Gaylussacia brachycera - (Michx.) Gray
Box Huckleberry
Other Common Names: box huckleberry
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Gaylussacia brachycera (Michx.) Gray (TSN 23661)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.132611
Element Code: PDERI0G020
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Heath Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Ericales Ericaceae Gaylussacia
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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: Gaylussacia brachycera
Taxonomic Comments: Species is distinctive; plants from South Carolina (Lexington Co.) that were once misidentified as this were subsequently described as a different species, Vaccinium sempervirens (telephone communication with A. Pittman from SCHP, 31Oct94).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 01Feb2001
Global Status Last Changed: 01Feb2001
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Very few (<100) genetic individuals, although most clones of great size (many acres) and extremely persistent. Several sites adequately protected (at least in short term). The low number of genetic individuals is counterbalanced by the substantial size and extreme persistence of most clones (and therefore presumed wide within-clone tolerance for habitat and vegetation changes, normal pests and diseases, and even modest climate change).
Nation: United States
National Status: N3

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Delaware (S1), Kentucky (S2S3), Maryland (S1), North Carolina (S1), Pennsylvania (S1), Tennessee (S2S3), Virginia (S1), West Virginia (S2)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Southern Pennsylvania and Delaware to Tennessee, mainly in the Appalachians. A few sites on Coastal Plain in Maryland and Delaware. Known from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: Perhaps about eighty. F.W. Gray reported about seventy-five sites in West Virginia in 1920's. Perhaps twenty in Tennessee and similarly in Kentucky. Few elsewhere.

Population Size Comments: If each clone genetically a single individual, and large clusters of clones considered one occurrence, then in order of about 100 genetic individuals. No seedlings known from the wild, however, millions if not billions of separately rooted stems. Lack of seedlings in wild suggests that interclone cross-pollinations are quite rare, reaffirming view that even large patches are genetically uniform or essentially so.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Destruction of a clone, or substantial depletion (increasing risk of future decline) are the major threats to this species, from causes such as intensive forestry management, clearing for agriculture or development, road-building, or (in a few sites) strip mining. There is also occasional minor collecting for horticulture, but the species is easily grown from cuttings. (Southern Appalachian Species Viability Project 2002).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Seemingly stable at most sites, although a few individual clones have been lost or destroyed. Individual patches generally tolerate moderate disturbance well, but are extremely slow to recolonize any area from which underground parts are killed or removed. Some patches (e.g., in central Pennsylvania) have been known for well over a century.

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Persistent if soil at site is not heavily disturbed, yet it apparently produces no viable seed in the wild and therefore cannot disperse and colonize.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Southern Pennsylvania and Delaware to Tennessee, mainly in the Appalachians. A few sites on Coastal Plain in Maryland and Delaware. Known from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

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

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States DE, KY, MD, NC, PA, TN, VA, WV

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
DE Sussex (10005)
MD Anne Arundel (24003)
NC Durham (37063)
PA Bedford (42009), Lebanon (42075)*, Perry (42099)
VA Alleghany (51005), Bland (51021), Carroll (51035)*, Craig (51045), Dickenson (51051)
WV Greenbrier (54025), Hardy (54031), Monroe (54063), Summers (54089)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Chincoteague (02040303)+, Lower Juniata (02050304)+, Lower Susquehanna-Swatara (02050305)+, Severn (02060004)+, North Branch Potomac (02070002)+, Cacapon-Town (02070003)+, Western Lower Delmarva (02080109)+, Upper James (02080201)+
03 Upper Neuse (03020201)+
05 Upper New (05050001)+*, Middle New (05050002)+, Greenbrier (05050003)+, Upper Levisa (05070202)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Evergreen shrub, dicot, Ericaceae.
Habitat Comments: Acidic sandy soil, woodlands and slopes, frequently associated with pine and mountain laurel, often sourwood & black gum; growth habit is consistent with a species tolerant of low to moderate ground fire.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Study the effects of fire, logging, and other disturbance. Search for wild seedlings. Maintain both well-documented pure lines and hybrid lines ex situ.
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: 01Feb2001
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Harmon, P., B. McDonald and L. Morse (1986), rev. L. Morse & P.J. Harmon (1994), rev. L. Morse (2000, 2001)
Management Information Edition Date: 05Mar1993
Management Information Edition Author: BRIAN MCDONALD, WV NHP

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
  • Coville, F.V. 1919. The threatened extinction of the box huckleberry, Gaylussacia brachycera. Science 50: 30-34.

  • Gray, F.W. 1922. Scores of stations for Gaylussacia brachycera in West Virginia. Torreya 22:17-18.

  • 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.

  • Southern Appalachian Species Viability Project. 2002. A partnership between the U.S. Forest Service-Region 8, Natural Heritage Programs in the Southeast, NatureServe, and independent scientists to develop and review data on 1300+ regionally and locally rare species in the Southern Appalachian and Alabama region. Database (Access 97) provided to the U.S. Forest Service by NatureServe, Durham, North Carolina.

  • Strausbaugh, P.D. 1960. Rev. Fred W. Gray. Castanea 25: 131-132.

  • Swoger, A. 1980. The venerable Box Huckleberry. Garden 4(4):18-21.

  • Tatnall, R.R. 1946. Flora of Delaware and the Eastern Shore. The Society of Natural History of Delaware. 313 pp.

  • Uttall, L. J. 1982. The type locality of Gaylussacia brachycera (Michx.) A. Gray. Jeffersonia 13(1): 2-3.

  • Wherry, E. 1934c. The box huckleberry as an illustration of the need for field work. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 61: 81-84.

  • Wherry, E.T. 1972. Box-huckleberry as the oldest living protoplasm. Castanea 37: 94-95.

  • Wherry, Edgar T. Letter to Larry Morse, Aug. 18, 1972.

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