Current Issue (87-1)

Notes on the Prairie Nymph, Herbertia lahue ssp. caerulea, (Iridaceae) at Vicksburg Military National Military Park, Mississippi

The prairie nymph, Herbertia lahue ssp. caerula, is a critically imperiled grassland plant in Mississippi. A large population of the prairie nymph occurs at the Vicksburg National Military Park. This population of prairie nymph occurs in a managed anthropogenic grassland with a host of associated native and exotic species. With the assistance of National Park Service staff an experiment investigating the effects of their mowing and a study of the growing conditions and pollinators of the plant was initiated. The mowing experiment was abandoned after two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic and yielded no significant results. Here we report on the growing conditions and associated species. The syrphid fly, Toxomerus marginatus, was observed to be a frequent flower visitor.

The Persistence of State-Listed Endangered and Threatened Seed Plants in Populated Illinois Landscapes

The state of Illinois has few natural areas remaining due to anthropogenic changes caused by agriculture, industry, and urbanization. This study investigates the seed plants at the greatest risk of extirpation from Illinois, the state-listed endangered and threatened species, and their occurrence relative to land use. The Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board and the Illinois Natural History Survey chronicle the occurrence and distribution of state-listed endangered and threatened species. We extracted the number of endangered/threatened species per county from these records. We also calculated the proportion of land cover per county for anthropogenic, non-anthropogenic, and protected areas. Using these data, we modeled the distribution of state-listed endangered and threatened seed plants as a function of land cover and human population density. Our study revealed that many endangered plant species are persisting in counties with high levels of human population density. A high degree of agricultural land cover was negatively associated with the presence of endangered/threatened seed plant species. We provide statistical evidence that endangered/threatened species are persistent in highly populated areas, given that there are protected lands with adequate habitat for them to grow. These results underscore the importance of protecting natural habitats. Urban development has preserved some of these habitats by establishing protected lands that allow the continued existence of many species. The role that protected lands play in the conservation of biodiversity is crucial to prevent extirpation of endangered/threatened seed plant species in Illinois.

Noteworthy Collections—South Carolina

Discussion is provided for an occurrence of Macbridea caroliniana thought to be extirpated (Berkeley County) and five new occurrences collected 2019–2020 on the South Carolina Coastal Plain. One new occurrence is a county record (Charleston County). Four new occurrences along the Black River through Berkeley and Williamsburg counties suggest favorable habitat in that region. Findings suggest that this species may be underreported in South Carolina and effort should be placed in identifying disturbed habitat in conserved natural areas that may harbor this rare plant.

The Vascular Flora of Autauga County, Alabama

The vascular flora of Autauga County, Alabama, was surveyed from 2016 to 2020. A total of 168 families, 617 genera, 1,393 species, and eight named hybrids are reported. Of the 1,393 species, 1,097 were collected during this study and 296 are from the search of online databases. Thirty of the species are listed on The Inventory List of Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Plants and Animals of Alabama. Approximately 21.4% of the flora (298 species), are considered non-native. Families with the largest number of species and named hybrids were Asteraceae (162), Poaceae (147), Fabaceae (100), Cyperaceae (96), Rosaceae (42), and Lamiaceae (33).

Distinguishing Saplings of Pines of Piedmont Upland Grassland Systems

The development and assessment of Piedmont upland grassland restoration efforts is hampered in part by continued challenges in identifying immature individuals of three associated pines, Pinus echinata, P. taeda, and P. virginiana, the penultimate of which is thought alien to the system. To help fill this gap, we studied three quantitative and 25 qualitative characters in 174, 2- to 5-year-old saplings in managed stands in Durham County (North Carolina) and 169 herbarium specimens of mature individuals from 94 Piedmont counties from Georgia to Virginia. Although mean short-shoot needle and fascicle sheath lengths differed significantly between lifestage classes of the three species (F8,335=185, p<0.0001 and F8,335=173.5, p<0.0001, respectively), there was substantial range overlap, likely contributing to diagnostic confusion in the field when existing keys are applied. For example, needle length ranges of all lifestage classes of all species overlapped with those of mature P. echinata and 2-year-old P. virginiana. In addition, at the apex of the previous season’s growth, 2-year-old saplings of P. echinata and P. virginiana exhibited needles either predominantly or in higher percentages of threes, than the contrasting described preponderance of pairs for mature individuals. Of the 25 qualitative characters evaluated, we found (1) absence of decurrency glaucescence distinguishes 2- to 5-year-old saplings of P. taeda from P. echinata and P. virginiana, and (2) absence of stomatal plugs distinguishes P. virginiana from the others. A diagnostic key to saplings is provided.

Remnants of the “Grande Savane?” Insights from Soil Organic Matter at Two Sites in the Deep River Triassic Basin of North Carolina

Narrative accounts and floristics suggest a broader historical distribution of Piedmont upland savannas and woodlands with a prairie-affinity flora than today, although dates of emergence, spatiotemporal extent, and historical dynamics remain unclear. To help address the question whether remnant prairie-affinity patches in the state represent at least historical, if not ancient, grasslands, we analyzed stable carbon isotopes from soil organic matter from two well-known localities hosting prairie-affinity heliophytes, both within the boundaries of historically mapped “Grande Savane”. Soil cores for δ13Corg analysis and radiocarbon dating were collected from five sites, hosting different present-day plant communities and spanning three soil orders. Recovered δ13Corg values suggest historical grasslands, likely savanna-type with some fluctuations in cover, were present at both localities essentially continuously over the past 2000 years until the more recent canopy closure over the past century. These findings are consistent with historical narrative accounts, although significant additional sampling is needed to determine its spatiotemporal extent. While the general trend at our localities transitions from open to closed systems, pronounced fluctuations are apparent in all profiles, particularly between 1254–1468 CE. Precipitation does not appear predominantly responsible, but available climatic reconstructions are from an adjacent basin. The timing of the pronounced vegetation class fluctuations is intriguingly coincidental to the timing of Siouan occupancy and intertribal movements, suggesting a need for more vigorous interdisciplinary investigations.

Cyperus excurrens (Cyperaceae), a New Species from Karst Ponds in Southern Georgia, U.S.A.

A novel flatsedge from karst ponds in southwestern Georgia, Cyperus excurrens, is described, and the results of principal component analysis are presented in support of the recognition of this new species. A technical description, dichotomous key, comparative photographs of spikelets and achenes, distribution maps, habitat data, and specimen citations are included. The status of the related taxon, Cyperus strigosus var. stenolepis, is also evaluated.

Native and Non-native Additions to the Vascular Plants of the Berea College Forest, Madison, Jackson, and Rockcastle Counties, Kentucky

A vascular plant reconnaissance was made of the Berea College Forest (BCF), a 3,765-ha managed forest within Madison, Jackson, and Rockcastle counties in east-central Kentucky. The survey was principally conducted during the growing seasons from 2014–2021. Forty-five new taxa (21 native; 24 non-native) representing 20 new genera, and five new families were documented. A total of 30 county records (22 Madison, four Jackson, four Rockcastle) were represented. The known BCF flora now constitutes 1,087 taxa, 540 genera, and 144 families.

Eleocharis angusticeps (Cyperaceae), a New Spikerush from the Highmarsh of Camden County, Georgia, U.S.A.

A novel spikerush, Eleocharis angusticeps, from the highmarsh of Camden County, Georgia, is described, and the results of a morphometric analysis are presented in support of the recognition of this new species. A technical description, dichotomous key, comparative photographs of achenes, spikelets, and plant habit, distribution maps, habitat data, and specimen citations are included.

Noteworthy Collection: Southward Expansion of the Invasive Riparian Monocot Butomus umbellatus L. (Butomaceae) into the Allegheny and Ohio River Watersheds Supported by a Formal Collection and Citizen Science

We report the first archived collection of the invasive obligate wetland monocot Butomus umbellatus in the Allegheny River, a major tributary to the Ohio River. The specimen we discovered represents the first formally collected specimen in Pennsylvania outside of the Lake Erie watershed. Our collection complements multiple observations on iNaturalist throughout the larger Ohio River watershed that collectively suggest a recent, rapid expansion of the species southward. Such observations highlight the potential to rapidly identify novel or advancing invasive species using citizen science prior to recognition in formal herbarium collections and associated databases.

Scientific Note: Rediscovery and Site Ecology of Pennsylvania Catchfly (Silene caroliniana ssp. pensylvanica) at Watauga River Bluffs State Natural Area (Carter County, Tennessee)

Pennsylvania Catchfly (Silene caroliniana ssp. pensylvanica) is a Tennessee State Listed Plant known only from three counties within the state. The largest known population of the species in Tennessee occurs at Watauga River Bluffs State Natural Area (Carter County), though its status at the site has been unknown since 1998. This project confirmed the continued existence of at least 17 individuals of the species at Watauga River Bluffs, and reports on basic ecological conditions at the site over the 2022 blooming season. Understanding baseline population and ecological information about this and other species existing near the extremities of their geographic range is important in an increasingly changing ecosystem.