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Relationship Between Xerophyllum tenax and Canopy Density in the Southern Cascades of Washington

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Large-scale commercial harvest of beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) has been taking place in the Cascades of Washington and Oregon for the past 15 to 20 years. The long, slender leaves are either used fresh or dried and dyed for use in the floral industries in the United States and Europe. Our objectives were to develop a better understanding of beargrass production under different tree canopy (overstory) densities in the Pacific silver fir/big huckleberry/beargrass and the mountain hemlock/big huckleberry/beargrass plant associations in and around the Cispus Adaptive Management Area. We examined differences in beargrass production for different overstory canopy conditions on 10 sites in each association. Results indicated that beargrass quality is not of commercial grade under open canopies (<60% overstory density). For medium and high densities, the interaction between plant association and overstory density was significant for all response variables except harvestable dry mass. Harvestable dry mass of beargrass did not differ between the two associations, but was greater under medium- compared with high-density conditions. For the Pacific silver fir association, the high-overstory-density class had greater basal area of beargrass per site, and plants were larger with longer leaves compared to medium-canopy-density sites. We did not find this relationship for the mountain hemlock association, except for the longest leaf variable. It is unclear why basal area and size of beargrass were more closely related to overstory conditions for the Pacific silver fir association. Evaluation of the sustainability of beargrass as a nontimber forest product will require long-term study of the relationships among environmental variables, beargrass productivity, and beargrass population dynamics. West. J. Appl. For. 19(2):82–87.
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Keywords: Beargrass; NTFP; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources; nontimber forest products; overstory/understory relationships

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Natural Resource Sciences Washington State University Pullman WA 99164-6410, Email: [email protected] 2: Department of Crop and Soil Sciences Washington State University Pullman WA 99164-6420 3: United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station Corvallis OR 97331 4: Department of Biology Western Washington University Bellingham WA 98225-9160

Publication date: 2004-04-01

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Western Journal of Applied Forestry covers the western United States, including Alaska, and western Canada; WJAF will also consider manuscripts reporting research in northern Mexico that has potential application in the southwestern United States.
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