Aeschynomene virginica - (L.) B.S.P.
Sensitive Joint-vetch
Other English Common Names: Virginia Joint-vetch
Other Common Names: Virginia jointvetch
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Aeschynomene virginica (L.) B.S.P. (TSN 25359)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.159058
Element Code: PDFAB04080
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Pea Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Fabales Fabaceae Aeschynomene
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Aeschynomene virginica
Taxonomic Comments: Reports from some southern states such as South Carolina and Louisiana were misidentifications; the species there is Aeschynomene indica, an exotic (Isley 1990, A. Pittman, SCHP 31Oct94).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 03Apr2012
Global Status Last Changed: 10Jan1986
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: There are about 20 remaining occurrences, including a couple of unstable ditch populations. The plants are restricted to the relatively limited zone of fresh water habitat that is tidally influenced. Habitat alteration has been, and continues to be, a severe threat to this species' continued existence. Many sites where it occurred historically have been dredged, filled, or bulkheaded. Surviving occurrences are potentially threatened by many factors related to increased population growth, including road construction, residential and commercial development, water pollution, water withdrawal projects, and bank erosion from motorboat traffic. Insect predation on seed pods and displacement by aggressive, non-native plant species are also threats.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Delaware (SX), Maryland (S1), New Jersey (S1), North Carolina (S1), Pennsylvania (SX), Virginia (S2)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LT: Listed threatened (20May1992)
Comments on USESA: Aeschynomene virginica was proposed threatened on July 26, 1991 and determined threatened on May 20, 1992.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R5 - Northeast

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Current range includes New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina. Extirpated from Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Area of Occupancy: 26-125 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Many populations are no longer extant, or have not been relocated recently.

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: About twenty recently documented occurrences. New Jersey: 2 occurrences; Maryland: 5 occurrences; Virginia: 12 occurrences; North Carolina: 1 marginal occurrence.

Population Size Comments: New Jersey: 2,000 +/- 50; Maryland: several hundred individuals; Virginia: ca. 5,000 plants; North Carolina: all populations unstable in ditches.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Few (4-12)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Several populations have been monitored (Belden and Van Alstine 2003, Griffith and Forseth 2002, Griffith and Forseth 2005, Griffith and Forseth 2006).

Overall Threat Impact: High
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Habitat alteration is the primary threat to the species' continued existence. Many sites where it occurred historically have been dredged, filled or bulkheaded. All known Pennsylvania and Delaware localities have been destroyed. Extant sites are potentially threatened by a proposed highway expansion and a proposed electricity generating plant in NJ, by several proposed residential developments including water supply projects in Virginia, as well as by other factors related to increased population growth, including road construction, commercial development, water pollution and bank erosion from motorboats.

The habitat of this species is dependent on natural disturbance, in that the marsh is maintained by tidal action (Belden and Van Alstine 2003, Griffith and Forseth 2002, Griffith and Forseth 2005, Griffith and Forseth 2006, Tyndall 2011). If water levels, tidal flow or salinity levels change, the species would be threatened at its existing sites. There is indirect evidence that a population at one New Jersey site has suffered because of salt intrusion. Rising sea levels and saltwater intrusion could further impact existing populations, this plant depends on open freshwater tidal habitat.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%

Long-term Trend: Decline of 50-70%

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Sensitive to water pollution and marsh drainage. Difficulty in controlling headwater pollution.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Current range includes New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina. Extirpated from Pennsylvania and Delaware.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States DEextirpated, MD, NC, NJ, PAextirpated, VA

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
MD Calvert (24009), Charles (24017), Dorchester (24019)*, Prince Georges (24033), Somerset (24039), Wicomico (24045)*
NC Beaufort (37013), Craven (37049)*, Hyde (37095)
NJ Atlantic (34001)*, Burlington (34005), Camden (34007)*, Cape May (34009)*, Cumberland (34011), Gloucester (34015)*, Salem (34033)*
PA Delaware (42045)*, Philadelphia (42101)*
VA Charles City (51036), Chesterfield (51041), Essex (51057), Henrico (51087), James City (51095), King William (51101), King and Queen (51097), New Kent (51127), Prince George (51149)*, Richmond (51159), Stafford (51179), Surry (51181)*, Westmoreland (51193)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Lower Delaware (02040202)+*, Schuylkill (02040203)+*, Delaware Bay (02040204)+*, Brandywine-Christina (02040205)+*, Cohansey-Maurice (02040206)+, Mullica-Toms (02040301)+, Great Egg Harbor (02040302)+*, Chincoteague (02040303)+*, Severn (02060004)+*, Patuxent (02060006)+, Lower Potomac (02070011)+, Lower Rappahannock (02080104)+, Mattaponi (02080105)+, Pamunkey (02080106)+, Western Lower Delmarva (02080109)+*, Eastern Lower Delmarva (02080110)+, Lower James (02080206)+
03 Pamlico (03020104)+, Pamlico Sound (03020105)+, Lower Neuse (03020204)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A tall single-stemmed annual, up to 2.4 m in height, with leaves that will fold slightly if touched. Flowers (late July-October) are about 1 cm long; yellow with streaks of orange-red.
General Description: A robust single-stemmed annual towering up to 2+ meters in height which inhabits fresh to brackish tidal river marshes and roadside ditches and wet fields near the coast. The distinctive pinnately divided leaves are gland-dotted and somewhat sensitive and may fold slightly if touched. The racemous, pea-shaped flowers are yellow streaked with orange-red. Uniformly shaped anthers, diadelphous filaments (5+5). Fruit a loment with 6-10 segments turning dark brown when ripe.
Technical Description: "Stems erect, branched, up to 1 m tall or more, distally sparsely pilose, the hairs from large pustular bases. Stipules prolonged below the point of insertion, soon deciduous. Leaves odd-pinnate; leaflets very numerous, oblong, 1-2 cm long. Racemes axillary, often leafy. Flowers 1-6, yellow veined with red, 10-15 mm long, subtended by ovate, sessile, serrate bracts. Calyx about 7 mm long. Pods 2-7 cm long, on a stipe 1.5-2 cm long; joints 4-10, each 5-8 mm long, 5-6 mm wide, sparsely pilose with hairs from pustular bases." (Gleason, 1952).
Diagnostic Characteristics: "Flowers 10-15 mm long; leaflets entire or rarely with a few cilia" (Rudd, 1955). Atlantic Coast: New Jersey to North Carolina.
Duration: ANNUAL
Ecology Comments: Species shows considerable annual fluctuations in population numbers. Over 3 years one population varied from approximately 50 to 2,000 individuals. Germination begins late May - early June. Germination experiments with stratified seeds indicate a high germination rate of 63%; stratification improves germination slightly. Seedlings grow at a quick rate approximately doubling in size every two weeks during their first six weeks. Self-pruning of lower branches is evident in both greenhouse grown and natural populations.

Plants begin flowering in July, continuing through September; fruits are produced simultaneously from July to late October. Greenhouse studies reveal bagged flowers to self at the rate of 13%, but outcrossing also occurs. Limited pollinator observations of the small bumblebees have been made on the plants. Fruits disseminate as individual articles and have been observed to float; length of floatability is unknown. Plants consistently reappear (observed in NJ & MD) in the same place indicating limited dispersal, or at least some seed remaining in place as a seed bank. Establishment of seedlings may be restricted by deposition of flotsam on the river bank and dense stands of perennial species such as Peltandra virginica and Pontederia cordata. However, most of the Aeschynomene zone is composed of annual species which die back, presumably leaving many available germination sites. Plants have been known from a site in NJ for at least 9 years, so as long as conditions remain the same, the species seems to maintain itself adequately.

Estuarine Habitat(s): River mouth/tidal river
Habitat Comments: Fresh to slightly brackish tidal river shores and estuarine-river marsh borders. Usually grows within 2 m of low water mark on raised banks. Peaty, sandy or gravelly substrates. Salinity of one site in New Jersey ranges from 0.7 to 0.8 ppt with an average pH of 4.4. In North Carolina, A. virginica has been found in a few ditches and wet fields, but these are not considered stable populations. Associated species include Zizania aquatica, Petlandra virginica, Pontederia cordata, Bidens laevis, Polygonum arifolium, P. saggitatum, and Leersia oryzoides.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: For the species to maintain itself adequately, habitat conditions should remain the same. Adequate habitat conservation factors include protection of the marsh where the plant occurs, protection of the water quality, or source of water, and protection of an adequate amount of upland buffer. (Unpublished material, The Nature Conservancy files). To increase population size, creating disturbed patches would be more effective than adding more seed (Griffith and Forseth 2005).
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 03Apr2012
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Russell, C. (1992), rev. Belden/Maybury (1996), rev. C.Nordman (2012).
Management Information Edition Date: 03Apr2012
Management Information Edition Author: Nordman, C.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 29Apr1992

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • BALDWIN, F.L., B.A. HUEY AMD G.L. MORRIS. 1977. DISTRIBUTION OF THREE WEED SPECIES IN ARKANSAS RICE FIELD. PROC. SOUTH. WEED SCI. 30:398.

  • BOYETTE, C.D., G.E. TEMPLETON AND R.J. SMITH JR. 1979. CONTROL OF WINGED WATERPRIMROSE (JUSSIAEA DECURRENS) AND NORTHERN JOINTVETCH (AESCHYNOMENE VIRGINICA) WITH FUNGAL PATHOGENS. WEED SCI. 27(5):497-501.

  • Belden, A., Jr., and N. E. Van Alstine. 2003. Status of the federally listed Aeschynomene virginica (L) BSP. on the James River in Virginia. Castanea 68(2):179-181.

  • CARULLI, J.P. AND D.E. FAIRBROTHERS. 1988. ALLOZYME VARIATION IN THREE EASTERN UNITED STATES SPECIES OF AESCHYNOMENE (FABACEAE), INCLUDING THE RARE A. VIRGINICA. SYSTEMATIC BOTANY 13(4):559-566.

  • Cimino, Matthew. 1996. 1996 report on Aeschynomene virginica in North Carolina.

  • DANIEL, J.T., G.E. TEMPLETON, R.J. SMITH JR. AND W.T. FOX. 1973. BIOLOGICAL CONTROL OF NORTHERN JOUNTVETCH IN RICE WITH AN ENDEMIC FUNGAL DISEASE. WEED SCIENCE. 21(4):303-307.

  • FERNALD. 1940. ADDITIONS TO THE FLORA OF VIRGINIA. RHODORA 42(503):398-399; 42(504):457.

  • FERREN, W. R. JR. 1975-76. ASPECTS OF THE INTERTIDAL ZONES, VEGETATION, AND FLORA OF THE MAURICE RIVER SYSTEM, NEW JERSEY. BARTONIA (44): 58-67.

  • FERREN, WAYNE R., JR., AND ALFRED E. SCHUYLER. 1980. INTERTIDAL VASCULAR PLANTS OF RIVER SYSTEMS NEAR PHILADELPHIA. PROC. ACAD. NAT. SCI. PHILADELPHIA 132: 86-120.

  • Fernald, M. L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. Corrected printing (1970). D. Van Nostrand Company, New York. 1632 pp.

  • Ferren, W.R., Jr., and A.E. Schuyler. 1980. Intertidal vascular plants of river systems near Philadelphia. Proceedings Academy Natural Sciences Philadelphia 132: 86-120.

  • Gleason, H.A. 1952. The new Britton and Brown illustrated flora of the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 3 volumes. Hafner Press, New York. 1732 pp.

  • Gleason, H.A., and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

  • Griffith, A. B., and I. N. Forseth. 2002. Primary and secondary seed dispersal of a rare, tidal wetland annual, Aeschynomene virginica. Wetlands 22 (4): 696-704. http://www.clfs.umd.edu/biology/Forsethlab/Wetlands22_696.pdf

  • Griffith, A.B., and I.N. Forseth. 2005. Population matrix models of Aeschynomene virginica, a rare annual plant: implications for conservation. Ecological Applications 15:222-233.

  • Griffith, A.B., and I.N. Forseth. 2006. The role of a seed bank in establishment and persistence of Aeschynomene virginica, a rare wetland annual. Northeastern Naturalist 13(2):235-246.

  • Griffith, Alan. 2003. Project Proposal - Aeschynomene virginica. Department of Biological Sciences, Mary Washington College, 435B Jepson Hall, Frederciksburg, VA 22401.

  • HIRST, FRANK. 1990. 10 MAY LETTER TO JONATHAN MCKNIGHT.

  • Hough, M. Y. 1983. New Jersey Wild Plants. Harmony Press, Harmony, New Jersey. 414 pp.

  • Isley, D. 1990. Vascular flora of the southeastern United States, vol. 3, part 2: Leguminosae (Fabaceae). Univ. of North Carolina Press. 258 p.

  • KLERK, R.A., R.J. SMITH JR. AND D.O. TEBEEST. 1985. INTEGRATION OF A MICROBIAL HERBICIDE INTO WEED AND PEST CONTROL PROGRAM IN RICE (ORYZA SATIVA). WEED SCI. 33 (1):95-99.

  • KLERK, R.A., R.J. SMITH JR., D.O. TEBEEST AND G.E. TEMPLETON. 1982. INTERACTION OF PESTICIDES WITH MYCOHERBICIDE C.G.A. FOR CONTROL OF NORTHERN JOINTVETCH IN RICE. PROC. SO. WEE. SCI. SOC. 35(0):68.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Leonard, S.W. 1986. Status report on Aeschynomene virginica in North Carolina. 6 + pp.

  • MORSE, L.E. 1989. LETTER OF 18 AUGUST TO JUDY JACOBS.

  • RUDD, V.E. 1955. THE AMERICAN SPECIES OF AESCHYNOMENE. CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL HERBARIUM VOLUME 32, PART 1. SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION, WASHINGTON, DC. 172 PP.

  • Radford, A. E., H. E. Ahles, and C. R. Bell. 1968. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. 1183 pp.

  • SCHNABEL ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES. 1994. SENSITIVE JOINT VETCH LIFE HISTORY AND HABITAT STUDY, 1993 FIELD SEASON, MATTAPONI AND RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER SYSTEMS, VIRGINIA. US FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE.

  • SMITH, E.B. 1989. LETTER OF 8 SEPTEMBER TO DR. D.M.E. WARE, COLLEGE OF WILLIAM AND MARY.

  • SMITH, R.J., JR. AND W.T. FOX. 1973. SOIL WATER AND GROWTH OF RICE AND WEEDS.WEED SCIENCE. 21(1):61-63.

  • SMITH, R.J., JR., J.T. DANIEL, W.T. FOX AND G.E. TEMPLETON. 1973. DISTRIBUTIONIN ARKANSAS OF A FUNGUS DISEASE USED FOR BIO-CONTROL OF NORTHERN JOUNTVETCH INRICE. PLANT DISEASE REPORTER. 57(8):695-697.

  • Schultz, Cindy. 1998. Meeting Notes and Summary of Species Occurrences Throughout the Range of Aeschynomene virginica. US Fish & Wildlife Service, Gloucester, VA 23601.

  • TEMPLETON, G.E., D.O. TEBEEST AND R.J. SMITH JR. 1976. CONTROL OF A WEED WITH AN ENDEMIC FUNGAL PATHOGEN - THE MYCOHERBIDICE STRATEGY. AMERICAN PHYTOPATHOLOGICAL SOC. PROC. 3:271.

  • THE NATURE CONSERVANCY (PREPARED BY S. DAVISON). 1985. ELEMENT STEWARDSHIP ABSTRACT: AESCHYNOMENE VIRGINICA. PAGES 204-207.

  • TYNDALL, R.W., ET AL. 1996. SCIENTIFIC NOTE: AESCHYNOMENE VIRGINICA (FABACEAE) IN MARYLAND. CASTANEA 61:86-89.

  • Tyndall, W.R. 2011. Long-term Monitoring of Two Subpopulations of the Federally Threatened Aeschynomene virginica (Sensitive Joint-vetch) in Maryland. Castanea 76 (1): 20-27.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1991. Proposal to list the sensitive joint-vetch (Aeschynomene virginica) as a threatened species. Federal Register 56(144): 34162-34167.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1992. Determination of threatened status for the sensitive joint-vetch (Aeschynomene virginica). Federal Register 57(98): 21569-21574.

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