Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Andropogon virginicus
(broomsedge)

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Datasheet

Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 13 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Andropogon virginicus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • broomsedge
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • A. virginicus is a perennial member of the grass family (Poaceae). It is an abundant species within its large native range extending from most of eastern North America to northern South America (Colombia). It h...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit, invading burnt shrubland. Helu, West Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2010.
TitleHabit
CaptionAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit, invading burnt shrubland. Helu, West Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2010.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit, invading burnt shrubland. Helu, West Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2010.
HabitAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit, invading burnt shrubland. Helu, West Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2010.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit, on fenceline. Kahakapao Reservoir LZ, Haleakala Ranch, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 2009.
TitleHabit
CaptionAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit, on fenceline. Kahakapao Reservoir LZ, Haleakala Ranch, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 2009.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit, on fenceline. Kahakapao Reservoir LZ, Haleakala Ranch, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 2009.
HabitAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit, on fenceline. Kahakapao Reservoir LZ, Haleakala Ranch, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 2009.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit, with seedhead. Hoku Nui Piiholo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. December, 2014.
TitleHabit
CaptionAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit, with seedhead. Hoku Nui Piiholo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. December, 2014.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit, with seedhead. Hoku Nui Piiholo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. December, 2014.
HabitAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit, with seedhead. Hoku Nui Piiholo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. December, 2014.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit in pasture. Hoku Nui Piiholo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. December, 2014.
TitleHabit
CaptionAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit in pasture. Hoku Nui Piiholo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. December, 2014.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit in pasture. Hoku Nui Piiholo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. December, 2014.
HabitAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit in pasture. Hoku Nui Piiholo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. December, 2014.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit. Pololei Haiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. May, 2006.
TitleHabit
CaptionAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit. Pololei Haiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. May, 2006.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit. Pololei Haiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. May, 2006.
HabitAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit. Pololei Haiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. May, 2006.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge); habit, showing leaves and basal rosette. West Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2009.
TitleHabit
CaptionAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge); habit, showing leaves and basal rosette. West Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2009.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge); habit, showing leaves and basal rosette. West Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2009.
HabitAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge); habit, showing leaves and basal rosette. West Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2009.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); voucher specimen, showing basal parts. Puu Ku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2006.
TitleBasal parts
CaptionAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); voucher specimen, showing basal parts. Puu Ku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2006.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); voucher specimen, showing basal parts. Puu Ku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2006.
Basal partsAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); voucher specimen, showing basal parts. Puu Ku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2006.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit, with seedhead. Hoku Nui Piiholo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. December, 2014.
TitleSeedheads
CaptionAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit, with seedhead. Hoku Nui Piiholo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. December, 2014.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit, with seedhead. Hoku Nui Piiholo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. December, 2014.
SeedheadsAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); habit, with seedhead. Hoku Nui Piiholo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. December, 2014.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); seedhead. Makamakaole, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September, 2011.
TitleSeedhead
CaptionAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); seedhead. Makamakaole, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September, 2011.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); seedhead. Makamakaole, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September, 2011.
SeedheadAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); seedhead. Makamakaole, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September, 2011.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); regrowth after fire. Gressit Preserve, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 1998.
TitleRegrowth
CaptionAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); regrowth after fire. Gressit Preserve, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 1998.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); regrowth after fire. Gressit Preserve, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 1998.
RegrowthAndropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem); regrowth after fire. Gressit Preserve, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 1998.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Andropogon virginicus

Preferred Common Name

  • broomsedge

Other Scientific Names

  • Anatherum virginicum (L.) Spreng.
  • Cinna lateralis Walter
  • Sorghum virginicum (L.) Kuntze

International Common Names

  • English: broom sedge blue-stem; sedge grass; virginia beard grass; whiskeygrass; whisky grass
  • Spanish: popotillo pajon
  • French: andropogon de virginie; herbe à whisky

Local Common Names

  • Bahamas: beard grass
  • Japan: Merikenkarukaya
  • Korea, Republic of: na-do-sol-sae
  • Puerto Rico: matojo de escoba

EPPO code

  • ANOVI (Andropogon virginicus)

Summary of Invasiveness

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A. virginicus is a perennial member of the grass family (Poaceae). It is an abundant species within its large native range extending from most of eastern North America to northern South America (Colombia). It has expanded its range through accidental introductions to the west coast of the USA, Asia, Oceania and Europe. It is weedy within its native range and behaves similarly where introduced. It is an aggressive colonizer of disturbed, low nutrient dry soils. The species is fire tolerant, and minimizes competition via allelopathy. It is a serious weed in Hawaii where it threatens endangered and threatened plant species, and it is listed on the state’s noxious weed list. It alters successional processes, changes fire regimes, causes erosion, and alters hydrology. It is also a threat to agricultural systems where it invades pastures.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Cyperales
  •                         Family: Poaceae
  •                             Genus: Andropogon
  •                                 Species: Andropogon virginicus

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Andropogon is a genus of approximately 120 species distributed in temperate and tropical regions. Andropogon virginicus has been placed in Andropogon Section Leptopogon, a group of American species defined by a concave nerveless first glume of the sessile spikelet (Nagahama and Norrmann, 2012). Within Leptopogon, A. virginicus belongs to a group of about 9 closely related taxa with a center of biodiversity in the southeastern USA – the “Andropogon virginicus complex” (Campbell, 1983; Nagahama and Norrmann, 2012).

A. virginicus was described by Linnaeus in 1753 as A. virginicum. Some nineteenth century botanists transferred the species to other genera, including Anatherum and Sorghum (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016) but the placement in Andropogon has been retained throughout the 1800-1900s.

The infraspecific taxonomy of A. virginicus is complex and in a state of flux (Weakley et al., 2011). Campbell (1983; 1986) conducted an exhaustive study of the A. virginicus complex that resulted in the recognition of three varieties of the species A. virginicus: var. virginicus, var. glaucus, and var. decipiens. Campbell (1983) also divided var. virginicus into several informal variants. The form that is associated with disturbed dry habitats in the USA and also introduced outside of its native range is A. virginicus var. virginicus, formerly called the “Old-field variant” by (Campbell, 1983), defined by characters of raceme sheaths, culm internodes, raceme length, and peduncle length.

Description

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Caespitose perennial grass, with culms to 0.5-2 m, and culm internodes green. Leaves green (rarely slightly glaucous) glabrous to sparsely pubescent on margins near collar, 11-52 cm long, 1.7-6.5 mm wide, ligule ciliate, 0.2-1.0 mm. Inflorescence units with 2-5 rames, rames 1.9-3.3 cm long; peduncles 3-6 mm long, sheaths 3.3-4.4 mm wide. Sessile spikelets 3.5-3.8 mm; callus hairs 1-3 mm; awns 6-21 mm (Campbell, 2003). Grasses often grow in small clumps. 

Distribution

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A. virginicus has a broad native range in the Americas. It reaches its northern distributional limit in Ontario, Canada. It is found through the eastern USA from Michigan, New York, and Massachusetts, south to Florida, and west to Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. To the south it occurs from Mexico to Colombia, apparently absent only from El Salvador and Nicaragua. It also occurs naturally in the Caribbean, the Greater Antilles, Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas and as far as Bermuda (Campbell, 1983; Campbell, 2003).

The species has been introduced outside of its natural range to the western USA in California, in Asia, Europe and Oceania. In Europe it has been found at a military base in the department of Gironde in France (Granereau and Verloove, 2010) and also in Landes department (Fried and Mandon-Dalger, 2014), and in the Caucasus region (Zazanashvili, 1999; Akhalkatsi and Kimeridze, 2012). In Asia it is known from Japan (Koyama, 1987) and South Korea (Jong-Cheol et al., 2008). In Oceania it has been introduced to and is reported as invasive in Hawaii (Snow and Lau, 2010), Australia (AVH, 2016), and New Zealand (Gardner et al., 1996).

However, reports from French Polynesia (ISSG, 2016) appear to be in error. French Polynesia has placed the species in its exclusion list, and this may have been misinterpreted. No documentation of the occurrence could be found.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

Georgia (Republic of)PresentIntroduced Invasive Zazanashvili, 1999; Akhalkatsi and Kimeridze, 2012; EPPO, 2014
JapanPresentIntroduced Invasive Koyama, 1987; EPPO, 2014
-HonshuPresentIntroduced Invasive Koyama, 1987; Angara et al., 2000
Korea, Republic ofPresentIntroduced2006 Not invasive Jong-Cheol et al., 2008

North America

BermudaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
CanadaPresentEPPO, 2014
-OntarioPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2016
MexicoPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
USAPresentEPPO, 2014
-AlabamaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-ArkansasPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-ConnecticutPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-DelawarePresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-District of ColumbiaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-FloridaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-GeorgiaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced1924 Invasive Wester, 1992; Wagner et al., 1999; Snow and Lau, 2010; EPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016Hawai’i, Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Moloka‘i, and Maui
-IllinoisPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-IndianaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-IowaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-KansasPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-KentuckyPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-LouisianaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-MarylandPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-MassachusettsPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-MichiganPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-MississippiPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-MissouriPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-New JerseyPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-New YorkPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-North CarolinaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-OhioPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-OklahomaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-PennsylvaniaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-Rhode IslandPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-South CarolinaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-TennesseePresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-TexasPresentEPPO, 2014
-VirginiaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-West VirginiaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2016

Central America and Caribbean

BahamasPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2016
BelizePresentNativeEPPO, 2014; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
Costa RicaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
CubaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2016
Dominican RepublicPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2016
GuatemalaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
HaitiPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2016
HondurasPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
JamaicaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2016
NicaraguaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014
PanamaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
Puerto RicoPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2016; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
Trinidad and TobagoPresentNativeEPPO, 2014

South America

ColombiaPresentNativeEPPO, 2014; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016

Europe

FrancePresentIntroduced2006 Invasive Granereau and Verloove, 2010; EPPO, 2014; Fried Mandon-Dalger, 2014Gironde
Russian FederationPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroduced1942 Invasive Gardner et al., 1996; EPPO, 2014
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced1942 Invasive Gardner et al., 1996; EPPO, 2014; AVH, 2016
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; AVH, 2016
-VictoriaPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; AVH, 2016
French PolynesiaAbsent, unreliable recordGranereau and Verloove, 2010; ISSG, 2016No documentation found to confirm this report. It may have been listed because it is on the French Polynesia exclusion list
New ZealandPresentIntroduced1963 Invasive Gardner et al., 1996; EPPO, 2014Ulsan

History of Introduction and Spread

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The earliest introduced record of the species is from Hawaii in 1924 (Wester, 1992; Wagner et al., 1999). Some dispersal of A. virginicus appears to have occurred because of World War II. It was recorded in Japan in 1940 (Jong-Cheol et al., 2008). It was introduced to Australia in 1942 with packing material around whisky bottles (Gardner et al., 1996). It was found in New Zealand in 1963 (Gardner et al., 1996). More recently it was found in South Korea in 2006 (Jong-Cheol et al., 2008), and in France, also in 2006 (Granereau and Verloove, 2010). Little data was found for the introduction time period in the country of Georgia (Akhalkatsi and Kimeridze, 2012), or California.

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Australia 1942 Yes No Gardner et al. (1996)
California   Yes No USDA-NRCS (2016)
France 2006 Yes No Granereau and Verloove (2010)
Hawaii 1924 Yes No Snow and Lau (2010)
Japan 1940 Yes No Jong-Cheol et al. (2008)
Korea, Republic of  2006 Yes No Jong-Cheol et al. (2008)
New Zealand 1963 Yes No Gardner et al. (1996)

Risk of Introduction

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Risk assessments of A. virginicus have been conducted for Australia and the Pacific Islands (ISSG, 2016). Both found the species to be a high risk. It has been placed on the exclusion list by French Polynesia because of the threat. 

Habitat

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In its native range in the Americas A. virginicus occupies a wide range of dry to wet open habitats, particularly following disturbance, including old fields and roadsides (Campbell, 1983; Weakley, 2015). In the USA it is characteristic of a post-disturbance successional stage termed the “broomsedge stage” (Campbell, 1983), colonizing fields 3-5 years post-disturbance and persisting due to allelopathic properties (Rice, 1972).

The preference for dry to wet, disturbed, sunny habitats continues where it is introduced. In Japan the species colonized a burned watershed 2 years post fire, following behaviour in North America (Angara et al., 2000). It is a dominant species of savannah vegetation on the windward sides of Oahu and Hawaii (Sorenson, 1991), and is the one of the three most prevalent grasses in the seasonal submontane zone in Hawaii (Hughes et al., 1991). In Australia it has invaded nutrient poor habitats and altered fire regimes (Cronk et al., 2001; PIER, 2016). In France, the species is an invasive in dry heath, moor, and sphagnum pond, as well as disturbed areas (Fried and Mandon-Dalger, 2014). In the Caucasus region it is reported as invasive in broad-leaved forest (Akhalkatsi and Kimeridze, 2012), an atypical habitat that should be verified.

 

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Natural
Industrial / intensive livestock production systems Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Industrial / intensive livestock production systems Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Wetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

A. virginicus has a chromosome number of 2n=20 (Campbell, 1983).

Reproductive Biology

Like most grass species, A. virginicus is wind pollinated, although precocious maturation of spikelets precludes wind pollination in some spikelets. The percentage of spikelets that are cleistogamous in A. virginicus is small compared to other closely related species (Campbell, 1982). The capacity for autogamy increases homozygosity, making inbred forms more adaptable to specific environments, increasing success as a colonizer (Campbell, 1983).

Campbell (1983) found that A. virginicus hybridizes with A. longiberbis and A. glomeratus var. pumilus. These hybrids are much less fertile than their parents.

Physiology and Phenology

In the Americas this species flowers in the autumn, from about September to October (Weakley, 2015). In Hawaii flowering is stimulated in the autumn by shortening daylight (Sorenson, 1991). Seeds of A. virginicus have been found to form persistent seed banks (Baskin and Baskin, 1998). It can resprout within 96 hours after a fire (Hughes et al., 1991).

Environmental Requirements

Several studies have focused on the ability of A. virginicus to tolerate extreme soil conditions, including contaminated soils. It has a high tolerance to aluminium, extreme acidity, low nutrients, lead, and zinc, often in abandoned coal or lead/zinc mines (Gibson and Risser, 1982; Ning and Cumming, 2001; Cumming and Ning, 2003; Ezaki et al., 2013). The ability to tolerate aluminium is conferred by mychorrhizal fungi (Ning and Cumming, 2001; Cumming and Ning, 2003).

This species is tolerant of low nutrient conditions. The ability to survive in harsh conditions, such as with high aluminum concentrations, is conferred by mychorrizal fungi (Ning and Cumming, 2001; Cumming and Ning, 2003). It is considered a fire hazard and known to alter the fire regime in areas where it has invaded (PIER, 2016). 

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -20

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Puccinia andropogonis Pathogen not specific
Puccinia ellisiana Pathogen not specific
Sorosporium ellisii Pathogen not specific
Sorosporium everhartii Pathogen not specific
Sphacelotheca occidentalis Pathogen not specific
Sphacelotheca seymouriana Pathogen not specific
Thysanoptera Herbivore not specific
Uromyces andropogonis Pathogen not specific
Ustilago striiformis Pathogen not specific

Notes on Natural Enemies

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A. virginicus has been found to host several species of rust and smut fungi. These include the rusts Puccinia andropogonis, P. ellisiana, Uromyces andropogonis, Sorosporium ellisii (a head smut), S. everhartii (a seed smut), Sphacelotheca seymouriana and S. occidentalis (head or seed smuts), and Ustilago striiformis (stripe smut) (Gardner and Davis, 1982). Beckham et al. (1971) report nine species of thrips on A. virginicus in northern Georgia. Agindotan et al. (2013) report a new marfavirus, tentatively named Switchgrass mosaic virus (SwMV), on A. virginicus.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Campbell (1983) discussed traits of A. virginicus that make it a success as a weed, compared to other members of the genus, including the presence of long spreading hairs on the spikelets which give it the ability to disperse long distances in wind.

Vector Transmission

A. virginicus spikelets have awns and basal callous hairs which can catch in animal fur. This probably facilitates dispersal on clothing and machinery as well.

Accidental Introduction

Some introductions, such as in Australia and New Zealand, are attributed to the use of the species as a packing material around whiskey bottles (Gardner et al., 1996) shipped from the USA, giving rise to the common name whisky grass. In France one of the two or three introductions is at a military base is attributed to storage of NATO ammunition (Granereau and Verloove, 2010), imported from some location at which A. virginicus grows.

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Negative

Economic Impact

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In the USA, A. virginicus is an undesirable invader of pastures because it is poor forage. The species has invaded millions of acres of pastures in the southeastern USA (Butler et al., 2002). It can be grazed during spring and early summer, but forage value is low the rest of the year (Leithead et al., 1971). It is also an indicator of deteriorating range habitat (Leithead et al., 1971).

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

Little specific data has been published on impacts of A. virginicus in its introduced range. The main threat of the species is following disturbance, after which it invades and interrupts succession by native species. The species’ allelopathic properties serve to suppress competition with other species (Rice, 1972; Stone, 1985). The species is also fire-tolerant, and in dry periods serves as a fuel source. Invasion of the species into habitats that do not have a natural burn regime can alter successional patterns (Stone, 1985). The species also causes erosion in Hawaii (Stone, 1985).

Impact on Biodiversity

In Hawaii, A. virginicus is a threat to native plant species, including rare species. In dry habitats it competes with the endangered shrub Tetramolopium remyi, and the endangered tree Santalum freycinetianum var. lanaiense [S. haleakalae var. lanaiense] (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1994). On Oahu it threatens the endangered subshrub Schiedea nuttallii (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009). It is a major threat to the small herb Portulaca sclerocarpa on the island of Hawaii and an islet off of Lanai (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1996). A. virginicus is also sympatric with Pritchardia napaliensis and Schiedea apokremnos in Hawaii and is a potential threat to those species.

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Portulaca sclerocarpaEN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - stranglingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1996
Santalum haleakalae var. lanaiense (Lanai sandalwood)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1994
Schiedea nuttalliiCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009
Tetramolopium remyi (Awalua Ridge tetramolopium)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - stranglingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1994
Phyllostegia glabra var. lanaiensis (ulihi phyllostegia)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1994
Phyllostegia renovans (red-leaf phyllostegia)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiAllelopathic; Competition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010b
Plantago hawaiensis (Hawai'i plantain)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiEcosystem change / habitat alterationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1996
Platydesma rostrataCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiAllelopathic; Competition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010b
Pritchardia napaliensisCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - stranglingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010a
Psychotria grandiflora (large-flowered balsamo)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - stranglingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010b
Schiedea apokremnos (Kauai schiedea)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetitionUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010c
Viola lanaiensis (Hawaii violet)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition (unspecified); Ecosystem change / habitat alterationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1994

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Altered trophic level
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Increases vulnerability to invasions
  • Modification of fire regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition - strangling
  • Competition
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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Economic Value

This species has a low economic value. It has low value as a forage species in North America and is undesirable when it invades pastures (Butler et al., 2002). 

Social Benefit

A. virginicus derives its common name broomsedge because of the traditional use in the USA of using it to make brooms. This tradition is seldom seen today.

It is used occasionally as an ornamental in gardens.

Environmental Services

Most literature reports a generally low value of this species to wildlife. Davison and Van Dersal (1941) found that the species is rarely used as food by native bird species, but in times of stress/harsh conditions can prevent starvation when no other food is available. It is an important nesting habitat for quail in some regions (Harshbarger and Simpson, 1970).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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A. virginicus is very similar to other species of Andropogon, especially those in Section Leptopogon. The ability to identify members of the complex requires carefully collected mature specimens, and careful examination of inflorescence and spikelet morphology (Campbell, 1983; Campbell, 1986). In areas where introduced it could be most easily confused with the closely related A. glomeratus which, like A. virginicus, is naturalized in Hawaii and Japan, and the two are sympatric in their native ranges in North America and the Caribbean. A. glomeratus was misidentified as A. virginicus at Midway Atoll (Snow and Lau, 2010). A. glomeratus is in overall aspect a more robust species with a broader, bushier inflorescence. Positive identification requires examination of spikelets. In A. glomeratus the keel of the first glume is usually scabrous below the middle. Its leaves are usually more than 44 cm long. In contrast, in A. virginicus keels of the first glume are scabrous only above the middle, and leaves are usually less than 31 cm long (Weakley, 2015). A. virginicus could also be confused with other members of the grass family in Section Andropogoneae. For example, Jong-Cheol et al. (2008) note that in Korea it can be confused with Themeda triandrus, as well as an annual congener A. brevifolius.  

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Control of A. virginicus should focus on a combination of habitat management to prevent invasion, and chemical control if invasions do occur. As the species is an aggressive invader of disturbed soils, steps should be taken to minimize disturbances near A. virginicus colonies. This may include steps such as the control of wild boar populations because of associated soil disturbances. Where the species invades pastures, a combination of grazing and herbicide application may be effective, or these can be used in conjunction with prescribed burning.          

Physical/Mechanical Control

Peters and Lowance (1974) found that control could be achieved in pastures by drilling in tall fescue, with the supplementation of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. Coupled with mowing in winter and grazing of new growth of spring by cattle, A. virginicus was nearly eliminated after five years.

Biological Control

Options for biocontrol of grasses are generally limited because of the potential threat to many important crop species such as sugarcane, rice and wheat. An assessment of the suitability of biocontrol in Hawaii concluded that the threat to sugarcane would be a major impediment (Gardner and Davis, 1982).  

Chemical Control

Herbicides can be effective in the control of A. virginicus, but only when applied on new growth. Use of glyphosate (1% in water) applied to new growth is recommended (Motooka, 2003).

Butler et al. (2002) found that in pastures a combination of herbicide (particularly glyphosate) with burning, followed by “sound forage management practices” was effective. Both MSMA and DSMA herbicides were shown to be effective (Lowance et al., 1975). In agricultural habitats a combination of bromacil, hexazinone, tebuthiuron, bromacil and diuron, and buthidazole have been used as an effective control (Cronk et al., 2001).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Further data should be sought on the occurrence A. virginicus in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Little data could be found on the report of this species there, such as in Georgia (Zazanashvili, 1999; Akhalkatsi and Kimeridze, 2012).

References

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Acevedo-Rodriguez P, Strong MT, 2016. Flora of the West Indies. Washington D.C, USA: National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. http://botany.si.edu/antilles/WestIndies/index.htm

Agindotan B, Okanu N, Oladeinde A, Voigt T, Long S, Gray M, Bradley C, 2013. Detection of Switchgrass mosaic virus in Miscanthus and other grasses. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology, 35(1):81-86.

Akhalkatsi M, Kimeridze M, 2012. Implementation of the classification system of forest habitats in accordance with the 'Natura2000' standards in the Georgian Legislation. In: Legal aspects of European forest sustainable development. Proceedings of the 12th International Symposium, Lemesos, Cyprus, 31 May-3 June, 2010 [ed. by Šulek, R.;Herbst, P.;Schmithüsen, F.]. Zvolen, Slovakia: Faculty of Forestry, Department of Forest Economics and Management, Technical University, 6-19.

Angara EV, Nakagoshi N, Nehira K, 2000. Twenty-one years post-fire succession in a small watershed on Etajima Island, Hiroshima Prefecture, Southwestern Japan. Journal of International Development and Cooperation, 6(1):177-196.

AVH, 2016. Australia's Virtual Herbarium. http://avh.ala.org.au/

Baskin CC, Baskin JM, 1998. Ecology of seed dormancy and germination in grasses. In: Population biology of grasses. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press Cambridge, pp. 30-83, 30-83.

Beckham CM, Beshear RJ, Tippins HH, 1971. Some winter host plants of thrips. Research Bulletin, University of Georgia College of Agriculture Experiment Stations, No.86:13pp.

Butler TJ, Stritzke JF, Redmon LA, Goad CL, 2002. Broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus) response to herbicides and burning. Weed Technology, 16(1):18-22.

Campbell C, 2003. Andropogon. In: Flora of North America North of Mexico, Volume 25, Magnoliophyta, Commelinidae, Poaceae, Part 2, 25(2). New York, USA: Oxford University Press, 814 pp.

Campbell CS, 1982. Cleistogamy in Andropogon L. (Gramineae). American Journal of Botany, 69(10):1625-1635.

Campbell CS, 1983. Systematics of the Andropogon virginicus complex (Gramineae). J. Arnold Arboretum, 64(2):171-254.

Campbell CS, 1986. Phylogenetic reconstructions and two new varieties in the Andropogon virginicus complex (Poaceae: Andropogoneae). Systematic Botany, 11(2):280-292.

Cronk QCB, Fuller JL, 2001. Plant invaders: the threat to natural ecosystems [ed. by Cronk, Q. C. B.\Fuller, J. L.]. London, UK: Earthscan, xiv + 241 pp.

Cumming JR, Ning JC, 2003. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi enhance aluminium resistance of broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus L.). Journal of Experimental Botany, 54(386):1447-1459.

Davison VE, Dersal WRVan, 1941. Broomsedge as a Food for Wildlife. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 5(2):180-181.

EPPO, 2014. PQR database. Paris, France: European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization. http://www.eppo.int/DATABASES/pqr/pqr.htm

Ezaki B, Jayaram K, Higashi A, Takahashi K, 2013. A combination of five mechanisms confers a high tolerance for aluminum to a wild species of Poaceae, Andropogon virginicus L. Environmental and Experimental Botany, 93:35-44. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00988472

Fried Mandon-Dalger GI, 2014. Conference Sure L'Entretien des Espaces Verts, Jardins, Gazons, Forets, Zones Aquatiques et Autres Zones non Agricoles, Toulouse - 15, 16 ET 17 Octobre 2013. Association Francaise de Protection des Plantes.

Gardner DE, Davis CJ, 1982. Technical Report 45: The prospects for biological control of nonnative plants in Hawaiian National Parks, 45. Hawaii, USA: University of Hawaii at Manoa, 55 pp. http://manoa.hawaii.edu/hpicesu/techr/045.pdf

Gardner RO, Champion PD, Lange PJde, 1996. Andropogon virginicus and Stipa tenuissima. Auckland Botanical Society Journal, 51:31-33.

Gibson DJ, Risser PG, 1982. Evidence for the absence of ecotypic development in Andropogon virginicus (L.) on metalliferous mine wastes. New Phytologist, 92(4):589-599.

Granereau GG, Verloove FV, 2010. Une poacee invasive nouvelle pour la France: Andropogon virginicus (Andropogoneae, Poaceae). Bull. Soc. Linn. Bordeaux, 145(38):417-421.

Harshbarger TJ, Simpson RC, 1970. Late-summer nesting sites of quail in south Georgia. North Carolina, USA: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station, 4 pp.

Hughes F, Vitousek PM, Tunison T, 1991. Alien grass invasion and fire in the seasonal submontane zone of Hawaii. Ecology, 72(2):743-746.

ISSG, 2015. Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). Invasive Species Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. http://www.issg.org/database/welcome/

ISSG, 2016. IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG). http://www.issg.org/

Jong-Cheol Y, Park S-H, Lee J-H, Lee Y-M, 2008. Two new naturalized species from Korea, Andropogon virginicus L. and Euphorbia postrata Aiton. Korean J. Plant Res, 21(6):427-430.

Koyama T, 1987. Grasses of Japan and its neighboring regions: an identification manual. Tokyo, Japan: Kodansha, 570 pp.

Leithead HL, Yarlett LL, Shiflet TN, 1971. 100 native forage grasses in 11 southern States. Agriculture Handbook, Soil Conservation Service, USDA, No.389. 216pp.

Lowance SA, Peters EJ, Mattas RE, 1975. Arsenical herbicides for removing broomsedge from forage grasses. Weed Science, 23(3):222-223.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016. Tropicos database. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/

Motooka PS, 2003. Weeds of Hawai'i's pastures and natural areas: an identification and management guide. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawai'i at Manoa.

Nagahama N, Norrmann GA, 2012. Review of the genus Andropogon (Poaceae: Andropogoneae) in America based on cytogenetic studies. Journal of Botany, 2012:Article ID 632547. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jb/2012/632547/

Ning JianChang, Cumming JR, 2001. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi alter phosphorus relations of broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus L.) plants. Journal of Experimental Botany, 52(362):1883-1891.

Peters EJ, Lowance SA, 1974. Fertility and management treatments to control broomsedge in pastures. Weed Science, 22(3):201-205.

PIER, 2016. Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html

Rice EL, 1972. Allelopathic effects of Andropogon virginicus and its persistence in old fields. American Journal of Botany, 59(7):752-755.

Shaw RB, Douglas P, Region R, 1996. Big Island plant cluster recovery plan. Oregon, USA: US Fish and Wildlife Service.

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US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1995. In: Lana'i Plant Cluster Recovery Plan. US Fish and Wildlife Service, 138 pp.

US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1996. In: Big Island Plant Cluster Recovery Plan. US Fish and Wildlife Service, 202 pp.

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US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010. In: 5-Year Review, Short Form Summary: Species Reviewed: Pritchardia napaliensis (loulu palm). US Fish and Wildlife Service, 10 pp.

US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010. In: Determination of Endangered Status for 48 Species on Kauai and designation of Critical Habitat: Final Rule. US Fish and Wildlife Service, i + 205 pp.

US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010. In: Schiedea apokremnos (maolioli). 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation. US Fish and Wildlife Service, 16 pp.

USDA-NRCS, 2016. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center. http://plants.usda.gov/

Wagner WL, Herbst DR, Sohmer SH, 1999. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai'i. Vols 1 and 2. Bishop Museum Special Publication 83. Honolulu, USA: University of Hawai'i and Bishop Museum Press.

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Weakley AS, LeBlond RJ, Sorrie BA, Witsell CT, Estes LD, Mathews KG, Ebihara A, Gandhi K, 2011. New combinations, rank changes, and nomenclatural and taxonomic comments in the vascular flora of the southeastern United States. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 5(2):437-455.

Wester L, 1992. Origin and Distribution of Adventive Alien Flowering Plants in Hawai'i, in Alien plant invasions in native ecosystems of Hawai`i: management and research. Hawaii, USA: University of Hawaii Press, 99-154.

Zazanashvili N, 1999. On the Colkhic vegetation. In: Conference on recent shifts in vegetation boundaries of deciduous forests, especially due to general global warming, Ascona, Switzerland, 1998 [ed. by Klötzli, F.\Walther, G. R.]. Basel, Switzerland: Birkhäuser Verlag AG, 181-197.

Contributors

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30/03/16 Original text by:

Keith Bradley, Consultant, South Carolina, USA 

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