Ludwigia microcarpa - Michx.
Small-fruit Seedbox
Other Common Names: smallfruit primrose-willow
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Ludwigia microcarpa Michx. (TSN 27353)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.135421
Element Code: PDONA0B0F0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Evening-Primrose Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Myrtales Onagraceae Ludwigia
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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: Ludwigia microcarpa
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 21Sep1994
Global Status Last Changed: 23Apr1992
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Ludwigia microcarpa is locally common, abundant, and secure in much of its range. The early successional nature of the species allows it to colonize a variety of natural and non-natural habitats.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5

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 Alabama (SNR), Arkansas (S1), Florida (SNR), Georgia (S5), Louisiana (S1), Mississippi (SNR), Missouri (S2), North Carolina (S3), South Carolina (SNR), Tennessee (S3), Texas (SNR)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: The range of Ludwigia microcarpa is primarily the southeastern United States, from North Carolina, Tennessee, and Missouri, south to Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and it is also found in the Bahamas, Cuba, and Jamaica.

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Ludwigia microcarpa is locally common and abundant in many of its hundreds of occurrences throughout its range.

Population Size Comments: Ludwigia microcarpa is locally abundant throughout its range.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Ludwigia microcarpa does not tolerate shade. It occurs in wet, open habitat that is threatened by unchecked succesion, hydrological disruption, and development. Populations that are threatened by development occur throughout the range of L. microcarpa, including Georgia, where populations are threatened by ditching and conversion to agriculture (Patrick 1994); Florida and Louisiana, where populations are threatened by housing development (Hilsenbeck 1994, McInnis 1992); and Tennessee, where habitat is destroyed by development (Pyne 1994). Successional growth and woody encroachment threaten populations throughout the distribution of L. microcarpa. Tennessee, North Carolina, and Florida populations are threatened as habitat becomes unsuitable for L. microcarpa when succession is not controlled by periodic flooding or fire (Hilsenbeck 1994, Pyne 1994, Weakley 1994). Hydrological disruption threatens populations in Georgia (Patrick 1994), Florida (Hilsenbeck 1994), and Missouri where a beaver impoundment has destroyed an occurrence (Smith 1994).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Across its range, populations of Ludwigia microcarpa seem to be stable. Although succession due to fire suppression and other threats to the plants' habitat may have diminished numbers of naturally occurring populations, the availability of artificial habitat, such as ditches and roadsides, is likely to have increased population numbers significantly (Weakley 1994).

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: L. microcarpa responds well to disturbance; it quickly colonizes newly available habitat, appears to seed itself well, and competes well with other herbaceous plants. This indicates that it would respond favorably to restoration and re-introduction efforts. It does not withstand prolonged flooding.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: The range of Ludwigia microcarpa is primarily the southeastern United States, from North Carolina, Tennessee, and Missouri, south to Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and it is also found in the Bahamas, Cuba, and Jamaica.

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 AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MO, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AR Sharp (05135), Union (05139)
LA Calcasieu (22019)
MO Carter (29035), Howell (29091), Oregon (29149), Ripley (29181), Shannon (29203)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
08 Lower Ouachita-Smackover (08040201)+, Mermentau (08080202)+, West Fork Calcasieu (08080205)+
11 Current (11010008)+, Lower Black (11010009)+, Spring (11010010)+, Eleven Point (11010011)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A low, creeping, herbaceous plant that spreads vegetatively from stolons. Stems are often between 10 and 50 cm long with small leaves. The plant has very small flowers, usually without petals.
Technical Description: As described by Gleason (1952) and Radford et al. (1968), Ludwigia microcarpa displays the following traits:

Stems 1-6 dm tall, low, erect, glabrous, usually winged and branched. Leaves alternate, petioles absent or to 2 mm long, Cauline leaves spatulate to obovate, 1-2 or rarely 3 cm long, those subtending the flowers similar but smaller. Flowers 4-merous, sessile, or on obscure pedicels 1 mm long or less. Sepals 4, persistent on the capsule, deltoid, ca. 1.5 mm long. Petals none, or present and fugacious, greenish or purplish. Stamens 4; filaments short. Style short. Capsules sessile, 4-celled, broadly pyramidal, 1-2 mm long, glabrous, shorter than the depressed-ovate sepals, sharply 4-angled, seeds 4 in each cell, dehiscent by a terminal pore.

Ecology Comments: In Missouri, flowering occurs in late July and fruiting occurs in mid-August. Since the petals are so minute, it is sometimes difficult to tell if the plant is in flower or in fruit. The fruit is capsular, containing minute seeds that are most likely water or wind dispersed when the capsule breaks open (Yatskievych 1994).

All species in Ludwigia sect. Microcarpium produce stolons from the base of erect stems, those of L. microcarpa are short and slender. These stolons creep along the ground or float along the surface of water late in the flowering/fruiting season. When the growing season resumes the stolons give rise to erect shoots from their tips (Peng 1989).

Ludwigia pilosa, a different species in the section Microcarpium with showy sepals and nectar discs and abundant nectar, has been observed being visited by honeybees, ants, bumblebees, wasps, and moths (Peng 1984). In L. microcarpa, the flowers are small enough to raise doubt that they would be bee-pollinated (Yatskievych 1994).

L. microcarpa is known to hybridize in nature with other Ludwigia spp. (Weakley 1994). This phenomena is documented for crosses between L. microcarpa, L. curtissii, and L. simpsonii, and the resulting hybrids were essentially sterile (Peng 1988).

Habitat Comments: Ludwigia microcarpa is largely found in very wet, often calcareous settings such as stream banks, pond margins, and open wetlands. Rarely, L. microcarpa can be found in brackish marshes or tidal flats (Peng 1989).

Habitat comments by state follow:

In Alabama, L. microcarpa is found in hammocks, limesinks, and marshes (Hilton 1994).

In Arkansas, the sole element occurrence is in a "calcareous seep fen and along a spring branch, forming hummocks on sandy, gravely, marly ooze saturated by minerotrophic seepage" with Scleria verticillata, Rhynchospora capillacea, Parnassia grandifolia, Lysimachia quadriflora, Selaginella apoda, Solidago riddellii, Cynoctonum mitreola, and Fuirena simplex (AR NHC 1994).

In Florida, L. microcarpa occurs in the edges of mesic flatwoods, dome swamps, depression marshes, in the transition zones between wetland and woods, in ditches, along canals, and along the edges of fluctuating water levels (Hilsenbeck 1994). In addition, historic collections were made on muddy shores and ditches, around flatwood ponds, and in a roadside swamp (University of Minnesota Herbarium). L. microcarpa also has occurred in spartina marshes and grassland and savannas on Sanibel Island (Cooley 1955).

In Georgia, L. microcarpa is often found in the bottoms or margins of seasonal ponds as well as on mud banks and within roadside ditches (Patrick 1994).

In Jamaica, L. microcarpa occurs in swamps and ditches (Adams 1972).

In Louisiana and Texas, collections of Ludwigia microcarpa are from roadsides within formerly extensive wetland pine savannahs on the Montgomery and Beaumont Formations. Associated species include Rhynchospora colorata, R. divergens, R. perplexa, Scleria verticillata, S. georgiana, Fuirena breviseta, Centella asiatica, Pluchea rosea, Polypremum procumbens, Mecardonia acuminata, Mitreola peteolata, M. sessilifolia, and Helianthus angustifolius (Bridges and Orzell 1989).

Ludwigia microcarpa seems to be an obligate fen plant in Missouri where it is found in deep muck fens, prairie fens, and calcareous seeps. It is sometimes locally abundant around the springs and rivulets that run through fens in the southeastern Ozarks (Yatskievych 1994). Associates include Panicum agrostoides, Eleocharis calva, Fuirena simplex, Parnassia grandifolia, Galium tinctorium, Eupatorium perfoliatum, Lysimachia quadrifolia, and Calopogon pulchellus (MO NHD 1994, Steyermark 1963).

In North Carolina, L. microcarpa is mostly found along the outer Coastal Plain in wet calcareous settings, such as ditches and is fairly common (Weakley 1994). L. microcarpa has also been found in the Outer Banks in a slightly saline wetland (Gaddy 1994).

In South Carolina, L. microcarpa is found in ditches and marshes, chiefly along the Coastal Plain (Radford et al. 1968).

In Tennessee, the plant is mostly seen along streams, especially in disturbed edges. It is often found in areas with a limestone substrate, however it can also be found in ditches without this characteristic (Pyne 1994).

Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Ludwigia microcarpa is largely a disturbance plant. It often occurs in areas where a disturbance regime, such as periodic fire or flood, creates and maintains favorable habitat. The greatest threats to populations in general are shading and competition from successional growth, however water-side populations are threatened by disruption of hydrological processes. Management that removes successional growth, such as mowing, has been demonstrated to be beneficial to populations of L. microcarpa. Monitoring when plants are in flower or fruit is suggested for positive identification and for obtaining a measure of population vigor. Additional monitoring needs include examination of reproductive success and population trends. Surveys should be conducted in suitable habitat in states with few or lone occurrences to locate additional populations. Research is needed to study the pollination biology, reproductive and population biology of the species, particularly seed bank viability.
Restoration Potential: Restoration potential is high for populations of Ludwigia microcarpa. The fact that the plant does well in disturbance, quickly colonizes newly available habitat, appears to seed itself well, and competes well with other herbaceous plants indicates that it would respond favorably to restoration and re-introduction efforts (Gaddy 1994, Hilsenbeck 1994, Patrick 1994, Pyne 1994, Weakley 1994).

Plants used for research purposes were propagated from seeds or clonal transplants by Peng (1988). His research has shown that plants can be cloned easily from their vegetative parts.

Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Preserve design fashioned to provide protection for populations of Ludwigia microcarpa will have to directly incorporate areas of suitable habitat. In addition, it may be necessary to protect much larger areas to ensure hydrological integrity and natural disturbance regimes, such as an entire watershed to allow periodic flooding. If fire management is to be used to control succession, an adequate area for firebreaks and smoke buffer will also have to be incorporated. When target populations occur in areas where periodic flooding and fire are not viable options, manual cutting of woody growth and properly timed mowing will have to be substituted.
Management Requirements: This species requires open areas in moist, preferably calcareous, habitat. In order to provide this, required management may include fire, flooding, or mowing.

Fires seem to have had beneficial effects on populations in Louisiana (McInnis 1992), Florida (Hilsenbeck 1994), Missouri (Yatskievych 1994), and North Carolina (Weakley 1994). In pond margin, ephemeral pond bottom, streamside, and wetland habitat fire management should include fires that burn to the wetland or water's edge in order to open up the proper habitat for L. microcarpa (Hilsenbeck 1994).

Control of hydrological processes can be important to maintain favorable conditions for L. microcarpa. In Tennessee, habitat is maintained by periodic flooding along stream banks (Pyne 1994), while a population was destroyed by inundation from a beaver pond in Missouri (Smith 1994).

Management to prevent succession may include properly timed mowing. Roadside populations in North Carolina and Florida have done well and possibly increased under mowing (Hilsenbeck 1994, Weakley 1994).

Monitoring Requirements: Monitoring requirements include surveying populations for flowering and fruiting individuals, vegetative propagation, and seedling establishment to determine population vigor and reproductive success and monitoring habitat for threats such as encroachment by woody growth.
Management Research Needs: Research into the proper management techniques for the protection of Ludwigia microcarpa is important as many populations occur in unnatural habitat settings (roadsides and canals) and require active efforts to control succession. Because fire management is often not possible in a roadside situation, alternatives such as cutting and mowing should be examined.
Additional topics: The Ludwigia genus appears to have originated in South America where the family Onagraceae is also believed to have originated. Ludwigia microcarpa is a member of the section Microcarpium, a diverse but distinctive polyploid complex of 15 taxa from the southeastern United States and Caribbean. A study of the chromosomes in Ludwigia shows that L. stricta, L. microcarpa, and L. curtisii seem to be related (Peng and Tobe 1987, Raven and Tai 1979).

Capsule dehiscence is found to have a distinctive anatomical basis among the section Microcarpium. Three types are given: Ring type (of which L. microcarpa belongs), Loculicidal type, and Peeled type (Peng and Tobe 1987).

An additional common name for L. ludwigia is false loosestrife.
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: 22Sep1994
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Fuller, G. (1994); 1998 revisions, S.L.Neid
Management Information Edition Date: 11May1993
Management Information Edition Author: MIKE PENSKAR;GARTH FULLER; JENNIFER HENGELFELT; DAVID WALTER SCHUEN
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 20Sep1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): MIKE PENSKAR;GARTH FULLER; JENNIFER HENGELFELT; DAVID WALTER SCHUEN

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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  • Bridges, E.L. and S.L. Orzell. 1989. Additions and noteworthy vascular plant collections from Texas and Louisiana, with historical, ecological, and geographical notes. Phytologia 66(1):12-69.

  • Cooley, G. R. 1955. The vegetation of Sanibel Island Lee County, Florida. Rhodora 57: 269-287.

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

  • 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.

  • Peng, C. I. and H. Tobe. 1987. Capsule wall anatomy in relation to capsular dehiscence in Ludwigia sect. microcarpium (Onagraceae). Amer. J. Bot. 74(7): 1102-1110.

  • Peng, C.-I. 1988. The biosystematics of Ludwigia sect. Microcarpium (Onagraceae). Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 75: 970-1009.

  • Peng, C.-I. 1989. The systematics and evolution of Ludwigia sect. Microcarpium (Onagraceae). Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 76: 221-302.

  • Radford, A. E., H. E. Ahles, and C. R. Bell. 1964. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

  • 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.

  • Raven, P. H. and W. Tai. 1979. Observations of chromosomes in Ludwigia (Onagraceae). Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 66: 862-879.

  • Steyermark, J.A. 1963. Flora of Missouri. Iowa State Univ. Press, Ames. 1728 pp.

  • Tobe, H., P. H. Raven, and C.-I. Peng. 1988. Seed coat anatomy and relationships of Ludwigia sects. Microcarpium, Dantia, and Miquelia (Onagraceae), and notes on fossil seeds of Ludwigia from Europe. Bot. Gaz. 149(4): 450-457.

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