Regularity: Regularly occurring
Global Range: This species was first described in 1983, and its historic range is still poorly understood. It is currently known to occur from southeastern Virginia to Florida and west to Louisiana, almost exclusively on the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains.
Distinguished from the two other North American Lindera species, including the common spicebush L. benzoin, by its thick leaves, especially evident when the plant is in full-sun situations, and by leaf undersides that are strongly whitened (Weakley 2004). Leaves of L. subcoriacea are also distinctly less aromatic than than those of the other two species (FNA 1997).
Comments: Summary: Bog spicebush inhabits permanently moist to wet, shrub-dominated seepage wetlands ("bogs" or "pocosins") (Gordon, et al., 1986). On the Gulf Coastal Plain of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana such wetlands occur on level to slightly sloping terrain and have been termed pitcher plant bogs or quaking bogs, depending on depth of peat buildup. Dominants include sphagnum moss, sedges, grasses, pitcher plants, and diverse shrubs and herbs. Bog spicebush also inhabits hillside seepage bogs and bayheads, which are shrub-dominated wetlands on slight to moderate slopes. In the Sandhills region of the Carolinas and Georgia, bog spicebush occurs in streamhead pocosins, shrub-and-tree- dominated wetlands that border headwater streams draining the variously sloping hills.
Full description: Bog spicebush inhabits permanently moist to wet, shrub-dominated seepage wetlands ("bogs" or "pocosins") (Gordon, et al., 1986). On the Gulf Coastal Plain of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana such wetlands occur on level to slightly sloping terrain and have been termed pitcher plant bogs or quaking bogs, depending on depth of peat buildup. Dominants include sphagnum moss, sedges, grasses, pitcher plants, and diverse shrubs and herbs. Bog spicebush also inhabits hillside seepage bogs and bayheads, which are shrub-dominated wetlands on slight to moderate slopes. In Mobile County, Alabama, Bridges and Orzell (1989) described one site thus: "Lindera subcoriacea is occasional in partial shade of evergreen shrub-tree thickets within an extensive series of mid-slope hillside seepage bogs." Soils have been described as "peaty muck" (Gordon 1993), "very acid ... high in organic matter ... permanently saturated ... often growing in floating mats of vegetation atop thick layers of peaty muck" (Gordon, et al., 1986). These descriptions apparently refer to bog communities in Mississippi; soils at sites in North and South Carolina are much less wet, although Sphagnum is nearly always present. Soil series which support bog spicebush on Fort Bragg include Blaney (Arenic Hapludults), Gilead (Aquic Hapludults), Johnston (Cumulic Humaquepts), and Vaucluse (Typic Hapludults) (Hudson 1984, NCNHP 1993). In the Sandhills region of the Carolinas and Georgia, bog spicebush occurs in Streamhead pocosins, shrub-and-tree- dominated wetlands that border headwater streams draining the variously sloping hills. The author believes this habitat to be analogous to the bayheads (bay forests) and probably also to the hillside seepage bogs of the Gulf Coast. The pocosins are usually narrow, forming a 5- to 50-meter band along each side of the stream, or in larger stream systems flanking the zone of tall swamp forest trees. L. subcoriacea is usually found within the pocosin, often occurring at the transition from shrubby slope to the flat (although narrow), forested floodplain. This may reflect the species' preference for permanently moist substrate. In southeastern Virginia, plants inhabit similar habitats along streams that drain uplands within ecosystems formerly dominated by longleaf pine and turkey oak (McCartney 1990, Ludwig 1993). Lindera subcoriacea sites share many species in common. Among the most constant are Sphagnum spp., Acer rubrum, Aronia arbutifolia, Arundinaria tecta, Chamaecyparis thyoides, Cyrilla racemiflora, Ilex coriacea, I. glabra, I. laevigata, Magnolia virginiana, Myrica heterophylla, M. inodora, Nyssa biflora, Persea palustris, Pinus serotina, Smilax glauca, S. laurifolia, Symplocos tinctoria, and Toxicodendron vernix. Limited canopy cover appears to be important; plants under dense shade appear less robust, as if struggling to compete with Lyonia lucida, Magnolia virginiana, and other shade-tolerant species. On Fort Bragg, several occurrences are found where roads cross a stream, suggesting that limited disturbance may reduce competition and provide additional light (TNC 1991-93). Additionally, Lindera subcoriacea is often found with or near other rare plants in the NC Sandhills, including Lysimachia asperulifolia, Kalmia cuneata, Eupatorium resinosum, Tofieldia glabra, Xyris scabrifolia, Eriocaulon aquaticum, Scirpus etuberculatus, Cladium mariscoides, Lilium iridollae, Rhynchospora macra, R. pallida, R. stenophylla, Oxypolis ternata, Calamovilfa brevipilis, Carex turgescens, Sporobolus sp. 1, and Lycopus cokeri. In Mississippi, it is often found with or near such rare species as Carex exilis (Bryson, et al., 1988), as well as Xyris scabrifolia, X. drummondii, Agalinis aphylla, Lachnocaulon digynum, Pinguicula primulifolia, P. planifolia, Rhynchospora macra, and Calopogon barbatus (Gordon 1993).
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 21 - 300
Comments: There are between 75 and 100 occurrences. Majority of occurrences rank C or D.
Life History and Behavior
Persistence: PERENNIAL, DECIDUOUS
Older stems within a clone tend to be replaced by younger stems which originate from root suckering (Gordon et al., 1986).
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N2 - Imperiled
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: There are currently between 75 and 100 occurrences, most of them very small populations located on sites that will require active management for the plants to persist. The species is clonal, and most sites have only one to five genetic individuals. L. subcoriacea occurs on the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains from southern Virginia south to northern Florida and west to Louisiana, but the plants occupy a relatively narrow ecological niche and have a correspondingly spotty distribution within the range. In the deep south, L. subcoriacea is not found outside the wettest portions of rare, sphagnous bog habitats; in the Carolinas and Virginia, the plants are restricted to stream pocosins. The general lack of fire in these habitats during the last 50 or more years has placed the plants under increased stress from competing shrubs and trees. Restoring fire to the landscapes via controlled burns would reverse this trend, but that is becoming increasingly difficult with continued development of surrounding uplands for housing and agriculture.
Environmental Specificity: Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce.
Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable to decline of 50%
Degree of Threat: Very high - high
Comments: The general lack of fires in pocosin and seepage bog habitats during the past 50 or more years has placed L. subcoriacea under increased stress from competing shrubs and trees, and no doubt some populations have been lost this way. Restoring fire to the landscape via controlled burns will reverse this trend, but that is becoming increasingly difficult with continued development of surrounding longleaf pine/wiregrass uplands for housing, agriculture, timber management, and pinestraw raking. Other known or perceived threats include siltation of streamheads from military training, logging, and road building, draining of bogs and wetlands, and digging of fire plowlines along wetland ecotones. Such plowlines, designed to protect wetland wildlife, have further exacerbated the fire suppression of Lindera subcoriacea habitats, even though adjacent uplands are burned. Until a more systematic search of available habitat rangewide is conducted, it is difficult to accurately assess current or future threats, especially since Lindera subcoriacea was only recently described (Wofford 1983), and there is a poor record of historical collections of this overlooked plant from which to judge former abundance and distribution.
Biological Research Needs: Basic questions concerning the reproductive biology of Lindera subcoriacea, such as the environmental conditions necessary for pollination, successful seed production, seed germination, seedling establishment, and growth of vegetative offshoots (ramets), are in urgent need of study. Fire likely plays an important role in these stages of its growth, and research should be directed towards determining which burn periods and fire frequencies optimize sexual reproduction. Practically nothing is known about the level of genetic variation between and within subpopulations of Lindera subcoriacea. In fire-suppressed habitats, where successful sexual reproduction is theoretically low, asexual reproduction may be driving subpopulations towards lower genetic diversity. Identifying genetically diverse subpopulations may be an appropriate research goal and may help to determine the relative importance of asexual versus sexual reproduction for the species. It is unknown whether Red Bay Blight will affect Lindera and Litsea as well.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Stewardship Overview: Key stewardship needs for bog spicebush include (1) restoring fire to the communities in which it occurs, using winter, fuel-reduction burns and growing season burns where appropriate, (2) protecting and/or restoring the hydrologic conditions which support the species, and (3) monitoring extant subpopulations for responses to current land management practices. Research into the species' reproductive biology and ecology may indicate that more specialized management activities are required for its long-term survival.
Lindera subcoriacea, the bog spicebush, is a plant species native to the southeastern United States from Louisiana to Virginia. It grows in acidic freshwater swamp forests in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont regions.
Lindera subcoriacea is a shrub that can reach up to 4 m (13 feet) in height. Leaves are broadly elliptic, up to 8 cm (3.2 inches) long, and faintly aromatic when young. Flowers are yellow. Fruits are ellipsoid, deep red, about 10 mm (0.4 inches) long.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Distinct species, described by Wofford (1983). 100+ species in genus, only 3 in North America.
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