Overview

Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Known only from Alabama (Cherokee Co.), Georgia (Floyd Co.), and Tennessee (Madison and McNairy Cos.). It was reported from Louisiana but this is based on a misattribution (Matthews et al. 2002).

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Perennials, 200–300 cm (rhizomatous). Stems erect, glabrous (glaucous). Leaves cauline ; usually whorled (3s–6s), sometimes opposite; sessile or subsessile, petioles 0–1 cm; blades linear to lanceo-late, 7.5–18.5 × 0.7–3 cm, bases cuneate , margins serrulate or entire (flat), faces puberulent (abaxial) or hispid-strumose (adaxial), gland-dotted. Heads (1–)3–7+. Peduncles 1–10 cm. Involucres broadly campanulate, 15–20 mm diam. Phyllaries 45–55, lance-linear, 12–18 × 2–2.5 mm, (margins ciliate) apices long-attenuate, abaxial faces glabrate to sparsely puberulent, gland-dotted. Paleae 5–8 mm, entire or 3-toothed (apices ciliate). Ray florets 10–19; laminae 20–26 mm. Disc florets 150+; corollas 5–7 mm, lobes yellow; anthers dark, appendages yellow. Cypselae 4–5 mm, glabrous; pappi of 2 aristate scales 2.2–2.5 mm. 2n = 34.
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Diagnostic Description

Differs from H. grosseserratus in its whorled leaves; the leaves of H. grosseserratus are typically arranged in an alternating pattern. Differs from H. angustifolius in its wider leaves and pure yellow disk flowers; H. angustifolius has reddish disk flowers. Differs from H. giganteus in having only the midvein prominent on the leaves; H. giganteus has lateral veins evident.

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Type Information

Isolectotype for Helianthus verticillatus Small
Catalog Number: US 215119
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): S. M. Bain
Year Collected: 1892
Locality: Henderson., Chester, Tennessee, United States, North America
  • Isolectotype: Small, J. K. 1898. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 25: 479.; Matthews, J. F., et al. 2002. Castanea. 67: --.
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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: A narrow habitat specialist occurring in remnant wet prairie areas and calcareous barrens, in moist, prairie-like openings in woodlands and along adjacent creeks. Soils are sandy clays which are alkaline, high in organic matter, and seasonally wet. Some associated plant species, including Schizachyrium scoparium, Sorghastrum nutans, Andropogon gerardii, and Panicum virgatum, suggest a strong prairie affinity. Other associates include Carex cherokeensis, Sporobolus heterolepis, Physostegia virginiana, Silphium terebinthinaceum, Pycnanthemum virginianum, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, Hypericum sphaerocarpum, H. angustifolius, Helenium autumnale, and Marshallia mohrii.

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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: 1 - 20

Comments: Five population groups are currently known extant, two in Alabama, one (with three sub-populations) in Georgia, and two in Tennessee (Norquist 2005; A. Bishop, pers. comm., 2007); in addition, there is the historical type collection from Tennessee in 1892, which has not been relocated despite searches.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Helianthus verticillatus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Helianthus verticillatus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N1 - Critically Imperiled

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled

Reasons: Known from five population groups, all in remnant prairie habitat in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. All known populations contain a relatively small number of genetic individuals. Threats include incompatible right-of-way maintenance, road construction, agriculture and residential development, industrial forestry practices, and fire suppression. In the absence of natural disturbance, active management is needed to reduce competition and shading. These plants are treated as a hybrid by Kartesz (1999), but as a species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Matthews et al. (2002), and Flora of North America Editorial Committee (2006).

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce.

Comments: Known only from prairie-like openings that were presumably maintained by occasional natural fires (Norquist 2005). Currently dependent upon active management of habitat to reduce competition and shading (Call 2009).

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Current Listing Status Summary

Status: Proposed Endangered
Date Listed:
Lead Region:   Southeast Region (Region 4) 
Where Listed:


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

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Global Short Term Trend: Unknown

Comments: Most sites recently discovered. Its wet prairie habitat exists mainly as remanants along rights-of-way (Norquist 2005). Plants at some sites have apparantly been destroyed by road maintainace activities.

Global Long Term Trend: Unknown

Comments: Most sites recently discovered. Rarity due to habitat loss. Its wet prairie habitat was more extensive before European settlement, fire suppression, and conversion to farmland; much of this habitat has been degraded or destroyed due to agricultural, silvicultural, and residential development (Matthews et al. 2002, Call 2009). Most remaining wet prairies are remnants along rights-of-way where succession is artificially impeded (Call 2009).

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Threats

Degree of Threat: High - medium

Comments: Threatened by industrial forestry practices such as routine timber harvest or conversion to pine monoculture (Norquist 2005). The Alabama populations have been impacted by timber harvesting in the past (Call 2009). However, the magnitude of the threat from forestry may not be as great as believed in the past; the Georgia population continues to be managed in accordance with its conservation easement, and one of the Alabama populations appears to have responded well to canopy removal from a timber harvest (Call 2009). Plants along roadsides, powerlines, and railroad rights-of-way are threatened by incompatible right-of-way improvement and maintenance including by herbicide usage and poorly timed mowing (Norquist 2005; A. Bishop pers. comm., 2007). The Alabama populations have been impacted by poorly timed right-of-way maintenance in the past (Call 2009). One site, in a natural prairie, could be threatened if fertilizer is used there, or non-native grasses are introduced, in an attempt to increase hay production (Norquist 2005). Also threatened by crop production, including spraying of herbicides and insecticides, and residential development (Norquist 2005; A. Bishop pers. comm., 2007). Fire suppression is a threat because the taxon depends on the maintenance of prairie-like openings for its survival (Norquist 2005). Habitat has been degraded due to the invasion of woody competitors (J. Allison, pers. comm., 1999 in Norquist 2005). Active management of habitat is needed to reduce competition and shading (Call 2009). Helianthus verticillatus could potentially be threatened by collection as it is attractive and in visible locations (Norquist 2005).

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Management

Biological Research Needs: Determine possible limiting factors for low fitness at the Georgia site (Call 2009).

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Notes

Comments

Helianthus verticillatus is relatively uncommon and was recently rediscovered in scattered locations; it is a candidate for federal listing as an endangered species. It has been suggested to be a hybrid of H. angustifolius and H. eggertii or H. grosseserratus; no supporting evidence has been found to corroborate that suggestion.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Call 2009) accepts this taxon as a species in considering it a candidate for federal listing; Matthews et al. (2002) and Flora of North America Editorial Committee (2006) also treat it as a species. Two supporting studies are cited by the USFWS: (1) morphological studies and root-tip chromosome counts which showed it to be a distinct, fertile diploid (Matthews et al. 2002); and (2) comparative genetic studies with its putative parents (H. grosserratus and H. angustifolius), which showed that it does not exhibit a mixture of parental alleles at nuclear loci and does not share chloroplast DNA haplotype with either of its putative parents (Ellis et al. 2006). In contrast, the Kartesz checklists (1994 and 1999) treat this taxon as a hybrid between Helianthus angustifolius and H. grosseserratus, following earlier treatments written when it was known from only the type specimen.

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