CPC National Collection Plant Profile

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Plant Profile

Arenaria cumberlandensis


Family: 
Caryophyllaceae  
Common Name: 
Cumberland sandwort
Author: 
(B.E. Wofford & Kral) McNeill
CPC Number: 
259

Distribution
Protection
Conservation
References


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Arenaria cumberlandensis is Fully Sponsored
Matthew Albrecht & Kimberly McCue contributed to this Plant Profile.

 
Arenaria cumberlandensis


Arenaria cumberlandensis is a schizoendemic that grows exclusively behind the dripline in sandstone rockhouse shelters (cave-like recesses beneath cliff overhangs) on the Cumberland Plateau (Kentucky and Tennessee). Because this unique habitat is sheltered from abrupt climate change, this species has likely persisted in rockhouses since the Pleistocene. The delicate sandwort occurs in tufts and produces tiny white flowers from early July through August.

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
  Kentucky
Tennessee
State Range of  Arenaria cumberlandensis
Habitat
  Arenaria cumberlandensis occurs on shaded, fine-grained, sandy floors of "rockhouses," sandstone ledges, and solution pockets of the Pottsville Formation in Tennessee (Wofford and Kral 1979, Wofford and Smith 1980). This unique habitat is shared with few other plant species.

Distribution
  Found only in one county in Kentucky and five counties in Tennessee, all of which are part of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. The entire distribution spans an area < 45 km in diameter (Winder 2004).

Number Left
  •27 known occurrences in Tennessee, one in Kentucky (USFWS 1996). Plants can be numerous within their restricted areas.

Protection

Global Rank:  
G2G3
 
8/3/2004
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
LE
 
6/23/1988
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  
Yes
 
6/20/1996

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  Kentucky S1 LE 10/11/1990  
  Tennessee S2 LE 4/3/2001  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships
  •Flowering phenology: May – Aug.
•Fruiting phenology: Sept. – Nov.
•Plants are probably self-incompatible (Winder 2004).
•Dispersal is highly localized, as seedlings are typically distributed adjacent to previously reproductive adults (Winder 2004).
•Seed viability appears to be high in natural populations (Winder 2004).
•A. cumberlandensis has a narrow ecological niche requiring cool temperatures, perpetually moist sand, and deep shade.
•Associated species include: Silene rotundifolia, Thalictrum clavatum, Heuchera parviflora, and Ageratina luciae-brauniae (USFWS 1996)

Threats
  •Alteration of site hydrology (USFWS 1996).
•Human activities: hiking, camping, rockclimbing, and digging for archaeological artifacts (USFWS 1996).

Current Research Summary
  •A. cumberlandensis diverged from its nearest relative (M. glabra) in the distant past, and maintains broader phylogenetic diversity among haplotypes than M. glabra (Winder 2004).
•Majority of genetic variation within the species resides in a central cluster of populations in Picket, Co., Tennessee (Winder 2004).
•Observed heterozygosity is low, suggesting some populations are at risk of inbreeding depression (Winder 2004).
•Extremely reduced gene flow among populations results in most of the genetic variation being distributed among populations (Winder 2004).
•Center for Research and Endangered Wildlife (CREW) has successfully developed a propagation protocol via tissue culture.
•An experimental population was established in the Daniel Boone National Forest (Kentucky) from material propagated by the CREW lab.

Current Management Summary
  •Some measures, such as constructing guard rails around sensitive sites, have been taken in Pickett State Park.
•The majority of sites are at least partially within public ownership, including Pickett State Park and Pickett State Forest.

Research Management Needs
  •Determine population dynamics, especially which life-history stage is most important for population growth.
•Determine what ecological processes (e.g., dispersal, historical, or niche limitation) limit the distribution of this species in unoccupied and occupied rockhouse shelters.
•Conduct pollination ecology studies to determine whether plants are obligate outcrossers.

Monitoring Efforts
  •Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) continue to monitor known populations for trends in distribution and abundance.

Ex Situ Needs
  •Continue to develop seed bank and determine the viability of seeds in long-term storage.
•Develop educational materials to inform the public about the status of the species.

References

Books (Single Authors)

Gleason, H.A.; Cronquist, A. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Bronx: The New York Botanical Garden.

Pyne, M.; Gay, M.; Shea, A. 1995. Guide to rare plants - Tennessee Division of Forestry District 4. Nashville: Tennessee Dept. Agriculture, Division of Forestry.

Books (Sections)

Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the U.S., Canada, and Greenland. In: Kartesz, J.T.; Meacham, C.A., editors. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden. Chapel Hill, NC.

Electronic Sources

(2002). Endangered Species of the Month: Cumberland sandwort. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Frankfort Field Office. http://frankfort.fws.gov/docs/sandwort.htm. Accessed: 2002.

(2002). New York Botanical Garden--The Virtual Herbarium. [Searchable Web site] New York Botanical Garden. Fordham Road Bronx, New York. http://scisun.nybg.org:8890/searchdb/owa/wwwspecimen.searchform. Accessed: 2002.

USFWS. (1990). Endangered and Threatened Species Accounts. [Web page] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Endangered Species. http://ecos.fws.gov/servlet/TESSSpeciesQuery. Accessed: 2002.

Journal Articles

USFWS. 1987. Listing Protection Proposed for Eleven Plants and Animals. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 12, 8: 1-9.

USFWS. 1988. Determination of Endangered Status for Arenaria cumberlandensis. Federal Register. 53, 121: 23745- 23748.

USFWS. 1988. Protection Extended to Three Plants. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 13, 6-7: 1.

Wofford, B.E. 1981. External seed morphology of Arenaria (Caryophyllaceae) of the southeastern United States. Systematic Botany. 6, 2: 126-135.

Wofford, B.E.; Kral, R. 1979. A new Arenaria (Caryophyllaceae) from the Cumberlands of Tennessee. Brittonia. 31, 2: 257-260.

Reports

Kral, R. 1983. A report on some rare, threatened or endangered forest related vascular plants of the south. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Forest Service. p.718. USFS technical publication R8-TP2, . Vol. 1.

Kral, R. 1983. A report on some rare, threatened, or endangered forest-related vascular plants of the South. Athens, GA: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service. p.1305. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service Technical.

USFWS. 1996. Recovery plan for Cumberland sandwort (Arenaria cumberlandensis). Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. p.28.

Wofford, B.E.; Smith, D.K. 1980. Status report on Arenaria cumberlandensis. Unpublished report prepared under contract to the Southeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. p.22.

Theses

Winder, C.T. 2004. Levels and patterns of genetic diversity in the rare and endangered Cumberland Stitchwort, Minuartia cumberlandensis (Caryophyllaceae). Master’s Thesis. University of Tennessee. 73p.


  This profile was updated on 3/4/2010
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