Arabis fecunda - Rollins
Sapphire Rockcress
Synonym(s): Boechera fecunda (Rollins) Dorn
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Arabis fecunda Rollins (TSN 184468)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.159353
Element Code: PDBRA06290
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Mustard Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Capparales Brassicaceae Arabis
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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: Arabis fecunda
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 10Jan2011
Global Status Last Changed: 16Dec1988
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: An edaphically restricted Montana endemic known from 20 occurrences in a small geographic area. A large part of this species' habitat is threatened by spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa), an aggressive, introduced weed.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Montana (S2)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Montana endemic, restricted to Ravalli, Beaverhead, and Silver Bow counties, Montana.

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: Twenty known occurrences.

Population Size Comments: Six populations contain 10,000+ plants, though the species is short-lived may occupy less than 2,000 acres.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Habitat is threatened by grazing, and by invasion of spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa), in Ravalli County.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: Downward trend is inferred at most Ravalli County sites due to knapweed invasion. The ubiquitous grazing and the presence of cryptogamic crusts have mixed affects depending on setting and extent. Over the long term, livestock grazing will probably be detrimental because, in addition to trampling plants, livestock are also significant vectors for exotic weed encroachment.

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: The dry, rocky habitat is relatively resilient, though erodible under heavy disturbance. The microhabitat conditions critical to seedbank storage and recruitment may be more fragile.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Montana endemic, restricted to Ravalli, Beaverhead, and Silver Bow counties, Montana.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States MT

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
MT Beaverhead (30001), Ravalli (30081), Silver Bow (30093)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
10 Big Hole (10020004)+, Jefferson (10020005)+
17 Bitterroot (17010205)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A perennial herb with herbage that is densely covered with small white-gray hairs. Flowering stalks are 7-30 cm tall and are nearly covered with white flowers and with slender, erect fruits during the flowering and fruiting period in late spring-early summer.
General Description: Sapphire rockcress is a small perennial with one to many unbranched flowering stems reaching up to 30 cm in height, arising from a simple or branched rootcrown. The spoon-shaped or lance-shaped basal leaves are 10-30 mm long and 2-4 mm wide, and have margins that are untoothed or with a few shallow lobes toward the tip; those produced in the fall are usually larger and broader than those produced in the spring. The stem leaves are smaller and clasping at the base. Both stem and leaves are grayish-white with a dense cover of small, branched hairs.

Several to many white or blueish-tinged flowers are borne in an unbranched spike-like inflorescence. Each flower has 4 petals (9-13 mm long and 3-5 mm wide) and densely hairy sepals (6-7 mm long and about 2 mm wide). The flowers are tightly clustered at first, but become farther apart as the fruits develop. The pods are grayish, hairy and 3-5 cm long by 1-2 mm wide; they are held nearly erect when mature and have two narrow chambers with a single row of small seeds in each one.

Technical Description: Perennial, with a simple or branched caudex, densely pubescent throughout, with fine dendritically-branched trichomes; stems erect to somewhat decumbent at base, simple or few branched, 1-3 dm high; leaves hoary, dimorphic; basal leaves petiolate, spatulate to linear oblanceolate, entire or with a few broad teeth in the blade area, 1-3 cm long, 2-4 mm wide; cauline leaves sessile, entire or the lower with a few teeth, oblong, acute, sparingly auriculate to nonauriculate, 7-20 mm long; inflorescences usually congested; sepals oblong, nonsaccate, densely pubescent, 6-7 mm long, ca. 2 mm wide; petals white to purplish, obovate, not unguiculate, narrowing gradually from blade to point of insertion, 9-13 mm long, 3-5 mm wide; fruiting pedicels erect to slightly divaricately ascending, straight, 6-10 mm long; siliques erect, congested, usually appressed to rachis, straight to slightly curved inward, 3-5 cm long, ca. 1.5 mm wide, valves densely pubescent, compressed between seeds; styles ca. 1 mm long; seeds in a single row, surorbicular to slightly longer than broad, narrowly wing-margined all around, ca. 1.2 mm in diameter, mucilaginous when wetted; cotyledons accumbent (Rollins 1984).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Distinguished from other ARABIS in Montana by the nearly erect fruits, densely grayish covering of branched hairs on the foliage and fruits, and the two different types of basal leaves.
Duration: PERENNIAL
Reproduction Comments: Flowers and fruits mature acropetally. The valves of the siliques open from the tip downward to expose seeds that then drop or are shaken to the ground; however, the fruits are also grazed by small mammals, and it is likely that this also aids in seed dispersal.
Ecology Comments: This species does not appear to tolerate competition (Dr. Thomas Mitchell-Olds, pers. comm). Light grazing by small mammals does not appear to be detrimental. Although not preferred by cattle or horses, the soil disturbance and compaction caused by their presence is detrimental to A. fecunda populations.
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Shrubland/chaparral
Habitat Comments: This species occurs in the ecotone between lower treeline (associated species include Pseudotsuga menziesii, Juniperus scopulorum and/or Pinus ponderosa) and shrub/grasslands (associated species include Artemisia tridentata and/or Cercocarpus ledifolius and Agropyron spicatum. Soils are highly calcareous, sandy to coarsely gravelly, derived from metamorphosed calcium silicate parent materials. Sites are usually sparsely vegetated and on south to west-facing steep, eroding slopes (erosion and a dry, warm microclimate probably help maintain the open habitat).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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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: 18Jan1989
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Shelly, J. ,rev. B. Heidel (1999).
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 24Sep1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): JM

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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  • Achuff, P.L., and L.A. Schassberger Roe. 1992. Weeds and rare native plants in Montana. Proceedings Weed Symposium (1991): 18-23.

  • 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.

  • Lesica, P. 1985. Report on the conservation status of Arabis fecunda, a potential candidate species. Montana/ Wyoming office of The Nature Conservancy, 15 November 1985, Helena, MT.

  • Lesica, P. 1992h. Sensitive plant inventory of the Birch Creek Grazing Allotment, Beaverhead County. Uunpublished report to the Bureau of Land Management. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena. 3 pp.

  • Lesica, P. 1992j. The occurrence of Arabis fecunda on BLM lands in the Humbug Spires area, Silver Bow County. Unpublished report to the BLM. Montana Natural Heritage Program. Helena, Montana. 6 pp.

  • Lesica, P. 1992k. Vascular plant and sensitive plant species inventory for the Highland Mountains, Deerlodge National Forest. Unpublished report prepared for the Deerlodge National Forest. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 21 pp. plus appendices, photographs.

  • Lesica, P. 1993b. Effects of grazing on Arabis fecunda: 1993 progress report. Unpublished report for the Bureau of Land Management, Butte District. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 6 pp plus appendices.

  • Lesica, P. 1993e. Report on the conservation status of Arabis fecunda, a candidate threatened species. Unpublished report (update) to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 52 pp.

  • Lesica, P. 1994d. Sensitive plant survey of BLM Lands along the Big Hole River and in the Whitehall Valley. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 13 pp.

  • Lesica, P. and J. S. Shelly. 1988a. The ecology of Arabis fecunda: long-term monitoring, knapweed removal, and soil crust ecology studies: 1988 progress report.

  • Lesica, P. and J. S. Shelly. 1991a. Demographic analysis of competitive effects of Centaurea maculosa on Arabis fecunda. Unpublished report. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, Montana.

  • Lesica, P. and J. S. Shelly. 1991b. Demographic monitoring of Arabis fecunda in the Pioneer Range, Beaverhead National Forest, Montana: 1990 progress report. Unpublished report. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 30 pp.

  • Lesica, P. and J. S. Shelly. 1991c. Demographic monitoring of Arabis fecunda in the Sapphire Range, Ravalli County, Montana. Unpublished report. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 6 pp. and appendices.

  • Lesica, P. and J. S. Shelly. 1991d. The effects of cryptogamic soil crust on the population dynamics of Arabis fecunda (Brassicaceae). Prepared for Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 17 pp.

  • Lesica, P. and J. S. Shelly. 1991e. The effects of the introduced weed Centaurea maculosa on Arabis fecunda, a threatened Montana endemic. Prepared for Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 15 pp. plus appendix.

  • Lesica, P. and J. S. Shelly. 1993. Demographic monitoring of ARABIS FECUNDA populations in the Sapphire and Beaverhead Ranges, Montana. 1992 progress report. 20 pp. plus appendix.

  • Lesica, P. and J. S. Shelly. 1996. Competitive effects of CENTAUREA MACULOSA on the population dynamics of ARABIS FECUNDA. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 123(2):111-121.

  • Lesica, P., and J.S. Shelly. 1992a. Effects of cryptogamic soil crust on the population dynamics of Arabis fecunda (Brassicaceae). American Midland Naturalist 128: 53-60.

  • Lesica, P., and J.S. Shelly. 1992b. The effects of the introduced weed Centaurea maculosa on Arabis fecunda, a threatened Montana endemic. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 15 pp.

  • Lesica, P., and J.S. Shelly. 1994. Demography and life history of Arabis fecunda in Ravalli and Beaverhead counties, Montana. Unpublished report to the Beaverhead National Forest. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 29 pp.

  • Lesica, P., and J.S. Shelly. 1995. Effects of reproductive mode on demography and life history in Arabis fecunda (Brassicaceae). American J. Botany. 82(6): 752-762.

  • Mitchell-Olds, T. 1991. Electrophoretic variation in Arabis fecunda, a rare endemic of western Montana. Unpublished report prepared for the Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 8pp.

  • Roe, L. S. 1992. Establishment report for exclosure studies of ARABIS FECUNDA, Butte District. Unpublished report to the Bureau of Land Management. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 6 pp.

  • Rollins, R. C. 1984. Studies in the Cruciferae of western North America II. Contributions Gray Herbarium 214:1-18.

  • Schassberger, L. A. 1988. Update to the report on the conservation status of ARABIS FECUNDA, a candidate threatened species. Unpublished report to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 36 pp. plus appendices.

  • Schassberger, L. A. 1990a. Status review of Arabis fecunda, Beaverhead National Forest. Unpublished report. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 45 pp.

  • Schassberger, L.A. 1990b. Update to the report on the conservation status of Arabis fecunda, a candidate threatened species. Unpublished report. 15 pp + appendices.

  • Walsh, R. 1992. Demography of sapphire rockcress (Arabis fecunda Rollins: Brassicaceae), a rare endemic Montana species M.S. thesis. Univ. Montana, Missoula. 95 pp.

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