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Overview

Brief Summary

Juncus balticus is an extremely widespread rush species, with distribution in North America, Eurasia and South America. With a common name of "Baltic rush", this plant occurs in moist or marshy locales, but is sometimes found in relatively dry areas.

The Baltic rush can attain a height of up to 110 centimeters. This species exhibits a rough tufted flower head which grows along one side of the stem on the upper stem.
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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Baltic rush occurs from Alaska east across Canada to Newfoundland, south to Virginia and west to Texas and California [2,87,102,197]. Mountain rush is distributed from Alaska south to California and east to Oklahoma, north to Montana. Mountain rush primarily grows in montane coniferous forests [19,197,216], coastal regions [90], or in the northern Great Plains [74,115]. Valley rush is found from Washington east to Montana and south to Wyoming and California. Valley rush occurs chiefly in montane regions, often alpine environments [90,197]. J. b. var. littoralis grows from North Dakota east to Maine and south to Virginia and Texas. It is most common around coastal areas and near the Great Lakes and other major watercourses [45,117,126,139,179,197].

Plants database provides a distributional map of Baltic rush and its infrataxa.

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States or Provinces

(key to state/province abbreviations)
UNITED STATES

AK AZ AR CA CO ID
IL IN IA KS ME MD
MA MI MN MO MT NE
NV NH NJ NM NY ND
OH OK OR PA RI SD
TX UT VT VA WA WV
WI WY

CANADA

AB BC MB NB NF NT
NS ON PE PQ SK YK

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

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This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS [16]:
1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
3 Southern Pacific Border
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
7 Lower Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the terms: graminoid, involucre, perfect

This description provides characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology, and is not meant for identification. Keys for identification are available [2,21,53,55,71,74,83,88,115,125,141,179,187,208,211]

Baltic rush is a sod-forming, cool season, perennial graminoid [48,53,83,88,152,155,165,187]. At maturity, Baltic rush is 1.1 to 3.6 feet (0.4-1.1 m) tall and grows in small clusters [125,211]. The average life span of a Baltic rush plant is between 8 and 10 years [180]. Baltic rush has a low tolerance to drought [197]. The culms of Baltic rush are leafless, erect, terete, stout (1-6 mm thick), 14 to 43 inches (35-110 cm) tall, and arise from creeping rhizomes [76,187]. The culms of mountain rush and J. b. var. littoralis are generally shorter than Baltic rush. They measure 14 to 30 inches (35-80 cm) [74,115,136,179] and 4 to 8 inches (10-20 cm) tall, respectively [55,74,115,123,141]. With the exception of the involucre, Baltic rush is comprised solely of rounded, clustered basal leaves approximately 0.8 to 6 inches (2-15 cm) long [2,76,141,187,211]. Baltic rush produces 5 to 50 or more perfect flowers with the perianth segments 3 to 6 mm long [113,115,179,211]. J. b. var. littoralis produces fewer flowers than Baltic rush, generally 2 to 25 [179]. Seeds of Baltic rush and J. b. var. littoralis are striate capsules 0.4 to 1 mm tall and 0.4 mm wide [48,136,179,187].

The rhizomes of Baltic rush are usually found in shallow soil, but the root depth varies greatly. A study conducted in the Sheldon Antelope Refuge, Nevada, found that Baltic rush rhizomes never reached a depth greater than 4 inches (10 cm) but that large roots (>0.9 mm in diameter) and fine roots (<0.9 mm in diameter) often reach depths greater than 16 inches (40 cm) [121]. One study reports roots reaching depths of 20 inches (60 cm) [180]. Baltic rush has stringy, massive, slightly branched roots measuring 0.5 to 2.5 mm in diameter and not always broadest at the base. On many of the active roots a zone of hairs develops, which facilitate the intake of moisture [180]

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat characteristics

More info for the term: marsh

Baltic rush occurs from sea level to subalpine zones in montane habitats [74,90,115] as well as in wet areas of Southwestern deserts [74,102] in wet meadows, along streambanks, rivers, lakes, ponds, bogs, sloughs, freshwater and brackish marshes and sometimes in dry flats and meadows [21,54,83,88,125,140,141,204,208,211]. J. b. var. littoralis is most common around coastal areas and near the Great Lakes and other major watercourses [45,117,126,139,179,197]. Mountain rush is characteristic on coastal, low montane, and northern Great Plains sites [74,90,115]. Valley rush is characteristic in montane habitats, often in alpine zones [90].

Soils: Baltic rush generally grows on poorly-drained sandy to silty loam soils, often with a thick organic layer [32,76,102,126,139,178]. It is adapted to coarse, medium, and fine textured soils [197]. Soil orders and suborders on which Baltic rush grows included Mollisols, Entisols, Borolls, Cryaquolls, Haploxerolls, Fluvaquentic Haploborolls, and aquic or calcic Cryoborolls [25,79,120]. Baltic rush is found in sites where the water level is from 4 inches (10 cm) above to 40 inches (100 cm) below the soil surface [25,143,185,221]. J. b. var. littoralis is found on sandy soils in the sand barrens of northwestern Wisconsin and shorelines of ponds and lakes in northwestern Alberta [126,139].

Baltic rush is well adapted to alkaline soils and environments [19,24,26,59,71,74,102,106,208]. Baltic rush has been found growing on highly alkaline soils with a pH greater than 8.4 in Glacier County, Montana [150]. In the northern prairie potholes region of the United States and Canada, Baltic rush can withstand salinity levels measured as specific conductivity (mS) between 0.1 and 20.1 in temporarily, seasonally, and semipermanently flooded and saturated water or moisture regimes [100]. In the peatlands at Candle Lake, Saskatchewan, J. b. var. littoralis growth was most successful in soils with a pH level of 5.0-5.9. It was found to a lower extent in pH soils of 6.0 to 6.9 and 7.0 to 7.9, respectively [98].

Baltic rush grows on soils with a pH level ranging from 7.8 to 9.1 in a western Utah salt marsh. Maximum, median, and minimum soil pH levels at 3 depths in rush meadow and rush border communities where Baltic rush is the dominant species are presented below [19]:

Plant communitySoil depth
0 to 6 inches 7 to 12 inches 13 to 24 inches
Juncus meadowMaximum8.99.09.0
Median8.58.78.8
Minimum8.38.38.5
Juncus borderMaximum8.99.19.1
Median8.48.88.9
Minimum7.87.98.5

Baltic rush is a dominant species in saline meadows surrounding Goshen Bay in Utah County, UT. Soil constituents of the saline meadows are presented below [175]:

Soil moisture (%)29.5
Organic matter (%)9.1
pH (mean)8.08
Conductivity (mS/cm)7660.0
Soluble salts (mg/l)4902.0
Calcium (mg/)3850.0
Magnesium (mg/l)1380.0
Sodium (mg/l)2029.0
Potassium (mg/l)758.0
Copper (mg/l)2.3
Iron (mg/l)11.6
Manganese (mg/l)13.2
Zinc (mg/l)2.9
Total nitrogen (mg/l)2490.0
Phosphorus (mg/l)8.5

Elevation: Baltic rush grows at a wide range of elevations from sea level in Oregon and California [22,41,125,202,203] to over 12,000 feet (3,658 m) in Colorado [83,91,114]. Elevational ranges for Baltic rush in several states/provinces are presented below:

States/Provinces

Elevation

California0 to 10,000 feet [22,41,88,125,140,141]
Colorado3,500 to 12,500 feet [83,91,114]
Montana4,000 to 8,900 feet [150]
Nebraska2,370 to 3,000 feet [194]
Nevada1,600 to 8,000 feet [14,102]
New Mexico4,500 to 9,000 feet [123]
North Dakota2,000 to 2,600 feet [80]
Oregon0 to 6,100 feet [202,203]
Utah2,790 to 10,200 feet [19,71,208]
Washington600 to 7,350 feet [108,189]
Wyoming5,000 to 10,000 feet [12,25,34,49]
Yukon Territory1,395 to 5,610 feet [105]

Climate: Baltic rush grows in a wide range of precipitation and temperature zones and requires a minimum of 90 frost free days for growth [197]. Average yearly precipitation extremes where Baltic rush communities are found range from 7.13 inches (181 mm) in Juab County, Utah [19] to 45 inches (1,140 mm) in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah [99]. Temperature extremes range from over 120 °F (49 °C) at Afton Canyon in the Mojave Desert, California [119], to –50 °F (–46 °C) at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming [73].

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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: association, bog, cactus, constancy, cover, forb, forbs, frequency, marsh, mesic, presence, tundra

Baltic rush occurs in numerous habitat and community types. In mixed and deciduous forests it is often found with willow (Salix spp.) and pine (Pinus spp.) species. In grassland and streambank communities common associates include Kentucky bluegrass(Poa pratensis) and sedge (Carex spp.) species. On alkaline soils Baltic rush and J. b. var. littoralis often occur with saltgrass (Distichlis spicata).

Northwest: Baltic rush occurs in deciduous and mixed forests, salt marshes, shrub- and grassland, streambank, and tundra communities.

Deciduous and mixed forests: Baltic rush is a dominant species with Kentucky bluegrass on subirrigated sandy rangeland along the shoreline of Beaverhill Lake, approximately 50 miles (80 km) east of Edmonton. Baltic rush occurs at a frequency of 35%. As lake levels have receded the past 60 years exposing new soil, the Baltic rush-Kentucky bluegrass association colonized the uplands but was invaded by balsam popular (Populus balsamifera ssp. balsamifera), quaking aspen (P. tremuloides), Bebb willow (S. bebbiana), pussy willow (S. discolor), meadow willow (S. petiolaris), and fall willow (S. serissima). Common understory forbs and grasses included Virginia strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), manyflowered aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides var. pansum), and slender wheatgrass (Elymus trachycaulus) [8].

Salt marsh communities: A Baltic rush-Pacific silverweed-tufted hairgrass (Argentina egedii ssp. egedii-Deschampsia cespitosa) union is described for the Salmon River estuary in northwest Oregon [67]. The J. b. var. littoralis-clustered field sedge-balsam groundsel (Carex praegracilis-Packera paupercula) association is common in Canadian prairie province salt marshes and meadows and Baltic rush is found in transition zones from salt to freshwater in the common river grass (Scolochloa festucacea) association [117,118]. Baltic rush occurs as a dominant species at Sand Lake, an estuary on the Oregon Coast 12 miles (19 km) south of Tillamook [193]. On the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Baltic rush is a dominant species with Pacific silverweed [148].

Shrub- and grassland communities:Baltic rush's presence in Kentucky bluegrass communities is noted by numerous authors [8,18,23,35,36,61,106,117,130,131,177,201,202,203,210]. Baltic rush occurs as a dominant species in late-spring and early-summer flooded-meadows at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon. Other dominant grass, sedge, rush (Juncus spp.), and forb species in the area include redtop (Agrostis gigantea), prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata), meadow barley (Hordeum brachyantherum ssp. brachyantherum), timothy (Phleum pratense), slenderbeak sedge (C. athrostachya), needleleaf sedge (C. duriuscula), Sierra rush (J. nevadensis), western yarrow (Achillea millefolium), horse cinquefoil (Potentilla hippiana), and chaffweed (Anagallis minima) [42]. Baltic rush is common in sedge-dominated wet mountain meadows of Wyoming [43] and in the beaked sedge (C. rostrata) community type in Montana where it has an average canopy cover of 31% and a constancy of 24% [78]. Baltic rush is characteristic on the northern Alberta range and cultivated grasslands as is plains rough fescue (Festuca hallii), rough fescue (F. altaica), and shortbristle needle-and-thread (Hesperostipa curtiseta) [89]. In the Slave River Lowlands, Northwest Territories, Baltic rush is a dominant species on dry meadows with a mean occurrence of 44% [149]. Baltic rush grows on rough fescue-Parry's oatgrass (Danthonia parryi) dominated grasslands in Banff and Jasper national parks, Alberta [184]. Baltic rush occupies sites in southern Wyoming and southwestern Montana where mountain big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. vaseyana) and Wyoming big sagebrush (A. t. ssp. wyomingensis) are the dominant species [188,206]. In Glacier National Park, Montana, Baltic rush has a 1% canopy cover value in timothy-dominated grasslands [195]. A Baltic rush emergent community occurs as a narrow band between alkaline or upland communities and more mesic tufted hairgrass communities at the Chilly Slough Wetland Conservation Area in central Idaho [217].

Streambank communities: Baltic rush is one of several dominant plant species along streambanks in Harney County, Oregon. Baltic rush is interspersed with Nebraska sedge (C. nebrascensis), wooly sedge (C. lanuginosa), Kentucky bluegrass, and redtop [23]. Plant species listed above are found at Wet Creek in east-central Idaho as well, as are beaked sedge, water sedge (C. aquatilis), smallwing sedge (C. microptera), western mountain aster (Symphyotrichum spathulatum var. spathulatum), Rocky Mountain iris (Iris missouriensis), and longleaf phlox (Phlox longifolia). The most prolific woody plants at Wet Creek include Booth's willow (Salix boothii), Geyer willow (S. geyeriana), shrubby cinquefoil (Dasiphora floribunda), Wood's rose (Rosa woodsii), currant (Ribes spp.), and water birch (Betula occidentalis) [36]. The Baltic rush-Douglas' sedge (C. douglasii) association is common along the banks of Mann Creek in west-central Idaho [122]. Baltic rush is a dominant rush species with an average cover value of 63.8% and frequency value of 100% along Silver Bow Creek in western Montana [169].

Tundra communities: Baltic rush occurs in the Yukon Territory in borrow pits. The disturbed sites were created by the extraction of fill for construction of the Dempster Highway and the Canadian Oil (CANOL) Pipeline and road system. The mean cover value for Baltic rush at the Dempster and CANOL sites are 4.11% and 17.37%, respectively [105].

Southwest: Baltic rush is found in coniferous, deciduous, and mixed forests, shrub- and grassland, salt marsh, and streambank communities.

Coniferous forests: Baltic rush is sometimes present in patches or scattered clumps in interior ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum) ranges in Colorado [44]. Baltic rush is found in wet and dry meadows invaded by Sierra lodgepole pine (P. contorta var. murrayana) in Yosemite National Park, California. Cover value of Baltic rush in Sierra lodgepole pine stands ranges from 0.5% to 5.0% [86]. Baltic rush is a dominant species in meadows surrounded by shore pine (P. c. var. contorta), Pacific ponderosa pine (P. p. var. ponderosa), Jeffrey pine (P. jeffreyi), coast Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii), and white fir (Abies concolor) mixed forests located near Big Grizzly Creek, northern California [94]. Mountain rush occurs in Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) forests in the White Mountains of California between 9,500 feet (2,900 m) and 11,000 feet (3,400 m) [216]

Deciduous and mixed forests:Baltic rush is an understory species in New Mexico Fremont cottonwood-Goodding willow (Populus fremontii-S. gooddingii) forests along the Rio Grande River [30]. The sandbar willow (S. exigua)-Baltic rush community type occurs along stretches of the Rio Grande River [60]. Baltic rush is a dominant species in Arizona Fremont cottonwood-Goodding willow forests along the San Pedro River [186]. In central New Mexico, Baltic rush occurs along and near the Pecos River in Colorado pinyon-oneseed juniper (Pinus edulis-Juniperus monosperma) and interior ponderosa pine-Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii) woodlands [32].

Shrub- and grassland communities:Baltic rush's presence in Kentucky bluegrass communities is noted by several authors [32,33,35,62,92,128,137,145,153]. Baltic rush is common along spring-fed cattle trough drainageways in mountain big sagebrush and low sagebrush (Artemisia arbuscula) communities in northeastern Nevada [14]. Baltic rush's presence in mountain sagebrush communities in the Sierra Nevada of California and the Wasatch Mountains of Utah is also noted [41,82,218]. In Arizona's Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Baltic rush grows around springs with beaked spikerush (Eleocharis rostellata), Olney threesquare (Scirpus americanus), curlycup gumweed (Grindelia squarrosa), Parish's desert-thorn (Lycium parishii), and lotebush (Ziziphus obtusifolia) [15,147]. Baltic rush is common in sedge-dominated mountain wet meadows of Colorado [43].

Ciénegas are unique freshwater wetlands found in semiarid grasslands of Arizona. Baltic rush occurs on dry soils on the periphery of ciénegas which lack canopy cover and are dominated by deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens) and great ragweed (Ambrosia trifida) [46]. Baltic rush is a dominant species on ancient lake sediments in the Ruby Valley, Nevada [133]. Baltic rush is a dominant species with 86.6% frequency and 16.3% coverage in dry meadows near North Cat Creek, western Nevada [168]. Baltic rush is found on Rocky Mountain iris-dominated meadows on Mount Pinos, California [200]. In Nevada, Baltic rush occurs on alkali flats and wet alkaline soil with saltbush (Atriplex spp.), blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima), and sagebrush (Artemisia spp.), and in pinyon-juniper (Juniperus spp.) and California red fir (Abies magnifica) communities [102].

Salt marsh communities:Baltic rush is a dominant species in rush meadow and rush border communities within spring-fed salt marshes in Juab County, Utah. Rush border communities are described as strips of vegetation (from a few inches to several feet) bordering the winding shorelines of numerous sloughs in the study area. In rush meadow and border communities, Baltic rush frequency is 100% and average density/ft² is 23.2 and 37.2, respectively. Common associated species in rush meadow and border communities include saltgrass, alkali sacaton (Sporobolus airoides), showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa), and common reed (Phragmites australis). Further species found in rush meadows include Utah swampfire (Sarcocornia utahensis), iodinebush (Allenrolfea occidentalis), and fiddleleaf hawksbeard (Crepis runcinata). Mountain rush occurs exclusively in the saltgrass-alkali sacaton community with a frequency of 20% and an average density/ft² of 1.8 [19]. Baltic rush (16% cover) is a dominant species in the mixed grass-sedge-rush meadows surrounding Utah Lake, Utah [26,27,28]. Baltic rush (49.0% mean cover value) is dominant in salt meadows of Goshen Bay in Utah County, Utah [175].

Streambank communities: Baltic rush is an important understory species in planeleaf (Salix planifolia), Geyer, peachleaf (S. amygdaloides), coyote (S. exigua ssp. exigua var. exigua), and yellow willow (S. lutea) communities along Sheep Creek in northern Larimer County, CO [92]. Baltic rush is a dominant species in Afton Canyon located in the lower Mojave River drainage of the western Mojave Desert, California [119]. Baltic rush is common in southern cattail (Typha domingensis)-common reed-dominated wet meadows along the Colorado River, Arizona [182].

North-central/South-central: Baltic rush and J. b. var. littoralis are found in grassland, lakeshore, and salt marsh communities.

Grassland communities:J. b. var. littoralis is found in the Nebraska sandhills [126]. Baltic rush is a common associate in sedge meadows in the upper Midwest [156]. Baltic rush is a common associated species on red fescue (F. rubra) dominated meadows on the Hudson Bay lowlands of northern Manitoba [161]. Baltic rush also occurs in the Nebraska sandhills which are dominated by prairie sandreed (Calamovilfa longifolia), sand bluestem (Andropogon gerardii var. paucipilus), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) [170,194]. Baltic rush is found in swales with and without western prairie fringed orchid (Platanhera praeclara) in the Sheyenne National Grassland, North Dakota [17]. In swales with orchids, Baltic rush's average canopy cover is 5.4% and 1.7% in swales without orchids [212]. Baltic rush is commonly a dominant species on hayed, temporarily flooded plains and prairies in the northern prairie potholes region of the United States and Canada [100]. Baltic rush is widespread and characteristic in wetter, poorly-drained areas of the tallgrass prairies of the United States and Canada, a community type that stretches from southern Manitoba to south-central and eastern Texas where it contacts the coastal prairie [109,176].

Lakeshore communities:J. b. var. littoralis is described at the most characteristic plant surrounding pool margins on the upper beach of Lake Michigan [45]. It is a dominant species on the broad sand beaches of lakes in northwestern Wisconsin, an area known as the "sand barrens" [126]. Baltic rush occurs with an average frequency of 1% and a constancy of 10% in little bluestem dominated grasslands at Point Beach State Forest, Two Rivers, Wisconsin [198].

Salt marsh communities: The J. b. var. littoralis-clustered field sedge-balsam groundsel association is common in Canadian prairie province salt marshes and meadows, and Baltic rush is found in transition zones from salt to freshwater in the common river grass association [117,118].

Northeast: Baltic rush and J. b. var. littoralis are found in lakeshore, pond, and salt marsh communities.

Lakeshore and pond communities:Baltic rush, chaffy sedge (Carex paleacea), marsh straw sedge (C. hormathodes), and prairie cordgrass are dominant species along the Saint Lawrence River, southern Quebec [162]. J. b. var. littoralis is indicative of wet meadows in the Mendon Ponds Park, New York [172]

Salt marsh communities: Baltic rush is a dominant species in willow thickets in salt marshes of James Bay, Ontario [70]

Baltic rush is recognized as a dominant species in the following vegetation classifications and locations:

United States

AZ:
San Pedro River [186]

CA:
Dog and Slinkard Creek [58]
Big Grizzly Creek [94,165]
Afton Canyon [119]

CO:
Sheep Creek [62]
Manitou Experimental Forest grasslands and open meadows [137]

ID:
Wet Creek [36]
Mann Creek [122]
Summit Creek [129,130,131,151]
Elk Meadows [150]
Texas Creek [151]
Chilly Slough Wetland Conservation Area [217]

MT:
Silver Bow Creek [169]

Northern prairie potholes region [100]

NV:
Birch, Kingston, and Barley creeks [58]
Deer Creek [128]
Ruby Valley [133]
North Cat Creek meadow [168]

OR:
Harney County streambanks [23]
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge [42]
Salmon River Estuary [67]
Sand Lake [193]
Meadow Creek [201]
Pumice zone wet meadows [202,203]

UT:
Salt marshes, Juab County [19]
Utah Lake meadows [26,27,28]
Goshen Bay salt meadows [175]

WA:
Potholes area [84]

Canada

AB:
Beaverhill Lake [8]

BC:
Vancouver Island salt marsh [148]

NT:
Slave River Lowlands [149]

ON:
James Bay salt marshes [70]

PQ:
St. Lawrence River [162]

J. b. var. littoralis is recognized as a dominant species in the following vegetation classifications and locations:

United States

Lake Michigan upper beaches [45]

WI:
Sand barrens [126]

Canada

AB:
Prairie province salt marshes [117]
Northwestern bog and marsh communities [139]

SK:
Prairie province salt marshes [117]

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Habitat: Rangeland Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following Rangeland Cover Types (as classified by the Society for Range Management, SRM):

More info for the terms: cover, lichen, mesic, shrub, tussock, vine

SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES [174]:
101 Bluebunch wheatgrass
102 Idaho fescue
103 Green fescue
105 Antelope bitterbrush-Idaho fescue
106 Bluegrass scabland
107 Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass
108 Alpine Idaho fescue
109 Ponderosa pine shrubland
110 Ponderosa pine-grassland
203 Riparian woodland
204 North coastal shrub
209 Montane shrubland
210 Bitterbrush
211 Creosote bush scrub
212 Blackbush
213 Alpine grassland
214 Coastal prairie
215 Valley grassland
216 Montane meadows
217 Wetlands
301 Bluebunch wheatgrass-blue grama
302 Bluebunch wheatgrass-Sandberg bluegrass
303 Bluebunch wheatgrass-western wheatgrass
304 Idaho fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass
305 Idaho fescue-Richardson needlegrass
306 Idaho fescue-slender wheatgrass
307 Idaho fescue-threadleaf sedge
308 Idaho fescue-tufted hairgrass
309 Idaho fescue-western wheatgrass
310 Needle-and-thread-blue grama
311 Rough fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass
312 Rough fescue-Idaho fescue
313 Tufted hairgrass-sedge
314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
315 Big sagebrush-Idaho fescue
316 Big sagebrush-rough fescue
317 Bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
318 Bitterbrush-Idaho fescue
319 Bitterbrush-rough fescue
320 Black sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
321 Black sagebrush-Idaho fescue
323 Shrubby cinquefoil-rough fescue
401 Basin big sagebrush
402 Mountain big sagebrush
403 Wyoming big sagebrush
405 Black sagebrush
406 Low sagebrush
407 Stiff sagebrush
408 Other sagebrush types
409 Tall forb
410 Alpine rangeland
411 Aspen woodland
412 Juniper-pinyon woodland
413 Gambel oak
414 Salt desert shrub
415 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany
416 True mountain-mahogany
417 Littleleaf mountain-mahogany
418 Bigtooth maple
419 Bittercherry
420 Snowbrush
421 Chokecherry-serviceberry-rose
422 Riparian
501 Saltbush-greasewood
502 Grama-galleta
503 Arizona chaparral
504 Juniper-pinyon pine woodland
505 Grama-tobosa shrub
506 Creosotebush-bursage
507 Palo verde-cactus
508 Creosotebush-tarbush
509 Transition between oak-juniper woodland and mahogany-oak association
601 Bluestem prairie
602 Bluestem-prairie sandreed
603 Prairie sandreed-needlegrass
604 Bluestem-grama prairie
605 Sandsage prairie
606 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass
607 Wheatgrass-needlegrass
608 Wheatgrass-grama-needlegrass
609 Wheatgrass-grama
610 Wheatgrass
611 Blue grama-buffalo grass
612 Sagebrush-grass
613 Fescue grassland
614 Crested wheatgrass
615 Wheatgrass-saltgrass-grama
701 Alkali sacaton-tobosagrass
702 Black grama-alkali sacaton
703 Black grama-sideoats grama
704 Blue grama-western wheatgrass
705 Blue grama-galleta
706 Blue grama-sideoats grama
707 Blue grama-sideoats grama-black grama
708 Bluestem-dropseed
709 Bluestem-grama
710 Bluestem prairie
711 Bluestem-sacahuista prairie
712 Galleta-alkali sacaton
713 Grama-muhly-threeawn
714 Grama-bluestem
715 Grama-buffalo grass
716 Grama-feathergrass
718 Mesquite-grama
720 Sand bluestem-little bluestem (dunes)
721 Sand bluestem-little bluestem (plains)
722 Sand sagebrush-mixed prairie
724 Sideoats grama-New Mexico feathergrass-winterfat
725 Vine mesquite-alkali sacaton
726 Cordgrass
731 Cross timbers-Oklahoma
732 Cross timbers-Texas (little bluestem-post oak)
733 Juniper-oak
734 Mesquite-oak
735 Sideoats grama-sumac-juniper
801 Savanna
802 Missouri prairie
803 Missouri glades
804 Tall fescue
805 Riparian
ALASKAN RANGELANDS
902 Alpine herb
903 Beach wildrye-mixed forb
908 Fescue
909 Freshwater marsh
910 Hairgrass
911 Lichen tundra
914 Mesic sedge-grass-herb meadow tundra
915 Mixed herb-herbaceous
916 Sedge-shrub tundra
917 Tall shrub swamp
918 Tussock tundra
919 Wet meadow tundra
920 White spruce-paper birch
921 Willow

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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

More info for the term: cover

SAF COVER TYPES [63]:
12 Black spruce
13 Black spruce-tamarack
14 Northern pin oak
16 Aspen
17 Pin cherry
18 Paper birch
19 Gray birch-red maple
22 White pine-hemlock
23 Eastern hemlock
24 Hemlock-yellow birch
25 Sugar maple-beech-yellow birch
31 Red spruce-sugar maple-beech
32 Red spruce
33 Red spruce-balsam fir
35 Paper birch-red spruce-balsam fir
37 Northern white-cedar
38 Tamarack
42 Bur oak
46 Eastern redcedar
50 Black locust
52 White oak-black oak-northern red oak
53 White oak
55 Northern red oak
57 Yellow-poplar
59 Yellow-poplar-white oak-northern red oak
63 Cottonwood
68 Mesquite
69 Sand pine
107 White spruce
109 Hawthorn
110 Black oak
201 White spruce
202 White spruce-paper birch
203 Balsam poplar
204 Black spruce
205 Mountain hemlock
206 Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir
207 Red fir
208 Whitebark pine
209 Bristlecone pine
210 Interior Douglas-fir
211 White fir
212 Western larch
213 Grand fir
215 Western white pine
216 Blue spruce
217 Aspen
218 Lodgepole pine
219 Limber pine
220 Rocky Mountain juniper
221 Red alder
222 Black cottonwood-willow
224 Western hemlock
226 Coastal true fir-hemlock
227 Western redcedar-western hemlock
228 Western redcedar
229 Pacific Douglas-fir
230 Douglas-fir-western hemlock
231 Port-Orford-cedar
233 Oregon white oak
234 Douglas-fir-tanoak-Pacific madrone
235 Cottonwood-willow
236 Bur oak
237 Interior ponderosa pine
238 Western juniper
239 Pinyon-juniper
240 Arizona cypress
241 Western live oak
242 Mesquite
243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer
244 Pacific ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir
245 Pacific ponderosa pine
246 California black oak
247 Jeffrey pine
248 Knobcone pine
249 Canyon live oak
251 White spruce-aspen
252 Paper birch
253 Black spruce-white spruce
254 Black spruce-paper birch
255 California coast live oak
256 California mixed subalpine

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Habitat: Plant Associations

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This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

More info for the terms: bog, shrub

KUCHLER [111] PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:
K002 Cedar-hemlock-Douglas-fir forest
K003 Silver fir-Douglas-fir forest
K004 Fir-hemlock forest
K005 Mixed conifer forest
K007 Red fir forest
K008 Lodgepole pine-subalpine forest
K009 Pine-cypress forest
K010 Ponderosa shrub forest
K011 Western ponderosa forest
K012 Douglas-fir forest
K013 Cedar-hemlock-pine forest
K014 Grand fir-Douglas-fir forest
K015 Western spruce-fir forest
K016 Eastern ponderosa forest
K017 Black Hills pine forest
K018 Pine-Douglas-fir forest
K019 Arizona pine forest
K020 Spruce-fir-Douglas-fir forest
K021 Southwestern spruce-fir forest
K022 Great Basin pine forest
K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland
K024 Juniper steppe woodland
K025 Alder-ash forest
K026 Oregon oakwoods
K028 Mosaic of K002 and K026
K029 California mixed evergreen forest
K030 California oakwoods
K031 Oak-juniper woodland
K032 Transition between K031 and K037
K033 Chaparral
K034 Montane chaparral
K035 Coastal sagebrush
K036 Mosaic of K030 and K035
K037 Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K039 Blackbrush
K040 Saltbush-greasewood
K041 Creosote bush
K042 Creosote bush-bur sage
K043 Paloverde-cactus shrub
K044 Creosote bush-tarbush
K046 Desert: vegetation largely lacking
K047 Fescue-oatgrass
K048 California steppe
K049 Tule marshes
K050 Fescue-wheatgrass
K051 Wheatgrass-bluegrass
K052 Alpine meadows and barren
K053 Grama-galleta steppe
K054 Grama-tobosa prairie
K055 Sagebrush steppe
K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe
K057 Galleta-threeawn shrubsteppe
K058 Grama-tobosa shrubsteppe
K059 Trans-Pecos shrub savanna
K063 Foothills prairie
K064 Grama-needlegrass-wheatgrass
K065 Grama-buffalo grass
K066 Wheatgrass-needlegrass
K067 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass
K068 Wheatgrass-grama-buffalo grass
K069 Bluestem-grama prairie
K070 Sandsage-bluestem prairie
K073 Northern cordgrass prairie
K074 Bluestem prairie
K075 Nebraska Sandhills prairie
K076 Blackland prairie
K078 Southern cordgrass prairie
K081 Oak savanna
K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100
K084 Cross Timbers
K093 Great Lakes spruce-fir forest
K094 Conifer bog
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K096 Northeastern spruce-fir forest
K098 Northern floodplain forest
K100 Oak-hickory forest
K106 Northern hardwoods
K107 Northern hardwoods-fir forest
K108 Northern hardwoods-spruce forest
K115 Sand pine scrub

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Habitat: Ecosystem

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This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

ECOSYSTEMS [68]:
FRES11 Spruce-fir
FRES15 Oak-hickory
FRES19 Aspen-birch
FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES22 Western white pine
FRES23 Fir-spruce
FRES25 Larch
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe
FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub
FRES35 Pinyon-juniper
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES39 Prairie
FRES40 Desert grasslands
FRES41 Wet grasslands
FRES42 Annual grasslands
FRES44 Alpine

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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: fire tolerant, prescribed fire

Since Baltic rush re-establishes quickly after fire [8,82,149,206,214,215,220,220], prescribed fire can be used as a management tool to promote its growth. Some research does suggest, however, that while fire does not completely destroy Baltic rush seed banks, it does have a detrimental effect on them [34,207]. If fire is chosen as a management tool for Baltic rush, managers should be cognizant of potential negative effects on associated or surrounding vegetation. For instance, Baltic rush is a dominant species in Afton Canyon located in the lower Mojave River drainage of the western Mojave Desert, California. In the past several decades the area has been infested by the drought-deciduous saltcedar which is highly fire tolerant and may expand after disturbances such as fire and severely reduce native plant coverage [119].

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Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: controlled burn, cover, frequency, prescribed burn, prescribed fire, restoration, shrub, shrubs

Prescribed fire was used to control an invasive mixed poplar-willow forest on Baltic rush-Kentucky bluegrass grasslands in central Alberta along the shore of Beaverhill Lake. Burning occurred on 18 May, 1971, on four 0.62-acre (0.25 ha) plots. Five years after the controlled burn, Baltic rush canopy cover was significantly (p<0.05) higher on burned plots (60%) than unburned plots (35%) [8].

In the fall of 1981, a 64-acre (26-ha) plot of Great Basin meadow at Inyo National Forest, California, underwent a prescribed burn to restore brush-encroached meadows. Baltic rush's average coverage significantly (p<0.01) increased on burned dry meadow plots and increased as well on burned wet meadow plots but not significantly [82]:

1982 1983 1984 1985
Dry meadow average coverage (%) 2.0 3.0 4.0 4.0
Wet meadow average coverage (%) 12.0 13.0 12.0 14.0

To control basin big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. tridentata) in the Toiyabe Mountain Range of central Nevada, 2 plots measuring 2430 feet² (740 m²) and 2950 feet² (900 m²) on a wet site were burned and plots of equal size were left unburned and used as a control. The prescribed burn occurred from 19 to 21 October, 1996, top-killing all shrubs and herbaceous vegetation. After 3 years, Baltic rush mean biomass (grams/m²) was greater on the burned undershrub and interspace sites than on the unburned undershrub and interspace sites [214,215]:

Site Burned Unburned
Undershrub 4.2 1.5
Interspace 5.2 2.0

Martha Lake Field is located within the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon. On 20 October, 1981, a prescribed fire was set in a Baltic rush dominated wetland. In 1982, April through August, mean shoot height (cm ± s) and growth rate (cm/day) were recorded in the burn and control (unburned) sites. Baltic rush plants in the burned area were found to have a greater height and growth rate than those in the control site [220]:

Date

Period (days)

Burned Control
Height (cm ± s) Growth rate (cm/day) Height (cm ± s) Growth rate (cm/day)
22 April 1982 --- 7±5 --- 6±4 ---
29 May 1982 37 17±6 0.3 15±6 0.3
3 July 1982 35 68±23 1.5 62±22 1.4
29 July 1982 26 80±26 0.5 72±18 0.4
19 August 1982 21 82±24 0.1 69±19 0

In the spring of 1992, 1993, and 1995, meadows in the Slave River Lowlands, Northwest Territories, were subjected to prescribed burn treatments. Baltic rush was strongly associated with meadows burned 3 times [149]. On 26 October, 1987, a controlled burn was conducted on a northern stretch of the Wise River in southwestern Montana. The burn site sits at an elevation of 7,000 feet (2,000 m), with an aspect and slope of 330º and 6%, respectively. The plant community is dominated by mountain big sagebrush with Wyoming big sagebrush a minor shrub component. In June, 1995, the burned site was sampled as was an adjacent unburned control site. On the burned site Baltic rush had a canopy cover and frequency of 5.5% and 37.0%, compared to 0.3% and 20% on the unburned sites [206].

The Research Project Summary Vegetation response to restoration treatments in ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir forests of western Montana provides information on prescribed fire and postfire response of plant community species including Baltic rush.

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the term: frequency

Baltic rush has a high tolerance to fire [197]. Baltic rush recovers from fire by rhizomatous spread and/or establishing by seed. Fire has a positive effect on Baltic rush frequency and coverage [8,82,149,206,214,215,220]. Some research suggests that postfire Baltic rush plants have a faster growth rate and attain a greater mature height than plants growing on unburned sites [220].

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Broad-scale Impacts of Fire

More info for the terms: controlled burn, litter

Baltic rush seed banks survive fire, but the number of seeds is less in burned areas compared to unburned areas [34,207]. Within the tufted hairgrass-sedge community-type seed bank of Yellowstone National Park, Baltic rush seeds occurred in the seed bank in densities of 1,667 seeds/m² on unburned sites and 493 seeds/m² on sites burned during the Yellowstone fire of 1988 [34]. In October, 1996, 2 water tables (dry and wet) where Baltic rush was present were identified in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Nevada. The dominant species in the area is basin big sagebrush. One half of each site was subjected to a controlled burn while the other half was left unburned and used as a control. In October, 1997 and 1998, seed bank counts (mean number of seeds/m² ± s x) were conducted on the dry and wet sites in undershrub and interspace areas. Fewer Baltic rush seeds were found in the seed bank of burned sites. Results of the study (--- indicates no data) are presented below [207]:

Site Burned Not burned (control)
Undershrub Interspace Undershrub Interspace
1997 1998 1997 1998 1997 1998 1997 1998
Dry 18±18 12±12 21±21 13±7 127±64 6±6 57±15 18±10
Wet --- 6±6 22±15 --- 39±20 13±7 81±26 56±27

Further data were collected on the depth of Baltic rush seeds stored in the seed bank on the burned and unburned sites. At all sites and depths, except for the dry site at 2 to 6 inches (5-15 cm), more seeds were found at varying depths on unburned sites. Seed bank counts (mean number of seeds/m² ± s x) were collected in October, 1997, and are presented below [207]:

Seed depth Seed distribution in the soil profile
Dry site Wet site
Burned Unburned Burned Unburned
Undershrub Interspace Undershrub Interspace Undershrub Interspace Undershrub Interspace
Litter - 1 cm --- --- 24±16 14±14 --- --- 7±7 26±13
1 cm - 5 cm 18±18 --- 61±32 32±16 --- 11±6 33±18 54±15
5 cm - 15 cm --- 21±21 42±44 11±11 --- 11±11 --- ---

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Immediate Effect of Fire

Baltic rush is top-killed by fire, with rhizomes and seeds protected by insulating soil [34,207,220].

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the term: rhizome

POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY [183]:
Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil
Initial off-site colonizer (off-site, initial community)
Secondary colonizer (on-site or off-site seed sources)

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Fire Ecology

More info for the terms: fire frequency, fire interval, fire regime, fire tolerant, frequency, litter

Fire adaptations: Baltic rush is fire tolerant when dormant [197] and top-killed by fire during the growing season [34,207,220]. It establishes after fire through seed and/or lateral spread by rhizomes. Baltic rush fruits lack an awn; therefore, initial seed dispersal onto burned sites is primarily effected by wind.

FIRE REGIMES: Many diverse communities provide Baltic rush habitat. Baltic rush experiences extreme ranges in fire frequency. In the northern and southern cordgrass prairies where Baltic rush is found fire may occur every 1 to 3 years [144]. Conversely, Baltic rush also occurs in sugar maple communities where the fire return interval is 1,000 years or more [205]

Baltic rush is a dominant species in Afton Canyon located in the lower Mojave River drainage of the western Mojave Desert, California [119]. Historically, the fire interval in this mesquite-saltbush (Prosopis spp.-Atriplex confertifolia) dominated environment was <35 to <100 years [127,144]. However, the infestation of the drought-deciduous saltcedar (Tamarix ramosissima) has altered the historic fire regime, promoting a fire interval of about 10 to 20 years [119]. Baltic rush grows on rough fescue-Parry's oatgrass dominated grasslands in Banff and Jasper national parks, Alberta. Prior to national park designation, fires were "frequent" and "extensive" especially in the main valleys. For the last 80 years, however, a fire control policy has been put in place, and while fires are still frequent, they are small and mostly in grassland, scrub, or forest litter areas close to human activity [184].

The following table provides fire return intervals for plant communities and ecosystems where Baltic rush is important. For further information, see the FEIS review of the dominant species listed below.

Community or EcosystemDominant Species Fire Return Interval Range (years)
silver fir-Douglas-firAbies amabilis-Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii >200
grand firAbies grandis 35-200 [5]
sugar mapleAcer saccharum >1,000 [205]
bluestem prairieAndropogon gerardii var. gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium 110,144]
Nebraska sandhills prairieAndropogon gerardii var. paucipilus-Schizachyrium scoparium <10
bluestem-Sacahuista prairieAndropogon littoralis-Spartina spartinae <10
sagebrush steppeArtemisia tridentata/Pseudoroegneria spicata 20-70 [144]
basin big sagebrushArtemisia tridentata var. tridentata 12-43 [167]
mountain big sagebrushArtemisia tridentata var. vaseyana 15-40 [7,29,134]
Wyoming big sagebrushArtemisia tridentata var. wyomingensis 10-70 ((µ=40) [199,219]
saltbush-greasewoodAtriplex confertifolia-Sarcobatus vermiculatus <35 to <100
desert grasslandsBouteloua eriopoda and/or Pleuraphis mutica <35 to <100
plains grasslandsBouteloua spp. <35
blue grama-needle-and-thread grass-western wheatgrassBouteloua gracilis-Hesperostipa comata-Pascopyrum smithii 163]
blue grama-buffalo grassBouteloua gracilis-Buchloe dactyloides 144,213]
grama-galleta steppeBouteloua gracilis-Pleuraphis jamesii <35 to <100
paloverde-cactus shrubParkinsonia spp./Opuntia spp. <35 to <100
blackbrushColeogyne ramosissima <35 to <100
Arizona cypressCupressus arizonica <35 to 200
northern cordgrass prairieDistichlis spicata-Spartina spp. 1-3 [144]
California steppeFestuca-Danthonia spp. 144,186]
western juniperJuniperus occidentalis 20-70
Rocky Mountain juniperJuniperus scopulorum <35
tamarackLarix laricina 35-200 [144]
western larchLarix occidentalis 25-350 [6,11,47]
creosotebushLarrea tridentata <35 to <100 [144]
yellow-poplarLiriodendron tulipifera <35 [205]
Great Lakes spruce-firPicea-Abies spp. 35 to >200
northeastern spruce-firPicea-Abies spp. 35-200 [57]
Engelmann spruce-subalpine firPicea engelmannii-Abies lasiocarpa 35 to >200 [5]
black sprucePicea mariana 35-200
conifer bog*Picea mariana-Larix laricina 35-200 [57]
pinyon-juniperPinus-Juniperus spp. <35 [144]
Rocky Mountain bristlecone pineP. aristata 9-55 [51,52]
whitebark pine*Pinus albicaulis 50-200 [1,3]
Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine*Pinus contorta var. latifolia 25-340 [10,11,191]
Sierra lodgepole pine*Pinus contorta var. murrayana 35-200 [5]
Colorado pinyonPinus edulis 10-400+ [66,72,103,144]
sand pinePinus elliottii var. elliottii 25-45 [205]
Jeffrey pinePinus jeffreyi 5-30
western white pine*Pinus monticola 50-200
Pacific ponderosa pine*Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa 1-47 [5]
interior ponderosa pine*Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum 2-30 [5,9,116]
Arizona pinePinus ponderosa var. arizonica 2-15 [9,39,171]
galleta-threeawn shrubsteppePleuraphis jamesii-Aristida purpurea <35 to <100
eastern cottonwoodPopulus deltoides <35 to 200 [144]
aspen-birchPopulus tremuloides-Betula papyrifera 35-200 [57,205]
quaking aspen (west of the Great Plains)Populus tremuloides 7-120 [5,75,132]
mesquiteProsopis glandulosa <35 to <100 [127,144]
mountain grasslandsPseudoroegneria spicata 3-40 (µ=10) [4,5]
Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir*Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca 25-100
coastal Douglas-fir*Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii 40-240 [5,138,160]
California mixed evergreenPseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii-Lithocarpus densiflorus-Arbutus menziesii <35
California oakwoodsQuercus spp. <35 [5]
oak-hickoryQuercus-Carya spp. <35 [205]
oak-juniper woodland (Southwest)Quercus-Juniperus spp. <35 to <200 [144]
white oak-black oak-northern red oakQuercus alba-Q. velutina-Q. rubra <35 [205]
canyon live oakQuercus chrysolepis 5]
northern pin oakQuercus ellipsoidalis <35 [205]
Oregon white oakQuercus garryana <35 [5]
California black oakQuercus kelloggii 5-30 [144]
bur oakQuercus macrocarpa <10 [205]
oak savannaQuercus macrocarpa/Andropogon gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium 2-14 [144,205]
black oakQuercus velutina <35
live oakQuercus virginiana 10 to<100 [205]
little bluestem-grama prairieSchizachyrium scoparium-Bouteloua spp. <35
tule marshesScirpus and/or Typha spp. <35
southern cordgrass prairieSpartina alterniflora 1-3 [144]
mountain hemlock*Tsuga mertensiana 35 to >200 [5]
*fire return interval varies widely; trends in variation are noted in the species review

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: bog, succession

Baltic rush is shade intolerant [180,197] and is found in all stages of succession [19,78,96,105,117,126,203]. Baltic rush is found on "primary succession" sites in the Yukon Territory. The sites are borrow pits created by the extraction of fill for the construction of the Dempster Highway and the Canadian Oil Pipeline and road system [105]. Baltic rush is described as a late seral to "climax" species in the beaked sedge wetlands habitat-type distributed throughout Montana [78]. Baltic rush dominated rush meadow and border communities in western Utah salt marshes are described as permanent communities [19]. J. b. var. littoralis is described as a mid-seral species, giving way to shrubby or woody vegetation in Canadian prairie province salt marshes and meadows [117]. J. b. var. littoralis occurs as a late-seral species in dry bog communities in the sand barrens of northwestern Wisconsin [126].

Baltic rush, Kentucky bluegrass, and/or Nebraska sedge may replace wooly sedge in areas of severe disturbance such as heavily grazed meadows susceptible to trampling and soil compaction. Baltic rush and/or Kentucky bluegrass may replace Nebraska sedge when it is subjected to heavy grazing and the water table is lowered [96]. Baltic rush increases substantially on poor condition wet meadow sites in the central Oregon pumice zone [203].

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: cotyledon, marsh, monoecious, rhizome

Baltic rush regenerates via seeds and rhizomes [180,187].Baltic rush primarily regenerates via rhizomes though each year it flowers and fruits intensively. Generally only the "youngest" parts of the rhizomes produce a variable number of shoots [180].

Breeding system: Baltic rush is monoecious [95,187].

Pollination: Baltic rush is wind pollinated [158]. The pollination of Baltic rush by bumble bees has been observed in a salt marsh on Vancouver Island, British Columbia [148].

Seed production: Baltic rush fruits "intensively" each year. Shoots of Baltic rush generally must grow on a 3 to 4 year old rhizome before they produce fruiting flowers [180]. The number of Baltic rush seeds produced per inflorescence varies considerably among populations [95].

Seed dispersal: Wind is a primary disperser of Baltic rush seeds. In a European dune environment almost 50% of Baltic rush seeds were carried away by wind [180].

Seed banking: Baltic rush has a persistent seed bank [149]. Baltic rush seed banks can survive fire (See Fire Effects) [34,207]. Baltic rush seed banks (mean number of seeds/m² ± s x)in 2 locations (Morgan Canyon and Bob Scott) within the central Nevada Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest were 1,192±230 and 100±56, respectively [207].

Germination: Moisture is necessary for Baltic rush seed germination. In sandy environments with a scarcity of moisture the germination rate of Baltic rush seeds was found to be 0%. Baltic rush seeds collected by the United States Department of Agriculture and used to rehabilitate riparian and wetland disturbances had a viability rate between 28% to 96% and did not decline in viability after 17 months of storage in closed glass containers at room temperature [173]

Seedling establishment/growth: Baltic rush seedling vigor is classified as medium [197]. Once seedling establishment begins, Baltic rush takes 2 to 3 years to attain maturity and is still incapable of flowering. Flowering generally does not occur in plants younger than 4 years. Baltic rush seedlings observed after 1 month of growth developed a hair-shaped cotyledon and 3 to 5 grass-like leaves 0.6 to 1.4 inch (1.5-3.5 cm) in length and 0.5 to 1.0 mm wide [180,181].

Asexual regeneration: Baltic rush reproduces asexually from rhizomes. Generally only the "youngest" parts of the rhizomes produce a variable number of shoots [180].

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Life Form

More info for the terms: chamaephyte, geophyte

RAUNKIAER [154]
Chamaephyte
Geophyte

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: marsh

Baltic rush is a cool season species that reaches its maximum height by early summer and sets seed by mid- to late summer [106,107]. Its growth rate is described as rapid [197]. Baltic rush with flowering heads collected in the Boise and Sawtooth national forests, Idaho, were cut and measured in July. Mean height of Baltic rush was 29 inches (74 cm) with a minimum of 20 inches (51 cm) and a maximum of 36 inches (92 cm) [106]. Flowering of Baltic rush varies by state/region:

State/RegionFlowering period
Atlantic seaside communitiesMay to September [59]
CaliforniaMay to August [140,141,211]
ColoradoMay to July [50]
Great PlainsJune to August [74,115]
IdahoMay to July [106]
MontanaJune to August [50]
North DakotaJune to August [50]
New MexicoJuly to September [123]
NevadaApril to August [102]
UtahMay to June [71]
WyomingMay to July [50]

The phenological development of Baltic rush in a North Dakota seasonal wetland is described below [107]:

DateHeight (cm)Growth stageSoil condition
Late spring (5/21-6/10)32.0bloomdamp
Early summer (6/21-7/11)62.0bloomdamp
Mid summer (7/21-8/4)60.0seeddamp
Late summer (8/15-9/18)62.0seeddry

The phenological development of Baltic rush in a western Utah salt marsh community is presented below. Date of initial growth describes the 1st appearance of green shoots and date of anthesis describes when the 1st bud or floral development is visible to the naked eye. The heading "warm" represents Baltic rush's growth in areas influenced by warmed spring water, while the heading "normal" represents areas outside the warm spring water [19]:

 "Warm""Normal"
Date of initial growth27 March14 April
Date of anthesis29 April5 May

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Juncus balticus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Juncus balticus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Throughout North America in wet habitats, including lake and wet stream marshes, wet prairies and ditches.

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Baltic rush is considered endangered/extirpated in Maryland [124,197], threatened in Pennsylvania [146], and potentially threatened in Ohio [142]. J. b. var. littoralis is considered rare in Indiana [197], critically impaired in Missouri [135], and very rare and imperiled in West Virginia [209].

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Management

Management considerations

More info for the term: cover

Cultivars: There is one Baltic rush cultivar ('Common') available [196].

Herbicides: The effects of the herbicide 2,4-D ester on Baltic rush are discussed in the following studies [8,93].

Grazing: Baltic rush is generally described as an increaser under grazing pressure [40,77,78,94,113,201,202,203]. At the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon, a 1.2-acre (0.5 ha) plot with a history of annual haying was placed in nonuse for 3 growing seasons while the surrounding area continued to be hayed. In November, 1978, a third of the nonuse area was subjected to grazing for 1 growing season, another third was left nonused, and the final third was burned (See Fire Effects). At the end of 1 growing season a vegetative analysis was taken and found the rush species (Baltic rush and Sierra rush) composition was 12.0% in the nonuse plot, 20.0% in the annually hayed plot, and 22.6% in the grazed plot [42]. At Wimena National Forest in central Oregon, Baltic rush increased under grazing. A Kentucky bluegrass dominated meadow that had been grazed by cattle from April through October for the past 50 years was partially fenced off from grazing in April, 1967. In July, 1977, average canopy cover of Baltic rush on sites continually grazed since 1967 was 5.6% while on protected sites it was 4.7% [201].

A study site located on upper Big Grizzly Creek in Plumas County, California, found that Baltic rush was both an increaser and a decreaser under various grazing pressures. The 10-acre (4 ha) grazing meadow was fenced into ten 1-acre (0.4 ha) plots and allotted as no, low, or moderate grazing. The designation low (1,500 kg/ha) and moderately (1,000 kg/ha) grazed were characterized by the amount of standing biomass left on the plots at the end of the grazing experiment. Experimental plots were established in 2 locations, mid-meadow and streamside. In 1992 at the mid-meadow site, Baltic rush's growth rate was significantly (p<.05) lower in the low- and moderately-grazed treatments compared to the nongrazed site. At the streamside location, growth rate of Baltic rush was similar in the moderately- and nongrazed plots which were both significantly greater than the low-grazed plot. In 1993 there was no significant difference between grazing and nongrazing treatments at the mid-meadow site, but at the streamside location Baltic rush growth was significantly greater on the moderately-grazed plot than on the low- and no-grazed plots which were not significantly different. Differences across treatments and years is likely attributable to changes in soil moisture retention [94].

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

More info for the terms: cover, frequency, marsh, natural, restoration

Baltic rush's production of deep and fibrous roots emanating from a mass of coarse and creeping rhizomes makes it a valuable species for stabilizing streambanks and protecting against soil erosion [21,77,78,152]. Based on samples taken at 3 sites in northwestern Nevada and 2 sites in northeastern California, streambank particle erosion rate was moderate in Baltic rush streambank communities [58].

Baltic rush is being used by the Utah Division of State Lands and Forestry for restoration projects involving the construction of wetland ponds. Optimal growth of Baltic rush plugs occurred when water levels were 1 to 2 inches (3-5 cm) below the soil surface [13].

In 1978 a dike enclosing a 52-acre (21-ha) pasture along the north shore of the Salmon River estuary in northwestern Oregon was removed by the United States Forest Service, allowing the land to return to a salt marsh. In surrounding salt marsh communities Baltic rush is a dominant species. Data were collected for 10 years in the restored and surrounding (control) salt marshes to assess Baltic rush's ability to return to natural numbers without reintroduction by humans. While Baltic rush did not reach mean percent cover and mean percent frequency values found in the control plots in 10 years, it did increase from 1978 levels [67]:

RestorationControl
1978198019841988197819821988
Mean cover (%)2.05.07.07.022.051.034.0
Mean frequency (%)16.038.027.027.071.079.066.0

Saltcedar and small-flowered tamarisk (Tamarix parviflora) have extensively invaded Red Rock Canyon State Park, California. In January, 1987, an area of saltcedar and small-flowered tamarisk was cut to ground level and the stumps were treated with herbicide. By late summer of 1987, less than 6 months after the initial treatment, Baltic rush began to germinate in the newly open spaces. The populations of Baltic rush resulted from native seed without intervention by humans [64].

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

More info for the terms: cover, marsh

Livestock: Baltic rush is described as a fair to good forage species for cattle [21]. While Baltic rush is primarily used as a source of food, one study in southeastern Alberta found that Baltic rush stands averaging 225 13-inch (33-cm) stalks per foot² was a favorite bedding material of cattle [104].

A study site located on upper Big Grizzly Creek in Plumas County, California, found that Baltic rush was an important forage species for ruminally cannulated steers. The 10-acre (4-ha) grazing meadow was fenced into ten 1-acre (0.4-ha) plots and allotted as no-, low-, or moderate-grazing. The designation low- (1,500 kg/ha) and moderately- (1,000 kg/ha) grazed were characterized by the amount of standing biomass left on the plots at the end of the grazing experiment. On low-grazed plots, Baltic rush composed 15.8% and 13.8% of steers' diet in 1992 and 1993 respectively, while on moderately grazed plots it made up 14.6% and 15.2% of their diet, respectively [94].

A study of cattle grazing preferences in a montane riparian community found that while Baltic rush made up 2.2% to 5.5% of available biomass it constituted 2.0% to 14.0% of cattle's diet. Findings for the study conducted in 1994-95 in the Roosevelt National Forest, Colorado, are presented below [62]:

19941995
Late summerFallSpringLate summerFallSpring
Available biomass (%)5.62.22.85.54.32.8
Cattle diet (%)8.55.41.914.22.03.1

Wildlife: Baltic rush has been identified in several studies as a source of food for several wildlife species in the United States and Canada. Rocky Mountain mule deer utilize Baltic rush as a food source in the summer and fall throughout their range [112]. Stands of Baltic rush (44% frequency) on the Slave River Lowlands, Northwest Territories, provide forage for 1 of the few remaining wild bison populations in northern Canada. Baltic rush constitutes roughly 5% of their diet in the summer and fall and 1% in the winter [149,157]. Baltic rush is a minor source of food for feral horses of the outer foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta. Over 200 feral horses were present on the area during the study in 1976. The percent of Baltic rush found in feral horse feces during 1976 is presented below [166]:

Jan.-Mar.Apr.-MayJune-Aug.Sept.-Oct.Nov.-Dec.Annual
3.70.02.30.92.01.9

In the winter of 1978 the botanical composition of elk diets in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, was estimated by bite counts of forage intake by 5 elk. Across 8 habitat/community types, Baltic rush constituted an average of 1% of their diet [91]:

Habitat/community typeBaltic rush intake (%)
Willowtr
Wet meadow4.0
Mesic meadow7.0
Grassland1.0
Sagebrushtr
Ponderosa pine-shrubtr
Aspen2.0
Wet shrub2.0

Waterfowl: Baltic rush communities along the Columbia River are an important source of food for Canadian geese and used as brood rearing areas [81]. Baltic rush is listed as a valuable source of food for mallard, northern pintail, gadwall, American wigeon, green-winged, blue-winged, and cinnamon teal, northern shoveler, redhead, American coot, pied-billed grebe, and ruddy ducks in the Potholes Region of central Washington [84]. In southeastern Alberta, Baltic rush is a source of food for dabblers, American wigeons, gadwalls, and other duck species [104].

Palatability/nutritional value:On average, Baltic rush palatability is considered medium [197] to moderately low [106]. Baltic rush is considered palatable early in the growing season when plants are young and tender, but as stems mature and toughen palatability declines [77,78,104,164].

Baltic rush's crude protein value is high from late spring to mid-summer [21,107], but declines rapidly in fall and winter [91,197]. The nutritional value and in-vitro digestibility of Baltic rush consumed by 5 elk in the Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, during November through March 1977-78 is presented below [91]:

Percentage of dry matter
Acid detergent fiberLigninCrude proteinIn-vitro digestible dry matter
41.02.93.138.0

The nutritional value and in-vitro digestibility of Baltic rush in a North Dakota seasonal wetland are described below [107]:

DateIn-vitro matter digestibility (%)Crude protein (%)Phosphorus (%)
Late spring (5/21-6/10)47.014.00.21
Early summer (6/21-7/11)39.012.50.18
Mid-summer (7/21-8/4)30.010.00.14
Late summer (8/15-9/18)20.07.50.10

Cover value: Baltic rush is an important cover species for a variety of small birds, upland game birds, birds of prey, and waterfowl [20,31,36,37,38,42,56,69,104,122,128,129,130,131,137,159,168,189,190]. The yellow rail, a small marsh bird found along the St. Lawrence River, Quebec, uses Baltic rush stems as a primary nest material. A study conducted in 1993 found that Baltic rush was present in 67% of their nests [162]. An extensive study of small impoundments in southeastern Alberta, an area dubbed the "duck factory" of North America, found that 62% of all waterfowl species located their nests in Baltic rush communities. A total of 78% of mallards use Baltic rush in the impoundment areas as their primary nesting cover. Given the high percent of waterfowl in the small impoundments, Baltic rush is also a favorite cover material for ground squirrels, skunks, coyotes, badgers, and weasels who prey on waterfowl eggs and younglings [104]. A study of duck nesting preference in the 14,189-acre (5,742-ha) Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge in south-central Colorado found that most nests of 6 duck species were located in Baltic rush stands [69]:

Duck species% of nests
Mallard66.3
Gadwall59.8
Teal73.9
Northern pintail58.2
Northern shoveler70.7
Redhead74.7

In the Potholes area of central Washington, Baltic rush provides particularly important nesting cover for green-winged, blue-winged, and cinnamon teal who nest late in the season when Baltic rush is highly available. Baltic rush in this area is abundant and very important for a variety of waterfowl. The table below describes the percent of several waterfowl species who use Baltic rush stands as their primary nesting site [84]:

Duck species% of nests
Mallard34.0
Northern pintail57.0
Gadwall7.0
Green-winged teal50.0
Blue-winged teal30.0
Cinnamon teal30.0
Northern shoveler33.0
Redhead27.0
Ruddy duck14.0
American coot52.0
Pied-billed grebe6.0

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Other uses and values

The stems of Baltic rush were historically used by the Chumash Indians of southwest California as a foundation for coiled basketry [192]. Baltic rush was also used to make baskets and containers by the Kawaisu Indians of California and the Northern Cheyenne Indians of Montana [85,222]. The Northern Cheyenne also used the fine rootlets of Baltic rush to sew patterns on robes or other leather items [85].

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Wikipedia

Juncus balticus

Juncus balticus is a species of rush known by the common name Baltic rush. this plant is widespread in occurrence and can reach a height of about three feet.

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

The currently accepted scientific name of Baltic rush is Juncus balticus Willd. (Juncaceae) [55,74,90,97,101]. There are 4 recognized varieties:

Juncus balticus var. balticus Willd.
Juncus balticus Willd. var. littoralis Engelm. [74,136]
Juncus balticus Willd. var. montanus Engelm. [55,74,136]
Juncus balticus Willd. var. vallicola Rydb. [55,90]

Throughout this review, Baltic rush will refer only to the species Juncus balticus and J. b. var. balticus. When citing literature that distinguishes variety, J. b. var. montanus will be referred to as mountain rush, J. b. var. vallicola will be referred to as valley rush, and J. b. var. littoralis will be referred to by its scientific name.

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Common Names

Baltic rush
mountain rush
valley rush
wire rush

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