Overview

Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Current range: Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia. Historical range possibly included Pennsylvania. Reports from Alabama and Arkansas are believed to have been misidentifications (Gaddy 1991); also an apparent false report from Maryland.

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Historic Range:
U.S.A. (GA, MD, NC, PA, SC, VA)

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Plants 35–110 cm (roots fusiform, ± branched). Herbage (glaucous) mostly glabrous (leaves sometimes sparsely hairy abaxially). Stems green. Basal leaves: petioles 4–26 cm; blades 3- or 5-nerved, elliptic to lanceolate-ovate, 10–50 × 3–6.5 cm, bases broadly cuneate to rounded, margins usually serrate or dentate. Peduncles 10–40 cm. Phyllaries lanceolate, 3–15 × 2–3(–5) mm. Receptacles: paleae 7–12 mm, tips orange to brownish purple-tipped, often incurved, sharp-pointed. Ray corollas pink to purple, laminae spreading to reflexed, 35–80 × 3–7 mm, sparsely hairy abaxially. Discs conic to spheric, 15–30 × 15–40 mm. Disc corollas 8–9 mm, lobes purple to greenish (usually erect). Cypselae tan, disc cypselae tan, banded, 4–5 mm, usually glabrous (ray cypselae sometimes hairy on angles); pappi to 1.2 mm (teeth unequal). 2n = 22.
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Diagnostic Description

Unlike Echinacea purpurea, E. laevigata does not have heart-shaped leaves. The flower is smooth, with longer, narrower corollas. Also, the awn on the chaff is shorter, only 1/4 the length of the body, as opposed to 1/2 the length for E. purpurea.

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Synonym

Brauneria laevigata C. L. Boynton & Beadle in J. K. Small, Fl. S.E. U.S., 1261, 1340. 1903; Echinacea purpurea (Linnaeus) Moench var. laevigata (C. L. Boynton & Beadle) Cronquist
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Type Information

Holotype for Brauneria laevigata C.L. Boynton & Beadle in Small
Catalog Number: US 26903
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of alleged type specimen
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): G. M. McCarthy
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Seneca., South Carolina, United States, North America
  • Holotype: Boynton, C. L. & Beadle, C. D. 1903. Fl. Southeast. U.S. 1261, 1340.
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ISOTYPE for Echinacea laevigata (F.E. Boynton & Beadle ex Small) S.F. Blake
Catalog Number: US 239563
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): G. McCarthy
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: South Carolina, United States, North America
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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Formerly, a plant of prairie-like habitats or oak-savannas maintained by natural or Native American-set fires. Now, primarily occurs in openings in woods, such as cedar barrens and clear cuts, along roadsides and utility line rights-of-way, and on dry limestone bluffs. Usually found in areas with magnesium- and calcium-rich soils. Requires full or partial sun. Associated species include: Juniperus virginiana and Eryngium yuccifolium.

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Associations

Known Pests: Host for a leaf beetle (Family Chrysomelidae) - effects, if any, are unknown.

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 21 - 300

Comments: Species is limited to 4 states, 10 counties and about 20 populations in a narrow band from Georgia through the Carolinas to Virginia. There are a few restored populations in Georgia and South Carolina.

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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Persistence: PERENNIAL

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N2 - Imperiled

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G2 - Imperiled

Reasons: Known from about 100 occurrences, a majority of which are of fair to poor viability in several southeastern states. Most historically known populations were destroyed by development and habitat alteration, especially the suppression of fire, and a number of remaining populations are primarily in marginal locations, where they are vulnerable to urbanization, the use of herbicides, repeated mowing, and potentially, collection for the medicinal trade. Small remote populations may suffer from successional loss of habitat.

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Current Listing Status Summary

Status: Endangered
Date Listed: 10/08/1992
Lead Region:   Southeast Region (Region 4) 
Where Listed:


Population detail:

Listing status: E

For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Echinacea laevigata, see its USFWS Species Profile

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Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 10-50%

Comments: Populations have been lost to highway construction, a gas line, and habitat conversion to a pine plantation. In 1992, 13 of the 21 populations then known were in decline, 7 were stable and 1 was increasing (USFWS 1992).

Global Long Term Trend: Decline of 30-70%

Comments: Since the species' discovery, more than 2/3rds of the historical populations have been lost. Known from 61 populations in 8 states. However, when it was listed, it was known from fewer than 25 sites in 4 states.

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Threats

Degree of Threat: Very high - high

Comments: Habitat loss and degradation due to habitat alteration affected 19 of 21 populations known in 1992 (USFWS 1992). Conversion of habitat to agriculture and/or silviculture, residential and industrial development, highway maintenance (e.g., herbicides) have threatened this species in the past and may continue. Habitat loss and degradation as a result of prolonged fire suppression is also considered a major threat to the species' habitat. Commercial digging was not thought to be a problem as this practice is generally confined to Echinacea populations west of the Mississippi River. However, the Southern Appalachian Species Viability Project (2002) reported that this showy species with medicinal uses is occasionally harvested.

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Management

Management Research Needs: In 1992, flowering quadrupled four months after a controlled, late winter burn. Another, previously unknown site, was also discovered following a burn.

Biological Research Needs: Genetic diversity. Ecology. Reproductive biology.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG

Comments: For over a century huge quantities of related coneflower species have been sold in European and American markets under the trade name "Kansas snake root". In Germany alone, more than 280 products made from various American species of coneflowers are registered for medicinal use. Drastic declines in some midwestern coneflower populations have been noted [Endangered Spp. Tech. Bull. 17(1-2): 9-10].

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Risks

Stewardship Overview: Natural fires, as well as large herbivores (such as bison) historically maintained the habitat in the open condition needed by this coneflower. Currently, fire or some other suitable form of disturbance, such as well-timed mowing or the careful clearing of trees, is essential to maintaining the glade remnants upon which this species depends. Without such periodic disturbance, the habitat is overtaken by shrubs and trees [Endangered Spp. Tech. Bull. 17(1-2): 9-10].

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Wikipedia

Echinacea laevigata

Echinacea laevigata, the smooth purple coneflower, is an Endangered Species Act federally listed endangered species[1] of plant found in the piedmont of the southeastern United States. Most populations are found on roadsides and other open areas with plenty of sunlight, often on calcium- and magnesium- rich soils.

Its current range is within the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, and it was historically also found in Pennsylvania and Maryland. It has been rare as long as it has been known, but a number of human activities and associated processes have reduced its range further.[2] Today there are about 100 occurrences, and many of these are in poor condition.[3] The amount of appropriate habitat available for this plant has been greatly reduced and it continues to decline.[2]

This is a rhizomatous perennial herb that resembles its close relative, the common echinacea (Echinacea purpurea). The two can be told apart by the leaves, which are cordate (heart-shaped) in the common species.[1][2][3] E. laevigata grows up to about 1.5 meters in height with a mostly naked, smooth, leafless stem. Any leaves are roughly lance-shaped. On top of the stem is a flower head containing narrow pink or purplish ray florets up to 8 centimeters long.[4] The florets droop away from the center of the head. The small, tubular disc florets in the center are dark purple in color.[2] Blooming occurs in May through July.[3] The plant is pollinated by a number of insects, including honeybee (Apis mellifera), bumblebees (Bombus spp.), the bees Psithyrus citrinus and Xylocopa virginica, a number of butterflies, and Lygaeus kalmii, a bug.[5] The fruit is an achene about half a centimeter long which is likely dispersed by birds and small mammals that collect them for food. Some vegetative reproduction has been observed with more than one stem coming from a shared rhizome or aboveground rosette of leaves.[4]

The natural habitat for this species of plant is sunny openings in forested habitat. Open areas of this kind were made by wildfire, fires set by Native Americans,[3] and the grazing activity of animals.[2] The plant's preferred soils are rich in calcium and magnesium, and include limestone and marble, gabbro, and diabase.[1] Plants that share the habitat included eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium). There are several species of oak that occur, but these are stunted such that sunlight reaches the understory.[4] When human impacts began to reduce the amount of forest habitat remaining in the region, the plant survived in other open, sunny habitat types, such as cedar barrens, clearcuts, roadsides, cleared areas around utility equipment, and limestone bluffs. Two thirds of the populations known since the plant was first discovered are now gone.[3]

Echinacea laevigata at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC.

Populations of the plant were lost when the habitat was destroyed, or when it was degraded as natural processes of disturbance were prevented. The plant requires open habitat where it can receive sunlight. When fire suppression is practiced, the habitat becomes overgrown, and the open areas close; this has led to the extirpation of a number of historical populations.[1] Habitat was destroyed outright during development, agricultural operations, road construction, and installation of utilities such as gas lines.[1]

Continuing threats to the species include further destruction and degradation of the land, collecting of the plant by flora enthusiasts, vandalism, herbicides, and exotic plant species. When the plant was listed as an endangered species in 1992, most of the populations were small, with many containing fewer than 100 plants each, and half were located on roadsides where they are vulnerable to destruction.[1] There is a fear that this plant may be targeted for commercial harvest in the pharmaceutical echinacea trade, but there is little evidence of this threat so far.[1][3]

Conservation efforts underway include research on the most effective method of restoring the natural cycle of disturbance to the land, for example, by initiating controlled burns.[2][6]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g USFWS. Echinacea laevigata (smooth coneflower) determined to be endangered. Federal Register October 8, 1992.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Echinacea laevigata. Center for Plant Conservation.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Echinacea laevigata. The Nature Conservancy.
  4. ^ a b c USFWS. Smooth Coneflower Recovery Plan. April 1995.
  5. ^ Gadd, L. E. (2006). Pollination biology of the federally endangered Echinacea laevigata, smooth coneflower, in small, isolated populations. Master's thesis, North Carolina State University. pg 13.
  6. ^ Echinacea laevigata. North Carolina Natural History Program.

References[edit]

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Notes

Comments

Echinacea laevigata was historically present in Pennsylvania but is now thought to be extirpated; its occurrence in Maryland has not been confirmed; reports of its presence in Alabama and Arkansas are most likely based on misidentifications. It is in the Center for Plant Conservation’s National Collection of Endangered Plants.
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