Regularity: Regularly occurring
Global Range: Baptisia arachnifera only occurs in a 50-square mile area in Brantley and Wayne counties in Southeast Georgia, on the Lower Coastal Plain (Georgia Department of Natural Resources 1995).
The only other Baptisia species that can be confused with B. arachnifera is B. perfoliata. B. arachnifera is easily distinguished from B. perfoliata by the spider web-like pubescence on its leaves and stems. Also the bases of the leaves of B. perfoliata completely surround the stem while they are slightly clasping on B. arachnifera.
Catalog Number: US 1923788
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): W. H. Duncan
Year Collected: 1943
Locality: 10 mi S of Jesup., Wayne, Georgia, United States, North America
- Isotype: Duncan, W. H. 1944. Rhodora. 46: 29.
Comments: This species naturally occurred in open sandy areas within longleaf pine-saw palmetto flatwoods. It is now persisting in intensively managed slash and loblolly pine plantations, powerline right-of-ways, roadsides and a few small natural areas. An estimated 95-99% of its original habitat has been converted to pine plantations.
B. arachnifera can occur as widely scattered individual plants or in dense clusters. Research done by the Rayonier Corportation suggest that populations tend to be clumping (B. Krueger, written comm.). Much more research is needed on the ecology of this species.
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N1 - Critically Imperiled
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Known only from a 260 square km area of the lower Coastal Plain of Georgia. Much of this species' native habitat is currently pine plantation managed for pulpwood, but some of the management techniques appear to be compatible with maintaining the open habitat this species' requires.
Date Listed: 05/27/1978
Lead Region: Southeast Region (Region 4)
Listing status: E
For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Baptisia arachnifera, see its USFWS Species Profile
Comments: This species has lost significant natural habitat to conversion for silviculture plantations. Although persisting in these plantations it has been stated that there has been a decline in population sizes since it was discovered in 1943 by Dr. Wilbur Duncan (Faircloth, 1983). Fire suppression in these plantations and in the remaining natural habitat areas may also be contributing to diminishing populations.
Restoration Potential: The potential for restoring populations of this species is still very high. Most of the natural habitat for this species has been converted to pine plantations, so restoration efforts will have to focus on areas where the species is doing well in pine plantations and right-of-ways. The Nature Conservancy of Georgia currently holds a registry on one of the few natural sites remaining. Preserves need to be established in the other remaing natural habitat areas. The best restoration efforts other than preserves would be to work with the timber industry on methods to improve habitat for this species in their plantations.
Preserve Selection and Design Considerations: Preseve design considerations should take into account the number of desired plants and the fact that fire is likely the best management tool. Population viability needs to be researched further.
Management Requirements: B. arachnifera does not do well in shaded situations. With the exclusion of fire it can easily be outcompeted by shrubby species such as gallberry, saw palmetto and fetterbush. Open sunny areas must be maintained to manage for this species. Although fire is the most ecologically sound management technique, mechanical removal of competing vegetation should be experimented with..
Management Programs: No active management programs are known although Rayonier Corporation is conducting management research.
Monitoring Programs: In 1996 TNC-Georgia initiated a monitoring program on a registry site in Brantley county. One 50 X 50 meter pemananent plot was set up and will be monitored on an annual basis. Data collected included spatial distribution within subplots, number of fruits, canopy cover etc.
Management Research Programs: Rayonier Corporation has completed one study on the spatial distribution of hairy rattleweed and is in the implementation stage of two other studies which will focus on thinning vs. no thinning and on the effect of burning (Beverly Krueger, written com. 1998)
Management Research Needs: The relationship of light to plant growth needs to be studied further. Research is needed on mechanical vegetation removal versus prescribed fire.
Biological Research Needs: Research needs include: 1. General life history including reproductive system and pollinators. 2. The effect of Says weevil (Apion rostrum) on hairy rattleweed populations. 3. Specific habitat requirements for healthiest populations. 4. Population viability. 5. Conditions which limit this species to small overall range. 6. Effects of herbicide on hairy rattleweed growth.
Baptisia arachnifera, commonly known as hairy rattleweed, cobwebby wild indigo, hairy wild indigo, and hairy false indigo, is an endangered species of flowering plant in the legume family. Its native habitat is limited to sandy soils in pinewoods along the coastal plain of the U.S. state of Georgia.
Baptisia arachnifera is a perennial that grows to a height of forty to eighty centimeters and is "covered with grayish-white, cobwebby hairs". Blue-green, simple leaves are alternate and heart-shaped. They range in size from 2-6 cm long by 1.5-5 cm wide.
Flowers form in terminal racemes with five bright yellow petals and bloom in late June through early August. Fruits are woody pods 8-15 mm long and 6-9 mm wide with stalks and beaks, forming in August through October.
Distribution and conservation
95 to 99% of the species' native habitat has been destroyed and replanted with plantations of pine trees. It now remains in patchy areas among these stands and in nearby forest and even roadsides. Fire suppression in areas of silviculture may be detrimental to the plant, but specimens growing among the pines encounter less competition with other plants and may grow bigger.
In addition to protecting its habitat from being drained or developed, prescribed burning may benefit the species. Timber company, Rayonier, received a Leadership in Conservation Award for its use of prescribed fire to help the species.
- "PLANTS profile for Baptisia arachnifera (cobwebby wild indigo)". PLANTS database. USDA. Retrieved 2009-07-30.
- Patrick, Allison and Krakow. "Baptisia arachnifera Duncan". Protected Plants of Georgia. Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2014-05-15.
- The Nature Conservancy
- "Species Profile for Hairy rattleweed (Baptisia arachnifera)". U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 2009-07-30.
- "Federally Threatened and Endangered Plants found in Georgia". Athens Ecological Services Office. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 2009-08-01.
- Press release. "Fire Gives Rare Plants a Second Chance". Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2009-07-31.
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