Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This native perennial wildflower is 2-5' tall and sparingly branched. The stems are medium green, terete, glabrous, and conspicuously veined. Alternate compound leaves occur along the stems that are odd-pinnate with 5-9 leaflets. The blades of these compound leaves are widely spreading to ascending; their outlined form extends to 1½' long and ¾' across. Generally, lower compound leaves are a little longer with wider leaflets than the upper ones. The compound leaves have stout petioles about 2-4" long; there is a sizeable sheath where each petiole joins the stem. The sessile leaflets are 1/8" to 1" across and 2½–4½" long; they are linear to elliptic-oblong in shape and smooth to sparingly dentate along their margins. If teeth are present, there are up to 7 widely spaced teeth on each side of a leaflet. The upper surfaces of the leaflets are medium green and hairless, while their lower surfaces are pale green and hairless. The upper stems terminate in compound umbels of small white flowers on long naked peduncles. The compound umbels are slightly dome-shaped on the top. Each compound umbel spans 3-5" across, consisting of about 12 umbellets on slender stalks. Each umbellet has 10-20 flowers on short slender pedicels. The floral stalks are light green and hairless. There are 0-3 small linear bracts at the base of each compound umbel, and 0-3 tiny linear bractlets (bracteoles) at the base of each umbellet. Individual flowers span about 1/8" across, consisting of 5 white spreading petals, a short calyx, 5 stamens with white anthers, and a central pistil. The blooming period occurs from late summer to early fall and lasts about a month. The flowers are replaced by small hairless fruits (schizocarps) containing the seeds. Mature seeds are 4-6 mm. long, ovoid, and nearly flat on one side. The root system consists of a cluster of thick fleshy roots.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Comments

Cowbane is another wetland species in the Carrot family that is toxic and should not be eaten. It resembles many other species in this family by its compound umbels of small white flowers and compound leaves. These species are distinguished from each other primarily by the structure and appearance of their compound leaves and leaflets, the presence or absence of floral bracts, and the shape of their seeds. Cowbane differs from other similar species in Illinois by the following combination of features
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Range and Habitat in Illinois

Cowbane is occasional in the northern half of Illinois, while in the southern half of the state it is uncommon or absent (see Distribution Map). Habitats include openings in floodplain forests, wet sand prairies, sandy and non-sandy marshes, sandy and non-sandy swamps, fens and seeps, and low areas along springs. Cowbane is found in higher quality wetlands where much of the original native flora is still intact.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Oxypolis turgida Small:
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Oxypolis rigidior var. ambigua (Nutt.) B.L. Rob.:
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Oxypolis rigidior (L.) Raf.:
Canada (North America)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Cowbane is occasional in the northern half of Illinois, while in the southern half of the state it is uncommon or absent (see Distribution Map). Habitats include openings in floodplain forests, wet sand prairies, sandy and non-sandy marshes, sandy and non-sandy swamps, fens and seeps, and low areas along springs. Cowbane is found in higher quality wetlands where much of the original native flora is still intact.
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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Cowbane in Illinois

Oxypolis rigidior (Cowbane)
(Short-tongued bees collect pollen or suck nectar; other insects suck nectar, except those that are predatory, as indicated below; most observations are from Robertson, otherwise they are Moure & Hurd and Graenicher as indicated below)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Halictus rubicunda sn, Lasioglossum admirandus (MH), Lasioglossum imitatus sn cp, Lasioglossum versatus sn cp; Halictidae (Sphecodini): Sphecodes dichroa sn; Colletidae (Hylaeinae): Hylaeus affinis sn, Hylaeus mesillae sn

Wasps
Sphecidae (Astatinae): Astata unicolor; Sphecidae (Bembicinae): Gorytes simillimus, Pseudoplisus phaleratus, Stizoides renicinctus; Sphecidae (Crabroninae): Ectemnius rufipes, Ectemnius trifasciatus, Lestica confluentus, Lindenius columbianus, Oxybelus emarginatus, Oxybelus mexicanus, Oxybelus packardii, Oxybelus uniglumis; Sphecidae (Larrinae): Ancistromma distincta, Lyroda subita, Tachysphex belfragei, Tachytes distinctus; Sphecidae (Philanthinae): Cerceris clypeata, Cerceris compacta; Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Chalybion californicus fq, Chlorion aerarius, Isodontia apicalis, Prionyx atrata, Sceliphron caementaria; Vespidae: Polistes carolina, Polistes fuscata; Vespidae (Eumeninae): Euodynerus foraminatus, Leionotus ziziae, Stenodynerus fundatiformis, Stenodynerus histrionalis; Pompilidae: Ageniella fulgifrons, Anoplius lepidus, Anoplius nigritus, Entypus fulvicornis, Evagetes ingenuus, Tachypompilus ferruginea; Tiphiidae: Myzinum quinquecincta, Tiphia intermedia, Tiphia letalis, Tiphia transversa; Scoliidae: Scolia bicincta; Mutillidae: Dasymutilla macra, Myrmosa unicolor, Timulla vagans; Chrysididae: Chrysis venusta, Hedychrum violaceum, Holopyga ventrale; Figitidae: Figites impatiens fq, Neralsia armatus, Prosaspicera albihirta; Eucoilidae: Pseudeucoila stigmata; Pteromalidae: Eutrichosoma mirabile; Chalcididae: Bruchophagus gibba; Leucospididae: Leucospis affinis; Perilampidae: Perilampus fulvicornis, Perilampus hyalinus; Ichneumonidae: Ceratogastra ornata fq, Ichneumon ambulatorius; Braconidae: Agathis simillimus, Apanteles crassicornis, Bracon apicatus, Cardiochiles abdominale, Chelonus sericeus, Meteorus areolatus, Microplites croceipes, Microplites gortynae, Monogonogastra fuscipennis, Opius gahani, Urosigalphus femoratus, Vipio rugator

Flies
Sciaridae: Sciara atrata; Syrphidae: Allograpta obliqua, Didea fuscipes (Gr), Eristalis arbustorum, Melangyna umbellatarum (Gr), Paragus bicolor, Platycheirus hyperboreus (Gr), Spilomyia longicornis, Syritta pipiens, Syrphus ribesii, Toxomerus geminatus, Toxomerus marginatus, Toxomerus politus; Empidae: Empis clausa; Pipunculidae: Chalarus spurius; Bombyliidae: Anthrax alternata (Gr); Conopidae: Physoconops brachyrhynchus, Zodion americanum; Tachinidae: Belvosia unifasciata, Chetogena claripennis, Clausicella geniculata, Cylindromyia dosiades, Gymnoclytia occidua, Gymnosoma fuliginosum, Euclytia flava, Myiopharus ancilla, Nemorilla pyste, Phasia aeneoventris, Phasia purpurascens, Spallanzania hesperidarum, Trichopoda pennipes; Sarcophagidae: Amobia aurifrons, Helicobia rapax, Ravinia anxia, Ravinia derelicta, Ravinia stimulans, Senotainia rubriventris, Sphixapata trilineata; Calliphoridae: Lucilia sericata; Muscidae: Limnophora narona, Lispe consanguinea, Morellia micans, Musca domestica, Neomyia cornicina; Anthomyiidae: Calythea pratincola, Delia platura; Tephritidae: Euraresta bella; Ephydridae: Ochthera lauta; Chloropidae: Apallates coxendix, Hippelates plebejus, Liohippelates flavipes fq, Liohippelates pusio, Olcella cinerea, Olcella trigramma; Milichiidae: Leptometopa latipes; Chamaemyiidae: Leucopis minor

Butterflies
Nymphalidae: Limenitis archippus; Lycaenidae: Parrhasius m-album

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Polites themistocles

Beetles
Cantharidae: Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus; Chrysomelidae: Diabrotica cristata, Diabrotica undecimpunctata, Luperaltica nigripalpis, Sennius cruentatus; Coccinellidae: Cycloneda sanguinea, Hippodamia convergens; Curculionidae: Centrinaspis picumna; Latridiidae: Melanophthalma distinguenda; Meloidae: Epicauta cinereus, Epicauta pensylvanica, Pyrota germari; Mordellidae: Mordella melaena, Mordellistena limbalis; Rhipiphoridae: Macrosiagon limbata; Scarabaeidae (Cetonniae): Euphoria sepulcralis

Plant Bugs
Lygaeidae: Oncopeltus fasciatus; Miridae: Lygus lineolaris, Plagiognathus obscurus; Anthocoridae: Orius insidiosus

Lacewings
Chrysopidae: Chrysoperla plorabunda prd np

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Faunal Associations

The flowers are cross-pollinated primarily by many different kinds of wasps, flies, and beetles, which seek primarily nectar from the flowers (see Robertson, 1929). Some small short-tongued bees also visit the flowers (primarily Halictid and Masked bees) to suck nectar or collect pollen. Both the foliage and the fleshy roots are highly toxic to mammalian herbivores, therefore they are usually avoided as a source of food. Cattle have been seriously poisoned by eating this plant.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Oxypolis rigidior

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N2 - Imperiled

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full sun, wet to moist conditions, and soil containing loam, silt, or sand. There are few problems with pests and disease. Temporary flooding is tolerated.
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