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You are here >1Up Info > Wildlife, Animals, and Plants > Plant Species > Shrub > Species: Sarcobatus vermiculatus | Black Greasewood

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SPECIES: Sarcobatus vermiculatus | Black Greasewood
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : NO-ENTRY IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Black greasewood is a valuable browse for livestock and wildlife, particularly during fall and winter [50,55]. It does, however, contain soluable oxalates which are poisonous to livestock when the plant is eaten in large quantities [59,62]. Consumption of black greasewood has resulted in mass sheep mortality but cattle are rarely poisoned [55]. Sheep generally die after consuming approximately 2 pounds (0.9 kg) of leaves, but cattle can eat 3 to 4 pounds (1.4-1.8 kg) before death occurs [62]. Toxicity generally increases in fall as the plant matures [62], but concentrated feeding on the young stems and leaves during the early spring can cause illness or death [50]. Livestock poisoning is rarely a problem where greasewood grows intermixed with other forage species [29]. In many areas, black greasewood provides forage for pronghorn and mule deer [29,59]. Small mammals such as the white-tailed prairie dog, chisel-toothed kangaroo rat, Ord kangaroo rat, painted chipmunk, western chipmunk, porcupine, and jackrabbits also feed on black greasewood [4,50,59]. PALATABILITY : Palatability of black greasewood varies geographically and with site characteristics. Foliage tends to concentrate alkalines, and this shrub may be less palatable on some sites, such as on certain California alkali flats, than on many other western sites [51]. Palatability of black greasewood has been rated as follows [10,51]: CA CO MT ND UT WY Cattle Fair-Useless Poor Fair Fair Fair Fair Sheep Fair-Poor Fair Fair Fair Fair Fair Horses Useless Poor Fair Fair Fair Fair Domestic goats Fair-Poor ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- Pronghorn ---- ---- Fair Fair Fair Fair Elk ---- ---- Poor ---- Poor Poor Mule deer Poor ---- Poor Good Fair Fair White-tailed deer ---- Fair Poor ---- ---- Poor Small mammals ---- ---- ---- ---- Fair Fair Small nongame birds ---- ---- ---- ---- Fair Poor Upland game birds ---- Poor ---- ---- Fair ---- Waterfowl ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- Poor NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Black greasewood is rated fair in energy and protein value [10]. Average crude protein content of Montana greasewood from 2 seasons averaged 8.4 percent and 9.0 percent [23]. Nutritional content as established by the National Academy of Sciences [35] is as follows: Browse Buds (fresh) Ash % 14.6 16.3 Crude fiber % 23.5 9.3 Ether extract % 3.4 3.3 N-free extract % 37.3 36.8 Protein (Nx6.25) % 21.4 34.3 Calcium % 0.91 ---- Phosphorus % 0.18 ---- Copper mg/kg 15.7 ---- Manganese mg/kg 25.8 ---- Carotene mg/kg 43.4 ---- Cobolt mg/kg 0.060 ---- COVER VALUE : The spiny-tipped branches and coarse structure of black greasewood provide good cover for small nesting birds and for many species of small mammals. Cover value has been rated as follows [8,10,26]: CO MT ND OR UT WY Pronghorn ---- Fair Fair ---- Fair Good Elk ---- Poor ---- ---- Poor Fair Mule deer Good Fair Good Poor Fair ---- White-tailed deer Good Fair ---- ---- ---- Fair Small mammals Good Good ---- Good Good Fair Small nongame birds Fair Good ---- Good Good Fair Upland game birds ---- Fair ---- ---- Good Poor Waterfowl ---- Poor Good ---- ---- ---- VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Black greasewood is well-suited for stabilizing disturbed sites such as mine spoils and road scars on saline or alkaline soils [29,37]. It is rated as having low to moderate potential for erosion control and for short-term revegetation, but moderate to high potential for long-term revegetation projects [10]. Plants may be transplanted, propagated from cuttings, or grown from seed [37,42]. Transplants: Black greasewood has been successfully transplanted onto mine spoils in New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming [16,27,60]. At a mine site in southwestern Wyoming, mature plants were transplanted onto an overburden dump with a pH of 7.0 to 7.5 [27]. Establishment of mature black greasewood provided some immediate cover for wildlife and created islands for later seed dispersal. Relative costs and first-year survivorship were documented as follows [27]: # transplanted # surviving % survival cost/plant mature wildlings 31 30 97 $2.26 front-end loader transplants 8 8 100 $4.49 Survivorship 5 years after transplants were established at a Uinta Basin site averaged 75 percent, with an average height of 15 inches (38 cm) [16]. Seed: Black greasewood has been successfully seeded onto mine spoils in southwestern Wyoming and elsewhere [27]. At least 500 pounds (227 kg) of seed is sold annually [39]. Seed can remain viable for more than 5 years if stored properly [39]. Seed from a nearby source should be used to ensure that the particular ecotype selected will grow well in the desired location [39]. Appropriate seed collection and storage techniques have been examined in detail [39]. Cuttings: Rooting greasewood cuttings is difficult and success may depend in part on yearly variations in temperature and precipitation [42]. Cuttings from greenhouse-grown plants tend to root more readily than do cuttings obtained from field-grown plants [42]. Black greasewood concentrates large amounts of sodium in the surface soils under the canopy [45]. This sodium accumulation may eventually alter the soil chemistry, making reclamation more difficult [49]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Black greasewood has traditionally been used as fuel and for planting sticks by the Hopi and other Native American peoples [55]. MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Grazing: Black greasewood increases in response to grazing [33]. Greasewood's typical valley-bottom habitat makes this community best suited for late fall, winter, and early spring cattle range [33]. Chemical and mechanical control: Black greasewood is difficult to control with herbicides, fire, or mechanical treatments [7,33]. Plants commonly sprout after application of various herbicides [62]. After partial kill by herbicides, black greasewood typically exhibits an increased growth rate and a lengthened period of accelerated vegetative development [49]. Soil chemistry: Sodium, the major cation present in black greasewood leaves, may comprise up to 69 to 88 percent (57-115 mg/g) of the total cations present [45]. Sodium uptake by black greasewood and the associated decay of sodium-enriched leaf litter can alter soil chemistry [43,45]. Erosion, resulting from or increased by overgrazing, can also result in increased soil salinity [43,45]. These soil changes may eventually make a site too harsh for the growth of sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) [43].

Related categories for Species: Sarcobatus vermiculatus | Black Greasewood

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Information Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. Fire Effects Information System

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