms above the canyon- Cliffrose (Cowania stansburiana= C. mexicana= Purshia stansburiana) growing on a Rocky Mountain juniper-cliffrose-blue grama-dominated woodland in the Colorado Plateau in northeastern Arizona.This woody species is one of the critical (and historically) critically overbrowsed shrub species in the American Southwest.Cliffrose is a critical feed plant to mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and--under improper management--a range apt to be overbrowsed by range animals ranging from deer and elk to cattle and goats.

Walnut Canyon National Monument, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July.

 

24. Rose in woodland- Several leaders in full bloom on a single plant (first slide) and several closely clustered flowers (second slide) of cliffrose growing on a juniper-shrub-grass woodland dominated Rocky Mountain juniper, one-seed juniper, cliffrose, and blue grama.

Canyon National Monument, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July; peak bloom.

 

25. Like a rose (sorta)- Flowers and young fruit of cliffrose on a juniper-shrub-grass woodland dominated by Rocky Mountain juniper, one-seed juniper, cliffrose, and blue grama. The two photogrphs presented here were on the plant shown in the immediately preceding slide-caption set. Cliffrose has received the standard treatment given to browse plants in the Far Western Range Region. These traditional sources included Dayton (1931, p. 49-50), Forest Service (1940, p. B68), Vines (1960, p. 425), Sampson and Jespersen (1963, ps. 85-86), and Lamb (1989, p. 120).

Walnut Canyon National Monument, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July.

 

26. Fern wood above the canyon- Fern-bush, tansy bush, or desert sweet (Chamaebatiaria millefolium) on a juniper-pinyon pine woodland dominated by Rocky Mountain juniper with a prominent shrub layer and an herbaceous understorey dominated by blue grama. Plants of fern-bush in this grass-woodland plant community were widely scattered, but these isolated individuals were large and vigerous.

Walnut Canyon National Monument, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July; peak bloom.

 

27. Tansy and fernisque-Surprisingly, there has been comparatively little treatment of fern-bush or tansy bush in the literature devoted to woody plants. Two Forest Service sources included Dayton (1931, p. 55) and Francis (2004, p.188-189). Tansy is a common adjective and millefolium is a scientific description applied to such finely divided leaves as on this species.

Walnut Canyon National Monument, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July; peak bloom.

 

28. Apache in the bush- Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa) in a vegetational transition belt between semidesert grassland and juniper-grass savanna to woodland in the eastern Colorado Plateau physiographic province.Discussion of Apache plume in context of utilitarian uses such as on range or natural landscaping can be found to some extent in Dayton (1931, p.50-51), Forest Service (1940, p. B77). Vines (1960, p.424-425), Lamb (1989, p.123), and Francis (2004, p.337-340).

Quick observation: This author found it revealing that almost all of the literature dealing with shrubs and browse plants, including that of the United States government, was "old" and "dated" (perhaps the prefix , "old" should have been included) with relatively few recent publications. Even some of the newer "stuff" one finds has major deficiencies in it. For instance, the Forest Service thamnic descriptions of forest and range shrubs Francis (2004) had mind-boggling omissions as, for instance nothing on cliffrose (as either Cowania stansburiana or Purshia stansburiana). In fact (though not related to pinyon pine-juniper woodlands), Francis (2004) did not even have such common eastern forest shrubs as pawpaw (Asimina triloba), shadbush or shadberry (Amelenchier arborea). Other species such as spicebush (Lindera benzoin) were mentioned but briefly and incidentially under treatment of another species. Even worse, some of the major western shrubs common on public ranges like those of the Forest Service were overlooked. A good example of this sort of glaring omission was absence of serviceberry (Amelenchier alaqlnifolia). They need to start over on that publication. Such "half-assed", "half-baked" works stand in stark contrast to the classic literature like the Range Plant Handbook (Forest Service, 1960) which was more or less limited to the 11 western-most states or Vines (1960) who limited his coverage to specific states.

Cibola County, New Mexico.Mid-July; both late-bloom and immature fruit stages of phenology.

 

29. Hopping in the cliffs- Single plant of common hop-tree or wafer-ash (Ptelea trifoliata= P. angustifolia subsp. angustifolia) growing in a transition between juniper-shrub-grass woodland and a ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir forest in the Colorado Plateau of northeastern Arizona. This was not a healthy tree (single-bole shrub). It appeared to be senescing (the crown was dying from something anyway).

This species is a member of the Rutaceae, the citrus family. Dayton (1931, p. 91) remarked that that Ptelea specis have a disagreeable odor and bitter taste so that "... livestock, under normal conditions, leave these plant alone". The common names arise from the wafer-resembling fruit that has been used as a substitute for hops for brewing beer (Dayton, 1931, p. 91). The specific epithet trifoliata is in reference to the trifoliate (three-leaflet) leaf. There are two Ptelea species in Arizona (Kearney and Peebles, 1960, p. 495) and a number of varieties of P. trifoliata (Vines, 1960, p. 592). The species range of common hop-tree cover much of North American extending from Mexico to Florida and from Quebec across to the Lakes States and south to Kansas (Vines, 1960, ps. 591-592; Gleason and Cronquist, 1991, ps. 356-357).

Walnut Canyon National Monument, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July; senescence.

 

30. Huge sample of its species- Large--an unusually large--specimen of rubber rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus) at peak flowering stage (first slide) growing on a juniper-pinyon pine-blue grama woodland range. Portions of several flowering leaders of this plant were presented in the second slide. This and several other plants of rubber rabbitbrush were in a locality that had received abundant, recent rains (while almost every other place in the region was in an Extreme Drought) resulting in an unusually luxuriant crop of flowers. C. nauseosus is the major Chrysothamnus species growing on pinyon pine-juniper woodlands and plains-mesa grasslands of the Colorado Plateau, Great Plains, and foothills of the Soouthern Rocky Mountains of northern New Mexico (Dick-Peddie1993, ps. 95, 113), the region in which these photographs were taken. According to Dick-Peddie (1993, ps. 95, 113) this is Bigelow's rubber rabbitbrush (C. nauseosus var. bigelovii= C. bigelovii)

C. nauseosus is a highly variable species with several subspecies and/or taxonomic varieties (Vines, 1960, 986). Francis (2004, p. 203) explained that the International Plant Names Index recognized 30 subspecies of C. nauseosus!. Economic value of rubber rabbitbrush is like that of any weedy or sometimes-weedy species: "good" or "bad" depending on ecological conditions, maanagement goals and value judgments of people making the determinations. Rubber rabbitbrush colonizes disturbed sites and can become dominant with repeated fire (it is a sprouting species) and overgrazing (Francis, 2004, p. 204) which are features of ruderal and r-selected species. Lamb (1989, p. 40) remarked that most Chrysothamnus species are indicators of overgrazing but that rubber rabbitbrush can be a valuable broswe plant for mule deer. Stubbendieck et al. (1992, p. 247) summarized that rubber rabbitbrush was worthless to poor browse for livestock and only fair for deer (on winter range) with heavy cover of this plant indicative of poor range manageament. Dayton (1931. ps. 160-161) specified that rubber rabbittbrush had a disagreeable flavor to browsing animals so that palatability rangead from low down to zero with the result that this species was an indicator of overgrazing. Forest Service (1940, p. B57) explained that rubber rabbitbrush was lightly broswed on winter ranges but that not much use was made of it except under overgrazing where this species had replaced more palatable range plants.

Torrance County, New Mexico. Mid-July.

 

31. Rubber (and sometimes of high grade)- Inflorescences of rubber rabbitbrush presented at scale of entire portion of flowering limb or leader (first photograph) and cluster of individual flowrs (second photograph). These flowering units were on a large plant growing on juniper-pinyon pine-blue grama woodland. Apparently flowers of rubber rabbitbrush (and, even more rarely, upper, younger leaves) are about the only parts of this shrub that are eaten by livestock, although all livestock species will browse this species (Dayton, 1931, p. 160, 161; Forest Service, 1940, B57).

Torrance County, New Mexico. Mid-July.

 

32. Rubbery flowers- Details of floral units of rubber rabbitbrush from a side view (first slide) and topdown view (second slide). Rubber rabbitbrush was aptly named as it does have "rubber of high grade that vulcanizes readily and which has been named chrysil" (Dayton, 1931, p. 161). Francis (2004, p. 204) noted this rubber content can be as high as six percent in some shoots with as much as twenty percent resin, but it is only a small source of commercial rubber (Stubbbendieck et al., 1992, p. 247). As seen from these slides rubber rabbitbrush can present a striking aspect to the range landscape.

Torrance County, New Mexico. Mid-July.

 

33. Two browse familes represented- Leaders (woody shoots) of a male winterfat plant (left) and of a rubber rabbitbrush (right) on a pinyon pine-juniper-shrub- bunchgrass (blue grama dominant) woodland range in the Pecos Section, Great Plains physiographic province. This side-by-side showing portrayed two of the most important plant families across the immense Western Range Region. Winterfat, an extremely palatable shrub species, is in the saltbush family (Chenopodiaceae), the second-most (to Rosaceae, the rose family) important family of browse plants in North America. Rubber rabbitbrush is in the aster or sunflower family (Compositae), species-wise the largest range plant family in North America. Winterfat, like many members of the Chenopodiaceae, is a dioecious species (see, again, above).

Torrance County, New Mexico. Mid-July; full-bloom stage both species. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodlands); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper). Brown et al. (1998) recognized a pinyon-juniper woodland climax only in the Great Basin biotic province hence: Piyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community.Pinyon-Juniper Series of New Mexico Natural Heritage Program (authors not shown; undated). Southwestern Tablelands-Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands and Savannas Ecosystem 26h (Omernik and Griffith, 2003).

 

34. Ovuliferous gymnosperm- Two views of a female plant of Mormon tea or green jointfir (Ephedra viridis) growing in the Arizona Transition Zone (general regional zone between the Colorado Plateau and Basin and Range physiographic provinces). This species grows in semidesert grassland, juniper-pinyon pine woodlands, and montane forests such as those of the ponderosa pine type (habitat types). It is perhaps the pinyon-juniper woodland and savannahs that support the most consistent cover and populations of green jointfir.

Ephedra is in the Gymnospermae, the naked seed-bearing class of phylum Spermatophyta. Ephedra species are dioecious with male and female sexes--staminate or ovuliferous cones--being on separated plants (each genetic plant is either male or female).

Ephedra species provide minimal browse for livestock and wildlife, usually limited to times of skimpy range feed such as with snow cover, drought, or depleted ranges, but Dayton (1931, p. 12) stated that E. viridis was "...rather important fall and winter cattle browse in some potions of the southern Great Basin region...". Standard references for Ephedra viridis from a range plant perspective included Dayton (1931, p.12), Forest Service (1940, pB73), Vines (1960, p. 39), Lamb (1989, ps. 52-53), and Francis (2004, ps. 310-313).

Montezoma Well unit of Montezoma Castle National Monument, Yavapai County, Arizona. Mid-July; phenological state of full development of ovuliferous cones.

 

35. Closer look at a female and her organs- Interior of the female plant introduced immediately above (first photograph) and distal end of leader or branch on this plant with one opened ovulate strobolis and several unopened strobolii or cones (second photograph). Leaves of Ephedra species are reduced to scales, some of which could barely be discerned in the second slide.

Montezoma Well unit of Montezoma Castle National Monument, Yavapai County, Arizona. Mid-July; phenological state of full development of ovuliferous cones.

 

36. Group of female organs- Goups of ovuliferous or ovulate cones or strobilii in green jointfir or Mormon tea. These stroboli or cones were on the same plant that introduced this shrub species.

The common name of Mormon tea was derived from the sometimes custom of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) making a beverage from shoots of Ephedra species. On a few occasions your author drank a brew of "tea" made from Ephedra species he found on western ranges. On none of these unfortunate occasions was the steeped concuction fit to drink beyond getting water, the flavor of which was ruined by the "sappy, weedy" taste of this gymnosperm. Based on historical accounts of hardships and disasters encountered by the westward-treking Mormons it would seem that drinking a "beverage" of Ephedra-derived Mormon tea was the least of their problems. (I hope that the honey being made from this plant [note the female worker of Apis mellifera in the first slide] taste better than the tea I had from its shoots.)

Montezoma Well unit of Montezoma Castle National Monument, Yavapai County, Arizona. Mid-July; phenological state of full development of ovuliferous cones.

 
 

37. Datiling under the junipers- Datil, bananna, blue yucca, or Spanish bayonet (Yucca baccatga) growing in a small local colony inRocky mountain juniper-dominated woodland in a ceeply incised canyon in the Colorado Plateau. These plants or, as was likely, offshoots (clonal or modular units) were bearing fruit, the type of which in Yucca species is capsule.

This Yucca species is widely distributed throughout the arid and semiarid zones of southwestern North America from northern Mexico, Trans Pecos Texas west to California and north to Colorado (Vines, 1960, p. 53). Good, though brief, descriptions along with keys, including of taxonomic varieties, were offered by McMinn (1939, p. 50), Kearney and Peebles (1960, p. 187), Vines (1960, ps. 52-53), and Powell (1988, p. 60-61). Kearney and Peebles (1960, p. 187) described blue or bananna yucca as being acaulescent (lacking an obvious shoot or bole) or with only short, procumbent stems.

All the above authors interpreted datil or bananna yucca as a shrub. The common name of bananna yucca apparently was derived from the capsules which as described by Powell (1988, p. 60) are "...edible, large banannalike fruits" for which this species is "particularly notable". Of course the various Indians tribes living in the vast biological range of this species were forced to eat "about any- and everything" in this "root hog or die", "hard scramble" country.

Walnut Canyon National Monument, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July; fruit-ripening phenological stage. .

 

38. Blue fruit in the PJ woodland- Specimen of black elderberry, blueberry elder, blackberry elder (Sambucus nigra subsp. caerulea= S. aoerulea= S. glauca ) in the understorey of a southwestern coniferous woodland dominated by Rocky mountain juniper with pinyon pine as the associate species. Good references for this species from a native range plant perspective included Dayton (1931, ps. 147-148), Forest Service 1940, p.B145), Vines (1960, p. 945), Sampson and Jespersen (1963, ps. 133-134), and Lamb (1989, ps. 64-65). Other than the ripe fruit value of this species as a browse is limited due to comparatively low palatability though this varies from season-to-season (Forest Service, 1940, p.B145; Sampson and Jespersen ,1963, ps. 133-134). In addition, plants of blueberry elder are typically rather "few and far between".

Walnut Canyon National Monument, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July.

 

39. Leaves and fruits of elder member- Details of leaves and clusters of fruit (first slide) and of a leaflet and fruit cluster (second slide). Fruit type of Sambucus species is a berry-resembling drupe.

Walnut Canyon National Monument, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July.

 

40. White flowers make for blue drupes- Inflorescence, a corymb, of blueberry elder or black elderberry. Sambucus species have long been assigned to the Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle family) though some authorities intepret the Sambucus genus as more closely related to Viburnum such that Sambucus would be in a unigeneric family of Sambucaceae (Diggs et al. (1999, p. 510).

Walnut Canyon National Monument, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July.

 

41. Redcone confusion- Large specimen of redcone mahonia or redcone hollygrape (Mahonia haematocarpa= Berberis haematocarpa) in a transition range community between lower pinyon pine-juniper woodland and upper elevation of Sonoran Desert. Taxonomists cannot agree if members of this genus that are in the Berberidaceae should be designated as Mahonia or Berberis species.Some authors including Vines (1960, p. 270) used Mahonia while other like Kearney and Peebles (1960, ps. 320-321) used Berberis. Still yet, other (generally older authors), including Wooton and Standley, (1915, p. 259) and Tidestrom (1913, p. 215), employed the genus name of Odostemon. Kearney and Peebles (1960, p. 320 interpreted Mahonia as a subgenus of Berberis. Francis (2004) in what should be the official from the United States Department of Agriculture (but which omitted most of these Berberidaceae species) used Mahonia giving Berberis as a synonymous genus. Perhaps Mahonia was elevated from subgenus to genus.

Anyway this--and the subsequent-- species of the barberry family grow in both the Sonoran Desert and the P-J woodland but perhaps more so the woodland type.This specimen was not bearing fruit. It is often one of the larger and, locally, more important shrubs of the pinyon pine-juniper woodland. The fruit of this species makes outstanding jelly (Kearney and Peebles,1960, p. 320) and thus undoubtedly serves as favorite fare for certain animals.

Montezoma Well unit of Montezuma Castle National Park, Yavapai County, Arizona. Mid-July.

 

42. In the trek of Fremon- Specimen of Fremont's mahonia, Fremont's barberry, or Fremont's holygrape (Mahonia fremontii= Berberis fremontii) growing on a Rocky Mountain juniper-dominated woodland just below the ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forest zone. This specific epithet is obviously a commemorative name after the famed scout (and astute politicial) John C. Fremont. There is no more lasting tribute than having an organism named after one, at least until the bloody taxonomists decide that such name did not have botanical standing. Probably better to have a mountain named after you. No, come to think of it politicians can (and do) change that.

At any rate this is another of the Mahonia, Odostemon, or Berberis species common in the arid and semiarid southwestern North America.

Walnut Canyon National Monument, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July.

 

43. Fremont's botanical footprint- Leaders with characteristic leaves (first slide) and fruit (second slide) of Fremont's mahonia. The fruit of the Berberis or Mahonia species is a few-seeded berry Kearney and Peebles (1960, p. 320). Berries in the second slide were immature and had not attained their characteristic darker blue coloration.

Range Plant Handbook (Forest Service, 1940, p. B99) treated all of the Odostemon, Mahonia, or Berberis species together giving but one paragraph to the species of the Southwest where it was noted that these are known generally as algerita, agarita, or agrillo. According to this source cattle, horses, and deer make use of the browse of agarita only in winter and under sparse feed conditions.

Walnut Canyon National Monument, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July.

 

44. Namesake tree- Young tree of Arizona walnut or Arizona black walnut (Juglans major= J. rupestris) growing on a mesic microsite within the pinyon pine-juniper woodland of Walnut Canyon of the Colorado Plateau of northeastern Arizona. Good descriptions of this species were provided by Sargent (1933, ps. 172-173) and Vines (1960, p. 125), and Lamb (1989, p.152). Peattie (1953, ps. 367-368) presented a colorful though narrative of this species noting that it had a life span often extending three or four centuries.

Sinagua Indians who built dwellings on and under ledges of limestone cliffs obviously put the nuts of this species to good use (as they did most plants including various roots). The fruit of Arizona black walnut is somewhat smaller than the more widely distributed eastern black walnut (J. nigra), but the tree and nut are of J. major are very similar to those of J. nigra.

Canyons are not the predominant land form of the pinyon pine-juniper woodland, but these drainage areas are valuable parts of these woodland ranges serving as corridors of plants as well as animals in the landscapes on which the juniper-pine range type develops.

Walnut Canyon National Monument, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July.

 

45. Fruit and foliage in the canyon- Leaves and still-growing nut of Arizona black walnut in a favorable microsite on the cliff of a canyon along which a pinyon pine-juniper woodland had developed. These organs were on the tree that was presented in the preceding slide-caption set.

Walnut Canyon National Monument, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July.

 

46. Not exactly typical- About half-eaten leaves and sparse ray flowers made for a less than characteristic representative specimen of hairy golden aster or hairy false goldenaster (Chrysopsis villosa= Heterotheca villosa). So noted this individual was in the understorey of a juniper two-needle--pinyon pine woodland on upper levels of Walnut Canyon. Heads on this native perennial are borne in cymes or corymbs (Stubbendieck et al., 1992, p. 245). There was spent head below the two now-flowereing heads. This subshrub species is another of the widespread composites with a biological range from central Mexico to northern Alberta across to Manitoba and across the Plains, Intermountain, and Rocky Mountain States. As would be expected from wuch a widely distributed species, there is tremendous vriation both phenotypically and genetically (ecotypes) in hairy goldaster (Forest Service, 1940, p. W51).

Hairy golden-aster is in the aster tribe (Asterae) and is on the Society for Range Management list of 200 species for the International Range Plant Identification Contest (Stubbendieck et al., 1992, p. 244-245). In the Range Plant Handbook (Forest Service, 1940, p. W51) hairy golden-aster was described as being "practically worthless" as livestock feed but having "fair palatability for sheep" on desert ranges.

The color of petals in the second slide is the correct color. An Epson Perfection (far from perfection by the way) 700V scanner totally messed up the first slide which was scanned immediately (and just minutes) before the correct-color second slide.

The dipteran species helping itself to nectar was a dance fly (Empis poplifea).

Walnut Canyon National Monument, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July.

 

47. Wooly prairie-clover (Dalea lanata var. terminalis= Parosela lanata)-This plant and several others of this species were growing intermixed with plants of Dalea candida var oligophylla on concave land surface microsites in a climax juniper savanna of Juniperus monosperma,Oryzopsis hymenoides, and Eurotia lanata in the Colorado Plateau physiographic province.

Cibola County, New Mexico. Late July; and peak-bloom stage for sure.

 

48. White prairie-clover (Dalea caudida var. oligophylla= Petalostemon oligophyllus)-. This plant and several others of this species were growing intermixed with plants of Dalea lanata var. terminalis on concave land surface microsites in a climax juniper savanna of Juniperus monosperma,Oryzopsis hymenoides, and Eurotia lanata in the Colorado Plateau physiographic province.

Cibola County, New Mexico. Late July; and no question but that it was at full-bloom stage..

 

49. Mallowed-out- A large, but still (at this point in the growing season) strictively vegetative plant of small-flower globe mallow (Sphaeralcea parvifolia= S. arizonica) on an upland and xeric south slope in a pinyon pine-juniper woodland dominated by Rocky Mountain juniper. There are numerous Sphaeralcea species in the grasslands, pine-juniper woodlands, and forests of southwestern North America. Identification (distinction) among these can be challenging. Kearney and Peebles (1960, ps. 540-547) provided keys to and descriptions for 16 Sphaeralcea species in Arizona. Ivey (2003, ps. 325-328) furnished detailed line drawings of 12 Sphaeralcea species found in New Mexico.

The large deltoidlike leaves of small-flower globe mallow (second slide) are pretty much a "dead-ringer" identifiction feature. These leaves were more glabrous than was typical (see slides immediately below). This specimen as was case for one in the next slide-caption set had been suffering through (and surviving) an Extraordinary Drought (Palmer Scale).

Walnut Canyon National Monument, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July- prebloom phenological stage.

 

50. Mallowing beneath the junipers- A sparsely foliated and sparingly blooming plant (first slide) and inflorescence of three fully opened flowers (second slide) of small-flower globe mallow, the most common forb on a bunchgrass-juniper woodland in the Colorado Plateau during an Extraordinary Drought that had broken one week prior to time of these photographs. This specimen was growing about six miles from the pre-bloom specimen shown in the immediately preceding slide-caption set. The short, dense pubescence on leaf surfaces (second slide) that gives leaves a whitish or grayish color (Kearney and Peebles, 1960, p. 546) is more typical than the more glabrous leaves shown in the preceding (immediately above) specimen.

A slightly woody base and persistent dead shoots give small-flower globe mallow an appearance, at least, of being suffruticose (somewhat or slightly shrubby; Kearney and Peebles [1960, p. 1004]) plant.

Coconino National Forest, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July; peak-bloom (or as close as this one was going to get to it) phenological stage.

 

51. Another mallowed one- Big and showy in a dry country- Desert-mallow, apricot-mallow or desert globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) growing on semidesert grassland (first slide) and on Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum)-dominated bunchgrass-woodland (more of a savanna) in the Colorado Plateau. Kearney and Peebles (1960, p. 543) remarked that apricot globemallow is the most xerophytic species (out of a total of 16 species) of Spaeralcea in Arizona. The current author observed that it also a species well-adapted to a wide array of habitats (albeit all of them xeric environments) ranging from lower ponderosa pine forest to semidesert grassland to desert scrub. For example, these same specimens were included with semidesert grassland where they were described as being "big and showy in a dry counry".

S. ambigua is best described as being suffrutescent ("slightly woody toward base, barely shrubby" ) to sufruticose ("somewhat or slightly shrubby") in that plants have a woody base from which arise numerous (up to 100 or more) shoots many bearing large inflorescences with some of the largest flowers of any Sphaeralcea species (Kearney and Peeples, 1960, ps. 543, 1004). An example of this impressive flower cluster was presented immediately below. Add to the notable morphology of this species its broad distribution in varied dry habitats and it is a "damned impressive" range forb. And by the way, both of the specimens presented here had made their growth under prolonged Extreme to Exceptional Drought (Palmer Index).

Palatability of this species to range animals was not known to this author.

First slide: Petrified Forest National Park, Coconino County, Arizona Mid-July ; early bloom phenological stage. Second slide: Cibola County, New Mexico, Late July; peak-bloom phenological stage.

 

52. Showy single rack- Spectacular flower cluster of desert or apricot globmallow produced on a Rocky Mountain juniper-bunchgrass savanna or woodland in the Colorado Plateau and, incidentially, under conditions of Extreme to Exceptional Drought (Palmer Scale). This inflorescence was a thyrse or thyrsoid panicle, "a more or less contracted panicle with the main axis indeterminate and the ultimate flower clusters cymose" (Kearney and Peebles, 1960, ps. 543, 1004). The adjective "apricot" apparently was in reference to the color of petals which vary from mauve- through apricot- to grenadine-coloration (Kearney and Peebles, 1960, p. 543).

This inflorescence was one of several growing on the specimen presented in the second slide in the preceding slide-caption set.

Cibola County, New Mexico. Late July; peak-bloom stage.

 

53. Wings on the rocks- A plant of wing (winged) wild-buckwheat (Eriogonum alatum) growing on a juniper-pinyon pine-bunchgrass savanna in the Colorado Plateau. The wild-buckwheats comprise one of the species-rich genera of range dicots in the Intermountain West. Kearney and Peebles (1960, ps. 230-243) provided a key to and descriptions (very brief ones) of 57 Eriogonum species in Arizona.Some of these species are shrubs or subshrubs while others are forbs.

Winged wild-buckwheat is a forb species with a biological range from Nebraska through Oklahoma and Texas to Utah and Arizona on range types from semiarid grasslands thruogh ponderosa pine forests up to subalpine forests. Hermann (1966, p. 67) reported that wing wild-buckwheat has Fair forage value for sheep and goats, but "is seldom touched by cattle".

The common name of wing wild-buckwheat was derived from presence of three wings on its fruit, an achene (Hermann, 1966, p. 67).

Coconino National Forest, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July; peak-bloom

 

54. Rosette amid rocks- Shoot base of the wing wild-buckwheat plant introduced in the preceding photograph. Basal leaves of wing wild-buckwheat form a rosette (or rosette-like tuft) out of which extends a nearly leafless, stalked shoot which, when plants progress to the sexual stage, forms a panicle as shown in the next slide ...

(Coconino National Forest, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July; peak-bloom stage.

 

55. Winged in the woodland- Most of the inflorescenceof the wing wild-buckwheat plant that was shown in the immediately two slide-caption sets. If any part of this forb is consumed by livestock or wildlife it iw usually outer edges of the tops (Hermann, 1966, p. 67). This plant was growing on a Rocky Mountain juniper-bunchgrass (blu;e grama)-dominated savanna.

Coconino National Forest, Coconino County, Arizona. Mid-July; peak-bloom

 

56. The classic pinyon-juniper zone of the Intermountain West— In addition to the pinyon pine, Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) is the co-dominant conifer.Rocky Mountain juniper (J. scopulorum) is a minor but well- represented member of this community.The conspicuous light-green deciduous trees are Rocky Mountain maple (Acer glabrum). Grasslands and/or shrublands often occur interspersed among P-J woodlands as seen here. The rimrock land form is a picturesque feature of Basin and Range and Rocky Mountain physiographic provinces as here in the Wasatch Range. Transition life zone of C. Hart Merriam.

Cache National Forest, Cache County, Utah. July. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 412 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper). Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998). Wasatch and Unita Mountains- Semiarid Foothills Ecoregion, 19f (Woods et al., 2001).

 
57. Interior of P-J woodland seen in the previous scene— Understory grasses include blue grama, Indian ricegrass, western wheatgrass, galleta, and muhleys (Muhlenbergia spp.). Cache National Forest. Cache County, Utah. July. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper- Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 412 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper). Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998). Wasatch and Unita Mountains- Semiarid Foothills Ecoregion, 19f (Woods et al., 2001).
 
58. Edge of the P-J woodland and adjoining grassland seen in two preceding shots— Rocky Mountain maple is conspicuous. In addition to forbs, herbs include the dominant grasses blue grama, bluebunch and western wheatgrassses, and galleta. Cache National Forest. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper- Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 412 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper). Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998). Wasatch and Unita Mountains- Semiarid Foothills Ecoregion, 19f (Woods et al., 2001).
 
59. The co-dominants of the Intermountain P-J woodland type: pinyon pine (l.) and Utah juniper (r.). Big sagebrush dominates the understory but western wheatgrass and blue grama also are well-represented. The three main layers of this range type are obvious. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper- Pinyon Pine Woodland). SRM 412 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland); SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper). Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998).
 

60. Single-leaf pinyon pine (Pinus monophylla)- Single-leaf or one-leaf pinyon is a widely distributed "nut" or "stone" pine with a biological range from northern Mexico to southern Idaho. It is especially "happy" to reside over much of southern California from the east-side pine type throughout both the Mojave and Sonoran Desert Regions.

The individual single-leaf pinyon preented here was growing in Riverside California along the famed Palms to Pines Drive, California State Route 74. What a wonderful route along which to study the Life Zones of C.Hart Merriam and restore one's soul. Highly recommended and happy motoring. June.

 
61.  Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) woodland- This is probably climax (potential natural) vegetation. On this shallow, rock outcrop slope there is likely not enough fuel in the herbaceous understory to carry fire hot enough to crown out and kill the juniper. Dominant understory species is little ricegrass (Oryzopsis micrantha). Mountain big sagebrush (Artemesia tridentata var. vaseyana) dominates an intermediate woody (shrub) layer having mountain mahogany and skunkbush sumac as associate species. Pfister et al. (1977, p. 123) interpreted such pure  stands of J. scopulorum as “a northern extension of the Great Basin ‘pinyon/juniper’ zone”. 

FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland [Woodland] Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). SAF 220 (Rocky Mountain Juniper). No SRM really fits. Brown et al. (1998) recognized a pinyon-juniper woodland (series, fifth level) only for Great Basin. Soil Conservation Service mapping unit #50 for Foothills and Mountains in Montana, Rocky Mountain Juniper and Limber Pine on Shallow Soils (Frigid Temperature Regime) range site (Huntrer and Ross, 1976, p. 31). Jeffrson County, Montana. June. Middle Rockies- Elkhorn Mountains-Boulder Batholith Ecoregion, 17ai (McGrath et al. 2001).

 
62.  Rocky Mountain cedar or juniper woodland- The large size and “old-age” appearance of trunks of these conifers suggest that they (or at least a high portion of them) predate the understandable but misdirected fire exclusion policy of the white man. As noted in the preceding panoramic view, sparsity of ground cover of the native little ricegrass suggest that fire of severity (especially intensity and frequency) enough to reduce or eliminate juniper cover is unlikely. Conversely, the shrub layer of scattered mountain big sagebrush, mountain mahogany, and skunkbush sumac could fuel hot fires. Either way, however, the Rocky Mountain juniper/little ricegrass community was interpreted on the Montana Pre-settlement Vegetation Classification Outline (Montana Natural Heritage Program, 1988) as a “plant association” which “implies a climax type”. Clements (1920, ps. 197-199) recognized a Pinus-Juniperus Association  (the Clementsian association was of course climax). He noted that J. scoplorum had the most northern distribution and was the least xeric of western Juniperus species and that it “usually makes its best growth in moist canyons” (Clements, 1920, p. 199). The preference for this habitat is seen clearly in this photograph.

This Rocky Mountain juniper community was treated herein as a climax range type and not as a seral stage of woody invasion indicating range retrogression, but it must be emphasized that seemingly limitless research findings clearly show that the J-P Woodland Type has expanded greatly since the white man frontier and settlement periods. See for example the many symposia, field day and technical reports, etc. devoted (perhaps all out of proportion to relative importance) to this range cover type (eg. Aldon and Springfield, 1973; Utah State University, 1975; Springfield, 1976; Martin et al., 1978; Tueller et al., 1979; Everett, 1987; Oregon state University and Agricultural Research Service, 1999; Society for Range Management, 2000). The expansion of juniper-pinyon woodlands that can be traced to human mismanagement through overgrazing, fire exclusion, farming activities, commercial traffic, etc. is range deterioration. In this ecological state of severe departure from potential natural vegetation proper management of natural resources must include— first of all— control of the existing juniper-pinyon brush problem and prevention of further invasion/expansion of these species at populations that constitute range deterioration and create noxious range plant problems.

FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland [Woodland] Ecosystem). K- 21(Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). SAF 220 (Rocky Mountain Juniper). Soil Conservation Service mapping unit #50 for Foothills and Mountains in Montana, Rocky Mountain Juniper and Limber Pine on Shallow Soil (Frigid Temperature Regime) (Hunter and Ross, 1976, p. 31). Jefferson County, Montana. June. Middle Rockies- Elkhorn Mountains-Boulder Batholith Ecoregion, 17ai (McGrath et al. 2001).

 

63.  Rocky Mountain cedar or Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum)- Dinosaur National Monument, Unita County, Utah. June.

 
64. Leader with fleshy seeds of Rocky Mountain juniper- Dinosaur National Monument, Unita County, Utah. June.
 
65. Mountain big sagebrush- Jefferson County, Montana. June.
 
66. Leader tips of mountain big sagebrush- Jefferson County, Montana. June.
 

67. Little ricegrass- Jefferson County, Montana. June.

 
Western Juniper Savanna
 

Western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) woodland (actually, savanna)- The next five photographs were the first of a set of a set that provided viewers with a textbook example of pristine potential natural vegetation of a western juniper-dominated (at least, defining) range plant community. This was the savanna form of a western juniper woodland designated and described by Franklin and Dyrness (1973, p. 163-167) as the Juniperus occidentalis zone that they interpreted as "the northwestern representation of the Pinyon-Juniper zone" of the Great Basin and that "is generally a savanna zone" (Franklin and Dyrness, 1973, p. 163). The definitive reference for western junipr as a species, especially in an ecological context is Miller et al. (2005); a fine treatise on this major Juniperus species.

This range vegetation was in the Harney section of the Columbia Plateau physiographic province (Fenneman, 1931, ps. 237, 272-273) that corresponded closely with the High Lava Plains physiographic and geologic province of Franklin and Dyrness, 1973, ps. 6, 32-34). This savanna vegetation consisted of local plant communities with varying density and cover of western juniper, big sagebrush (Artemesia tridentata), low sagebrush (A. arbuscula), rabbitbrush (mostly Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus), bluebunch wheatgrass (Agropyron spicatum), Junegrass (Koeleria ciristata), Sandberg bluegrass (Poa secunda= P. sandbergia), squirrettail bottlebrush (Sitanion hystrix), and small amounts of Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis), a more mesic and restricted species on these sites. For whatever reason(s) cheatgrass or downy brome (Bromus tectorum) was present only in trace amounts (almost absent). This paucity of cheatgrass might have been due to growing conditions in this particular year because cheatgrass was also present in only small amounts throughout much of the greater area in which this vegetation grew. Perennial grasses were well-represented and locally abundant (see photographs below.) A Pinus species was absent from this vegetation as is typical for the Juniperus ocidentalis Zone except in areas of the Pinus ponderosa-Juniperus occidentalis transition (Franklin and Dyrness, 1973, p. 164) where isolated ponderosa pine sometimes occur in western juniper savanna or woodland communities or western juniper mixed with ponderosa pine and Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi) at higher elevations (Eyre, 1980, ps. 115-116).

Vegetation of this conifer, shrub, bunchgrass savanna was NOT part of the Great Basin Desert. It was not even a northern "island" of the Great Basin Desert almost all of which is in the Basin and Range province described by Fenneman (1931). Politically correct-- and misleading-- names like Northern Great Basin Experimental Range (for the former Squaw Butte Experimental Range) notwithstanding, the examples presented below were not in the Basin and Range province. It should be emphasized here (and in the sections of Shrub Steppe, Grasslands, and Great Basin Desert, Shrublands) that major units of vegetation do not coincide perfectly with physiographic provinces. For example, "islands" of the Great Basin Desert extend north of the Basin and Range province. Again, however, vegetation shown here was not part of the Great Basin or Great Basin Desert. Rather, this Columbia Plateaus vegetation was ecotonal between ponderosa pine forest and the sagebrush (shrub)-bunchgrass steppe. Commonality of some species (eg. big sagebrush) to all these zonal vegetation units demonstrated the affinity among them.

Climate of the western juniper savanna is semiarid with a summer typically dry enough to be viewed as a seasonal drought. Some range sites (eg. those dominated by low sagebrush) are functional "edaphic deserts" while other sites are moist, north slopes being a common example. There are numerous (at least 11) assocations and variants within the Juniperus occidentalis Zone, some of which were "interpreted as constituting topoedaphic climax associtions" (Franklin and Dyrness, 1973, p. 165). Some of these communities occur in close proximity to each other, at small (almost microsite) scale, and without obvious ecotones among them. (Examples were presented below.)

One of the most widespread, long-term, and serious brush (noxious woody plants) invasion problems on the Western Range Region of North America has been the insidious development of natural pinyon-juniper (PJ) woodlands and savannas into unnatural forests (closed canopy PJ communities) that eventually exclude most of the other native species, often including even the sagebrush species. Like all brush problems this is a complex ecological and managerial problem with multiple causes including-- in no order of importance-- overgrazing, underburning, urban sprawl, commercial and transportation, mining, and, likely, substantive climatic shifts of unknown origin(s).

This horrendious brush problem (actually it is many problems in several regions) extends from the Columbia Plateau eastward into the Ozark Mountains with several Juniperus species creating noxious and unnatural afforestation problems. The increase in J. occidentalis is but one such problem.

The first five photographs following immediately below were an example of a virgin and climax western juniper savanna range that was intended to serve as a "pictorial benchmark" of what such a native range community "should look like". This example was included to serve as a "point of departure". Vegetation differing greatly from the physiognomy, species composition, structure, etc. of this climax western juniper-big sagebrush-bunchgrass savanna (depending of course on range site) is some degree of retrogression, that is some state of range deterioration (= range depletion). Most of this retrogression had as the major symptom-- if not the immediate major cause-- the phenomenal increase in cover and density of western juniper. This unnatural and likely human-caused increase of a native and highly desirable conifer far beyond that of proper management of the range resources remains-- in fact, is becoming a greater-- problem that threatens the integrity of this range ecosystem.

Examples of such retrogression-- an ecological disaster in the offing-- were presented after introduction of the presumed state of virgin vegetation (or nearly so) for comparative purposes.

Examples of depleted western juniper savanna or, perhaps even woodland, range that were due primarily to afforestation of grasslands, savannas, and woodlands by western juniper were followed by an example of elimination of the problem by fire. Take note, learn the lesson, and then apply it!

 

68. Climax western juniper savanna- The western juniper-defined range vegetation presented in this and the next four pohotgraphs exemplified some of the climax communities recognized by Franklin and Dyrness (1973, ps. 165-167). This and the immediately succeeding slide were the climatic climax community, the Juniperus/Artemesia/Agropyron association (Frankin and Dyrness,m 1973, p. 165). The overall or general dominant shrub was big sagebrush (usually Wyoming big sagebrush {A. tridentata sub. wyomingensis), but there small range sites ( often microsites) dominated by low sagebrush. In a similar pattern bluebunch wheatgrass (eg. green bunches in lower right corner) was the general dominant herb with local dominance of Junegrass or Sandberg bluegrass. Forbs were absent with composites being represented by shrubs (sagebrush and rabbitbrush).

In this slide (and the rest of plant community scale slides below) physiognomy and structure of vegetation should be noted. This was the classic savanna pattern, of both trees and shrubs. Most western juniper were old-growth specimens (this characteristic was detailed below), but there was juniper regeneration adequate for maintenance of this defining species.

Range vegetation shown in this photograph and the succeeding five photographs (all six taken at plant community scale) was an example of relict vegetation or simply a relict, "a remnant or fragment of the climax plant community that remains from a former period when it was more widely distributed" (Jacoby, 1989; Bedel, 1998). Relict vegetation is priceless for several purposes, but the relevant one in regard to range types and range sites is to serve as a reference with which to compare existing vegetation for purposes of determining ecological, successional, etc. status of the present vegetation. The relict serves as a reference area, an area in which "natural biological and physical porocesses are allowed to occur unhindered" such that "a standard is established against which the effects of human intervention in the natural environment can be evaluated" (Laycock, 1975, p.4). Reference areas can be 1) "fairly large aeas in climax, near-climax, original, or undisturbed ecological condition...", 2) "smaller areas protected from grazing by exclosures ...", or 3) "grazed areas that demonstrate the effects of a particuar type of range use" (Laycock, 1975, p. 4). The example shown here was an example of 1). This area had somehow been properly grazed by livestock or, as appeared to be the case, not grazed by other than native herbivores for a number of years. Students of Range Management should become familar with the concept and indispensible tool of range reference areas. The already cited reference (no pun intended) edited by Laycock (1975) was highly recommended.

Burns District, Bureau of Land Management, Harney County, Oregon. June. Estival aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juiper-Pinyon Woodland). SAF 238 (Western Juniper). SRM 107 (Western Juniper-Big Sagebrush-Bluebunch Wheatgrass). Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998). Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass association of Kagan et al. (2004). Northern Basin and Range- High Lava Plains Ecoregion, 80g (Thorson et al., 2003).

 

69. Pristine western juniper savanna- The Juniperus/Artemesia/Agropyron climatic climax association of the Juniperus occidentalis Zone (Franklin and Dyrness, 1973. p. 165) was represented by this "picture-perfect" sample from the Harney section of the Columbia Plateau province. Bluebunch wheatgrass (the large individuals of bunchgrass) was in immediate pre-bloom phenological stage. Junegrass and Sandberg bluegrass sometimes grew among the pronounced cespitose bluebunch wheatgrass, but as could be seen this latter species typically formed large consociation patches of itself with the former two species segregated together where they were "left to their own devices" (right corner). There was some Wyoming big sagebrush and low sagebrush that characteristically grew seperately from each other. The pattern of low sagebrush-dominated vegetation occurring within larger communities dominated by western juniper was previously described (Barbour and Major, 1995, ps. 780, 799).

Most of the western juniper were old-growth specimens (see photographs below). Forbs typically grow in this rangeland cover type (Shiflet, 1994, p. 6), but they were "conspicuous by their absence" from this sample of the range type.

Burns District, Bureau of Land Management, Harney County, Oregon. June. Estival aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). SAF 238 (Western Juniper). SRM107 (Western Juniper-Big Sagebrush-Bluebunch Wheatgrass). Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community or regional formation of Brown et al. (1998). Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass association of Kagan et al. (2004). Northern Basin and Range- High Lava Plains Ecoregion, 80g (Thorson et al., 2003).

 

70. Western juniper-sagebrush-bunchgrass savanna- Physiognomy, species composition, and structure of the climatic climax Juniperus/Artemesia/Agropyron association of the western juniper-defined savanna was presented in this "all-in-one shot". This range vegetation had developed on the Harney section of the Columbia Plateau province that corresponed with the High Lava Plains of Franklin and Dyrness (1973, p. 6). It appeared to have been a relict area that had not been exposed to domestic grazers for a number of years.

The dominant herbaceouus species was bluebunch wheatgrass (most of the bunchgrass individuals) with Sandberg bluegrass and Junegrass as associates. Squirreltail bottlebrush was a "runner-up" species and, remarkable, cheatgrass was almost absent. Wyoming big sagebrush comprised most of the shrub layer with low sagebrush forming single-species stands at microsite scale scattered among the larger stands of big sagebrush. Green rabbitbrush was an occasional member of the range plant community (about like some students this photographer has been "blessed with") .

Most western juniper were old-growth individuals (discussed below), but there was juniper regeneration sufficient to mnaintain this species as the defining plant of this vegettion that was identified and described as both a forest and a rangeland cover type. (Conifer regeneration was shown in a succeeding photograph.)

Burns District, Bureau of Land Management, Harney County, Oregon. June. Estival aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). SAF 238 (Western Juniper). SRM 107 (Western Juniper-Big Sagebrush-Bluebunch Wheatgrass). Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community or regional formation of Brown et al. (1998). Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass association of Kagan et al. (2004). Northern Basin and Range- High Lava Plains Ecoregion, 80g (Thorson et al., 2003).

 

71.Western juniper savanna- This view of pristine juniper-sagebrush-bunchgrass savanna (it was a tree-shrub savanna or a savanna with both tree and shrub components) caught two features. First it showed western juniper regeneration with two seedling junipers visible: one in left-center and one in right foreground. Secondly it showed the mosaic and scale of small range sites (actually, types) within the overall savanna community. A low sagebrush community (a rangeland cover type) was in foreground back to midground while a Wyoming big sagebrush community (a rangeland cover type) was in background. Bluebunch wheatgrass, the overall dominant herb, was limited to the latter cover type.

This pattern of smaller-scale rangeland cover types within larger-scale rangeland types (SRM 403 and SRM 406 within general SRM 107) was similar to and, probably a reflection of, soil series mapping units within the larger soil association map unit). Franklin and Dyrness (1973, p. 165) described the arrangement of some Juniperus occidentalis-dominated communities "as constituting topoedaphic climax associations". Other workers described low sagebrush communities developing within larger or overall communites of western juniper (Barbour and Major, 1995, ps, 780, 799).

Stocking and spatial distribution of western juniper had archtypical features of a savanna including that of juniper seedlings. This "big picture" view of a relict western juniper savanna showing physiognomy and structure of the type was placed last for relative ease of reference as the "benchmark" of virgin vegetation. This photograph (plus the preceding ones) should be compared to photographs presented below that showed the on-going formation of western juniper forests largely caused by such human mismanagement as fire exclusion.

Burns District, Bureau of Land Managaement, Harney County, Oregon. June. Estival aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). SAF 238 (Western Juniper). SRM 107 (Western Juniper-Big Sagebrush-Bluebunch Wheatgrass). Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998). Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass association of Kagan et al. (2004). Northern Basin and Range- High Lava Plains Ecoregion, 80g (Thorson et al., 2003).

 

72. Close-in view of western juniper savanna- Examples of old-growth western juniper and bluebunch wheatgrass with a small range site dominated by low sagebrush in left foreground. Bluebunch wheatgrass often grew more luxuriously in shade of big western juniper. Other grasses growing in frame of this photograph included Junegrass, Sandberg bluegrass, squirreltail bottlebrush, and "stray' plants of the introduced desert crested wheatgrass (Agropyron desertorum) in right background. Cheatgrass or downy brome was almost nonexistent. Absence of this naturalized Eurasian annual brome might have been partly result of growing conditions in this particular year. The dominant shrub was Wyoming big sagebrush, but it was absent from the small range sites dominated by low sagebrush. Green rabbitbrush was present but quite limited.

Burns District, Bureau of Land Management, Harney County, Oregon. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). SAF 238 (Western Juniper). SRM.107 (Western Juniper-Big Sagebrush-Bluebunch Wheatgrass). Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998). Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass association of Kagan et al. (2994). Northern Basin and Range- High Lava Plains Ecoregion, 80g (Thorson et al., 2003).

 

73. Two old-growth western juniper amid a bunchgrass carpet (admittedly a mite threadbare by turf standards)- The climax Juniperus occidentalis Zone (Franklin and Dyrness, 1973, ps. 163-167) occurs mostly in parts the Columbia Basin, High Lava Plains, and the Basin and Range physiogrphic and geologic provinces (Franklin andDyrness, 1973, p.6). These correspond primarily with the Columbia Plateau and Basin and Range physiographic provinces (Fenneman, 1931).

Climate is semiarid with a summer largely devoid of precipitation. Some soils are so shallow, stoney, and poorly developed that some range sites are in effect "edaphic deserts". Even with these harsh habitats all but the most severe grow vegetation sufficient to carry surface fires of enough intensity and with adequate frequency to prevent survival of all but a few western juniper. Surviving junipers often live to relatively old age and develop features unique to old trees. Examples were shown in the next slides.

Native bunchgrasses included the dominant bluebunchgrass, Junegrass, Sandberg bluegrass, squirreltail bottlebrush, and traces of Idaho fescue. There were even smaller amounts of the introduced and naturalized cheatgrass and desert crested wheatgrass. Shrubs included the overall dominant Wyoming big sagebrush and the microsite dominant low sagebrush. Green rabbitbrush was present but limited. Forbs were essentially missing.

Burns District, Bureau of Land Management, Harney County, Oregon. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland. SAF 238 (Western Juniper). SRM 107 (Western Juniper-Big Sagebrush-Bluebunch Wheatgrass). Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998). Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass association of Kagan et al. (2004).

 

74. Old-growth western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis)- Two examples of very old western juniper showing: 1) charactristic growth form and 2) features of great age in this species. General growth form of western juniper is a relatively short trunk with several to numerous limbs (primary branches) radiating from the short and relatively thick bole. In some individuals limbs begin almost at soil surface, especially where protected from fire. Limbs are horizonal and trees develop widely spreading crowns that are often about the same dimension as tree height (ie. crown is about as wide as tree is tall).

Old-growth western juniper have characteristics indicating (at least suggesting) a "long hard life". Broken limbs, gnarled trunks (often with scars from fire and other damaging agents), and a high proportion of dead branches in the crown are all indicators of trees having achieved great age for their species. Additionally some ancient specimens have dead spires where there had been a living apical leader (shoot) atop a younger tree. The juniper in the second photograph had such a spire. This feature is common in old trees of many species ranging from coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) to post oak (Quercus stellata).

Burns District, Bureau of Land Management, Harney County, Oregon. June.

 

75. Leader of western juniper- Terminal end of lower limb on western juniper with needles and fleshy seeds. These seeds are technically ovulate cones covered by fleshy scales. This unit (known informally as a "berry") is readily eaten by birds which then disseminate some of the seed to plant more juniper. It should be obvious to the observant student that given this abundant crop of propagules something will have to reduce populations of Juniperus seedlings or savannas like the one featured here will become juniper forests.

Burns District, Bureau of Land Management, Harney County, Oregon. June.

 

76. Robust individual of bluebunch wheatgrass (Agropyron spicatum)- This native, perennial, cespitose, festucoid grass is a dominant species across much of the Northern Rocky Mountain and Intermountain Regions. It can attain fairly large size for a grass species under semiarid conditions (this specimen was almost a yard in height). It is palatable and readily decreases under improper management like overgrazing. This individual was growing on the relict range featured in this portion of the pinyon-juniper section.

Burns District, Bureau of Land Management, Harney County, Oregon. June..

 

77. Junegrass (Koeleria cirstata)- Whole shoot portion of plant and inflorescence of Junegrass growing as an associate grass species on the western juniper-Wyoming big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass savanna range featured above. This specimen was a next-door neighbor to bluebunch wheatgrass.

Burns District, Bureau of Land Management, Harney County, Oregon. June.

 

78. Degradation of the range- Two examples of western juniper-big sagebrush-bunchgrass vegetation for which the climax or potential natural plant community is a savanna of these species, but which are in the process of becoming more of western juniper forests. Young age of most western juniper in these range plant communities was obvious from the size and shape of trees (compare these to the old-growth juniper presented above). Relatively large numbers of juniper seedlings were present in both or these range communities.

Grass cover and density were obviously lower than in the relict western juniper-Wyoming big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass savanna shown previously, but species composition was quite similar. Even the pattern of range sites, including those smaller ones dominated by low sagebrush, was about the same in all of these samples of range vegetation except for the manyfold increase in juniper stocking and cover. Both this and the relict vegetation shown above were in the Juniperus occidentalis Zone in the High Lava Plains province of southcentral Oregon (Franklin and Dyrness, 1973, ps. 6, 163-167).

Burns District, Bureau of Land Management, Harney County, Oregon. June. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). SAF 238 (Western Juniper). SRM 107 (Western Juniper-Big Sagebrush-Bluebunch Wheatgrass). Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community or regional formation of Brown et al. (1998). Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass association of Kagan et al. (2004). Northern Basin and Range- High Lava Plains Ecoregion, 80g (Thorson et al., 2003).

 

79. Overgrazing was not the problem; underburning was- At advancing edge of encroaching western juniper was a local dense stand of basin wildrye (Elymus cinereus). This native species is very productive (largest plants and highest biomass yield of any Gramineae species in this region), but it is also one of the grasses most susceptible to abusive grazing. Presence of basin wildrye was evidence that this range was not being overgrazed and had not been abused any time in recent past. No, logically grazing was not the reason for this example of afforestation, "the establishment of a forest or stand in an area where the preceding vegetation or land use was not forest" (Helms, 1998).

The most rational explanation, the likely cause, of this brush invasion was lack of fire.

You doubt it? Stay tuned.

Burns District, Bureau of Land Management, Harney County, Oregon. High Lava Plains province (Franklin and Dyrness, 1973, p. 6) June. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). SAF 238 (Western Juniper). SRM 107 (Western Juniper-Big Sagebrush-Bluebunch Wheatgrass). Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community or regional formation of Brown et al. (1998). Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass association of Kagan et al. (2004). Northern Basin and Range- High Lava Plains Ecoregion, 80g (Thorson et al., 2003).

 

80. Landscape-scale view of the western juniper brush problem- In this small landscape view of a western juniper-big sagebrush-western wheatgrass savanna western juniper was increasing rapidly. Most of the small drainages had juniper seedlings lining their channels. Increased regeneration was evident with most of the larger--though still young by old-growth standards-- juniper having seedlings beneath their drip lines (see for eg. the seedling at right base of juniper with shaded cattle).

Abusive grazing was not the problem here either. Degree of use on bluebunch wheatgrass, the native dominant of the climax vegetation, was relatively light and bluebunch wheatgrass was the dominant herbaceous species. Improper grazing had obviously not been a problem for quite some time. Improper grazing management had certainly not been a problem during the relatively young life of juniper seedlings and young saplings!

Burns District, Bureau of Land Management, Harney County, Oregon. Owyhee Upland province versus High Lava Plains province (Franklin and Dyrness, 1973, p. 6) from where preceding photographs were taken. June. This range vegetation was most likely a combination of two major range types or perhaps designation depended on fire regimen (see below). Probably most precisely this range plant community was: FRES No. 35 (Sagebrush Shrubland Ecosystem), K-49 (Sagebrush Steppe), SRM 314 (Big Sagebrush-BluebunchWheatgrass). Range vegetation at higher elevations in the Owyhee Upland province has greater affinity with vegetation in the Palouse Prairie or even Rocky Mountains than with vegetation in the Basin and Range province such that SRM 403 (Wyoming Big Sagebrush) was less descriptive and accurate. For purposes of comparison with preceding examples of western juniper-defining vegetation the range vegetation shown here could be conveniently designated as FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem), K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SAF 238 (Western Juniper), SRM 107 (Western Juniper-Big Sagebrush-Bluebunch Wheatgrass). Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community or regional formation of Brown et al. (1998). Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass association of Kagan et al. (2004). Northern Basin and Range- Dissected High Lava Plateau Ecoregion, 80a (Thorson et al., 2003).

 

81. Advance of the enemy: brush invasion- Western juniper has come over the hill and is invading a big sagebrush-bunchgrass shrub steppe. These were young western juniper as can be seen from their relative small size and conical shape in contrast to the spreading crowns of old-growth juniper presented above. Many of the western juniper were seedlings (note the juniper seedling in center foreground).

This landscape in the Owyhee Upland province consisted of several range sites the overall range type (or range subtype) of which was the Artemesia tridentata/Agropyron spicatum association that was interpreted as the climatic climax of both the Owyhee Upland and High Lava Plains provinces (Franklin and Dyrness, 1973, ps. 234-237).

In the potential natural vegetation of this association western juniper is only an occasional component. On most of the land shown here (the general range environment in the foreground) climax range vegetation is a big sagebrush shrub-steppe with bluebunch wheatgrass as the dominant herbaceous species and Thurber's needlegrass (Stipa thurberiana) as associate. At climax (natural potential) Idaho fescue grows on more mesic microsites with Sandberg bluegrass, Junegrass, and squirreltail bottlebrush on the more xeric local environments. Big sagebrush forms a discontinuous shrub layer in the general spatial pattern of a savanna.

The climax vegetation for the east-facing slope in the background was a western juniper-big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass savanna like that presented at beginning of this treatment of western juniper-defined range types.

In other words, the potential natural vegetation for the range in the foreground of this landscape was (is) a shrub-bunchgrass savanna not a tree-shrub-grass savanna (not a western juniper-big sagebrush-bunchgrass savanna like those shown previously in this section). The climax of the foreground range most certainly was (is) not a western juniper woodland like the one that had developed on the east slope in the background. Climax for the east slope was western juniper-big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass savanna, but the savanna had become a woodland and was in process of becoming a western juniper forest as young trees continue to grow and juniper reproduction increases toward a closed conifer canopy.

Afforestation of the east-slope savanna vegetation was like that shown in photographs above. This unnatural increase in western juniper stocking (increase in density and cover) was retrogression of the sere, retrograde development of the plant community. This was a form of range degradation due to brush (noxious woody range plants) invasion. The great increase in western juniper, a native climax conifer, beyond its natural potential had become the major threat to the native plant community and to rangeland health, "the degree to which the integrity of the soil, the vegetation, the water, and air as well as the ecological processes of the rangeland ecosystem is balanced and sustained" and in which "intergrity" is defined as "maintenance of the structure and functional attributes characteristic of a particular locale" (Bedell, 1998).

Invasion by and increase of western juniper was the onset of decline in range health in the parlance of newer terminology and concepts in Range Science. In traditional usage and application, brush invasion was causing a continuing decline in range trend (= range condition trend), "the direction of change in range condition" where range condition is "the current productivity of a range relative to what that range is naturally capable of producing" (Kothmann, 1976) or range trend is "the direction of change in ecological status or resource value rating observed over time" (Jacoby, 1989). The two definitions of range trend said the same thing because range condition is the ecological status of the range based on successional status of the plant community, soil conditions, etc.

Technical note: use of scientific terms requires their proper use and careful definition. Invasion in this context was applied in the strict and classical sense as used in such disciplines as Plant Ecology and professions like Range Management and Forestry. The seminal definition of invasion: "Invasion is the movement of one or more plants from one area into another and their establishment in the latter. It is thus the complete and complx process of which migration, ecesis, and competition are the essential parts." (Weaver and Clements, 1938, p. 166). Invasion was defined by the Society for Range Management as "the migration of organisms from one area to another area and the establishment in the latter" (Kothman, 1976; Jacoby, 1989; Bedell, 1998). The Society of American Foresters did not include "invasion" in recent glossaries but provided this definition in an earlier edition: "the encroachment of new species as dominants in an area or region" (Hawley, 1950). All of these capture the essence of western juniper invasion in both western juniper savanna or sagebrush-bunchgrass steppe. In the shrub-steppe western juniper is a "new species". Transformation of a savanna into a forest fits the spirit of the Hawley (1950) definition.Clearly, all unnatural increases of western juniper regardless of range type or site fit the original Clementsian usage.

Consistent with precise usage of invasion in regard to recent increases in western juniper is the designation of this species as a brush (noxious woody plant) species. Occurrence of western juniper at abnormally high density and cover has become a major brush problem. Western juniper invasion posses a major threat to sustainability and intergrity of range ecosystems and landscapes. Under such conditions western juniper is a woody weed or weed tree. Control of this noxious range plant should be a major goal across millions of acres of range, on both private and public land.

To control western juniper as a brush species is to reduce density and cover of this native and highly desired conifer to density and cover similar to that in the potential natural vegetation. If reduction to quantities estimated in the pre-Columbian or climax vegetation is not a realistic management objective, then practical goals should be established and brush management initiated to achieve reasonable levels in reduction (= control) of western juniper.

One effective way to control western juniper is the use of prescribed fire. Prescribed fire for juniper control was beyond scope of this publication, but examples were included immediately below to illustrate the effectiveness of fire (in this instance below, wild fire) in control of western juniper when it was a brush species.

Burns District, Bureau of Land Management, Harney County, Oregon. June. This range vegetation was in the Owyhee Upland province versus the High Lava Plains province where preceding examples of the western juniper cover type were from. Thre were two range cover types in this landscape. Foreground: FRES No. 29 (Sagebrush Ecosystem), K-49 (Sagebrush Steppe), SRM 314 (Big Sagebrush-Bluebunch Wheatgrass) as more of the Palouse Prairie or Rocky Mountain form than of SRM 403 (Big Sagebrush), the Great Basin form. This vegetation was in the Owyhee Upland province, higher elevations of which have greater affinity with western islands of the Palouse Prairie to the east and north than with the Great Basin Sagebrush Desert of the Basin and Range province to the south and west. Refer to the description and discussion of western Palouse Prairie by Weaver and Albertson (1956 , ps. 339-340). Background (hill vegetation): FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem), K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SAF 238 (Western Juniper), SRM 107 (Western Juniper-Big Sagebrush-Bluebunch Wheatgrass). Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998). Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass association of Kagan (2004). Northern Basin and Range- Dissected High Lava Plateau Ecoregion, 80a (Thorson et al., 2003).

 

82. Fire line contrast (You choose: left or right.)- Still doubt the effectiveness of fire as a way to control western juniper invasion? Take a gander at this unintentional "success story". This hillside became an accidental experimental range when a wild fire burnt part of it off. The burnt portion (foreground and right side in both photographs) became an unplanned burn treatment while the unburnt portion (left side beginning in midground in both photographs) became the experimental control.. The was another-- and again, unplanned-- control plot. This was the vegetation in the landscape-scale photograph shown in the immediately preceding slide (a big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass savanna range invaded by wesstern juniper). Range vegetation in this landscape-scale slide was in the same pasture as the unburned-burned fire line contrast shown in the two slides of this caption. Only a two-lane highway separated the side-by-side, burned-unburned part of the range from the all-unburned portion shown in the preceding slide. Both of the control (unburned) plots and the burned plot were parts of the same range (pasture). The unburnt landscape presented in the preceding slide and the side-by-side, burnt-unburnt hillside presented in these two slides were located immediately across the highway from each other. There was no fence separating them. Cattle grazing this public-land range moved freely from one side of the highway to the other and from the burned and unburned portions, and all of this range was being grazed by cattle in the current growing season. Stocking rate was low enough that cattle had not (were not) overusing the burnt portion (as was obvious from the height of bluebunch wheatgrass in the burnt foreground in both of the photographs above this caption).

The grass component of this community (both burnt and unburnt portions) was a consociation of bluebunch wheatgrass. There were occasional individuals of Junegrass, Sandberg bluegrass, squirreltail bottlebrush, needle-and-thread (Stipa comata), and, least common, Idaho fescue. Remarkably there was almost no cheatgrass (= downy brome). Forbs were also very limited.

The wild fire had eliminated the big sagebrush as well as western juniper. Fire converted the tree-shrub-bunchgrass savanna to a bunchgrass steppe. Three cheers for the fire! Sagebrush will likely come back from soil seedbank sources and the adjacent unburned area.

This brings up the obvious question: "Why did the government fire-fighters put out the fire before it burnt across the whole range?" This would have included gettting a good head fire running up-slope that would have taken out many of the western juniper on the hill shown in the preceding photograph. The only thing bad about this fire from a range management standpoint was that it was stopped too soon.

Burns District, Bureau of Land Management, Harney County, Oregon. Strictly speaking this range was in the Owyhee Upland province so that potential natural vegetation was: FRES No. 29 (Sagebrush Ecosystem), K-49 (Sagebrush Steppe), SRM 314 (Big Sagebrush-Bluebunch Wheatgrass) as more of the Palouse Prairie or even Rocky Mountain form than of SRM 403 (Wyoming Big Sagebrush), the Great Basin form or cover type. Potential natural vegetation at hill tops (rimrock) was western juniper savanna as described previously. This example was used for purposes of comparison to the previously presented FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper), K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SRM 107 (Western Juniper-Big Sagebrush-Bluebunch Wheatgrass). Pinyon-Juniper Series in Great Basin Conifer Woodland biotic community of Brown et al. (1998). Western ju;niper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass association of Kagan et al. (2004). Northern Basin and Range- Dissected High Lava Plateau Ecoregion, 80a (Thorson et al., 2003).

Range photographers and professors have to take their lessons where they find them and make adjustments as dictated by circumstances. The lessons came from the land and are still relevant to its management.

11803 and 11804.
 
Location note: a short section on a scrub (= shrubland) form of Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma= J. utahensis) and skunkbush sumac (Rhus aromatica= R. trilobata) that developed in Wind River Canyon of the Owl Creek Mountains, Wyoming was included in the Shrubland chapter, entitled Wyoming Basin Canyonlands Scrub. The small size (including low height and shrub habit) of Utah juniper plus presence of co-dominant skunkbush sumac clearly showed this range vegetation to be shrubland and not woodland. Arguably, this canyonland scrubland was part of a general Utah juniper type or range ecosystem so that a note on placement in Range Types of North America was justified. Likewise, presence of skunkbush as a co-dominant indicated the affinity of that canyon scrubland with the juniper woodland covered in the section immeditely below.
 
Rocky Mountain and Great Plains Juniper Woodland
 
Within the Northern Great Plains Region there is a variant of pinyon-juniper woodland (SAF forest cover type 239; SRM rangeland cover type 412 and 504 as applied to Northern Great Plains types) dominated by Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum). Joining--as minor actors--this nearly one-tree-species- woodland are green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) as the other--though only as associate-- tree species. Skunkbush sumac (Rhus trilobata= R. aromatica) was the other major woody species in many stands, but in other locations western snowberry (Symphorcarpos occidentalis) was a major shrub species. Silver sagebrush (Artemisia cana) was less common being mostly absent throughout the interior of the juniper-dominated woodland and locally abundant on the perimeter of this woodland range type when it contacted western wheatgrass-silver sagebrush savanna. Little Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis micrantha) was the natural potential (= climax) herbaceous dominant of the understorey of this forest range type, but in the examples presented below there was nearly complete closure of the conifer canopy so that there was almost no cover of biomass of this little Indian ricegrass.
 

83. A Tale of Two Vegetational Cities-A Dickensonian version of two climax range types--one forest and one rangeland--in the Little Missouri River Badlands:1) Rocky Mountain juniper woodland on background slopes and 2) western wheatgrass (Agropyron smithii) consociation (essentially a single-species stand or population) on a bench that was overflow or swale site of plains grassland that at local and intermediate scale was a silver sagebrush-western wheaytgrass savanna. (This savanna vegetation was featured in the immediately preceding two-slide-catpion set.).

In the sample of range plant communities presented in these two photographs Rocky Mountain juniper was confined to its own woodland and was not in process of encroaching on (invading) the grassland/savanna range plant community. (This was in contrast to range vegetation described in the next slide-caption set.) Other woody species in the Rocky Mountain juniper-dominated woodland included the tree species, green ash and the shrub, skunkbush sumac (Rhus trilobata= R. aromatica). There were openings and smaller sporadic spots or patches of western wheatgrass within the juniper-dominated woodland. These western wheatgrass-dominated local areas often included little Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis micrantha) as the associate species. Overall, for all practical purposes there was no herbaceous component--let alone, a layer--of herbaceous plants.within the Rocky Mountain juniper woodland. This was expecially the situation within interior of this tree-dominated plant community.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park (South Unit), Billings County, North Dakota. Late June, early estival aspect. Rocky Mountain juniper woodland was FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Woodland Ecosystem), K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper; Rocky Mountain Juniper variant) and SRM 412 and 504 as aplied to Northern Great Plains, would be Pinyon-Juniper Series for Cold temperate Forest and Woodland 122 in Brown et al. (1998). Western wheatgrass grassland was FRES No. 38 (Plains Grasslands Ecosystem), K-59 (Wheatgrass-Needlegrass), SRM 610 (Wheatgrass), Cold Temperate Grassland 142, Plains Grassland 142.1 but no appropriate series in Brown et al. (1998) as it would be Wheatgrass Series under a Plains Shrub- Grassland. Northwestern Great Plains- Missouri Plateau Ecoregion 43 a (Bryce et al., Undated).

 

84. Abrupt edge- Perimeters (margins) of Rocky Mountain juniper woodland on top and sides of a low hill and western wheatgrass-silver sagebrush savanna in Little Missouri River Badlands. The climax plant community of this range vegetation would be a more open-canopy form of this junper woodland subtype with an herbaceous understorey dominated by little Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis micrantha) with incursions of western wheatgrass along the perimeter or outer edges of the woodland. Such climax range vegetation would be a Rocky Mountain juniper-little ricegrass habitat type. In the example presented here, long-term exclusion of fire from this landscape under the previous fire-exclusion policy of the United States government had permitted such a dense, forest-like stand (high tree-density with nearly complete canopy closure) of Rocky Mountain juniper that there was very little herbaceous cover other than of western wheatgrass along the outer contacts with the western wheatgrass-silver sagebrush savann.

Contrariwise, cexlusion of fire was permitting invasion of western wheatgrasslands and western wheatgrass-silver sagebrush savannas by Rocky Mountain juniper from adjoining juniper woodlands. (This phenomenon was treated below by presenting recovery of grassland and savanna from juniper invasion after wild fire.)

There were some trees of green ash in this juniper woodland, but not nearly enough cover, density, etc. of this tree species for it to qualify as an associate. (Green ash woodlands in this area of the Northern Great Plains were covered within this publication in the chapter, Central and Southern Forests.)

Theodore Roosevelt National Park (South Unit), Billings County, North Dakota. Late June, early estival aspect. Rocky Mountain juniper woodland was FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Woodland Ecosystem), K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper; Rocky Mountain Juniper variant) and SRM 412 and 504 as aplied to Northern Great Plains, would be Pinyon-Juniper Series for Cold temperate Forest and Woodland 122 in Brown et al. (1998). Western wheatgrass grassland was FRES No. 38 (Plains Grasslands Ecosystem), K-59 (Wheatgrass-Needlegrass), SRM 610 (Wheatgrass), Cold Temperate Grassland 142, Plains Grassland 142.1 but no appropriate series in Brown et al. (1998) as it would be Wheatgrass Series under a Plains Shrub- Grassland. Northwestern Great Plains- Missouri Plateau Ecoregion 43 a (Bryce et al., Undated).

 

85. Outer edge at the top- Physiogonomy, structure, and species composition of a Rocky Mountain juniper woodland on the north slope of a low hill within the Little Missouri River Badlands. There were a few scrawny (shade-stunted) plants of little Indian ricegrass, but this potential dominant of the herbaceous layer of the climax Rocky Mountain juniper-little Indian ricegrass habitat type was seldom to be found. Perhaps the comparatively mesic habitat of the north slope hadenabled development of an unusually dense stand juniper or more crown enlargement thereby resulting in nearly complete closure of the tree canopy. It was explained above and below that a century of fire exclusion under auspices of the United States government had permitted unnatural expansion of Rocky Mountain woodland along with reduced openness of tree canopy in most stands of this forest cover type (subtype or variant).

Seedlings of Rocky Mountain juniper were slowly invading the eroded face of the south slope (left portion) of this hill. There were also some plants of skunkbush sumac accompanying these baby junipers.

Herbaceous cover near bottom of this hill (bottom of slide) was western wheatgrass that dominated a narrow bench immediately below the juniper woodland.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park (South Unit), Billings County, North Dakota. Late June, early estival aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Woodland Ecosystem), K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper; Rocky Mountain Juniper variant) and SRM 412 and 504 as aplied to Northern Great Plains, would be Pinyon-Juniper Series for Cold temperate Forest and Woodland 122 in Brown et al. (1998).

 

86. Hilltop and down slope- Exterior view of Rocky Mountain juniper woodland on top and sides of a low hill (background) and an ecotone between this woodland and a western wheatgrtass-silver sagebursh savanna (foreground) in the Little Missouri River Badlands. These two range plant communities had developed on a mesic east slope. Rocky Mountain juniper was slowly invading the transition zone (ecotone) so as to expand area of juniper woodland. The ecotone was dominated by silver sagebrush with skunkbush sumac the associate species. There were some saplings of green ash on the outskirts (margins) of the woodland and ecotone as well as plants of western snowberry and choke cherry (Prunus virginiana) to round out the woody plant component. The highly rhizomatous, turf-forming western wheatgrass comprised most of the herbaceous component although there were a few stunted (for whatever reasons) plants of little Indian ricegrass. In the herbaceous layer there were also some plants of the wide ranging forb species, western yarrow (Achillea lanulosa).

Details of the shrub-dominated ecotone were presented in the next slide-caption set. Next slide, please...

Theodore Roosevelt National Park (South Unit), Billings County, North Dakota. Late June, early estival aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Woodland Ecosystem), K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper; Rocky Mountain Juniper variant) and SRM 412 and 504 as aplied to Northern Great Plains, would be Pinyon-Juniper Series for Cold temperate Forest and Woodland 122 in Brown et al. (1998).

 

87. Transition of two plant communities- Ecotone between Rocky Mountain juniper woodland and and western wheatgrass-silver sagebrush savanna. This transition vegetation was comprised of skunkbush sumac, green ash, choke cherry, and silver sagebrush as one to two woody layers coupled with an herbaceous layer consisting almost exclusively of western wheatgrass.

Location note: the western wheatgrass-silver sagebrush savanna was described in both True Prairie and Mixed Prairie chapters under the Grasslands group herein.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park (South Unit), Billings County, North Dakota. Late June, early estival aspect. Rocky Mountain juniper woodland was FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Woodland Ecosystem), K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper; Rocky Mountain Juniper variant) and SRM 412 and 504 as aplied to Northern Great Plains, would be Pinyon-Juniper Series for Cold temperate Forest and Woodland 122 in Brown et al. (1998). Western wheatgrass grassland was FRES No. 38 (Plains Grasslands Ecosystem), K-59 (Wheatgrass-Needlegrass), SRM 610 (Wheatgrass), Cold Temperate Grassland 142, Plains Grassland 142.1 but no appropriate series in Brown et al. (1998) as it would be Wheatgrass Series under a Plains Shrub- Grassland. Northwestern Great Plains- Missouri Plateau Ecoregion 43 a (Bryce et al., Undated).

 

88. Skunked on a bolands ecotone- Leaves and fruit (drupe) of skunkbush sumac (Rhus trilobata= R. aromatica var. trilobata) on a transition zone between a western wheatgrass-silver sagebrush savanna and a Rocky Mountain juniper woodland. This plant was growing on the ecotone shown immediately above.

Skunkbush sumac is one of the more important shrub and browse species in the Northern Great Plains. It is the most widely distributed of all the North American Rhus species having a species rnge from Alberta to northern Mexico and as far east as Missouri (Dayton, 1931. p. 96). While skunkbush sumac is generally good browse for deer and goats it has only poor to fair feeed value for cattle, sheep, and horses (.Stubbendieck et al., 1992, p. 220-221). Note that this browse species did make the Society for Range Management list of 200 range plant species used for (included in) the International Range Plant Identification Contest an includion that clearly attest to its importance on an overall continent-wide basis.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park (South Unit), Billings County, North Dakota. Late June; late immature-fruit phenological stage.

 

89. North vs south slope; hill vs.bottom flat- Two views from the heart of the Little Missouri River Badlands presented a stand of Rocky Mountain juniper woodland on two north slopes and draws (left and right backgrounds in first and second slides, respectively) and two local overflow or swale sites on which a western wheatgrass-silver sagebrush savanna had developed (foregrounds of both slides).

On these two locations of mesic north slope-draw habitats Rocky Mountain juniper was slowly invading the upper portions of benchs (local overflow or swale range sites) to ultimately displace the grass-shrub savanna, at least in continued absence of range fire. Fire is a natural component of this landscape (Northern Great Plains badlands), but previous fire suppression (by the National Park Service in this instance) under the former fire exclusion policy of the United States had permitted expansion of the juniper woodland.

Examples of fire effects in the ever-present swing between juniper woodland and wheatgrass-needlegrass grassland and mixeed grass-shrub savanna was presented later in this section. Please stay tuned.

Students should take note of the natural (geologic) and pronounced erosion of land in the landscape of these badlands. Incidentially, such geologic erosion is a general feature of most forms of badlands. Improper grazing management can cause increased rates of erosion (accelerated erosion) thus designated as soil erosion. Fire--a natural part or outcome of climate--clearly has a role in erosion in soil formation and land form development processes.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park (South Unit), Billings County, North Dakota. Late June, early estival aspect. Rocky Mountain juniper woodland was FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Woodland Ecosystem), K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper; Rocky Mountain Juniper variant), and SRM 412 and 504 as aplied to Northern Great Plains, would be Pinyon-Juniper Series for Cold temperate Forest and Woodland 122 in Brown et al. (1998). Western wheatgrass grassland was FRES No. 38 (Plains Grasslands Ecosystem), K-59 (Wheatgrass-Needlegrass), SRM 610 (Wheatgrass), Cold Temperate Grassland 142, Plains Grassland 142.1 but no appropriate series in Brown et al. (1998) as it would be Wheatgrass Series under a Plains Shrub- Grassland. Northwestern Great Plains- Missouri Plateau Ecoregion 43 a (Bryce et al., Undated).

 

90. Outer edge at the bottom- Outermost margin of a Rocky Mountain juniper woodland that had developed in the Little Missouri River Badlands. This view was at a camera distance as close as possible while still showing complete crowns of juniper trees. At this most extreme perimeter of juniper woodland the contacting plant life consisted almost exclusively of a population of the introduced and now naturalized smooth brome (Bromus inermis). This Eurasian perennial grass with its short, creeping rhizomes had invaded many local areas of disturbed and stressed native grassland so as to completely exclude through fierce competition native plants, including the dominant grass species, . In some areas throughout the Northern Great Plains smooth bromegrass had completely eliminated (= killed out and effectively kept out) even the fiercely rhizomatous western wheatgrass, which otherwise was the native dominant grass of overflow or swale range sites such as examples in immediate foreground of this photograph, the two immediately preceding photographs, and the immediately succeeding slide.

Treatment of smooth brome (including its impacts on native range plant communities) was included in the Introduced Forages chapter under Grasslands of Range Types.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park (South Unit), Billings County, North Dakota. Late June, early estival aspect. Rocky Mountain juniper woodland was FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Woodland Ecosystem), K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper; Rocky Mountain Juniper variant), and SRM 412 and 504 as aplied to Northern Great Plains, would be Pinyon-Juniper Series for Cold temperate Forest and Woodland 122 in Brown et al. (1998). Western wheatgrass grassland was FRES No. 38 (Plains Grasslands Ecosystem), K-59 (Wheatgrass-Needlegrass), SRM 610 (Wheatgrass), Cold Temperate Grassland 142, Plains Grassland 142.1 but no appropriate series in Brown et al. (1998) as it would be Wheatgrass Series under a Plains Shrub- Grassland. Northwestern Great Plains- Missouri Plateau Ecoregion 43 a (Bryce et al., Undated).

 

91. Ecroaching enemy-Seedlings and saplings of Rocky Mountain juniper invading a western wheatgrass consociation that developed on a benchlike swale in Little Missouri River Badlands. At another location within the badlands landscape a Rocky Mountain juniper woodland and western wheatgass-dominated grassland (a consociation) had developed contiguous with each other, but in this range vegetation the Rocky Mountain juniper had invaded and posed "a clear and present danger" to integrity and, in fact, continued persistence of the grassland. Fire exclusion by contemporary man over the last century had caused--at least contributed greatly to--brush invasion of virgin grassland ranges. This was one of numerous "footprints of the whiteman (in contrast to that of the American Indian whose frequent surface fires had preseved integrity of grasslands for several millenia.

Seen here was an early stage of the brush problem in the making.

Impact of a wild fire--and a crown fire at that--on western wheatgrass-green needlegrass (Stipa viridula) Northern Great Plains prairie in the Little Missouri River Badlands was covered in detail in the two grassland chapters, True Prairie and Mixed Prairie, within Range Types of North America.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park (South Unit), Billings County, North Dakota. Late June, early estival aspect. Rocky Mountain juniper woodland was FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Woodland Ecosystem), K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper; Rocky Mountain Juniper variant), and SRM 412 and 504 as aplied to Northern Great Plains, would be Pinyon-Juniper Series for Cold temperate Forest and Woodland 122 in Brown et al. (1998). Western wheatgrass grassland was FRES No. 38 (Plains Grasslands Ecosystem), K-59 (Wheatgrass-Needlegrass), SRM 610 (Wheatgrass), Cold Temperate Grassland 142, Plains Grassland 142.1 but no appropriate series in Brown et al. (1998) as it would be Wheatgrass Series under a Plains Shrub- Grassland. Northwestern Great Plains- Missouri Plateau Ecoregion 43 a (Bryce et al., Undated).

 
Trans Pecos or Chihuhuan Pinyon Pine-Juniper Woodland
 

One of the most biologically diverse (and beautiful) forms of the pinyon pine-juniper woodland is the oak-pinyon pine-juniper woodland. There is great species diversity in the tree, shrub, and herbaceous layers of this southwestern North American range woodland. One of the best geographic locations for this range vegetation is in the Big Bend area of west Texas and northern Chihuhua where floristic elements from the Rio Grande Plains, Edwards Plateau, Southern Great Plains, and Chihuhuan and Trans-Pecos Basin and Range "blend" to produce an amazingly varied and colorful array of range plants in turn responsible for a remarkable development of this range cover type. The mixed oak-Mexican pinyon pine-juniper woodland begins in mountain foothills above basins and bajadas of Chihuhuan Desert and lower foothills of various zonal grassland communities.

There are various range cover types of Chihuhuan Desert and semidesert (Chihuhuan) grasslands below (ie. "down the mountain and out on the flats") the oak-Mexican pinyon pine-juniper montane woodland. These lower, more xeric range types were covered in this publication under Chihuhuan Desert (Shrublands) and semidesert grasslands (Grasslands).

 
Chisos Mountains Pinyon Pine-Juniper-Grass Woodland

Arguably one of the most accessable examples of the oak-pinyon pine-juniper woodland range type is in the Chisos Mountains. The Chisos Mountains are a complex mixture of sedimentary (eg. sandstone) and igneous (eg. basalt) geologic materials (Bohannon, 2011). The following set of photographs was taken from Green Gulch in the Chisos Range. Enjoy the scenery.

The first two photographs in this set were landscape-scale views that displayed the physiography of the Chisos Mountains and the physiogonomy, structure, and general composition of their range vegetation.

 
Summer in the Chisos Mountains- the following sequence of slides portrayed pinyon pine-juniper woodland range in the Chisos Mountains during summer, the estival aspcect of this range vegetation. In addition to subtle differnces in natural color of the vegetation (foliar tones) the differences between color in slides of the estival aspect (above) versus autumnal aspect (below) some of the difference in color were due to differences between Kodachrome 64 (estival slides) and Provia 100F (autumnal aspect) and Hewledt Packard and Epson Perfection scanners, respectively. The superiority of Kodachrome was obvious, as was the cobalt-blue, azure sky of the Trans-Pecos Region ("God's Country").
 

92. Oak-pinyon pine-juniper-grass montane woodland in the Basin and Range- Deep in the core of the Chisos Mountains a tremendously varied montane range plant community had developed consisting of several layers of vegetation: 1) tree, 2) shrubs that typically formed two layers, and 3) herbaceous plants consisting of tall-, mid-, and shortgrass species as well as forbs. Even the tree layer of this woodland range was more complex than might be expected due to presence of mistletoe as a parasitic epiphyte.

Coniferous tree species included Mexican pinyon pine (Pinus cembroides), the ultimate climax conifer, alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana), redberry or Pinchot juniper (J. pinchotii), rose-fruit juniper (J. erythrocarpa), and, less commonly, weeping or drooping juniper (J. flaccida). Woody angiosperm species which included some individuals of tree shape and size were mostly Emory oak (Quercus emoryi) and gray oak (Q. grisea). These were common trees within the photographic view shown here. Other oaks in the Chisos that attain tree deminsions and shape yet which were not observed within field of this photograph included Chisos red or Graves oak (Q. gravesii= Q. chesosensis), chinkapin oak (Q. muehlenbergii), and netleaf oak (Q. rugosa). Uncommon to rare species of oaks that have tree form in the Chisos ncluded Chisos oak (Q. graciliformis) and lateleaf oak (Q. tardifolia). Common scrub oak species scattered throughout the range vegetation presented here included gray oak and netleaf oak (two of several oak species having individual plants that grow in either tree or shrub form) and Vasey shin oak (Q. vaseyana= Q. pungens var. vaseyana= Q. undulata var. vaseyana). An uncommon but extremely conspicuous tree species was Texas madrone or naked Indian or lady's leg (Arbutus texana) of the Ericaceae, heath or heather family.

Other angiosperm species on this woodland range that usually have shrub shape and size but sometimes attain tree form or size present included three sumac species: lanceleaf sumac (Rhus lanceolata= R. copallina var. lanceolata), evergreen or tobacco sumac (Rhus virens subsp. virens), and littleleaf sumac (Rhus microphylla). One of the most common angiosperm shrubs was golden or yellow currant (Ribes aureum). The most conspicuous shrubs in many spots were the succulent or succulent-like species including various pricklypear cactii (mostly Opuntia englemannii, Q. phaeacantha), smooth sotol (Dasylirion leiphyllum), and lechuguilla (Agave lechuguilla).

Grasses were all native perennial species with Eurasian cool-season annuals like cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) present at trace amounts. Little bluestem (Andropogon scoparius= Schizachyrium scoparium) and cane bluesteem (A. barbinodis= Bothriochloa barbinodis) were grass species of largest mature size. Little bluestem was interpreted as a tallgrass species. Sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) was the dominant mid-grass species. Chino grama or chinograss (B. ramosa) was the most abundant grass, but cumulative foliar cover of this species was locally less than that of larger-growing species including cane bluestem and sideoats grama. Chino grama was viewed as a shortgrass species of which grass group it was dominant. Other Bouteloua species included blue grama (B. gracilis), hairy grama (B. hirsuta), and, very infrequently, red grama (B. trifida). Threeawn species were also common (and always the taxonomic nightmare) with red threeawn (Aristida longistea= A. purpurea var. longiseta) generally the major member of this taxon, but also plantss of Wright's threeawn (A. wrightii), Havard's threeawn (A. havardii), and Arizona threeawn (A. arizonica). Mountain muhly (Muhlenbergia montana) was found rarely (and always in battered condition) whereas bullgrass muhly (M. emersleyi) was typically in a more "intact" state. Overall there was no dominant grass species.

Forbs were inconsequential at the early summer season shown in these photographs.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. June. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak varaint of SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series, 123.32, of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

93. Climax vegetation of an oak-pinyon pine-juniper-grass woodland- Foothills of Chisos Mountains and an almost unbelieveable array of range plants in another panaramic view of Chihuhuan or Madrean montane woodland.. The two tallest trees in midground were Mexican pinyon pine. This species has usually been interpreted as the potential natural dominant gymnosperm of this range cover type. Associate coniferous species are the various Juniperus species listed above. The two junipers in the foreground of this slide were redberry or Pinchot juniper. Shrub in right foreground (right corner of photograph) was gray oak. Smooth sotol was also present. Grasses included sideoats and chino gramas and cane bluestem.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. June, early estival aspect (prior to onset of main summer rains and most grass "green-up"). FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant of SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series, 123.32, of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al, 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodland Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

94. Inside Chisos Mountain montane woodland range- Details of oak-pinyon pine-juniper-grass woodland vegetation inside a mountain range in the Trans-Pecos Basin and Range. In this "photo-plot" there was a stand of Mexican pinyon pine with a predominantly shrub understorey sotol, pricklypear, gray oak, and golden currant. There were some Pinchot or red berry junipers (eg. needles of one in right foreground). Chino and sideoats gramas were main grasses.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster, County, Texas. June, early estival aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant of SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series, 123.32, of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodland Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

95. Chisos Mountains montane range- A detailed view inside the oak-Mexican pinyon pine-juniper montane woodland. Taller conifers (eg. three in midground) were Mexican pinyon pine. Shrub in right foreground was a much-brancned redberry or Pincot juniper. According to Powell (1988ps. 38-41) redberry and rose-fruit juniper integrade to the extent that there may be a J. pinchotti X J. erythrocarpa hybrid in the Chisos Mountain Basin. Sotol, including a prominently blooming specimen, was a dominant shrub in mid foreground. Pricklypear was another prominent shrub. Major grasses visible were little and cane bluestems.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster, County, Texas. June, early estival aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant of SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series, 123.32, of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

96. Chisos Mountains montane woodland range at its pinnacle- Textbook view of vegetation of mixed oak-Mexican pinyon pine-mixed juniper-grass woodland. Three coniferous trees in center (large mature one flanked by two small ones) was Mexican pinyon pine. These in turn flanked by either redberry juniper or rose-fruit juniper (these two species are very difficult to tell apart). Grass species in foreground were cane and little bluestem, sideoats grama, red and Havard's threeawns. Sotol also visible, including flower stalk of one in left foreground.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster, County, Texas. June, early estival aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant of SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series, 123.32, of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

97. Cool sweep of Chisos Mountains vegetation- First-timers to these hills find it "hard to imagine" that the Chihuan Desert lies less than 2000 feet below these densely wooded Chisos Mountains (and with an array of distinctive zones of grassland vegetation in between), and that such differences in range vegetation are largely a function of elevation and other abiotic factors associated with elevational gradations.

Range vegetation shown here was a mixed oak-Mexican pinyon pine-juniper-grass woodland. This was a climax plant community with a prominent physiogonomy, rich species composition, and complex structure. Major grass species in this "photo-transect" included cane bluestem, little bluestem, sideoats grama, chino grama, and red and Wright's threeawns. The conspicuous shrubs in foreground were gray oak of characteristic coloration. Larger trees that were visible in the far foreground were Mexican pinyon pine, alligator juniper, Emory oak, and Texas madrone.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster, County, Texas. June, early estival aspect. FRES No. 35 ((Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 ((Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant of SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series, 123.32, of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

98. Montane browse above the Chihuhuan Desert- Another landscape-scale photograph of the Chisos Mountains with mixed oak-Mexican pinyon pine-juniper-grass montane woodland. This panoramic view featured details of the browse layer of this range cover type. Shrub species in the foreground included (roughly left to right allowing for intermixing of branches) golden currant, smooth sotol, littleleaf sumac, evergreen sumac, gray oak, and Emory oak. The large tree was Emory oak. Primarily redberry or Pinchot juniper, rose-fruit juniper, and gray oak in basin of background.

Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. June, early estival aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant of SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Wooodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper).Oak-Pine Series, 123.32, of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

99. Rangeman's picture postcard of Chisos Mountain range- At the base of a mountain slope topped with Casa Grande was an all-in-one shot of the oak-Mexican pinyon pine-juniper-grass woodland range type followed by a second slide showing overall species compostion and structure of this montane vegetation. Tallest tree at far left of both photographs was Mexican pinyon pine. Immediately to the right of the pine was an Emory oak with gary oak to its right. Alligator juniper, redberry juniper, rose-fruit juniper, and Texas madrone were the other major trees higher up on the mountain side. In the foreground the understorey was mostly herbaceous with red threeawn the dominant species. Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) were nosing around in this rank-growing grass, perhaps looking for acorns or pine 'nuts".

Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. June, early estival aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series 123.32 of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 
Autumn in the Chisos Mountains- the following sequence of slides portrayed pinyon pine-juniper woodland range in the Chisos Mountains during early fall, the autumnal aspcect of this range vegetation. In addition to subtle differences in natural color of the vegetation (foliar tones) the differences between color in slides of the estival aspect (above) versus autumnal aspect (below) some of the difference in color were due to differences between Kodachrome 64 (estival slides) and Provia 100F (autumnal aspect) and Hewledt Packard and Epson Perfection scanners, respectively. The superiority of Kodachrome was obvious, as was the cobalt-blue, azure sky of the Trans-Pecos Region ("God's Country").
 

100. Range splendor in the Chisos Mountains, a Chisos composite- Overall or composite view at landscape scale of the mixed oak-pinyon pine-juniper-grass woodland in the Chisos Mountains of Trans-Pecos Basin and Range in the Big Bend Country of Texas and Chihuhua, Mexico. Major tree or large shrub species were Mexican pinyon pine, redberry juniper, rose-fruit juniper, alligator juniper, drooping juniper, gry oak (usually more of a shrub), Emory oak, and Texas madrone. The most abundant shrubs were smooth sotol, various pricklypear species, gray oak, littleleaf sumac (Rhus microphylla), mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus breviflorus, C. betuloides), and golden currant. Major herbaceous species were grasses including cane bluestem, little bluestem, sideoats grama, chino grama, bullgrass (Muhlenbergia emersleyi), and red and/or, Wright's threeawn, and Arizona threeawn.

Bigger tree in left foreground was Mexican pinyon pine.

Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October, early autumnal aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series 123.32 of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

101. An amazing array of plant life in the Chisos Range- The succulent shrub, smooth sotol (Dasylirion leiophyllum), was the feature of this landscapes-cale image in the rugged Chisos Mountains of the Trans-Pecos Basin and Range province. Other important shrubs included mountain-mahogany and golden current. Gray and Emory oaks grew as medium-sized shrubs up to respectable tree-size. In the background rose-fruit, alligator,and drrooping or weeping junipers (cedars) and Mexican pinyon-pine were aboreal dominants. The most common grasses in this pannning "photo-transect" were little bluestem and sideoats grama with considerable cover of Wright's threeawn, Havard's threeawn, and Arizona threeawn.

Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October, early autumnal aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series 123.32 of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

102. Splendor in the array of Chisos Mountains plant life- Mexican pinyon pine, the climax dominant pine (left), and redberry juniper and alligator juniper (side-by-side; right) with an array of understorey grassse, including little bluestem, cane bluestem, sideoats grama, chino grama, Wright's threeawn, Havard's threeawn, and Arizona threeawns. There were several plants of lechuguilla (Agave lechuguilla) that produced considerable cover in this understorey. Lechuguilla was part of a lower shrub layer (that is, until sexual/flowering shoots shot up to heights sometimes exceeding ten feet). Purplefruited pricklypear (Opuntia phaeacantha) was widespread and also part of the lower shrub layer.

Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October, early autumnal aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series 123.32 of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

103. King of the Chisos Mountain vegetation- Two nice specimens of Mexican pinyon pine with a lower shrub layer including the conspicuous purplefruited pricklypear prominent along with lower-growing plants of Emory oak. Although not visible in these two tree-featured images, there was a well-developed haerbaceous layer made up of such grasses as little bluestem, cane bluestem, sideoats grama, chino grama, bullgrass muhly, Havard's threeawn, and Arizona threeawn. There were some widely scatttered plants of birchleaf mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpos betuloides).

Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October, early autumnal aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series 123.32 of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

104. Chisos Mountain feedstuffs- Representative species of middle and lower shrub layers and the herbaceous layer of a Mexican pinyon pine-juniper-mixed oak-grass woodland in the Chisos Mountains. Tallest plants in both of these slides was birchleaf mountain-mahogany. In the upper or first slide there were two shrubs of the agave family (Agavaceae) or, perhaps more correctly, of the agave subfamily (Agavoideae) of the lily family (Liliaceae ): smooth sotol (Dasylirion leiophyllum) and foothill beargrass (Nolina erupens). Smooth sotol (young plant at non-blooming stage) was also in the range vegetation presented in the the lower or second slide (although it was not distinct in the slide following scanning by an Epson Perfection scanner). Grass species present in both slides included bullgrass or bullgrass muhly, sideoats grama, and comparatively small plants of little bluestem.

Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October, early autumnal aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series 123.32 of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

105. Raw beauty of the Chisos Range- The ragged "teeth" of the bare tops of the Chisos Mountains in the Big Bend Country. Below these mostly marine limestone "cusps" are woodlands of Mexican pinyon pine and several species of "cedar" or junipers including redberry, alligator, rosefruit, and drooping juniper. There are also some trees of Texas madrone (Arbutus texana= A. xalapensis) along with the shrubs, including numerous succulents, and herbaceous species shown herein. The crown of the tree in foreground of the second slide was that of a Mexico pinyon pine.

Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October, early autumnal aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series 123.32 of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

106. Dazzling diversity in the Chisos Range- Early evening sunlight made for a nice color tone to this southwest slope just below the bare rock of a peak in the Chisos Mountains of the Texas Big Bend Country. Tree species present included Mexican pinyon pine, rosefruit juniper, redberry juniper, alligator juniper, drooping or weeping juniper,Texas madrone, gray oak, Emory oak, and Grave's or Chisos red oak (Quercus gravesii= Q. texana). Lechuguilla was conspicuous in center foreground. Grasses included cane bluestem, sideoats grama, and several Aristida species of this "tangled taxonomic mess" including Havard's threeawn, Wright's threeawn, and spider threeawn (Aristida ternipes= A. ternipes var. ternipes).

Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October, early autumnal aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series 123.32 of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 
 

107. Stately understorey of Chisos Mountain woodland- Three robust plants of Havard's threeawn with sideoats grama, State Grass of Texas, at edge of a woodland made up of alligator juniper drooping or weeping juniper, Mexican pinyon pine, and gray oak in the Chisos Mountains of the Trans-Pecos section of the Basin and Range physiographic province. More specifically--though it encompasses a vast area of wild "real estate"--this rangeman's "dream-come-true" is in the Big Bend Country of Texas and the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Coahuila.

Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October, grain-ripe stage of both eragrostoid species.

 

108. Woody and herbaceous in Chisos Mountain range- Pendant leaders (branches) of drooping juniper and purplefruit pricklypear provided a backdrop for sexual shoots of sideoats growing in the understorey of a Mexican pinyon pine-mixed juniper woodland in the Chisos Mountains in the Big Bend Country of Trans-Pecos Texas.

Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October, grain-ripe stage of the State Grass of Texas.

 

109. Two of the woodland understorey- Havard's threeawn in front of sideoats grama in the understorey of a species-rich Mexican pinyon pine-mixed juniper-mixed oak woodland in the Chisos Mountains located in the Trans-Pecos section of the vast Basin and Range physiographic province. Within this botanically diverse range cover type that develops in the Chisos Range there are, along with Havard's threeawn, numerous other threeawn (Aristida) species including A. wrightii, A. longiseta, A. arizonica, and A. ternipes. Aristida species in general, and especially those in what some agrologists regard as the A. purpurea complex, are a taxonomic and field identification "nightmare-come- true. A. havardii is one threeawn species that is readily distinguishable on this pinyon-juniper woodland and adjoining desert plains (semidesert) grassland and Chihuhuan Desert ranges of the Big Bend Paradise.

Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October, grain-ripe stage of these eragrostoid grasses.

 

110. Now time for a neighboring shrub- One plant of rubber rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus= C. spathulatus) was presented in the first slide that was a member of the lower shrub layer and the intermingled herbaceous layer of a Mexican pinyon pine-juniper-mixed oak-grass woodland in the Chisos Mountains. This plant was associated with birchleaf mountain-mahogany, smooth sotol, and foothill beargrass in the same layer of range vegetation along with such herbaceous species as bullgrass or bullgrass muhly, sideoats grama, chino grama, Wright's threeawn, spider threeawn, and little bluestem. There were relatively few compositious forbs in this range plant community. Instead, composites were represented by this woody member of the Astereae (aster tribe).

The second slide presented the tiny and brilliant yellow flowers of this same plant. Rubber rabbitbrush is one of the most widely distributed composite shrubs of North America. its species range extends sporadically across the Seventeen Western Range States and the three westernmost Canadian provinces.

Rubber rabbitbrush is one of the most abundant, most widely distributed of the North American Chrysothamnus species. It is an extremely important shrub species across much of the Western Range Region. Rubber rabbitbrush was even included in the restrictive shrub compendium assembled by Francis (2004, 203-205). There is a Natural Resources Conservation Service plant fact sheet devoted to rabbit rabbitbrush (Scheinost et al., 2010). Obviously such standards as Range Plant Handbook (Forest Service, 1940, p. B56) included rabbit rabbitbrush. Recent treatments of Chrysothamnus have moved numerous, former Chrysothamnus species to three genera! This conversion was shown in very useful fashion by Allred and Ivey (2012, specifically ps. 118-119 for C. nauseosus). These authors gave a key for the nine (9) taxonomic varieties found in New Mexico and added the appropriate warning "Good luck!" (Allred and ivey, 2012. p. 119). The local authority on rubber rabbitbrush remained Powell (1988, ps. 440-441) whose key showed the specimen presented here to be a plant of Guadalupe rabbitbrush (C. nauseosus subsp. texensis).

Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October, peak-bloom (and no doubt about that) phenological stage

 
Scheinost, P.L., J. Scianna, D.G. Ogle. 2010. Plant fact sheet for rubber rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa). USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Pullman Plant Materials Center, Pullman, WA.
 

111. The dry side and after a fire- "Just around the corner" from the location of the two immediately preceding slides the range vegetation took on this drastic difference in physiogonomy and species composition. Obviously a fire had modified this vegetation in the not-too-distant past. While the fire "opened up" this range plant community it was probably the xeric, predominately west slope that was responsible for a grass-scrub savanna variant form of the oak-Mexican pinyon pine-juniper woodland type.

The centerpiece showy succulent was Havard agave (Agave havardiana) which was, as if on cue, at full-bloom, and already starting to die as it was fulfilling its once-in-a-lifetime role to reproduce sexually therby giving its species another opportunity for natural selection. Red-fruited shrub in right foreground was littleleaf sumac. Top-killed and resprouting tree at far left foreground was Emory oak. Shrub to left front of agave was redberry juniper which had also been top-killed and subsequently resprouted. Redberry or Pinchot juniper is one of the very few Juniperus species to resprout, a rare characteristic of conifers. The largest tree (directly behind agave) on the slope was a drooping or weeping juniper. This plant was not bearing cones, but even from a distance the descending, dead, outer branches (undoubedly fire-killed) gave this species away as far as it could be seen. This Juniperus species does not resprout, but this particular tree had attained size enough to withstand-- minus portions of some outer branches-- the heat of what was likely an upslope, hot, heading fire.

Predominate grasses were little bluestem, cane bluestem, and sideoats grama.

Casa Grande crowned the spectacle.

Chisos Basin, Big Bend National Park Brewster, County, Texas. June. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper -Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant of SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak -Pine Series, 123.32, of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004)..

 

112. Chisos Basin range- Range vegetation in Chisos Basin. The rich flora of climax oak-Mexican pinyon pine-juniper woodland was on display in this view across the Chisos Basin of the Chisos Mountains. Center conifer was Mexican pinyon, the climax dominant gymnosperm. Two Havard agaves in full-bloom "accompanied" the pine. The shrub in center foreground was of the Emory oak scrub form. Grasses included sideoats grama, cane bluestem, red threeawn, and chino grama.

Chisos Basin, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas June, early estival aspect. ,FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant of SRM 504 (Juniper- Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series, 123.32, of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

113. Range vegetation of Chisos Basin- Detail of range plants in Chisos Basin. A mixture of herbaceous and woody range plants were easily identified in this photograph. Englemann pricklypear and smooth sotol were in left and right foreground. Sideoats grama, a decreaser and the climax dominant on this location, was in center foreground. Other major grass species included cane bluestem, chino grama, and red threeawn. Shrubs of gray oak were in center midground. Foremost conifer (rounded crownin right midground was redberry or Pinchot juniper. Conifer behind and to left of juniper was a young Mexican pinyon pine. and shrubs.

There were not many forbs growing at the early summer season at time of this photograph. As to be expected most forbs were composites. Most of the dead shoots of forbs were cool-season annuals of the Umbelliferaeh

Chisos Basin, Big Bend Natioal Park, Brewster County, Texas. June, early estival aspect. FRES No., 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant of SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series123.32, oif Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24 d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 
114. Smooth sotol or desert candle (Dasylirion leiophyllum)- Full-bloom stage in smooth sotol on a range of the oak-Mexican pinyon pine-juniper woodland type. Green Gulch,.Big Bend National Park, Brewster county, Texas, June.
 
115. Inflorescence of smooth sotol or desert candle- Bureau of Land Magement Valley of Fire Recreational Area, Lincoln County, New Mexico. June.
 

116. Immature fruit of smooth sotol- A flowering-fruiting stalk of smooth sotol with an abundance of immature fruit. The Dasylirion species are dioecious so this was a pregnant girl plant. According to Powell (1988, p. 70) smooth sotol is the most common Dasylirion species in the Trans-Pecos Basin and Range area.

Presidio County, Texas. June.

 

117. Lechuguilla (Agave lechuguilla)- This is probably the most abundant Agave species in the Trans-Pecos Basin and Range area. In fact, lechuguilla "has one of the most extensive ranges of the agaves" (Gentry, 1982, p. 154). Lechuguilla is also one of the most easily identified (usually recognized immediately) by the high number of rosettes growing in clusters or groups. A. lechuguilla is a highly modular organism. Each of the basal rosettes is a module (a clone= ramet) of a genetic indivisual (genet). Most reproduction is asexual via suckering from rhizomes or rhizome-like structures (ie. "rootstocks"). Gentry (1982, p. 154) stated that numbers of rosettes "probably exceed those of all other native agaves". Gentry (1982, ps. 30-31) described the Agave rosette.

Incidentally this wonderful book, Agaves of Continental North America, (Gentry, 1982) is the encyclopedia and definitive reference by the man regarded as the world expert on Agave. Expensive, but well worth the price to any succulent-lover.

Lechuguilla is a poisonous range plant that has been documented to poison cattle, sheep, and goats, and--no surprise--this poisoning takes place under conditions of overgrazing. Gentry (1982, p. 157) delightfully described such mismanagement concluding that lechuguilla is "a protective agent of the range, penalizing those stockmen who, through force of circumstance or lack of foresight, decimate their resource by over-use". AMEN! The poisonous principle in lechuguilla is a saponin that causes hepatogenic or secondary photosensitization due to liver damage. References include Kingsbury (1964, ps. 56, 467-468), Sperry et al. (1964, ps. 7-8), Burrows and Tyrl 2001, 13-15), and Hart et al. (2003, 22-23).

Taxonomic treatment of Agave has been controversial. Traditionally the genus has been included in the agave family, Agavaceae, (eg. Powell, 1988), but other workers (eg. Smith, 1977) placed Agave in the lily family, Liliaceae, as an agave subfamily, Agavoideae. Incidentally, is there anything that is not controversial when it comes to plant taxonomic treatments?

Hudspeth County, Texas. June.

 

118. Basal rosettes of lechuguilla- Example of a cluster of rosettes, asexual modules of a genetic individual of lechuguilla. It was explained in the immediately preceding photo-caption that lechuguilla probably produces more rosettes than any other Agave species in North America. Recall from that explantion that each such rosette is a clone (= module= ramet) of the original "parent plant" which is the genet. Gentry (1982, p. 30) explained that each rosette of A. lechuguilla is a "monocarpic rosette". Each rosette flowers only once in its life (the life of that clone or module) and then dies; in fact, it begins to die as soon as the one-time flower stalk with its inflorescence begins to emerge and elongate. This condition was obvious in the flowering rosette in the cluster shown in this photograph. The inflorescence on this particular stalk was presented in the immediately succeding photograph.

With this pattern of life cycle and resource allocation, each genetic individual (the genet or actual unique plant) of lechuguilla with its ramets (rosettes) is a "multiannual" (Gentry, 1982, p. 30). Gentry's choice of terms could confuse the beginning student. Yes, the individual rosette flowers only once in its life and then promptly dies. The flowering-seed production process takes only a few weeks as flower stalk growth is extremely rapid (perhaps over a foot a day) such that this phenological development is "annual" (more like "ephemeral"). Yet it takes years (perhaps a quarter century) of reserve food storage, rosette growth, and formation of stalk primordial tissue development before flowering can be initiated. In reality each rosette is a long-lived perennial that finally flowers and then summarily dies. With asexual (vegetative or clonal) reproduction the genetically unique plant has a life span that is seemingly "endless" or "forever". The only thing annual about an Agave species is the amazing flowering and fruit production phenomenon. And that is phenomenonal.

 

119. Too important for just one set of pictures- This was another specimen of lechuguilla growing in the Trans -Pecos Basin and Range region. This plant had its home in a Mexican pinyon pine-mixed juniper-mixed oak-grass woodland in the Chisos Mountains of the Big Bend area. Its neighbors included birchleaf mountain-mahogany, desert candle or smooth sotol, grey oak, Emory oak, littleleaf sumac, bullgrass or bullgrass muhly, sideoats grama, Wright's threeawn, and a few small plants of little bluestem.

This plant (genotype, genetic individual) was another example of the pronounced clonal or modular pattern of growth so characteristic and prominent in this Agave species.The phenomenon of clonal growth in lechuguilla was described in the immediately preceding caption as well as elsewhere in Range Types of North America (eg. chapter, Chihuhuan Desert). This plant also provided another example of death of a module or one ramet (one clonal unit of the genotypic plant, the genet). The dead module or ramet appeared as the dead succulent leaves at base of a senescing sexual shoot (flower stalk) as shown at closer camera distance in the second of these two slides.

Lechuguilla has a rather restricted species (biological) range that is limited to Texas, southern New Mexico, and adjoining northern Mexico (Correll and Johnston, 1979, p. 421), but Powell (1988, p. 73-74) noted that it probably had the largest distribution of any Agave species and that lechuguilla defined boundaries of the Chihuhuan Deser. For a treatment of this (and the other Agave species Gentry (1982) was highly recommended.

The Agave species havae been placed in either a broad, all-encompassing lily family (Liliaceae), a smaller, more consistently distinctive (as to leaf morphology) agave family (Agavaceae), or an "in-between" approach with Agave species in the amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae). A good example of the huge Liliaceae was Smith (1977, ps.) while good treatment for the Agavaceae (and especially for the Basin and Range physiographic province) was Allred and Ivey (2102, ps. 569-571) with Correll and Johnston (1979, ps. 419-423) representative of the Amaryllidaceae. The authoritative--but not necessarily any more taxonomically correct than any other treatment--Flora of North America (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2002, ps. 415-421) placed Nolina species in the Agavaceae.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October, fruit-ripening stage of phenology.

 

120. Inflorescence of lechuguilla- Gentry (1982, ps. 36-46) described the Agave inflorescence. There are two basic forms of Agave inflorescence: 1) spicate or racemose typical of subgenus Littaea and 2) paniculate typical of subgenus Agave but-- as is so typical of living thing-- there are intermediate forms "which combine or bridge the two" (Gentry, 1982, ps. 37-38). The more-or-less spicate form in lechuguilla is an example of this combination form.

Hudspeth County, Texas. June.

 
.

121. Inflorescence of lechuguilla in anthesis- Detailed view of individual flowers of A. lechuguilla. Pigmentation of flower organs, including filaments, apparently varies among genetic individuals of A. lechuguilla. Lechuguilla flowers are, however, always strikingly beautiful.

Presidio County, Texas. June.

118. (61) Basal rosettes of lechuguilla-
 

122. Havard agave or Havard century plant (Agave havardiana)- Life and death simultaneously were playing out in this sexually reproducing Havard agave. After taking years (maybe several decades) to store up reserve food, grow leaves of the basal rosette, and development floral meristem this agave was in full-bloom and dying at the same time. The lowrmost leaves had already died as this plant was in anthesis and in process of exchanging gametes.

A. havardiana is in the subgenus Agave which has the paniculate form of inflorescence. A drooping or weeping juniper with fire-killed outer branches "watched" from behind as timeless Casa Grande provided a proper backdrop. Range Management has a romance all its own.

Chisos Basin, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. June.

 

123. Bearing erupted capsules- A specimen of foothill beargrass (Nolina erumpens) growing in the Mexican pinyon pine-mixed juniper-mixed oak-grass woodland in the Chisos Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas (the Big Bend area). The flower cluster (a panicle) of this plant was strictly pistillate suggesting that this individual was a female plant and, thus, that this is a dioecious species. Aside from Powell (1988, ps. 65-68), the local authority for Trans-Pecos Nolina species, Correll and Johnston (1979, p. 403) were the best for taxonomic treatment of foothill bergrass.

Much confusion exists regarding identification and nomemclature of some of the closely related Nolina species. Apparently N. erumpens is one of these. Powell (1988, p. 66) stated that N. erumpens occurred in New Mexico, but Allred and Ivey (2012, p. 612) did not give N. erumpens in their comprehensive flora of New Mexico. These New Mexico authors did show N. microcarpa which Powell (1988, p. 65) showed as extremely similar to N. erumpens in measurements of seed and bursting of fruit wall. It was possible that Allred and Ivey (2012, p. 612) included these two Nolina species under N. microcarpa. Coulter (1891-1894, p. 437) in Botany of Western Texas showed N. erumpens (but not N. microcarpa) as being "[b]etween the Pecos and Rio Grande" so that N. erumpens was far into New Mexico, but Wooton and Stanley (1915, p. 138) in Flora of New Mexico showed N. microcarpa (and not N. erumpens). This suggested that Coulter (1891-1894, p. 437) erred by misidentifying New Mexico specimens of N. microcarpa for the very close N. erumpens. This would have been an easy--even if not planned--lumping by Coulter (1891-1894, p. 437). This also suggested that Powell (1988, p. 66) was incorrect about N. erumpens being in New Mexico.

Also confusing has been the most appropriate family for the Nolina species. Nolina species have been interpreted as part of a "super-sized" Liliaceae (Smith, 1977, ps. 255-257), a more-confined Liliaceae that excluded some genera and placed them in their own family (eg. Agave and Yucca in Agavaceae) (Correll and Johnston, 1979, ps. 402-402), or placed in their own tiny family, Nolinaceae (Allred and Ivey, 2012, p. 612). In effect, this was just one degree or another of taxonomic "splitting" or "lumping". Smith (1977, ps. 255-257) had subfamilies of his immense Liliaceae including Agavoideae (which included Nolina, Dasylirion, Yucca, and Agave species) and Amarylloideae. Coulter (1891-1894, ps. 429-430, 436-438; ) included Nolina, Yucca, and Dasylirion in his Liliaceae and placed Agave in the amaryllis family (spelled Amaryllideae). The authoritative--but not necessarily any more taxonomically correct than any other treatment--Flora of North America (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2002, ps. 415-421) placed Nolina species in the Agavaceae. In short, these closely related genera have been arranged (rearranged) or grouped (regrouped) in about as many ways as there were taxonomists arranging (and rearranging) them.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October, fruit-ripening phenological stage.

 

124. Mountain-borne eruptions- A female compound racemose panicle on the specimen of foothill beargrass introduced in the prededing two-slide/caption unit. This plant was part of the shrub layer(s) of a Mexican pinyon pine-mixed juniper-mixed oak-grass woodland in the Chisos Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas. The taxonomic authority for Nolina species in the Trans-Pecos vegetational area was Powell (1988, p. 65-66). Surprisingly enough, there has not been a lot of information and knowledge concerning the Nolina species.

Not so surprising was the fact that some of the most detailed study of Nolina species has been their toxicity, especially in regards livestock poisoning. Higher levels of consumption of Nolina tissue can result in secondary (hepatogenic) photosensetization, especially in sheep and goats. With spring grazing (and, certainly, under overgrazing) the leaves of Nolina species are (or can be) palatable. It has typically been the case that the flowers and capsules of Nolina species are the poisonous organs (of course these are the most palatable plant parts). Those with more interest in specifics of Nolina toxicity can refer to Kingsbury (1964, ps. 56, 453-456), Sperry et al. (1964, ps. 32-34), Burrows and Tyrl (2001, ps. 15-18), and Hart et al. (2003, p. 138).

One of the more practical-oriented treatments of Nolina species was Benson and Darrow (1981, p.s 60-62), but N. erumpens was not included in their coverage. Benson and Darrow (1981, p. 62) and Kearney and Peeples (1963, p. 189) indicated that sometimes N. erumpens was included with N. texana, but these two species are quite different.

Observant viewers will have noted the tremendous fruit yield of this plant and, by extension, the relatively high allocation of the plant's resources expended in sexual reproduction. More detailed (closer camera-distance) views of the fruit (capsule) of this panicle were presented immediately below.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October, fruit-ripening phenological stage.

 

125. Busted out- Capsules of foothill beargrass ripening after they split or burst out their enclosing pericarps (fruit walls). The specific epithet erumpens means most literally "breaking through" (Stearn, 1992, p. 407), but has been translated variously as "breaking out", "bursting out", "bursting forth" any or all of which described the feature in Nolina erumpens of "bursting ovary walls" (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, (2002, p. 418).

This fruit was in the large panicles shown above in the two immediately preceding two-slide/caption units. Nolina species are dioecious.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October, fruit-ripening phenological stage.

 

126. Mexican pinyon pine (Pinus cembroides)- Two specimens of Mexican pinyon pine growing in Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park (Brewster County, Texas). The "nut pines" have commonly been interpreted as one of four subdivisions of the soft pine group (subgenus Haploxylon; Strobus). Treatment by Harlow et al. (1979, ps. 60, 74-76) was readily followed. The so-called "nuts" are merely the naked seeds of a complicated taxon within Pinus. These seeds have served as important feeeds (ie. mast) for native and domestic animals as well food as for man. American Indians relied on pine nuts as a dietary stable for generations extending back to prehistory.

The Mexican pinyon pine of Trans-Pecos range environments is Pinus cembroides var. cembroides (Harlow et oal., 1979, p. 76; Powell, 1988, p. 51).

 

127. Branches and leaves of Mexican pinyon pine- Boughs with needles and terminal buds (site of apical meristem) of Pinus cembroides var. cembroides.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. June.

 

128. The realm and its king- A Mexican pinyon pine in the Chisos Mountains at eastern (Trans-Pecos) end of the Basin and Range physiographic province. This tree was growing with a richly diverse botanical community including rose-seed juniper, alligator juniper, Emory oak, grey oak, lechuguilla, smooth sotol or desert candle, foothill beargrass, littleleaf sumac, birchleaf mountain-mahogany, rubber rabbitbrush, Wright's threeawn, Havard's threeawns, chino grama, sideoats grama, cane bluestem, bullgrass muhly, and a few scattered plants of little bluestem. There were almost no forbs.

There are a number of sources that provided cursory treatment of Mexican pinyon pine including Coulter (1891-1894, p. 555), Sargent (1933, ps. 8-9), Vines (1960, p. 15), Correll and Johnston (1979, p. 74), Powell (1988, p. 51), and Allred and Ivey (2012, p. 40). These latter authors recognized two varieties of P. cembroides var. cembroides and var. bicolor. Powell (1988, p. 51) specified that the Mexican pinyon pine in the Trans-Pecos Region were all P. cembroides: var. cembroides which he concluded was limitd (endemic) to Texas. This conclusion obviously conflicted with the later work of Allred and Invey (2012, p. 40). The taxonomic variety P. cembroides var. cembroides was apparently previously recognized as P. cembroides var. remota called the Texas pinyon (Harlow et al., 1979, p. 76). Correll and Johnston (1979, p. 74) limited P. cembroides var. remota to the western Edwars Plateau which is to east of the Trans-Pecos vegetational area, but Powell (1988, p. 51-52) recognized P. remota as a separate species (P. ramota at the species level), with a common name of papershell pinyon, and described unique morphological features of P. remota including cones being "rather fragile" (and, presumedly, seed coats also fragile). According to Powell (1988, p.51) P. remota was "the most widespread pinyon in the Trans-Pecos".

In their treatment of the pinyons or nut pines Harlow et al. (1979, 74-76) concluded: "These pines provide a beautifully complex taxonomic puzzle". Harlow et al. (1979, p. 60) grouped the pinyon pines as one of the soft or white pines (subgenus Haploxylon or Strobus).

Mexican pinyon pine is clearly one of the defining plant species of this form of the pinyon-juniper woodland range type (SRM 504, SAF 239): Mexican pinyon pine-mixed juniper-mixed oak-grass woodland of the Trans-Pecos Basin and Range land resource area of Texas.

Various morphological parts and organs of this same specimen of Mexican pinyon pine were presented immeediately below.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October; peak standing crop of the range vegetation.

 

129. Trunk and boughs- Bole with characteristic bark (first, vertical slide) and several outer branches (second, horizontal slide) of Mexican pinyon pine as a defining menber of the Mexican pinyon pine-mixed juniper-mixed oak-grass woodland in the Chisos Mountains. These parts were on the tree featured in the immediately preceding slide.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October.

 

130. End of the twig- Terminal ends of several leaders (branches) with new apical or terminal buds and fascicles (clusters) of needles (first slide) and terminal (= distal) end of two branches, one with a mature female cone containing ripe seed (second slide) of Mexican pinyon pine in the Chisos Mountains of the Big Bend area of Trans-Pecos Texas. These leaders were on the same specimen that was introduced two slide/caption units above.

Usually there are three or, sometimes, two needles per fascicle in Mexican pinyon pine (ie, a three-needle pine) according to Correll and Johnston (1979, p. 74), Powell (1988, p.47), and Allred and Ivey (2012, p. 40). This number of needles is not diagnostic among the nut pines in Trans-Pecos Texas however because all of these species have two or three needles per fascicle (Powell, 1998, p. 47).

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October.

 

131. Still on the tree- Front-on view of a seed-bearing cone and the terminal portion of a young twig of Mexican pinyon pine in the Chisos Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas. These are the same two twigs (terminal ends of twigs) presented in the immediately preceding photograph. The two slides were taken from opposite camera angles (opposite points of focus) so that the non-conebearing (upper) twig in the preceding side-view photograph was to right of the conebearing twig in this frontal-view photograph.

Allred and Ivey (2012, p. 40) noted that plants of Mexican pinyon pine are "nearly dioecious". This featured specimen was obviously a female plant.

* The azure, cobalt-blue background was the natural color of this sky. Even with Fugichrome (instead of Kodachrome) the sky as shown had the true color of the atmosphere of this arid land. God's Country!

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October. but it was yet to fall.

 

132. Tasty but hard eating- Two ripe and naturally fallen (tree-shed) cones with seeds of Mexican pinyon pine in a pinyon pine-mixed juniper-mixed oak-grass woodland in the Chisos Mountains of the Big Bend area of the Basin and Range physiographic province. These cones were produced by the same specimen of Mexican pinyon pine that was introduced four slide/caption units above.

It was noted above that Powell (1988, p. 51) distinguished between the two closely related (but apparently not hybridizing) species of P. cemebroides and P. remota with the latter having cones and seeds that were less durable or more fragile. The hard, tough seeds and general nature of these cones strongly suggested that they were P. cemebroides.

The seeds of Mexican pinyon pine and the Colorado pinyon pine or nut pine (Pinus edulis) (and one would have to add the papershell pinyon [P. remota] if it is a separate species) were eaten by American Indians and are still sold in grocery stores and roadside stands in some areas. Apparently the tasty seeds of Mexican pinyon are relatively hard to prepare for human consumption because they are hard-shelled (Powell, 1988, p. 51), whereas (presumedly) seeds of papershell pinyon would be thinner and less indurate.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October; seed-ripe, cone-shed stage of phenology.

 

133. Pinyon pine, nut pine, or Colorado pinyon (Pinus edulis)- The "squatty" form (general morphological appearance) of the classic pinyon pine species. This is the one most feasted on first by American Indians and, later also, the white man. The "nuts" (not nuts, of course, but the naked, stone seeds) of P. edulis are still gathered, then roasted and eaten with considerable enjoyment. Seeds of this and other "nut" or "stone" pines are important concentrates for wildlife and even livestock, especially sheep. Harlow et al. (1979, ps. 71-76) distinguished between the nut pines and the stone pines.

This specimen was growing on a shamefully overgrazed range in Las Animas County, Colorado. August. Overgrazing--by cattle in this instance--facilitated the dispersion (including seed movement by surface water as excessive runoff or overland flow), germination/emergence, and reduced competition with more palatable mid- and shortgrass species. P. edulis does grow in the Trans-Pecos Basin and Range vegetational area of Texas. Students can find brief taxonomic/morphological treatment of P. edulis for the land resource area in Correll and Johhnston (1979. ps. 73-74) and Powell (1988, ps. 49-50).

State Tree of the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico.

 

134. Squatting in a Chisos canyon- Sinlge male plant of roseseed juniper (Juniperus erythrocarpa) as a member of Mexican pinyon pine-juniper-mixed oak-grass woodland in the Chisos Mountains of Trans Pecos Texas. Roseseed juniper is probably the major Juniperus species in the Chisos Mountains form of pinyon pine-juniper-mixed oak-grass woodland. Powell (1988, ps. 40-41) explained (and gave both published and personal communication in this regard) that roseseed juniper hybridized with redberry or Pinchot juniper (J. pinchotii), the most common Juniperus species in the Trans-Pecos Region of Texas.

Although such other Juniperus species as J. ashei, J. monosperma, J. pinchotii, and, even, J. scopulorum occur in the Trans Pecos Basin and Range vegetational area (Powell, 1988, ps. 38-44) it is primarily J. erythrocarpa, J. deppeana, and J. flacida, that are important in the pinyon pine-juniper-oak-mixed grass woodland range type. The other junipers are more important as a component of the ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) cover type, as major species in adjoining vegetational areas (eg. Edwards Plateau savanna), or as dominant(s) of their own range plant community such as in hill and mountain breaks habitats.

Roseseed juniper most commonly has a low, spreading (ie. "squatty") habit or outer morphology.

Juniperus species are dioecious. Girl plants and their fleshy seeds (cones) were shown immediately below.

Chisos Basin, Big Bend National Park, Brewster, County, Texas. Early October.

 

135. Redseed boughs- Examples of main branchs bearing fleshy seeds or female cones of roseseed juniper. These boughs were obviously on a female plant given that Juniperus species are dioecious. Roseseed juniper (junipers are often called "cedars" by local folks) is the most common (thus important) juniper in the Mexican pinyon pine-juniper-mixed oak-mixed grass woodland throughout much of the Big Bend locality of Trans-Pecos Texas.

Two other important Juniperus species were treated immediately below.

Chisos Basin, Big Bend National Park, Brewster, County, Texas. Early October.

 

136. Trunk of alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana)- The bark of alligator juniper is separated or divided into rectangular units that somewhat resemble the scales on the back of the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). This juniper (it is not usually referred to as "cedar" as are many of the species of this genus) is one of the largest and, with the tell-tale bark, most distinctive of the western Juniperus species. In most of the pinyon-juniper woodland subtypes of which it is a component alligator juniper is not the most juniper nor is it typically the only Juniperus species. With its large size, however, alligator juniper has usually been regarded as a co-dominant especially when it grows in association with one of the pinyon pines. The trunks of alligator specimens are often seen to be of odd shape or form in addition to relatively large size (as shown in this individual).

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. June.

 

137. Boughs (with cones) of alligator juniper- Branches with needles and fleshy cones of Juniperus deppeana. So-called "berries" on junipers are obviously not berries because the gymnosperms bear naked seeds. Seeds of Gymnospermae members are often borne together (in groups) on a woody structure known as a cone (eg. pine cone). In case of Juniperus species, the naked seeds are encased inside a fleshy exterior (hence "berry" to the laymen) that is termed a fleshy cone or, sometimes (and less properly), as fleshy seed.

Fleshy cones and scaley leaves (needles) were displayed in more detail in the second of these slides.Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. June.

 

138. 'gator backs in the Davis Mountains-Trunks of alligator juniper growing on a savanna form of the Mexican pinyon pine-alligator juniper-Emory oak-mixed grass-woodland range cover type in the Davis Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas. This range had over course of about last ten years come under management of which prescribed burning was a major restoration practice.

Location note: more views of thisMexican pinyon-alligator juniper-mixed grass savanna were presented later in this chapter.

U up-U down Ranch settled by the G. S. Locke family, now Davis Mountains Preserve of The Nature Conservancy, Jeff Davis County, Texas. Early October.

 
 

139. Weeping at sundown- Drooping or weeping juniper (Juniperus flaccida) in the Chisos Mountains as seen just after sundown. The author found this fine example of a drooping junipr trunk with mature bark just as Ole Man Sun "dipped" below the Chisos peaks at end of another fine day in the Big Bend area of Trans Pecos Texas. Not the best photograph the ole Nikon FM ever took, but students get a good example of this picturesque junipr nonetheless.

Weeping or drooping juniper is the least abundant of three major Juniperus species in this area, but it is a unique, distinctive, and abundant enough species to occupy a well-earned presence in this treatment of a diverse, lovely range cover type.

The defining, namesake (for both common and scientific names) feature of this juniper was presnted in greater detail in the next three slide/caption units.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October.

 

140. The right combination- "Drooping" smaller branches of weeping cedar (= weeping juniper, drooping cedar) provided a foliaceous backdrop for sideoats grama, the Texas State Grass, in a Mexican pinyon pine-mixed juniper-mixed oak-grass woodland in the Chisos Mountains of the Big Bend area of Texas.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October.

 

141. Nothing to be droopy about- Examples of "hanging" terminal branches and fleshy female cones or fleshy seeds on drooping or weeping juniper which is one of three important Juniperus species in a Mexican pinyon pine-juniper-mixed oak-grass woodland in the Chisos Mountains of the Texas portion of the Basin and Range physiographic province. These plant parts were on the same tree that was presented immediately above that was accompanying sideoats grama, the State Grass of texas.

Weeping juniper is the least common of three major Juniperus species in the Big Bend area, but with its "hanging" branches it is unquestionably the most unique of the three junipers. It is just one of numerous plant species that comprises this diverse and amazingly productive range type.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October.

 

142. Drooping details- The fleshy female cones or fleshy seeds of weeping or drooping juniper in the Chisos Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas shown at a closer distance (as a larger image). These organs were growing on the same plant whose parts were featured in the two immediately preceding slide/caption units.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October.

 

143. Major oaks of the Chisos Mountains- Two species of oak were "put on parade" in this photograph taken in Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park. The tree on the left (and either basal heterophyllus shoots= "suckers" or a set of seedling shoots to its left and right) were Emory oak (Quercus emoryi); the shrub on the right was gray oak (Q. grisea). These two species are generally regarded as the two dominant oaks of mountains in the Trans-Pecos area (Powell, 1988, ps. 21-22).

Brewster County, Texas. June.

 

144. Another side-side comparison- Specimens (large ones) of: gray oak (Q. grisea), left, and Emory oak (Q. emoryi), right, in the Big Bend area of Trans-Pecos Texas. As implied by the common name of grey oak, this species is in the white oak group, subgenus Leucobalanus, while Emory oak is in the red (or black) oak group, subgenus Erythrobalanus. Powell (1988, ps. 21-22) was cited above as stating that these were the two major oak species of the Trans Pecos Basin and Range vegetational (land resource) area.

By the way, students should take note of the convention that scientific names are comprised of genus and specific epithet. Subgenera, although they are a taxonomic level in the botanical hierarchy between genus and specific epithet, are not part of the scientific name.

Brewster County, Texas. Early October.

 

145. Details of Emory oak- Bark, leaves, and fruit of Emory oak were displayed in this slide. Small shoot to left of big trunk was either a secondary shoot (perhaps heterophyllus shoot sprouting from basal trunk or roots) or an Emory oak seedling. Emory oak is the dominant Quercus species that develops a tree form in most Trans-Pecos Ranges like the Chisos Mountains.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. June.

 

146. Emory oak (Quercus emoryi)- Leaves and acorns on a large Emory oak in the Davis Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas. Emory oak is in the red or black oak subgenus, Erythrobalanus, species of which require two full growing seasons (years) for acorn production. Acorns are, of course, one of the major fruits known as mast, "nuts, acorns, and similar products which are consumed by animals" (Jacoby, 1989). Species from native birds and ruminants to man and his livestock use acorns as a staple of their diets.

Jeff Davis County, Texas. June.

 

147. Huge specimen- A massive , old-growth tree of Emory oak growing in the Trans Pecos Basin and Range physiographic province. Yes, it was a monster of an oak, even by the standards of Big Bend Texas. One does need increment boring data to know that this giant oak was older than the political entity now known as Texas. This big brusier was undroubtedly of fairly good size before any nation could claim that it's flag could fly over it.

Brewster County, Texas. Early October.

 

148. More examples of an important oak species- Two plants of the shrub form (morphology or habit) of Emory oak which was, in general, the major oak species in a Mexican pinyon pine-juniper-mixed oak-grass woodland in the Chisos Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas. As shown in the immediately preceding slide, Emory oak can grow into massive trees (many with a single or double trunk) or, alternatively, plants of this species can stay scrubby (exist in the shrub form/size until their death ). Whether this is a function of genotype, phenotype (phenotypic plasticity), or combination of the two resulting from abiotic X biotic interaction was unknown to this rangeman.

Would (could) these two shrub size/shape (scrub form) plants of Emory oak potentially grown into trees of dimensions like the monster presented immediately above? Probably only the Great Rangeman knows the answer to that. Regardless, Emory oaks of both shrub and/or tree size and shape are valuable (probably indispensible) members of various range plant communities found throughout the Basin and Range physiographic province.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas.

 

149. Woody details- Two large leaders (branches) of Emory oak shown in the first slide and details of two whorls of leaves oak (the classic "oak leaf cluster" pattern) on one short shoot coming off of a long shoot in Emory oak shown in the second slide. The two leaders in the first slide were long shoots. The phenomenon of long shoots and (or versus) short shoots in shrubs (woody plants in general) was described by Dahl and Hyder in Sosebee (1977, ps. 272-275).

First slide: Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October. Scond slide: U up-U down Ranch settled by the G. S. Locke family, now Davis Mountains Preserve of The Nature Conservancy, Jeff Davis County, Texas. Early October.

 

150. Gray oak- Gray oak is the dominant species of scrub oak in most of the major mountain ranges throughout the Trans-Pecos Basin and Range area. This specimen was the plant growing to the right of the Emory oak tree in the two photographs just before the preceding photograph of Emory leaves and acorns.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. June.

 

151. Leaves of gray oak (Quercus grisea)- Leadaers with leaves of the specimen of gray oak shown in the immediately preceding photograph.Gray oak is in the white oak subgenus, Leucobalanus, species of which require only one full growing season for production of an acorn crop.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. June.

 

152. Two "pals" in the oak-pinyon-juniper woodland cover type- A Texas madrone, known also as naked Indian and lady's leg, (Arbutus texana= A. xalapensis= A. xalapensis. var. texana) and, behind the madrone, alligator juniper. Texas madrone typically grows as an individual tree or shrub or, infrequently, in small colonies. This species is not a dominant or even an associate species, but it is a woody component and characteristic species of oak-pinyon-juniper woodland range in the Trans-Pecos Basin and Range area. Texas madrone (like alligator juniper) is also a characteristic species in range plant communities besides the pinyon-juniper cover type. An example includes ecotones between a mosaic of encinal oak and pinyon-juniper woodland and ponderosa pine cover types which was the case for these two trees. Texas madrone does "stand out" in the any woodland crowd as rangemen would expect of a lady's leg or a naked Indian.

Texas madrone is in Ericaceae, the heath or heather family, one of the characteristics of which is smooth, colorful bark on often bent or curving shoots and limbs (again, like a lady's leg or naked Indian).

Guadalupe Mountains, Guadalupe National Park, Culbertson County, Texas. June.

 

153. Two "legs" in the oak-pinyon-juniper woodland cover type- A "pin-up" photograph of Texas madrone or lady's leg (right) and an alligator juniper (left) showing characteristic bark of these two species that occur on oak-pinyon-juniper woodland range. Close-up of the two trees introduced in the immediately preceding photograph. These two specimens were growing in the Guadalupe Mountains in transition range vegetation between encinal oak/ pinyon-juniper woodland and ponderosa pine forest.

Leaves of ericaceous species are, like their bark, distinctive and possessing unique features. Leaves of most members of the Ericaceae are relatively large, thich, and highly cutinized. Ericaceous leaves such as those of Arbutus species have traditionally been described as "broad-schlerophyllus" following Cooper (1922) who first applied the term to Clifornia chaparral vegetation.

Guadalupe National Park, Culbertson County, Texas. June.

 

154. Lead and mixed rock- Example of littleleaf or goldenball leadtree (Leucaena retusa) in the Mexican pinyon pine-mixed juniper-mixed oak-grass woodland in the Chisos Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas. The Chisos Mountains are granitic which is in contrast to some Trans-Pecos ranges that are igneous in origin. Some of the standard sources specifiy that this member of the mimosa (subfamily, Mimosoideae; tribe Mimosae) is one of limestone habitats. Local authorities for goldenball leadtree were Powell (1988, p.189-190) and Allred and ivey (2012, sp). Also recommended was the always-there Vines (1960, ps. 504-505) and the Texas manual (Correll and Johnston, 1979, ps. 774-775).

Littleleaf leadtree is not a common--and certainly a dominant or, even, associate--woody species, but it is an indicator of canyon or draw habitats in the Trans-Pecos Mountains. More than likely this member of the mimosa subfamily of the Leguminosae does not fix atmospheric nitrogen (ie. is not a nodulated legume).

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October, ripe (seed-shatter)-fruit stage of phenology.

 

155. Produced in a deep, dry canyon- Leaves and legumes of littleleaf or goldenball leadtree. These organs were growing on the large, single-stemed shrub presented in the immediately preceding two-slide/caption unit. These legumes had dehisced and shattered their seeds on the granitic-based soil from which their parent plant produced them.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October, ripe (seed-shatter)-fruit stage of phenology.

 

156. Branches of littleleaf sumac (Rhus microphylla) in full-fruit- Leaders of littleleaf or desert sumac (first photograph) and details of leaves and fruit of the same (second slide). The fleshy fruit of Rhus species is a drupe: the fruit type in which the outer layer or skin is the exocarp, the fleshy layers are mesocarp, and the bone-like seed coat is the endocarp; endocarp and seed constitute a pyrene (the stone or pit). Hence, drupes are stone fruits or pit fruits (Smith, 1977). This woody species is well-adapted to xeric environments and is widely distributed on harsher habitats such as drier or shallower soils in the Great Plains as well as basins and bajadas of the Chihuhuan Desert. Desert sumac is often common of tobosagrass (Hilaria mutica) swales or "flats" in the semidesert grasslands.

Drupes are sometimes cooked in hot water to make "hillbilly lemonade". Beats a job in the eye, but this author recommends the "real stuff" (or tea or coffee or milk or cold water or ...; you get the picture).

Davis Mountains, Brewster County, Texas. June.

 
157. Lanceleaf sumac (Rhus lanceolata= R. copallina var. lanceolata)- Lanceleaf sumac is one of the Rhus species that can grow into tree form and size (or a large, spreading shrub) as evidenced by this specimen that was at peak bloom in the Davis Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas (Brewster County). June.
 

158. Leaves and inflorescences of lanceleaf sumac- This Rhus species is of limited browse value for livestock (generally Poor feed value) except for goats and it is of somewhat higher browse value (roughly Fair) for native browsers like deer, but the drupe fruits can be excellent for birds like upland game species. All visible parts of this woody species appeared to this author to have potentially high ornamental value, especially for native plant purists.

The inflorescence type is a panicle.

Davis Mountains, Brewster County, Texas. June..

 

159. Splendid specimen- A large, vigerously growing plant of tobacco sumac, evergreen sumac or lentisco (Rhus virens subsp. virens) growing in the upper elevations of the Chisos Mountains of the Big Bend area of Trans Pecos Texas. This individual was growing with gray oak and Emory oak, redberry juniper, rosefruit juniper, Mexican pinyon pine, smooth sotol or desert candle, birchleaf mountain mahogany, sideoats grama, chino grama Havard's threeawn, and spider threeawn.

Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October (in an extremely rain-rich year).

 

160. Evergreen sumac, tobacco sumac, or lentisco - Not much attention has been paid to this sumac as a range plant. In Important Western Browse Plants Dayton (1931, p. 97) cited previous work that found evergreen sumac "to be a pioneer in the vegetation of limestone ledges in west Texas, forming a protection for other species which occupy more slowly..." and therefore being important in watershed protection.

The adjective "evergreen" comes from the supposed characteristic of evergreenness, but leaves of this subspecies and toughleaf sumac (R. virens subsp. choriophylla) frequently turn red or brown in autumn. Leaves are extrmely shiny and bright. The adjective "tobacco" was derived from reports that Indians like the Commanches cured leaves and used them as a substitute for or mixed with tobacco to smoke in their pipes. The fruits of all Rhus species can be used to make a refreshing drink (often termed "lemonade") by steeping in hot water and subsequent cooling. Good for college freshmen who will (do) try any- and everything. Returning to the namesake "tobacco" and sticking with college students, it should be pointed out that smoking of Rhus leaves is likely less toxic than most else they smoke, snort, guzzle, shoot, poke, prod, pump, hump, or otherwise imbibe in.

Presidio County, Texas. June.

 

161. Phytoparasite in the Chisos- Rough or boll American mistletoe (Phoradendron bolleanum= P. hawksworthii) parasitizing a juniper (Juniperus sp.). Add to the multi-layers of the oak-Mexican pinyon pine-juniper woodland an epiphyte layer, and a parasitic one at that. Parasitism is one of the important interactions among organisms on ranges. In context of range plants and vegetation your author included important parasitic throughout this publication. This example continued that tradition.

Mistletoes have been extensively studied by forest pathologists, but the mistletoe featured here is not one of the major economically important species.

Mistletoes like the Phoradendron species are known as the true or leafy mistletoes (in contrast to the dwarf mistletoes that are far more common on conifers).

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. June.

 

162. Plant parasitism in the Chisos- Rough or boll American mistletoe parasitized (and probably killed) this juniper on an oak-Mexican pinyon pine-juniper woodland range. The second slide showed the sites of shoot emergence and of penetration of haustorium which is the projection of hyphae that function as the absorbing organ into tree cells. Haustorial strands spread laterally along conifer shoots (branches) and send down sinkers deeper into shoots to absorb nutrients of the host conifer (Agrios, 1988, ps. 618-620).

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. June.

 

163. One of a small family- Algarito (Berberis trifoliata= Mahonia trifoliata) growing in association with alligator juniper, redberry juniper, rosefrujit juniper, Mexican pinyon pine, sideoats grama, Havards threeawn and spider threeawn in the upper elevations of the Chisos Mountains of the Big Bend area, Trans Pecos, Texas. This particular plant did not have much fruit on it, having apparently already shed fruit in an extremely wet year.

Algarito is more abundant in the adjoing Edwards Plateau of Texas, but is does grow in more mesic habitats within the greater Chihuhuan Desert Region such as in cooler, more mesic parts of the Chisos Mountains. This relatively short shrub with its spiny leaves is in the Berberidaceae, a family better know for its forbs.

Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Mid-October.

 

164. Chinograss or chino grama (Boutelous ramosa)- This is the dominant range plant on much of the foothill semidesert grassland and Chihuhuan Desert-semidesert (Chihuhuan) grassland ecotone range types and it is an important (often co-dominant) species in the sotol-lechuguilla-grama grassland range type. Chino grama remains a major species in the herbaceous layer in the oak-Mexican pinyon pine-juniper woodland cover type where it is typically the most widespread grass. In the oak-pinyon pine-juniper woodland individual plants of chino grama attain considerably less size, especially fewer shoots, than on grassland or shrub-savanna range types.

The rocky land surface shown here was typical of much of the oak-Mexican pinyon pine-juniper woodland. There were not relict or reference areas to which this soil surface could be compared. This surface condition was very similar to stone pavement on floor of the bajadas and basins of Chihuhuan Desert below the foothills of Chisos Mountains where this photograph was taken.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. June, early estival stage prior to onset of summer rainy period and, therefore, prior to this year's "green-up".

 

165. Colony of spidergrass or spider threeawn (Aristida ternipes= A. ternipes var. ternipes)- This is one of the more distinctive (ie. less easily confused) of the perennial Aristida species. It is also one of the more abundant threeawns in mountains of the Trans-Pecos area and, indeed, throughout much of the immense Chihuhuan-Sonoran Deserts super-region. While spidergrass is distinctive (panicles were shown below), and not as readily confused as most of the semiarid-arid Aristida species, this does not preclude mix-ups, nomenclatural inconsistency, continuing analysis and re-analysis of specimens, and spirited contradictions in taxonomy of A. ternipes (along with most other Aristida speceis).

Some of the confusion in the literature on Aristida was described in detail elsewhere herein, especially in regards the numerous Aristida species in the Sonoran Desert chapter (Shurblands), so details were not "re-hashed" in this photo-caption. Various authorities who tried to "straighten out the mess" (and wound up contributing to the mess as well as to Aristida taxonomy) in southwestern North America included Silveus (1933), Hitchcock and Chase (1951), Gould (1951), Gould (1975), and Powell (2000). As of this writing the latest "official" treatment (but if the past is any indication not the last of such) on Aristida was that of Allred (in Barkworth et al., 2003, ps. 330-335). Also worthy of reference was the well-structured work of Powell (2000, ps. 239-254 passim, esp. 244-246).

The latest taxonomic treatments viewed A. ternipes and A. hamulosa as a "species pair" and "cospecific" as A. ternipes var. ternipes and A. ternipes var. hamulosa (see Powell, 2000, ps. 245-246 for discussion and citation of original sources).

Specimens of spidergrass presented in this and the next two slides were representatives of the dominant herbaceous species in the understorey of upper elevation oak-Mexican pinyon pine-juniper woodland range in the Chisos Mountains.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. June, seed-ripe to seed shatter phenological stages.

 

166. Specimen of spidergrass- This individual of Aristida ternipes was a good example of the habit (general appearance) and some of the gross physical details of its species. The tortuous shape of upper leaves and panicle branches could have easily invoked metaphorical comparison to a spider-like configuration.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. June, seed-ripe to seed-shatter stage.

 

167. Examples of Havard's legacy- Two plants of Havard's threeawn (Aristida havardii) in the first slide and closer-in view in the second slide of the Havard's threeawn plant at left in the first slide that were growing in the understorey of a Mexican pinyon pine-juniper-mixed oak-grass woodland in the Chisos Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas.

Aristida species are primarily species of disturbance, including overgrazing, and have traditionally been interpreted as ecological invaders or, at best, increasers from a plant succession standpoint. There are exceptions to every rule (except the rule about exceptions) and A. havardii and A. arizonica (treated immediately below) are exceptions. These two Aristida species are decreasers (climax dominants) on most, if not all, range sites within the Mexican pinyon pine-juniper-mixed oak-grass woodland range type.

In the two views presented here, sideoats grama was present immediately behind the featured plants of Havard's threeawn. Presence of sideoats grama, which is a climax midgrass (= a decreaser species) on this habitat, provided empherical support for the preceding statement that Havard's threeawn is a decreaser on this range site. Palatability may be another matter, but as regards adaptation to this range environment Havard's threeawn is a major herbaceous member of the climax range vegetation.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October; peak standing crop, seed-ripe to seed-shatter stage.

 

168. Another example of Havard's legacy- One plant of Havard's threeawn shown in its aboveground entirety (first slide) and at closer camera distance for details of shoots (second slide) growing in the understorey of a Mexican pinyon pine-juniper-mixed oak-grass woodland range in the Chisos Mountains in the Big Bend area of Texas. Immediately behind this plant was cover of sideoats grama. Both of these eragrostoid grass species are decreasers in this range plant community.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October; peak standing crop, seed-ripe to seed-shatter stage.

 

169. A taste of Arizona in Trans-Pecos Texas- General view showing overall habit of aboveground (first slide) and closer-in view of shoots (second slide) of a plant of Arizona threeawn (Aristida arizonica). These two specimens were growing in asssociation with the specimens of Havard's threeawn presented (and ecologically treated) immediately above. As was explained for Havard's threeawn, Arizon threeawn is a climax species (a decreaser) in the herbaceous understorey of a Mexican pinyon pine-juniper-mixed oak-grass climax woodland community. Both Havard's and Arizona threeawns are members of this range plant community (= potential natural vegetation) that developed in the Chisos Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas.

As a general rule, Aristida species are not highly palatable to most range animals (espeically the ungulates) and, perhaps as a consequence of that fact, the threeawns have been regarded generally as ecological (successional) invaders or, at best, increasers. Havard's threesawn and Arizona threeawn are two exceptions to that general rule. Again, these two cespitose, perennial, eragrostoid grasses are decreasers in pinyon pine-juniper-oak-grass woodland range type of the Trans-Pecos Basin and Range vegetational area of Texsas, palatablility (or lack thereof) notwithstanding.

Green Gulch, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas. Early October; peak standing crop, seed-ripe to seed-shatter stage.

 
Taxonomic referral- The authority for Aristida species of the Texas, the Trans-Pecos, portion of the Basin and Range physiographic province is (as of this writing) Powell (2000, ps. 239-254). The recognized authority on taxonomy and nomenclature of the North Amereican, especially for southwestern North America, Aristida is Allred in Barkworth et al. (2003, ps. 315-342). There is perhaps no other North American grass genus that has been more subject To the eternal tug of war between "lumpers" and "splitters" and to use of taxonomic variety than in the case of Aristida.
 
 
Davis Mountains Pinyon Pine-Juniper-Grass Woodland
In contrast to the Chisos Mountains which are a "geologic smorgasboard" of sedimentary and ignous geologic materials (Bohannon, 2011) the Davis or LImpia Mountains are primarily of igneous origin. An example of pinyon pine-alligator juniper-mixed grass woodland in the Davis (Limpia) Mountains was presented below.
 

170. Another form, another sub-type- Three landscape-scale views of a savanna form of the Mexican pinyon pine-alligator juniper-Emory oak-mixed grass-woodland range cover type in the Davis Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas. The dominant tree of this climax range plant community was alligtor juniper (Juniperus deppeana) with Mexican pinyon pine (Pinus cerebroides) the associate conifer. Emory oak (Quercus emoryi), a live oak species, was the major woody angiosperm. Although there were some roseberry juniper (Juniperus erythrocarpa) in this area none of this species were found on the range treated herein.

The dominant midgrass "swapped back and forth" between cane bluestem (Andropogon barbinodis= Bothyriochloa barbinodis) and sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula). Other important grasses included blue grama (B. gracilis), plains lovegrass (Eragrostis intermedia), green sprangletop (Leptochloa dubia), wolftail (Lycurus phleoides), pinyon ricegrass (Piptochaetium fimbriatum), plains bristlegrass (Setaria leucopila), Harvard's, threeawn (Aristida havardii), little bluestem (A. scoparius= Schizachyrium scoparium), and mesa muhly (Muhlenbergia tenuifolia).

Forbs were sparse. Aside from smaller plants of alligator juniper and Emory oak, the principal shrub was catclaw or wait-a-minute bush (Mimosa biuncifera= M. lindheimeri).

This range had been burnt by prescription three times (years) in the last ten years.

U up-U down Ranch settled by the G. S. Locke family, now Davis Mountains Preserve of The Nature Conservancy, Jeff Davis County, Texas. Early October, early autumnal aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series 123.32 of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

171. Alligator juniper-dominated variant- A form of pinyon pine-juniper-grass woodland (actually a savanna form) dominated by alligator juniper with Mexican pinyon pine and Emory oak the associate woody species. The second slide was a "nested photo-plot" inside the landscape-"photo-plot" in the first slide (match the lower cedar or juniper or boughs on the right-most alligaor juniper). A representative plant of each of the three tree species was present in the first image.

Dominant grasses (co-dominant grass species) were sideoats grama and cane bluestem. Other grass species included blue grama, green sprangletop. plains lovegrass, wolftail, plains bristlegrass, Harvard's, threeawn, pinyon ricegrass, little bluestem, and mesa muhly.

There were no forb or shrub species in the range vegetation shown in these two slides. This range had been burned by prescription burning in three of the last ten years.

U up-U down Ranch settled by the G. S. Locke family, now Davis Mountains Preserve of The Nature Conservancy, Jeff Davis County, Texas. Early October, early autumnal aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series 123.32 of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

172. Trees and grass in a woodland- Mexican pinyon pine (tallest tree, left) and alligator juniper (all other visible conifers left and right) with Emory oak in distant background with herbaceous understorey dominated by sideoats grama, cane bluestem, and plains lovegrass with wolftail, plains bristlegrass, blue grama, Havard's threeawn, pinyon ricegrass, and mesa muhly as other grass species. Forbs were almost non-existant.

This range had prescribed burns in three of the last ten years.

U up-U down Ranch settled by the G. S. Locke family, now Davis Mountains Preserve of The Nature Conservancy, Jeff Davis County, Texas. Early October, early autumnal aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series 123.32 of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

173. Fire-adapted- Typical "middle-aged" tree of alligator juniper (first slide) and sapling of alligator juniper (second slide) as they appeared after being subjected to prescribed burning in threee times (years) in the last decadde. The older tree in the first (upper) slide showed a few dead (fire-killed) lower limbs in its crown and the sapling in the second (lower) slide showed both 1) flagging (fire-dead, bare limbs) and 2) basal shoot or stump sprouting induced by fire ingury). Dominant grass species in the herbaceous understorey shown in these two views was cane bluesteme with sideoats grama the associate. Other grass species included plains lovegrass, blue grama, green sprangletop, plains bristlegrass, wolftail, little bluestem, Havard's threeawn, pinyon ricegrass, and mesa muhly. There were, in effect, no forbs.

U up-U down Ranch settled by the G. S. Locke family, now Davis Mountains Preserve of The Nature Conservancy, Jeff Davis County, Texas. Early October, early autumnal aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series 123.32 of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

174. Good synopsis scene- Composite view of a Mexican pinyon pine-alligator juniper-Emory oak-mixed grass woodland in the Davis Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas. All three tree species were included in this synoptic image. Other than shrub-sized "youngsters" of these three tree species the only shrub with cover that amounted to anything was catclaw mimosa or wait-a-minute bush. Dominant grassse of There were almost no forbs, so the prominent and well-developed herbaceous component consisted of two grass layers: 1) the predominant mid-grass layer of sideoats grama and cane bluestem (the two co-dominants) with plains lovegrass (the main asociate species), plains bristlegrass, green sprangletop, wolftail (which was more of a shortgrass on this range), Harvard's, threeawn, pinyon ricegrass, little bluestem (a midgrass species on the range habitts here), and mesa muhly and 2) shortgrass layer consisting mostly of blue grama and black grama (and wolftail perhaps for this environment).

In three of the last ten years prescribed burns had been conducted on this range.

U up-U down Ranch settled by the G. S. Locke family, now Davis Mountains Preserve of The Nature Conservancy, Jeff Davis County, Texas. Early October, early autumnal aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series 123.32 of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

175. Benefits of a burn- A Mexican pinyon pine-alligator juniper-Emory oak-mixed grass woodland range in the Davis Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas that had been fired by prescription in three of the last ten years. The climax range vegetation of this range was in Excellent range condition class. The herbaceous zone consisted of both 1) midgrass and 2) shortgrass layers. The co-dominant grasses of this climax range plant community were the midgrass species, sideoats grama and cane bluestem. Plains lovegrass was generally the associate species, but green sprangletop and plains bristlegrass were local associate or, rarely, dominant grasses. Other grass species included blue grama, black grama, wolftail, Havard's threeawn, pinyon ricegrass, little bluestem, and mesa muhly. Blue grama and black grama were closest to shortgrass species though the relatively small or dimunitive size of wolftail plants on this range could qualify this grass as a shortgrass species as well.

There were, for all intents and purposes, no forbs on this range. Th only shrub of much consequence was catclaw mimosa or wait-a-minute bush.

Bare (devoid of needles) crowns in these two views (a form of "nest photo-quadrant") were of dead alligator juniper killed by a combination of prescribed fire (see again first sentence of this caption) and drought that over the last several years had been rated as Severe to Extreme on the Palmer Scale (Index). Some of these plants of alligator juniper had only been topkilled and were weakly resprouting from their stumps or rootcrowns, but many had been completely killed by the fire-drought combination (interactions). This author did not have time to determine percent topkilled versus percent that were "graveyard dead" (to quote Jerry Clower).

U up-U down Ranch settled by the G. S. Locke family, now Davis Mountains Preserve of The Nature Conservancy, Jeff Davis County, Texas. Early October, early autumnal aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series 123.32 of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

176. Blessing of prescribed fire- Two revealing views of crowns of dead alligator junipers and a released herbaceous understorey of many grass species in a Mexican pinyon pine-alligator juniper-Emory oak-mixed grass woodland range that had been prescription burned in three years of the last decade. This fire-improved climax range plant community was in the Davis Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas. Over course of the last several years this area had been suffering from prolongd drought that varied in Palmer Index-rating from Severe to Extreme Drought. The combination of prescribed fire with coincident drought resulted in death of numerous alligator junipers. Some of these juniper had only been topkilled, but many others were dead to "tips of their invading roots". Percentages of the two dead categories where not determined by were not determinedd by this observing rangeman in his short visition to this beautiful woodland range.

The herbaceous understorey of this woodland range was composed exclusively of grasses (essentially there was no forb cover). Overall sideoats grama and cane bluestem were the co-dominant grasses of this climax range plant community, but there were small areas (local habitats) where plains lovegrass, the overall associate species, and, less frequently, green sprangletop and plains bristlegrass were local dominant grasses. Other grass species included blue grama, black grama, wolftail, Havard's threeawn, pinyon ricegrass, little bluestem, and mesa muhly. Dominants and the "other grasse species" were midgrasses except blue grama and black grama (and perhaps wolftail given diminutive size of plants present on this range) which were shortgrasses.

There were almost no forbs except for The only shrub whose cover "amounted to anything" was catclaw mimosa or wait-a-minute bush.

U up-U down Ranch settled by the G. S. Locke family, now Davis Mountains Preserve of The Nature Conservancy, Jeff Davis County, Texas. Early October, early autumnal aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series 123.32 of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

177. Thriving with flames- Catclaw mimosa or wait-a-minute bush and cane bluestem in the understorey of a Mexican pinyon pine-alligator juniper-Emory oak-mixed grass woodland. This range had been treated with prescribed fire for three of the last ten years. Results of this prescribed burning was death (sometimes only topkill and other times total kill) of the sprouting conifer, alligator juniper, and increase in cover of native grasses and shrubs like these shown here. During much of this time this area had been in drought that ranged from Severe to Extreme of the Palmer Index.

Death of alligator juniper was undoubtedly a function of both fire and drought given that this conifer is one of the sprouting Juniperus species (see example above). Examples of dead alligator juniper were presented in the two immediately preceding slide/caption sets.

This pinyon pine-juniper mixed grass woodland was in the Davis Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas.

U up-U down Ranch settled by the G. S. Locke family, now Davis Mountains Preserve of The Nature Conservancy, Jeff Davis County, Texas. Early October, early autumnal aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Oak variant SRM 504 (Juniper-Pinyon Pine Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon - Juniper). Oak-Pine Series 123.32 of Madrean Evergreen Forest and Woodland, 123.3 (Brown et al., 1998). Chihuhuan Deserts- Chihuhuan Montane Woodlands Ecoregion 24d (Griffith et al., 2004).

 

178. Wait-up!- Another view of the specimen of catclaw mimosa or wait-a-minute mimosa (Mimosa ubiuncifera) introduced immediately above (first slide) and several branches and interior of that same plant (second slide) growing as part of an erratic or interrupted shrub layer in a Mexican pinyon pine-alligator junipermixed grass woodland in the Davis (Limpia) Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas.

This is one of the more widely distributed and abundant of the Mimosa species. Catclaw mimosa has a species range extending from the Edwards Plateau and the edge of Great Plains westward through both the Chihuhuan and Sonorad Deserts, semidesert grasslands, and pinyon pine-juniper woodlands (Coulter, 1891-1894, p. 97; Kearney and Peebles, 1960, p. 400; Vines, 1960, p. 507-508; Correll and Johnston, 1979, p. 779; Benson and Darrow, 1981, p. 232; Great Plains Flora Association, 1986, p. 409; Powell, 1988, ps. 193-194; Allred and Ivey, 2012, p. 335). In addition to these taxonomic/morphological treatments Dayton (1931, p. 79) and Francis (2004, ps. 482-484) treated catclaw mimosa (as Mimosa aculeaticarpa in the latter source) from standpoints of its ecology, physiology, and usees on range.

Powell (1988, p. 194) explained that catclaw mimosa was one of the worse invasive shrubs of semidesert grassland, but that it furnished browse for both livestock and ungulate wildlife as well as affording "excellent quail cover and food throughout much of the Trans-Pecos". Vines (1960, p. 508) also remarked on these features emphasing browse use by ruminants more during times of stress (eg. drought). Both authors noted that catclaw mimosa was a valuable bee plant.

U up-U down Ranch settled by the G. S. Locke family, now Davis Mountains Preserve of The Nature Conservancy, Jeff Davis County, Texas. Early October.

 

179. No wonder a body had to wait- Leader (first slide) and section of that same leader (seond slide) om catclaw or wait-a-minute mimosa showing the claw-like prickles on stem surfaces that readily catch (and tear) clothing and skin. This obvious member of the mimosa subfamily (Mimosoideae) of the Leguminosae is a sometimes nusiance and aggragavation, but as was cited and explained above, this species is a a frequently valuable browse plant over a wide geographic area that ecnompasses mixed prairie, semidesert grassland, Chihuhuan and Sonoran Deserts as well as pinyon pine-juniper woodlands. Catclaw mimosa appeared in several chapters of Range Types of North America attesting to its occurrence in these various range cover types.

U up-U down Ranch settled by the G. S. Locke family, now Davis Mountains Preserve of The Nature Conservancy, Jeff Davis County, Texas. Early October.

 

180. Sort of an uncommon one- Several plants of pinyon ricegrass (Piptochaetium fimbriatum) in the herbaceous understorey of a Mexican pinyon pine-alligator juniper-Emory oak-mixed grass woodland in the Davis Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas. Thought not common nor abundant (other than locally) pinyon ricegrass is a principal indicator grass species on range sites within the general pinyon pine-juniper woodland range type. Pinyon ricegrass is a decreaser, perhaps even an ice cream species, and its presence indicates that grazing has been proper to the light side of overall proper use for pinyon-juniper woodland range.

The local authority for pinyon ricegrass remained Powell (2000, ps. 58-59) who explained that, though palatable, this member of the Stipeae tribe was not abundant enough to be an important forage species.

U up-U down Ranch settled by the G. S. Locke family, now Davis Mountains Preserve of The Nature Conservancy, Jeff Davis County, Texas. Early October; peak standing crop, grain-ripe phenological stage.

 

181. Pinyon panicles- Panicles of pinyon ricegrass with obvious spikelets, the caryopses of which were in the hard or mature state. These organs were on plants that were locally plentiful in the understorey of a Mexican pinyon pine-alligator juniper-Emory oak-mixed grass woodland range in the Davis Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas. This range had been managed by prescribed fire in three of the last ten years. Growth of grass species like pinyon ricegrass had responded "in spades" to wise use prescribed burning.

U up-U down Ranch settled by the G. S. Locke family, now Davis Mountains Preserve of The Nature Conservancy, Jeff Davis County, Texas. Early October, grain-ripe stage of phenology.

 

182. Rice grains in the woods- Spikelets of pinyon ricegrass laid across bark of alligator juniper in a Mexican pinyon pine-alligator juniper-Emory oak-mixed grass woodland in the Davis Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas. These were some of the spikelets in panicles that were introduced in the preceding two slides.

According to Silveus (1933, ps. 314-315) and Gould (1975, p. 80) this is the only Piptochaetium species in Texas and it is limited to the Trans-Pecos Basin and Range vegetational area of Texas. Pinyon ricegrass also grows from northern Mexico northward to Colorado while also occurring in Arizona and New Mexico (Gould, 1975, p. 81). Pinyon ricegrass is in the tribe, Stipeae, members of which are characterized by spikelets of a single flower borne in panicles and that disarticulate above the glumes (Gould and Shaw, 1983, p. 116).

U up-U down Ranch settled by the G. S. Locke family, now Davis Mountains Preserve of The Nature Conservancy, Jeff Davis County, Texas. Early October, grain-ripe phenological stage.

 

183. Not jist a'wolfin'- Large plant (first slide) and spike-resembling constricted panicle(second slide) of wolftail (Lycurus phleoides) or, maybe, bristletip wolftail (L. setosus) in understorey of a Mexican pinyon pine-alligator juniper-Emory oak-mixed grass woodland in the Davis Mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas. Wolftail was growing in association with an array of grass species including blue grama, black grama, pinyon ricegrass, sideoats grama, cane bluestem, plains lovegrass, Havard's threeawn, little bluestem, green sprangletop, plains bristlegrass, and mesa muhly with species composition, including dominant and associate species, varying locally. Shrubs were very limited but wait-a-minute or catclaw mimosa was the most abundant shrub species.

Powell (1988, p. s. 158-159) was the recognized authority for grasses of the Trans-Pecos vegetational area of Texas. Powell (1988, p. 159) explained that historically L. phleoides was the only Lycurus species reported for Texas, but that recent taxonomic research revealed that, L. setosus, designated as bristletip wolftail, was also present and, in point of fact, was "the most widespread of the Trans-Pecos wolftail grasses". The only difference bewteen these two species was bristletip wolftail had a "slender bristle" at terminii of upper leaves while plain, regular ole wolftail did not have leaves that terminated in a bristle except there was sometimes "a short bristle-like point" at leaf tips. Shaw (2012, ps. 612-614) "followed suite" and recognized these two species with the "leaf terminating wigh a fragile, awnlike tip..." distinguishing L. setosus from L. phleoides, and clmplete with a line drawing of the mousetail tip. Hey, this author might have coined "mousetail wolftail" (maybe the adjective should be hyphenated: "mouse-tail"). Likewise, Allred and Ivey (2012, p. 669) recognized these two species based on a "slender, hair-like birstle" versus "without a bristle" (except "rarely short-pointed" tip).

Beg pardon, but this author not think that he had the savy to distinguish between a "slender bristle" and "a short bristle-like point" (even with a line drawing) so--for now--he stuck with L. phleoides the same as Coulter (1891-1894, p. 626), Silveus (1933, ps.228-229), Hitchock and Chase (1950, ps. 365-366), and Gould (1975, ps. 245-246). Besides Allred and Ivey (2012, p. 669) also had a dichotomous feature of "plants tightly tufted" (L. setosus) versus "plants loosely tufted" (L. phleoides), and even this author could see that his above-example was "loosely" not "tightly" tufted so L. phleoides-- plain-Jane, vanilla, no-tail-no-tip- wolftail--it was. These folks must be hard-up for publishable material. Let's sic an enzyme-chasing cladist work group on this tempest-in-a-leaf-tip.

Wolftail is almost never a dominant or, even, associate species but it is widely distributed occurring in mixed prairie, semidesert grasslands, ponderosa pine forests as well as pinyon pine-juniper woodland. It is commonly regarded as palatable.

U up-U down Ranch settled by the G. S. Locke family, now Davis Mountains Preserve of The Nature Conservancy, Jeff Davis County, Texas. Early October; grain-shatter phenological stage.

 
Location note: immediately adjacent to (conterminous with) the highest elevtion of the Mexican pinyon pine-alligator-Emory oak-mixed grass woodland on the U Upside-Down U Ranch, now Davis Mountains Preserve of The Nature Conservancy, there was a savanna form of ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forest or, actually, a savannah form of ponderosa pine woodland. This forest range cover type (Interior Ponderosa Pine SAF 237) was included in the forest and woodland chapter entitled Southern and Middle Rocky Mountain Forest (including Regionally Related Range Types).
 
Intermountain Pinyon-Juniper Savanna
 

184. Basin meets range- In ascending from the basin of Snake Valley up into the foothills of the Snake Range the range plant communities change from salt desert shrub dominated by the chenopod shrub, winterfat (Eurotia lanata= Ceratoides lanata), to a shrub steppe dominated by mountain big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. vaseyana) and bunchgrasses of the Festucoideae or Pooideae and Eragrostoideae (fescue or bluegrass and lovegrass subfamilies). Adjecent to (and slightly higher in elevation than) the sagebrush shrub steppe is the pinyon-juniper woodland, the first (lowest elevation) range vegetation dominated by trees. On some range this change is abrupt, almost fenceline-like. On other ranges or different parts of the same range there is a gradual shifting change (ie. a progressive--and successive--transition) of range vegetation. An abrupt chane or discrete boundary was the condition shown here.

The diverse species composition of the two distinct range plant communities included the following major or important species for: 1) sgebrush shrubsteppe- mountain big sagebrush, rubber rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus), viscid or Douglas rabbitbrush (C. viscidiflorus), needle-and-thread (Stipa comata), galleta (Hilaria jamesii), Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis hymenoides= Stipa hymenoides), slender wheatgrass (Agropyron trachycaulum), small cover of bluebunch wheatgrass (A. spicatum), cheatgrass or downy brome (Bromus tectorum), prickly poppy (Argemone munita), and plains prickly pear (Opuntia polycantha) and for 2) small conifer woodland- most but less of the preceding species plus the domiants singleleaf pinyon pine (Pinus monophylla) and Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma).

A good (and readily available) summary of the oneleaf pinyon pine-Utah juniper woodland is that of Vasek and Thorne in (Barbour and Major, 1995, ps. 810-814).

Great Basin National Park. White Pine County, Nevada. June, estival aspect. Elevation was approximately 7,000 feet. The sagebrush-shrubsteppe had the following designations: FRES No. 29 (Sagebrush Shrubland Ecosystem), K-50 (Wheatgrass-Needlegrass Shrubsteppe), SRM 402 (Mountain Big Sagebrush), Brown et al. (1998, p. 40) unit should be a Stipa Series 142.26, or if must use existing series, Ricegrass Series 142.23 of Great Basin Shrub-Grassland 142.2,and Artemisia tridentata ssp. vasyeana / Heterostipa comata Shrubland (Nevada Natural Heritage Program (26 September, 2003). Pinyon-juniper woodland had the following designations: FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem), K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SRM 412 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper), Brown et al (1998, p. 38) unit Pinyon-Juniper Series 122.71 of Great Basin Conifer Woodland 122.7, Pinus monophylla-Juniperus osteosperma / Artemisia tridentata Woodland (Nevada Natural Heritage Program, 26 September, 2003). Both range plant communities were in Central Basin and Range- Carbonate Woodland Zone Ecoregion,13q (Bryce et al., 2003).

 

185. A range plant "mixer"- Ecotone between shrub-bunchgrass steppe and pinyon-juniper woodland. There is often a narrow transition (= an ecotone) in plant -animal communities between the sagebrush shrubsteppe and the adjacent but ever-so-slightly-higher-in-elevation, small-conifer woodland. This mixed range plant community ("mixture" of species from shrub-bunchgrass steppe and pinyon-juniper woodland) is different in species composition, physiogonomy, and structure/function of either of the major zonal plant communities.In such a vegetational situation there is a diffuse boundary between adjoining range plant communities. Such ecotonal range vegetation was shown here.

Species included dominant singleleaf pinyon pine, Utah juniper, mountain big sagebrush, rubber rabbitbrush, viscid rabbitbrush, needle-and-thread, Indian ricegrass, galleta, slender wheatgrass, smaller cover of bluebunch wheatgrass, cheatgrass, prickly poppy, and plains prickly pear.

Great Basin National Park, White Pine County, Nevada. June, estival aspect. Elevation was about 7,000 feet. Great Basin National Park., White Pine County, Nevada. June, estival aspect. FRES No. 29 (Sagebrush Shrubland Ecosystem). K-50 (Wheatgrass-Needlegrass Shrubsteppe).SRM 402 (Mountain Big Sagebrush). Wheatgrss Series 142.21 Great Basin Shrub-Grassland 142.2 of Brown et al., 1998, p.40). Artemisia tridentata ssp. vaseyana / Psuedoroegneria spicata Shrubland (Nevada Natural Heritage Program, 26 September, 2003). Central Basin and Range- Carbonate Woodland Zone Ecoregion, 13q (Bryce et al., 2003).

 
Pinyon pine-juniper woodland is generally regarded as being in the Upper Sonoran Life Zone in the scheme of C. Hart Merriam (1890). The photographs of pinyon pine-Utah juniper-mountain sagebrush-perennial grass vegetation were at roughly 6,800 to 7,300 feet elevation.
 

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186. Not large trees but a big invasion- Landscape-scale perspective (first slide) and close-in view (second slide) of successionally excessive recruitment of singleleaf pinyon and Utah juniper on a pinyon pine-juniper-mountain big sagebrush- perennial grass range community. This was a natural ecotone between mountain big sagebrush-needle-and-thread-galleta-Indian ricegrass shrubsteppe and a singleleaf pinyon pine-Utah juniper woodland that has the the preceding plant community as an undertstorey. Sadly, on thre range presented in these two photographs the tree component (layer) was increasing at unnaturally high rates and canopy cover at the expensive of both the shrub (big sagebrush, ruibber rabbitbrush , and viscid rabbitbrush) and native perennial grass layers. This conifer invasion was likely due in most immediate time frame to cessation of fire (a consequence of relatively successful "total fire suppression" by whhite man. The resultant range plant community was a departure from potential natural or climax vegetation and was clearly range degradation by the process of plant retrogression. The Eurasian annual, Cheatgrass, was also present but not to the cover or density to cause major concern. Forbs were scarce.

Small conifers in foreground of both photographs were the nut or fox pine, singleleaf pinyon pine. Both conifer species are native plants and comprise the natural dominant layer of this potential lower foothill-montane coniferous woodland. Problem is "too much of a good thing" of these two species and conmittant decline in relative proportions of composite shrubs and perennial grasses.

The National Park Service should initiate and carry out an aggressive prescribed fire program (should have done so years ago). Otherwise this woodland-shrub-grass range vegetation will become a conifer forest which is a drastic departure from climax vegetation (and, ultimately, from the animal portion of this natural range ecosystem). On this rangeland the real friends of Smokey Bear do play (work) with matches or, better yet, drip torches.

Great Basin National Park, White Pine County, Nevada. June, estival aspect. Elevation approximately 7,000 feet. Various ecosystem, potential natural vegetation, SRM and SAF cover types, ecoregion, etc. were cited in caption 2.

 

187. Proof of conifer invasion- Young singleleaf pinyon pine growing in a mature mountain big sagebrush where the large seed of this stone pine fell and was rolled by gravity, blow by wind, or carried by some animal.

Great Basin National Park, White Pine County, Nevada. June, estival aspect.

 

CAUTION: Great care in proper use of prescribed burning will be essential on this, and similar, pinyon-juniper-sagebrush-grass range. If fire is too intense (burning is done at the wrong season or under under improper weather conditions) excessive loss of sagebrush or even grass could occur. A simultaneous disastrous outcome could be increase in cheatgrass.

Nonetheless, there is no practical alternative to prescribed fire as tool for range improvement (restoration of natural range vegetation). And prescribed burning should be done as soon as possible. As conifers like the one shown here become larger there will be more fuel and a hotter fire which can only increase likeli hood of excessive damage to shrubs and/or native grasses.

 

188. Excessive conifer recruitment was still a problem- A different singleleaf pinyon pine-Utah juniper woodland community was the one shown here on a xeric, steep, predominant west slope. This natural range vegetation is the same as the one described above and at SRM-SAF range types, FRES ecosystem, Kuchler "vegetation type", etc. cited in caption 2 except this is Pinus monophylla-Juniperous osteosperma / Sparse Understory Woodland (Nevada Natural Heritage Program, 26 September, 2003). This climax vegetation naturally lacks as many shrubs and herbaceous plants in lower layers. Only deeper-rooted trees and a few "lucky" (or "tough") understorey plants can persist on this range site characterized by shallow soil, steep slopes, and low soil moisture. Once again, however, excessively high rates of conifer recruitment were occurrring so that in the not-too-distant future the crown cover of conifers will be excessive and effective in preventing limited precipitation from penetrating and percolating into the shallow soil of this site. The few shrubs and grasses will become fewer as time goes by. (Again, this development is due largely to absence of natural fire.)

Loss of sagebrush shrubsteppe by excessive invasion of Utah junifer and singleleaf pinyon pine has been (and of this writing continues to be) a ecosystem-threatening development on this public range.This was an example of afforestation due to human inaction. It was improper management of the range ecosystem owned by all citizens and managed by public servants who "hold this public in trust". Afforestation is "the establishment of a forest or stand in an area where the preceding vegetatoion or land use was not forest" (Helms, 1998).

BURN IT OR LOOSE IT! Do not forget to heed the above caution.

Great Basin National Park, White Pine County, Nevada. June, estival aspect. Elevation was roughly 7,000 feet (6,800 to 7, 200 feet).

 

189. Brush-infested Great Basin pinyon-juniper woodland raange- General view of a degraded range plant community consisting mostly of overstocked Utah juniper and big sagebrush with widely scattered remnants of Indian ricegrass. The potential natural vegetation was Utah juniper-big sagebrush-Indian ricegrass woodland or savnna. This was designated as Juniperus ostersperma / Artemisia tridentata / Achnatherum huyemnoides Woodland by National Vegetation Clsssification for Nevada (Nevada Natural Heritage Prograqm , 26 September, 2003).

In absence of natural (prehistoric) fire regime Utah juniper was overstocked and big sagebrush had increased to excessive canopy cover resulting in loss of almost all of the herbaceous understorey of Indian ricegrass, galleta, slender wheatgrass, and western wheatgrass. Past overgrazing can--more times than not--be listed as a factor in loss of herbaceous cover, but in this example overgrazing was not a factor as will be proven conclusively in slides that follow. Rather the single determining problem was unnatural excess cover of Utah juniper. The cause of range deterioration in this plant community was overstocking of juniper. No "ifs, ands, or, buts about it".

Overstocking and overstocked are standard terms used in Forest Science and the profession of Forestry. Forestry Terminology (Munns, 1950) published by Society of American Foresters (SAF) provided this definition: "Overstocked. A condition of stand or forest indicating more than normal or full stocking would require. Domints in such stands have narrow rings indicating suppression." The subsequent and expanced edition of this dictionary was published jointly by the SAF and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Ford-Robertson, 1971) gave these definitions: "Stocking (2) (silviculture/ management) In a forest, a more or less subjective indication of the number of trees as compared to the desirable number for best results e.g. overstocking ...(3) More precisely, a measure of the propoortion of the area actually occupied by trees, expressed e.g. in terms of stocked quadrants or % canopy closure, as distinct from their stand density..."

Put in terms appropriate for the lesson presented here: there were too many trees and their crowns covered too much of the soil surface to be natural, climax, potential natural, (or whatever) vegetation. While overgrazing, commercial activity, transportation, etc. may have been factors that enhanced juniper establishment, ultimately it was absence of fire that was responsible for the on-going overstocking and, subsequent, shading out of native perennial grasses. That was proven in slides below. First it was established that there was overstocking of conifers (ie. too many trees and too much canopy cover). This was shown even more dramatically in the next photograph.

Note continuing recruitment of Utah juniper by presence of a seedling size tree in left foreground (left margin). Note also some remnant grasses (mostly Indian ricegrass) visible as tan-colored clumps. Relatively high cover of big sagebrush was also evident, but that was not the main cover component that restricted growth and reproduction of grasses and other herbaceous species.

Tintic Valley, Juab County, Utah. June. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem), K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SRM 412 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper), Brown et al (1998, p. 38) unit Pinyon-Juniper Series 122.71 of Great Basin Conifer Woodland 122.7, Juniperus osteosperma / Artemisia tridentata / Achnatherum hymenoides Woodland (Nevada Natural Heritage Program, 26 September, 2003). Central Basin and Range- Sagebrush Basins and Slopes Ecoregion, 13c (Woods et al., 2001).

 

190. What happens when Smokey's friends do not "play with matches" (or drip torches or, at least, let Mother Nature do so)- Two views of interior of an overstocked Utah juniper woodland with very little shrub or herbaceous layers. Excessive and unnatural crown cover of juniper excluded native shrubs (including the natural dominant, big sagebrush) and grasses (especially Indian ricegrass) from what should have the natural vegetation of a Utah juniper-big sagebrush-Indian ricegrass woodland or savanna. Instead this degraded woodland range had become through mismanagement (namely fire exclusion/fire suppression) a single-species stand of Utah cedar. This was if not by design at least by default a monoculture just as surely as if the junipers had been planted like an orchard. This vegetation had become a one species forest instead of a tree-shrub-grass woodland or savanna.

A few struggling plants of Indian ricegrass were visible in foreground of first of these two photographs. One such plant of Indian ricegrass was shown in the second photograph. Absence of big sagebrush in the stand of juniper should be observed. Compare this group of plants to that in the immediately preceding slide and observe that big sagebrush was present only outside (up to edge) of the juniper forest.

Smokey Bear was here: exactly where we did not need the misguided bruin.

Tintic Valley, Juab County, Utah. June, early estival aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem), K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SRM 412 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper), Brown et al (1998, p. 38) unit Pinyon-Juniper Series 122.71 of Great Basin Conifer Woodland 122.7, Juniperus osteosperma / Artemisia tridentata / Achnatherum hymenoides Woodland (Nevada Natural Heritage Program, 26 September, 2003). Central Basin and Range- Sagebrush Basins and Slopes Ecoregion, 13c (Woods et al., 2001).

 

191. What happens when Smokey's friends do "play with matches"- Natural "fireline" contrast: seven years (six growing seasons) before this photograph a wild fire (Tintic Valley Railroad Fire of 1999) burned this degraded, bare understorey, overstocked Utah juniper woodland. Source of ignition of this fire was thought to be sparks from railroad truck grinders, hence known as the Railroad Fire of 1999 (Thompson, 2002). Wild fire burned up to edge of this stand of Utah juniper and stopped at the location shown in this slide. The burnt-over juniper woodland range to the right served as a natural treatment while the unburnt portion on the left served as a de facto "control plot".

What a difference a good fire makes, and even a wild fire can be good! Results of this unplanned burn (1999 Railroad Fire in Tintic Valley) were dramatic Outcome was mostly dead juniper trees and release of native grasses such as the dominant Indian ricegrass that was growing so beautifully in right foreground (beneath beautifully dead Utah juniper). Utah juniper does not resprout. If a fire is hot enough to kill the crown of a Utah uniper it will "stay dead".

Important point: all range revetation was by secondary plant succession. This was private property that was not treated by reseeding following the 1999 Railroad Fire.

Tintic Valley, Juab County, Utah. June, early estival aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem), K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SRM 412 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper), Brown et al (1998, p. 38) unit Pinyon-Juniper Series 122.71 of Great Basin Conifer Woodland 122.7, Juniperus osteosperma / Artemisia tridentata / Achnatherum hymenoides Woodland (Nevada Natural Heritage Program, 26 September, 2003). Central Basin and Range- Sagebrush Basins and Slopes Ecoregion, 13c (Woods et al., 2001).

 

192. Good-lookin' Utah juniper and even better-lookin' grass or seven years after the 1999 Railroad Fire in Tintic Valley Utah- Three photographs taken seven years (six growing seasons) after a wild fire burned an overstocked Utah juniper-big sagebrush-Indian ricegrass woodland or savanna from which native shrub and perennial grass layers had been excluded by excessive crown (= canopy) cover of juniper. After ten growing seasons native grasses had made a remarkable recovery and big sagebrush was becoming re-established. These three photographs of a wild fire "treatment" were taken about 200 yards and less than a quarter-hour from the "control plots" (the part of this same juniper-sagebrush-grass woodland range that was unburned).

It should be noted that some Utah juniper were somehow spared from the fire even inside large burnt portions. These adult trees served as a seed source for reinvasion of juniper on this range site. This will result in eventual development back into a woodland with restored woodland physiogonomy, structure, and function. This was an example of Clements "dynamic plant ecology". In other words, maintenance of the juniper-shrub-grass woodland will require maintenance fires (or some other substitute like chain saws for instance).

Most of the dramatic increase in grass cover had been that of the climax dominant, Indian ricegrass, but galleta, slender wheatgrass, and western wheatgrass had also increased to almost unbelieveable levels of biomass and foliar cover. Cheatgrass was not a common component of this post-fire range plant community though, of course, cheatgrass is usually present on Great Basin range (unless cedars shade it out). Desert crested wheatgrass was also present on two sides of the border of this range that were adjacent to a state highway.

The main forb on this burnt-over range was the native, perennial composite fewflower wirelettuce (Stephanomeria pauciflora). Wirelettuce was a major herbaceous species at local scale. Large clumps of this species were readily distinguishable in the first of these three slides (one in extreme left foreground).

NOTE: This rangeland was not treated by post-fire rehabilitation. All recovery of range vegetation was natural. This was private property. This range did not receive post-fire reseeding treatments as were applied on range managed by Bureau of Land Management that were also burned by the 1999 Railroad Fire. Readers can find discussion of those rehabilitation treatments in Thompson (2002).

From comparisons across all photographs--seven years (six growing seasons) post-burn--it was readily apparent that area of bare ground was higher under unburned junipers than on burned range.

Tintic Valley, Juab County, Utah. June, early estival aspect. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem), K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SRM 412 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland), SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper), Brown et al (1998, p. 38) unit Pinyon-Juniper Series 122.71 of Great Basin Conifer Woodland 122.7, Juniperus osteosperma / Artemisia tridentata / Achnatherum hymenoides Woodland (Nevada Natural Heritage Program, 26 September, 2003). Central Basin and Range- Sagebrush Basins and Slopes Ecoregion, 13c (Woods et al., 2001).

 

193. Where did the shrubs go? (Ah, but look at all the great grass.)- Foreground range vegetation was Utah juniper woodland with a dense understorey of grass and no shrub layer. Dominant grass was the cespitose needle-and-thread. There was also good representation by galleta, Indian ricegrass, and, as always some cheatgrass or downy brome. The shrub layer in background and around crown drip line of juniper was dwarf mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus intricatus). It was not known if absence of shrubs in foreground was due to fire, unsuitable habitat (eg. soil), competition with grass, or some other phenomena. Pinyon pine was absent from this range vegetation.

This range plant community was partially described by Western Heritage Task Force (Bourgeron et al., 29 August, 1994) and Nevada Natural Heritage Program (26 September, 2003) as Juniperus osteosperma / Cercocarpus intricatus Woodland. Exclusion of the herbaceous layer comprised of native grasses (and very little cheatgrass) rendered such unit of classification incomplete. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem). K-21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Variant of SRM and SAF 412 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). Variant of SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper). Brown et al. (1998, p. 38) Pinyon -Juniper Series 122.71 of Great Basin Conifer Woodland 122.7. Central Basin and Range- Carbonate Woodland Zone Ecoregion, 13q (Bryce et al., 2003).

Beaver County, Utah. June, estival aspect.

 

194. Co-dominants of Great Basin conifer woodland- Singleleaf pinyon pine (Pinus monophylla), left and largest tree, and Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma), other trees. Also present were mountain big sagebrush, needle-and-thread and Indian ricegrass.

Great Basin National Park, White Pine County, Nevada. June.

 

195. Picturesque specimen- Singleleaf pinyon pine on a ecotone of pinyon pine-juniper woodland and mountain big sagebrush- mixed grass shrubsteppe. This range vegetation was shown above.

Delightful natural history of the pinyon pine is that by Lanner (1981; 1983, ps.30-34). Also for fireside reading was the interesting account by Peattie (1959, p.s 73-75). Peattie also took a turn on Utah juniper (1959, ps. 263-266) as did Lanner (1983, ps.112-115).

Great Basin National Park, White Pine County, Nevada. June.

 

196. Tweedle Tree One and Tweedle Tree Two- Two trees of Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma). Other range plants included big sagebrush, Great Basin wildrye (Elymus cinereus), Indian ricegrass, and viscid rabbitbrush.

Tooele County, County, Utah. June.

 

 

197. Staminate cones and needles of singleleaf pinyon pine- Characteristic male cones were presented with the unique one needle per fascicle in singleleaf pinyon pine.

Great Basin National Park, White Pine County, Nevada. June, anthesis in full-swing.

 

198. Immature pistillate cone of singleleaf pinyon pine- Female woody, seed-bearing structure (= cone) at a state of immaturity. Singleleaf pinyon pine is the pine species that is co-dominant in much of the pinyon-juniper Great Basin woodland. The field- identifying characteristic of one needle per fascicle was obvious.

Great Basin National Park, White Pine County, Nevada. June.

 

199. Empty woody nest- Female cone of singleleaf pinyon pine from which seeds had been shed. The pinyon pines (there are four species in the pinyon-juniper woodland of the Western Range) are in the Pinus group known as nut pines. Some students include the nut pines in a generic group called stone pines. Reference to stone is in regard to the large seeds, several of which are edible and highly prized by numerous animals including man. Obviously the naked seeds of gymnosperms are not nuts, which are a kind of woody fruit of angiosperms, but the use of "nut" gets across the idea or mental picture of large, hard seeds. Bearing of such large seeds contrast shrapely with the usual parchment-like scale seeds of other pines. The fact that such seeds are favored food by different animals helps assure sexual reproduction of the nut pines. (As shown above this reproduction is sometimes too successful in absence of phenomenon or factors that regulate pine populations to their proper stocking rate.)

Presence of only one needle per fascicle in singleleaf pinyon pine was also shown in this photograph.

The pinyons or nut pines (in more restricted usage) are included in the soft or wihte pine group (subgenus Haploxylon).

Great Basin National Park, White Pine County, Nevada. June.

 

200. Still in the Upper Sonoran Life Zone- At elevations immediately above the pinyon pine-juniper woodland or, as the upper elevational limit of the pinyon-juniper woodland, there is frequently (as shown here in the Snake Range) a unique kind of range vegetation consisting of juniper, with or without pinyon pine, and low sagebrush (Artemisia arbuscula) as a shrub or low woody layer plus an herbaceous layer of various species (especially grasses). Two examples of this grass-low shrub-pinyon juniper woodland were shown in these two photographs. The sample of this variant of Great Basin conifer woodland lacked pinyon pine as singleleaf nut pine had "fallen out way back down the mountain". So this was a Utah juniper-low sagebrush woodland.

Other shrubs included a few "lingering" individuals of mountain big sagebrush (one was prominent in center foreground of second slide) and various other low shrubs including "runt"-looking viscid or Douglas rabbitbrush, broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae), and hairy golden aster (Heterotheca villosa). There were a few individuals of curl-leaf mountain -mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius) which was the dominant plant of the elevation-based zonal vegetation immediately above this range plant community. Some mountain-mhogany plants were visible in second photograph at left margin by juniper. Composite forbs included the complicated flebane crowd (Erigeron spp.) and basin butterweed or Unita groundsel (Senecio multilobatus). Dominant grass was the sparsely populated muttongrass, mutton bluegrass, or Fendler's bluegrass (Poa fendleriana). Needle-and-thread, Indian ricegrass, and bluebunch wheatgrass were limited to moist microsites (often near junipers).

Great Basin National Park, White Pine County, Nevada. June, estival aspect. Elevation was in approximate range of 7,800 to 8,300 feet. FRES No. 35 (Pinyon-Juniper Shrubland Ecosystem) K- 21 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). SRM 412 (Juniper-Pinyon Woodland). SAF 239 (Pinyon-Juniper). Brown et al. (1998, p. 38) Pinyon-Juniper Series 122.71 of Great Basin Conifer Woodland 122.7. Juniperus osteosperma / Artemisia arbuscula Woodland (Nevada Natural Heritage Program, 26 September, 2003). Central Basin and Range- Carbonate Woodland Zone Ecoregion, 13q (Bryce et al., 2003).

 
Immediately above and transitional to the pinyon-juniper woodland/savannah zone in Intermountain ranges such as the Snake Range a unique range plant community develops. This is a semiarid shrubland dominated by curl-leaf mnountain mahogany but with a relatively diverse herbaceous layer locally dominated by Fendler's bluegrass or muttongrass (Poa fendeleriana). Curl-leaf mountain mahogany scrubland is adjacent to and elevationally higher than pinyon-juniper-dominated range. This range scrubland vegetation was included below because there is typically an ecotone (transition zone) between the pinyon-juniper woodland or savanna and the curl-leaf mountain mahogany rangeland cover type (SRM 415). Many--probably most or almost all--herbaceous species in the scrub type are also common (even locally dominant) in adjacent parts of the pinyon-juniper community.
 

201. Upper elevation of Upper Sonoran Life Zone- Curl-leaf mountain-mahogany shrubland was the range vegetation at the highest elevation of the Upper Sonoran Life Zone in the Snake Mountains. These two landscape-scale photographs depicted characteristic curl-leaf mountain mahogany scrubland in the Snake Range relative to zones (= belts) of range plant communities in these mountains. Zonal range vegetation was determined to large extent by factors (precipitation, temperture, soils, degree of slope, winds, etc. ) associated with differences in elevation and, to lesser degree, direction of slope (eg. north, south, west slopes).

Distant range vegetation that was dark green in color was tree-dominated range plant communities. That which was below (lower in elevation) this mountain-mahogany belt were various communities dominated by singleleaf pinyon pine and juniper (primarily Utah juniper). Natural plant communities above this zone of mountain mahogany scrub (higher in elevation) were vrious forest cover types (ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir, quaking aspen, Englemann spruce, limber pine, and bristle cone pine). The bare area on the distant mountain, which was Wheeler Peak, was the alpine range ecosystem above timberline.

Some of the curl-leaf mountain-mahogany plants were of heights (as tall as 15-25 feet) more typical of trees than shrubs, but almost all such plants were of the multi-stemed habit characteristic of shrubs. This woody plant-dominated (based on canopy cover, physiogonomy, plant height) vegetation was therefore defined precisely as shrubland or scrub and not woodland.

There was one-- sometimes two-- layer(s) lower layers of plants. Shrubs that were relative common in lower woody layer(s) included low sagebrush (which was the understorey dominant in the adjacent and lower Utah juniper-low sagebrush range community), viscid rabbitbrush, hairy golden aster, and fringed sagebrush (Artemisia frigida). Composites were clearly "in control" of lower shrub layer(s).

The herbaceous layer of this range vegetation was dominated by muttongrass of Fendler's bluegrass. The associate herb was the range forb, lanceleaf phacelia (Phacelia hastata= P. leucophylla). Many of the same range forb species grew on this belt of mountain-mahogany scrub range and the adjacent zone of Utah juniper-low sagebrush-grass range.

Great Basin National Park, White Pine County, Nevada. June, estival aspect. Elevation was roughly 8,000 to 8,500 feet up to as high as 9,000 feet on dry south and west slopes. FRES No. 34 (Chaparral-Mountain Shrub Shrubland Ecosystem). K- 31 (Mountain-mahogany-Oak Scrub), mountain-mahogany variant thereof. SRM 415 (Curlleaf Mountain Mahogany). Mountain-Mahogany Series 132.12 of Great Basin Montane Scrub 132.1 of Brown et al. (1998, p. 39). Cercocarpus ledifolius Shrubland Alliance is as far as can go because National Vegetation Classificatioin for Nevada (Nevada Natural Heritage Program, 26 September, 2003) did list a community (association) of this composition. Central Basin and Range- Carbonate Woodland Zone Ecoregion, 13q (Bryce et al., 2003).

 

202. Scrub range in the Snake Range- Interior of the curl-leaf mountain-mahogany-low shrub-muttongrass scrubland range presented in the two immediately preceding photographs. The multi-stemmed habit of mountain-mahogany plants was pronounced. Herbaceous and woody layers in the understorey of this range vegetation varied greatly at local (microclimate) scale. Single species of plants tended to form local populations or colonies (Clements, process of aggregation or "birds of a feather flock together"). This was particularly so for lanceleaf phacelia and muttongrass. Perhaps this was a combination of plant dispersal characteristics and considerable vriation in edaphic habitat at scale of microsites.

Several plants of fringed sage were noticable in foreground of both photographs.

Great Basin National Park, White Pine County, Nevada. June, estival aspect. Elevation was approximately 8,000 to 8,500 feet up to 9,000 feet on south and othr dry slopes. FRES No. 24 (Chaparral-Mountain Shrub Shrubland Ecosystem). K-31 (Mountain-mahogany-Oak Scrub), "pure" mountain-mahogany variant thereof. SRM 415 (Curlleaf Mountain Mahogany). Mountain-Mahogany Series 132.12 of Great Basin Montane Scrub 132.1 of Brown et al. (1998, p. 39). Cercocarpus ledifolius Shrubland Alliance is "it" because there was not an association level in National Vegetation Classification for Nevada (Nevada Natural Heritage Program, 26 September, 2003) having this composition. Central Basin and Range- Carbonate Woodland Zone Ecoregion, 13q (Bryce et al., 2003).

 

203. Curlleaf mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius)- Typical plant of this shrub species in the Snake Range of the Great Basin. Description of this species as to browse value was in the Range Plant Handbook (Forest Service, 1940, B50) as well as Dayton, 1931, p. 45) and Sampson and Jespersen (1963, ps. 80-81). See also Lanner (1984, ps.180-182) for a brief natural history.

Snake Range, Great Basin National Park, White Pine County, Nevada. June, pre-bloom stage..

204. Curlleaf mountain-mahogany - Typical columnar habit of curlleaf mountain mahogany. According to Dayton (1931, p. 45) this is probably the largest and most treelike of the Cercocarpus species. In addition, it has evergreen leaves which increase it's browse value during winter months. Rock Canyon, Utah County, Utah. June.
 

205. Leaders of curlleaf mountain mahogany- Bark and leaves of curlleaf mountain mahogany. Rock Canyon, Utah County, Utah. June.

C. montanus and C. ledifolius were described in the various editions of North American Range Plants (Stubbendieck et al., 1981, 1982, 1986, 1992) and the Range Plant Handbook (Forest Service, 1940, B49-B51) as well as miscellaneous state and regional references on browse plants such as for California (McMinn, 1939, ps. 205-209; Sampson and Jesperson, 1963, p. 78-81) and eastern Oregon and Washington (Hayes and Garrison 1960, ps.178-180).

 

206. Muttongrass, Fendler's bluegrass, or mutton bluegrass (Poa fendeleriana)- This delightful festucoid grass was the dominant herbaceous species on a curl-leaf mountain-mahogany scrubland range.Muttongrass (descriptive common name for value of this species as sheep forage) is one of the most important of all bluegrasses on the Western Range. A valuable practical description of muttongrass was provided by the Range Plant Handbook (Forest Service, 1940, G100). This remarkable species ranges from the Chisos Mountains of Trans Pecos Texas to British Columbia.

Muttongrass has deservedly been on the Society for Range Management "200 list" for the Intercollegiate Range Plant Contest.

These fine specimens were in the understorey of a curl-leaf mountain-mahogany scrub range (on which it was the dominant herbaceous species). Snake Mountains, Great Basin National Park, White Pine County, Nevada. June, grain-ripe stage.

 

207. Panicles of muttongrass- Panicles with large spikelets of full of ripe grain in Poa fendeleriana. Spikelets of muttongrass are some of the largest of any bluegrass species in North America. Fendler's bluegrass is a major range forage species in the mountains of the Great Basin.

Snake Range, Great Basin National Park, White Pine County, Nevada. June, "seed-ripe" phenological stage

 

208. Lanceleaf phacelia (Phacelia hastata= P. leucophylla)- This was the most abundant forb on the curl-leaf mountain-mahogany scrubland range featured above. This forb species was also locally common on the Utah juniper-low sagebrush range that was adjacent to but slightly lower in elevation than the mountain-mahogany scrub zone.

Incidentially, Phacelia is one of the more numerous genera of range forbs in the Intermountain Region. Welsh et al (1993) described 39 species of Phacelia in Utah, though not all of them occurred in or were limited to the Great Basin.

Snake Range, Great Basin National Park, White Pine County, Nevada, June, full-bloom phenology.

 

209. Lanceleaf stonecrop (Sedum lanceolatum)- This showy little fellow was growing on just one more rockpile on the curl-leaf mountain mahogany scrub range shown above. This species was also found on the Utah juniper-low sagebrush range just below the mountain-mahogany zone.

The formerly obscure Crassulaceae became well-known (at least indirectly) to students of Plant Physiology when the third photosynthetic pathway was discovered in members of this family with the metabolic pathway being named Crassulacean Acid Metabolism. Ain't range plants groovy!

Snake Range, Great Basin National Park, White Pine County, Nevada. June, "in all her glory" (ie. full-bloom stage).

 

210. Basin butterweed or Unita groundsel (Senecio multilobatus)- Senecio species are some of the major range composites of mountain grazinglands throughout western North America. Identification of Senecio species can be challenging, but this is one of the more widespread and common ones. Basin butterweed grew on both the Utah juniper-low sagebrush and curl-leaf mountain-mahogany scrub range zones in the Snake Mountains.

The large fuzzy leaves in right background belonged to the introduced, now naturalized, and widely distributed velvet mullein (Verbascum thapsus).

Great Basin National Park, White Pine, Nevada. June, full-bloom stage of phenological development.

 

211. Inflorescences of basin butterweed or Unita groundsel- Flowers and fruit (achene) on the individual shown in the preceding photograph. Great Basin National Park, White Pine County, Nevada. June.
 

212. Scarlet gilia or sky rocket (Gilia aggregata= Ipomopsis aggretata)- This member of the Polemoniaceae (Phlox family) grew on both the Utah juniper-low sagebrush and curl-leaf mountain-mahogany range plant communities. This was "no big deal" beacause according to Welsh et al. (1993, p. 519) this species "... is practically ubiquitous in Utah". So sky rocket is bound to be common across the line in the neighboring Silver State.

Welsh et al. (1993, p. 519) also remarked that scarlet gilia is a "strikingly beautiful species, with the odor of a skunk.." If that combination of features does not merit a place with neighboring range forbs what would it take? Besides, Hermann (1966, ps. 231-232) included this species (complete with figure) in Notes on Western Range Forbs so by golly it's here too.

 
Outlier or Island Forms of Juniper-Pinyon Woodland
 
In certain rich patchworks (mosaics) of range vegetation there are various forms of ecotones between the juniper-pinyon pine woodland and contiguous range types including grasslands such as mixed prairie and lower montane grasslands and savannahs like the sagebrush shrub steppe. Various of these transitional range plant communities have been included in other chapters of Range Types of North America. An example of one such ecotonal range type was Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata wyomingensis)- mixed grass and Utah juniper  (Juniperus osteospremaJ. utahensis)-dominated woodland that was covered in the chapter, Sagebrush Shrub Steppe.  Another example was the Wyoming Basin Cliff and Canyon natural range community in Wind River Canyon in the Wyoming Basin that was included in the chapter, Miscellaneous Scrub Types.
 
 

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