Amaranthus pumilus - Raf.
Seabeach Amaranth
Other English Common Names: Seaside Amaranth
Other Common Names: seaside amaranth
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Amaranthus pumilus Raf. (TSN 20744)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.141860
Element Code: PDAMA040Z0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Amaranth Family
Image 10873

© New York Natural Heritage Program

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Caryophyllales Amaranthaceae Amaranthus
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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: Amaranthus pumilus
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 07Mar2017
Global Status Last Changed: 22Jun1990
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Eliminated from two-thirds of its historic range. Formerly occurred on barrier island beaches from Massachusetts to South Carolina; now only extant in significant numbers in New York and the Carolinas, and in tiny stands in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey. Approximately 50 populations are estimated to remain, all in a narrow band of suitable habitat (even formerly, the actual area occupied was quite small). Many threats exist, including construction of sea walls and dune fencing, development, heavy recreational use, and off-road vehicle traffic. It is difficult to afford protection because of the dynamic nature of the habitat and the fugitive nature of the biology of the species.
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 Connecticut (SH), Delaware (S1), Maryland (S1), Massachusetts (SH), New Jersey (S1), New York (S2), North Carolina (S1), Pennsylvania (SNA), Rhode Island (SH), South Carolina (S1), Virginia (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LT: Listed threatened (07Apr1993)
Comments on USESA: Amaranthus pumilus was proposed threatened on May 26, 1992 and determined threatened on April 7, 1993.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R4 - Southeast

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Extant from vicinity of Cape Hatteras, NC, to vicinity of Cape Romain, SC, and at scattered sites on Long Island, NY, and in coastal Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey. Formerly occurred from vicinity of Charleston, SC north to islands south of Cape Cod, MA. Actual area occupied (even formerly) quite small; occurs only in a narrow band of suitable habitat.

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Nearly 110 presumed extant occurrences have been mapped; however, in many cases, groups of existing mapped sites should be lumped to represent single, dynamic populations. For example, a recent re-mapping effort in New York reduced the number of occurrences from 29 to 9 (S. Young pers. comm. 2008). Once all occurrences are re-mapped in this fashion, the rangewide number may be on the order of 30-50. Most presumed extant occurrences are in North and South Carolina; smaller numbers of occurrences are known from New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, and Maryland. Historic in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

Population Size Comments: North Carolina annual census 8,000-50,000; South Carolina annual census 100-2,000; New York annual census 0-2,000; other states with unknown (but presumably small) population numbers. Population numbers fluctuate greatly (S. Young pers. comm. 2008).

Overall Threat Impact: High
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Primarily threatened by beach-hardening (sea walls, riprap, etc.), soft stabilization (dune fencing), development, heavy recreational use, and off-road traffic. Overall, there are many threats to this species.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: Serious decline eliminated occurrences from much of its range between 1840's and 1970's. Decline is now apparently somewhat stabilized, with range restricted to about 30% of former.

Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-50%

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Vulnerable to habitat destruction since it occurs in a geologically dynamic landscape.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Extant from vicinity of Cape Hatteras, NC, to vicinity of Cape Romain, SC, and at scattered sites on Long Island, NY, and in coastal Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey. Formerly occurred from vicinity of Charleston, SC north to islands south of Cape Cod, MA. Actual area occupied (even formerly) quite small; occurs only in a narrow band of suitable habitat.

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 CT, DE, MA, MD, NC, NJ, NY, PAexotic, RI, SC, VA

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
DE Sussex (10005)
MA Dukes (25007)*, Nantucket (25019)*
MD Worcester (24047)
NC Brunswick (37019), Carteret (37031), Currituck (37053), Dare (37055), Hyde (37095)*, New Hanover (37129), Onslow (37133), Pender (37141)
NJ Atlantic (34001), Cape May (34009), Monmouth (34025), Ocean (34029)
NY Kings (36047)*, Nassau (36059), Queens (36081), Suffolk (36103)
RI Newport (44005)*
SC Charleston (45019), Georgetown (45043), Horry (45051)
VA Accomack (51001), Northampton (51131)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Cape Cod (01090002)+*, Narragansett (01090004)+*
02 Sandy Hook-Staten Island (02030104)+, Southern Long Island (02030202)+, Cohansey-Maurice (02040206)+, Mullica-Toms (02040301)+, Great Egg Harbor (02040302)+, Chincoteague (02040303)+, Eastern Lower Delmarva (02040304)+*
03 Albemarle (03010205)+, Pamlico Sound (03020105)+, Lower Neuse (03020204)+*, White Oak River (03020301)+, New River (03020302)+, Lower Cape Fear (03030005)+, Coastal Carolina (03040208)+, South Carolina Coastal (03050202)+*, Bulls Bay (03050209)+
CA CAPE COD (CAPE COD)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: An annual herb with reddish-colored, prostrate, highly branched stems that form clumps, often reaching 3 dm in diameter. Leaves are spinach-green, clustered towards the tips of the stems. Flowers and fruits are inconspicuous.
Technical Description: "Monoecious; stems fleshy, prostrate or decumbent, branched from the base, 1-4 dm; leaves fleshy, round-obovate, 1-2 cm, +/- retuse at the broadly rounded summit, abruptly narrowed to a 5-10 mm petiole; flowers in dense axillary clusters; stamens 5; sep. of pistillate flowers 5, oblong-oblanceolate, unequal, cucullate, 2-4 mm, twice as long as the lanceolate bracts; fruit fleshy, indehiscent, thick-fusiform, 4-5 mm, smooth or rugulose; seed elliptic, 2-2.5 mm." (Gleason and Cronquist, 1991)
Diagnostic Characteristics: Amaranthus pumilus may be characterized by sepals mostly 2-4 mm; seeds 2-2.5 mm; fruit indehiscent; seeds obovate or elliptic (Gleason and Cronquist, 1991).
Duration: ANNUAL
Marine Habitat(s): Near shore
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Sand/dune
Habitat Comments: Barrier islands, mainly on coastal overwash flats at the accreting ends of the islands and lower foredunes and on ocean beaches above mean high tide (occasionally on sound-side beaches). Intolerant of competition; does not occur on well-vegetated sites. According to Weakley and Bucher (1991), this species appears to need extensive, dynamic, natural areas of barrier island beaches and inlets. Within this dynamic landscape, A. Pumilus functions as a fugitive species, occupying suitable habitat as it becomes available. Seeds may survive many years buried in the sand; they germinate when brought near the surface by severe storms.
Economic Attributes
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Economic Uses: FOOD, Vegetable/potherb, LANDSCAPING, Revegetation, Erosion control
Economic Comments: This attractive and colorful plant has a prostrate growth habit which makes it effective as a sand binder and could lend itself to planting on beach-front lots. Other amaranths have been cultivated as food crops in North, Central, and South America and has a high nutririve value. The plant is being researched by the USDA as well as universities and private institutions for potential use in crop development and improvement. (Murdock, 1992)
Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Any occurrence of one or more plants. This is a fugitive annual species which occurs in an unstable and shifting habitat. In addition, populations may be present even though plants are not visible for one or more years. This species seed-banks, and may not appear in a given year if seeds are covered over too deeply.
Separation Barriers: EOs are separated by either:
any distance of estuarine water >100 m at low tide (i.e., populations on separate islands are separate EOs); or,
1 km or more of intervening habitat which is unsuitable for the foreseeable future, such as riprap, sea walls, or barren beach areas (with beach-grooming or extremely heavy recreational use);
or ^5 km or more of apparently suitable habitat that is not known to be occupied.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Justification: The distance for unoccupied but suitable habitat is set at such a great distance because of the fugitive nature of Amaranthus pumilus, and the likelihood that intervening "suitable but unoccupied" habitat will likely be occupied at some time in the near future (i.e., two apparently separate EOs will become connected, leading to instability of EOs). Note that scarped and eroding foredunes should not be considered unsuitable for the foreseeable future, as new deposition of sand may quickly change its suitability. EO specifications (e.g., separation distances) should be based on recent (i.e. within the past 5 years) repeat surveys performed subsequent to any mayor catastrophic change in habitat occurring during that period.
Date: 02Jan1997
Author: Weakley, A.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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Excellent Viability: 1000 or more individuals on average, based on all censuses in the last 5 years and subsequent to any major catastrophic change in the habitat.
Good Viability: 100-999 individuals on average, as above.
Fair Viability: 10-99 individuals on average, as above.
Poor Viability: 1-9 individuals on average, as above.
Justification: A Rank: It is not anticipated that future occurrences will exceed the best that currently exist. Thus, "A"-rank criteria are set such that the largest, most stable, and most viable occurrences curently in existence are so designated.

C Rank: Populations with fewer than 10 individuals average (based on repeat census) may be temporarily small but viable populations; they are reranked upwards (by specifications above) if they produce more individuals. In contrast, such populations may represent temporary waifs in generally unsuitable situations.

Key for Ranking Species Element Occurrences Using the Generic Approach (2008).
Date: 02Jan1997
Author: Weakley, A.
Notes: NCHP
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: 01Feb1993
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Weakley, A.S. and Young, S.M. (rev. Maybury, K. 6/96), minor rev. K. Gravuer (2008), rev. L. Oliver (2017)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 17Jun1992

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
Help
  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2003. Flora of North America North of Mexico, Volume 4, Magnoliophyta: Caryophyllidae, Part 1. Oxford University Press, New York.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2003b. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 4, Magnoliophyta: Caryophyllidae, part 1. Oxford University Press, New York. 559 pp.

  • 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.

  • Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

  • HIGGINS, E. 1969. A FLORISTIC AND ECOLOGICAL SURVEY OF ASSATEAGUE ISLAND, VIRGINIA-MARYLAND. UNPUBLISHED MASTERS THESIS, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND.

  • HIGGINS, E.A.T., R.D. RAPPLEYE AND R.G. BROWN. 1971. THE FLORA AND ECOLOGY OF ASSATEAGUE ISLAND. BULLETIN A-172. UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION.

  • HILL, S.R. 1985. A BOTANICAL SURVEY OF THE MARYLAND PORTION OF ASSATEAGUE ISLAND. AN ANNOTATED CHECKLIST OF THE VASCULAR PLANT SPECIES. 90 PP.

  • HILL, S.R. 1986. AN ANNOTATED CHECKLIST OF VASCULAR FLORA OF ASSATEAGUE ISLAND (MARYLAND, VIRGINIA). CASTANEA 51:265-305.

  • Hancock, Thomas 2003. Ecology of the Threatened Species Amaranthus pumilus Rafinesque. Castanea (68): 236-244.

  • Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

  • 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.

  • LeBlond, R. 1993. Letter of May 28 to Christa Russell.

  • New York Natural Heritage Program. 2010. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

  • Radford, A.E., H.E. Ahles, and C.R. Bell. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Univ. North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 1183 pp.

  • Ramsey, S., R.W. Tyndall, and C. Lea. 2000. Scientific Note. Castanea 65(2):165-167.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1993. Amaranthus pumilus (seabeach amaranth) determined to be threatened. Federal Register 58(65): 18035-18042.

  • WEAKLEY, A.S. 1986. SUMMARY OF INFORMATION ON SEABEACH AMARANTH (AMARANTHUS PUMILIS RAFINESQUE). N.C. NATURAL HERITAGE PROGRAM, RALEIGH, N.C.

  • Weakley, A., M. Bucher, and N. Murdock. 1995. Technical/agency draft recovery plan for seabeach amaranth (Amaranthus pumilus) Rafinesque. Prepared for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Region, Atlanta, GA. 75 pp.

  • Weakley, A., and M. Bucher. 1991. Status survey of seabeach amaranth (Amaranthus pumilus Rafinesque) in North and South Carolina, second edition (after Hurricane Hugo). Report to North Carolina Plant Conservation Program, North Carolina Dept. Agriculture, Raleigh, and Endangered Species Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Asheville, North Carolina. 149 pp.

  • Weakley, Alan, Margit Bucher and Nora Murdock. 1996. Recovery plan for seabeach amaranth (Amaranthus pumilus) Rafinesque. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta, Georgia. 59 pp.

  • Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research http://www.fccdr.usf.edu/. University of South Florida http://www.usf.edu/]. New York Flora Association http://wwws.nyflora.org/, Albany, New York

  • Weldy, Troy W. and David Werier. 2005. New York Flora Atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research. University of South Florida]. New York Flora Association, Albany, NY. Available on the web at (http://atlas.nyflora.org/).

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