CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Helenium virginicum

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CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Helenium virginicum


Family: 
Asteraceae  
Common Name: 
Virginia Sneezeweed
Author: 
S.F. Blake
Growth Habit: 
Forb/herb
CPC Number: 
2187

Distribution
Protection
Conservation
References


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Helenium virginicumenlarge
Image Owner: Kimberlie McCue


Helenium virginicum is Fully Sponsored
Primary custodian for this plant in the CPC National Collection of Endangered Plants is: 

 
Helenium virginicum


Ah-choo! An allergic reaction to Helenium? No! The sneezeweed got its name from early settlers who would dry the yellow flower heads and grind them into a snuff. People sniffed the snuff to make them sneeze and open stuffy noses.
At the time that Helenium virginicum was listed as federally threatened, the plant was thought to be restricted to about 25 seasonally inundated sinkhole ponds and meadows in Augusta and Rockingham counties, Virginia. Since then, however, more than 25 populations of the sneezeweed have been identified in Missouri. What led to this disjunctive distribution is unknown.
H. virginicum is well adapted to the fluctuating water levels of their native habitat and rosettes can sometimes be observed completely submerged. The ability to survive periodic inundation may give the sneezeweed a competitive advantage over other plants in the same habitat.

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
  Missouri
Virginia
State Range of  Helenium virginicum
Habitat
  In Virginia, the ponds supporting the sneezeweed have poorly drained, acidic, silty loam soils, and are generally flooded from January to July (USFWS 1998). Associated species include, black-fruited spikerush, warty panic grass, and northern St. Johnís wort (VA NHP website).
In Missouri, H. virginicum occurs at the margins of sinkhole ponds and in wet meadows (Rimer and Summers, in review). The wetlands inhabited by H. virginicum are associated with dolomite and limestone geologies that are subject to fluctuating water levels that vary from year to year (Van Alstine, 2000).

Distribution
  Three counties in southern Missouri (Rimer, pers. comm.) and two counties in northwest Virginia (USFWS, 1998

Number Left
  Known from approximately 25-30 sites in Virginia and at least as many sites in Missouri. The number of individual plants at each site varies from year to year, from a few plants to hundreds of thousands (NatureServe)

Protection

Global Rank:  
G3
 
10/5/2005
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
LT
 
11/3/1998
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  
Yes
 
10/2/2000

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  Missouri S1 1/1/2001  
  Virginia S2 LE  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships
  Helenium virginicum flowers from early July to October, with peak flowering occurring in late July to early August at most sites. The pollination biology of H. virginicum has not been studied in detail; however, the primary insect pollinators appear to be bees, wasps (Hymenoptera: Apidae, Halictidae, Sphecidae), butterflies (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae and Lycaenidae, among others), and hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae). Seasonal water fluctuation, particularly inundation, is probably a key factor affecting recruitment and maintenance of H. virginicum populations. (NatureServe 2003)

Threats
  Habitat modification is the primary threat to H. virginicum. Some of these modifications include residential development, filling of wetland habitats, and other disruptions of hydrology. Cattle grazing and mowing at moderate levels can be beneficial, however, overgrazing or poorly timed mowing could have long-term adverse effects (USFWS 1998).

Current Research Summary
  A number of studies have been conducted on Helenium virginicum. Common garden and transplant studies distinguished H. virginicum from Canadian narrow-leaved H. autumnale (Knox, et. al. 1995). Phylogenetic analyses using ITS sequence evidence placed H. virginicum occurring in Missouri in a monophyletic group with H. virginicum occurring in Virginia (Simurda and Knox 2000). A nine-year demographic study of H. virginicum in Virginia led to the conclusion that the rarity of the species may result from it being limited to refugia where competition is reduced by a stressful soil and variable hydroperiod (Knox 1997). The species is thought to be self-incompatible, which may put small populations at risk of local extinction (Messmore and Knox 1997). A restoration project to establish populations of H. virginicum in protected areas began in 2002 (Rimer and McCue, in review). A survey of suitable habitat in Missouri located >25 previously unknown populations of H. virginicum (Rimer and Summers, in review)

Current Management Summary
  Current management practices unknown.

Research Management Needs
  Survey for additional sites of Virginia sneezeweed throughout the Lower Missouri Ozarks. Evaluate new sites for potential threats to Virginia sneezeweed populations. Monitor Virginia sneezeweed population health at known sites.

Ex Situ Needs
  Collection and storage of seed from populations in both Virginia and Missouri.

References

Electronic Sources

NatureServe. (2008). NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. [Internet].Version 7.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. http://www.natureserve.org/explorer. Accessed: (June 17, 2008).

Journal Articles

Knox, J.S. 1987. An experimental garden test of characters used to distinguish Helenium-virginicum Blake from Helenium-autumnale L. Castanea. 52, 1: 52-58.

Knox, J.S. 1997. A nine-year demographic study of Helenium virginicum (Asteraceae), a narrow endemic seasonal wetland plant. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society. 124, 3: 236-245.

Knox, J.S.; Gutowski, M.J.; Marshall, D.C.; Rand, O.G. 1995. Tests of the genetic bases of character differences between Helenium virginicum and H. autumnale (Asteraceae) using common gardens and transplant studies. Systematic Botany. 20, 2: 120-131.

Messmore, N.A.; Knox, J.S. 1997. The breeding system of the narrow endemic, Helenium virginicum (Asteraceae). Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society. 124, 4: 318-321.

Rimer, R.L.; McCue, K.A. 2005. Restoration of Helenium virginicum Blake, a Threatened Plant of the Ozark Highlands. Natural Areas Journal. 25, 1: 86-90.

Rimer, R.L.; Summers, J.W. 2006. Range and ecology of Helenium virginicum in the Missouri Ozarks. Southeastern Naturalist. 5, 3: 515-522.

Simurda, M.C.; Knox, J.S. 2000. ITS sequence evidence for the disjunctive distribution between Virginia and Missouri of the narrow endemic Helenium virginicum (Asteraceae). Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society. 127, 4: 316-323.

USFWS. 1998. Determination of threatened status for Virginia sneezeweed (Helenium virginicum), a plant from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Federal Register. 63, 212: 59239-59244.

Reports

Van Alstine, N. 2000. Virginia sneezeweed (Helenium virginicum) recovery plan, draft. Richmond: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


  This profile was updated on 3/4/2010
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