The University of Arizona

Relationship of tarbush leaf surface secondary chemistry to livestock herbivory.

R.E. Estell, E.L. Fredrickson, D.M. Anderson, W.F. Mueller, M.D. Remmenga


Tarbush (Flourensia cernua DC.) is an abundant but generally unpalatable shrub native to the Chihuahuan Desert. The objective of this study was to examine the leaf surface chemistry of tarbush in relation to degree of use by ruminants. Mature tarbush leaves were collected on 2 sites during 2 periods approximately 2 weeks apart from plants exhibiting either high (> 45%) or low (< 10%) use when browsed by cattle, sheep, and goats confined to a small area (5 plants per use category for each site/period combination). A greater (P < 0.05) concentration of epicuticular wax was detected on the leaf surface of plants that were used to a lower degree (82 and 10.3% of the leaf dry matter for high- and low-use plants, respectively). Several leaf surface compounds were related to period, while site and degree of use were seldom related to individual mono- and sesquiterpenes measured in this study. Camphene and 10 unidentified compounds differed between periods (P < 0.10). Two unidentified compounds were related to site (P < 0.10) and 2 others were related to use (P < 0.10). In summary, individual leaf surface compounds on tarbush do not appear to greatly affect degree of use of tarbush by livestock, but collectively (based on epicuticular wax data), these compounds may influence the diet selected by browsing ruminants.


weed palatability;leaves;monoterpenoids;Flourensia;flourensia cernua;waxes;surfaces;chloroform;volatile compounds;epicuticular wax;chemical composition;ruminants;New Mexico;feeding preferences

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