CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Mespilus canescens

Photographer:
Joe Ditto

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CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Mespilus canescens


Family: 
Rosaceae  
Common Name: 
Stern's medlar
Author: 
Phipps
Growth Habit: 
Shrub
CPC Number: 
5000

Distribution
Protection
Conservation
References


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Mespilus canescensenlarge
Photographer: Joe Ditto

Mespilus canescensenlarge
Photographer: Casey Galvin


Mespilus canescens is Not Sponsored
Primary custodian for this plant in the CPC National Collection of Endangered Plants is: 
Kimberlie McCue, Ph.D. contributed to this Plant Profile.

 
Mespilus canescens


Stern's medlar was first described as a species in 1990 and represents a new generic record for the North American Flora. The closest relative of M. canescens is Mespilus germanica, a species native to Europe and Asia Minor. Together, these species comprise the whole of the genus Mespilus.

The medlar is a beautiful multi-stemmed plant. Blooming in late April, the medlar becomes a showy mass of white blossoms. However, the display is far too brief, lasting only a week.

Many mysteries surround Stern's medlar. Solving some of them will be critical to its survival. For example, although the species has produced fruit in the past, fruit has not been observed on the plants for many years, despite its profuse flowering.

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
  Arkansas
State Range of  Mespilus canescens
Habitat
  Deciduous grove, once surrounded by prairie, now agricultural land.
The grove is privately owned, however, the owner has granted a conservation easement for the 22 acre site to the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. The site is known as the Konecny Grove Natural Area. (Phipps 1990)

Occurs with Crataegus sp., Celtis laevigata, Morus rubra, Smilax sp., and Senecio aurea.

Distribution
  The known range of Mespilus canescens is within the 22-acre Konecny Grove Natural Area. (Phipps 1990)

Number Left
  One population known, containing only about 25 individuals. (Phipps 1990)

Protection

Global Rank:  
G1
 
1/16/1996
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
 
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  
No
 

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  Arkansas S1 8/4/1999  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships
  None known.

Threats
  Plants are being crushed by the weight of Lonicera japonica, an exotic invasive species
Changes in the water-table
Chemical run-off from adjacent agricultural lands

Current Research Summary
  Isozymes were used to test the relatedness of the two known but continentally disjunct known species of Mespilus, as well as to distinguish them from their close relatives, species in the genus Crataegus. (Phipps et al. 1991)
All individual medlar in the grove have been sampled for genetic analysis. One major concern was that the population might consist of a single, or a few clones. RAPD analysis showed that not to be the case. Although all the plants are closely related, they are not clones.
Because the plants are not reproducing in the wild, great attention is being given to propagating the species ex situ. Rooted cuttings from many of the wild plants were taken and placed in pots in the Missouri Botanical Garden greenhouse. Those cuttings are now in their second year of growth. From these cuttings, tissue was also taken in order to attempt to grow the plant via tissue culture.

Current Management Summary
  The grove is monitored periodically by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission.

Research Management Needs
  A concerted effort needs to be made to eradicate Lonicera japonica from the grove.
Studies into the reproductive biology of the species are needed.

Ex Situ Needs
  Propagation techniques need to be further developed.

References

Conference Proceedings

Dickinson, T.; Evans, R.C.; Campbell, C.S. Phylogenetic relationships between Crataegus and Mespilus (Rosaceae subf. Maloideae) based on rDNA sequence variation. Botany 2000!; Oregon Convention Center, Portland, OR. 2000.

Journal Articles

Phipps, J.B. 1990. Mespilus canescens, a new rosaceous endemic from Arkansas. Systematic Botany. 15: 26-32.

Phipps, J.B.; Weeden, N.F.; Dickson, E.E. 1991. Isozyme evidence for the naturalness of Mespilus L. (Rosaceae, subfam. Maldoideae). Systematic Botany. 16, 3: 546-552.

USFWS. 1992. Regional News--Regions 2 & 4. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 17, 9-11: 9, 13-15.


  This profile was updated on 3/4/2010
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