Overview

Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Southeast endemic of coastal plain, piedmont, and Appalachian Plateau areas in Virginia (Prince George county), North Carolina (Brunswick and Harnett counties), South Carolina (Berkeley and Oconee counties), Georgia (Bartow, Floyd, Chattooga, and Chattahoochee Counties), and Alabama (Dekalb, Cherokee, Macon, Monroe, and Lee counties).

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Perennials, to 120 cm (rhizomatous). Stems villous to glabrate. Leaves: blades elliptic, lanceolate, or ovate (flat, not lobed), bases acute to rounded or cuneate, margins entire or serrate, apices acute, faces glabrous or sparsely strigose and gland-dotted; basal petiolate, blades 10–20 × 2–5 cm; cauline petiolate (proximal) or nearly sessile (distal), blades 2–20 × 1–4 cm. Heads usually (4–8) in ± corymbiform arrays, sometimes borne singly. Phyllaries to 1.5 cm (faces sparsely to moderately hairy and gland-dotted). Receptacles hemispheric to ovoid; paleae 3.2–4.2 mm, apices rounded to acute, abaxial tips canescent and gland-dotted. Ray florets 6–12; laminae elliptic to oblanceolate (spreading), 15–30 × 3–6 mm, abaxially strigose and gland-dotted. Discs 10–15 × 7–15 mm. Disc florets 100–200+; corollas proximally yellowish green, distally brown-purple, 3–4 mm; style branches ca. 1.4 mm, apices obtuse. Cypselae 2–3 mm; pappi coroniform, to 1.5 mm (sometimes cypselae each with glandular hairs around apices).
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Diagnostic Description

This species of Rudbeckia isn't easily confused with others in the genus, given that it has blunt, hairy chaff tips and stigma tips that are shorter and obtuse, which makes it different than common Rudbeckias. R. fulgida is the only species that occurs in similar habitats, and it is highly variable, but has more deeply yellow (orange yellow) rays and different chaff and pappus characters (Kral 1983).

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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Moist to wet sites such as acidic swales in pine-oak woodlands, peaty seeps in meadows, and sandy alluvium along streams. Occurs in full sun to partial shade. Further, it is found in upland oak-hickory or oak-pine-hickory or open pine-mixed hardwoods. It grows in seeps, bogs, sandy wet clear crop areas or in places with many boulders. The seeps where it is found are acid with grasses, sedges and herbs (Kral 1983).

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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 - 80

Comments: Twenty-one in Alabama (17 extant, 4 historic), seven in Georgia (5 extant, 2 historic), six in South Carolina (5 extant, 1 historic), three historic in North Carolina, one in Virginia.

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Rudbeckia heliopsidis flowers from late July through late September (Kral 1983).

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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: Reported from a variety of physiographic provinces in five southeastern states but rare throughout this range with few, widely scattered occurrences. This species is threatened by management activities that would lead to the destruction of its habitat, namely drainage of swales.

Environmental Specificity: Narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements common.

Comments: Species is critically dependent upon fire or slight disturbances to promote growth and reproduction.

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Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 10-30%

Comments: Occurrences confirmed within the past 20-25 years are mostly extant, some having expanded in size (both area and numbers), while others remain stable or have decreased (the majority). Fire exclusion and development appear to be the primary causes for decline.

Global Long Term Trend: Unknown

Comments: Although long-term trends are unknown, it can be conjectured, based on human-derived habitat modifications over the past 200 years, that Rudbeckia heliopsidis has likely experienced a rapid decline attributed to a number of factors: fire exclusion, hydrological alterations, development, quarrying, etc.

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Threats

Degree of Threat: High - medium

Comments: The main threats seem to be drainage of upland swales and grazing (Kral 1983). Highly threatened by succession (Southern Appalachian Species Viability Project 2002). In addition to these threats, in Alabama this species is also threatened by land management and land use, such as drainage, impoundment, construction and quarrying, which would lead to the destruction of habitat (ALNHP 1994).

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Risks

Stewardship Overview: Thin overstory and cut overstory will benefit this species. It is unknown whether fire benfits this species if done properly (Kral 1983).

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