Matelea alabamensis - (Vail) Woods.
Alabama Anglepod
Other English Common Names: Alabama Milkvine
Other Common Names: Alabama milkvine
Synonym(s): Cyclodon alabamense (Vail) Small
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Matelea alabamensis (Vail) Woods. (TSN 30365)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.161566
Element Code: PDASC0A010
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Milkweed Family
Image 10426

© Alfred R. Schotz

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Gentianales Asclepiadaceae Matelea
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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: Matelea alabamensis
Taxonomic Comments: Distinct species, one of many in genus. May represent ancestral milkweed line, now extinct over most of its former range.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 15Jul2004
Global Status Last Changed: 28May1999
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Endemic to the Florida panhandle and adjacent southwestern Georgia and southeastern Alabama. Known from a couple dozen occurrences, including some recently (1995) discovered in Alabama, where the species had last been recorded in 1902. This species has sustained significant habitat loss due to clearing of hardwood forest for agriculture and pine plantations. The viability of existing populations may be impacted by decreased light availability due to progressive canopy closure in upper slope forests. Matelea alabamensis is threatened by habitat degradation from land management activities, competition with exotic plants, low reproductive success, and herbivory.
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 Alabama (S1), Florida (S2), Georgia (S1)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: The known range distribution of M. alabamensis includes southeastern Alabama, southwestern Georgia, and the northcentral Panhandle of Florida. In Alabama, no records for the species were recorded since the type collection from Dale County in 1902 (Vail 1903; Scott Gunn 1991, Georgia Heritage Program, pers. comm.; Don Drapalik 1991, pers. comm.), until Jim Allison re-located it in 1995. Forested slopes of the Chattahoochee River in Alabama may offer suitable habitat for M. alabamensis; the area has received little attention with regards to this species and requires a systematic survey. In Georgia, three populations of M. alabamensis (and possibly a fourth) are thought to be extant. They include: 1) Kolomoki Mounds State Park, Early County. In 1982, four separate groups of plants totalling in excess of 50 were indicated by Drapalik (McDaniel 1982). While these plants are protected in theory, the sites are becoming "overgrown" which may prove detrimental to the plants (Drapalik 1991, pers. comm.). 2) Clay County. A population of limited size near the Altamaha River approximately four miles south of Ft. Gaines; in 1988 Drapalik observed several small plants and thought there probably were more. However, overstory closure may be suppressing and perhaps have already eliminated these plants; this unprotected area needs more surveying (Drapalik 1991, pers. comm.). 3) Randolph County. One fruit probably of M. alabamensis was collected from this county in 1988. No other information is known about this possible occurrence (Tom Patrick, Georgia Heritage Program, 1991, pers. comm.).

4) Clay County. One plant observed in 1978; "none found recently"; overstory closure very advanced, plants may be eliminated (McDaniel 1982). In Florida, four populations of M. alabamensis at the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve in Liberty County have been marked and intensively monitored by TNC beginning in 1991. Additionally, at least five other occurrences have been observed within the confines of ABRP and several in steepheads on adjacent private lands. Systematic survey of the steepheads at ABRP and surroundings will undoubtedly uncover more populations of M. alabamensis. Several populations, some large and vigorous, occur on Eglin Air Force Base, in Walton County, Florida.

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: The Florida Natural Areas Inventory database has 26 occurrence records (as of 10/97) for 2 Florida counties. Has been recently rediscovered in Alabama and is also reported in southwestern Georgia.

Population Size Comments: One of rarest herbs in southeastern United States; never abundant. The largest documented population in the Florida Panhandle area (Eglin Air Force Base) has about 2400 plants known (as of about 1995).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Few (4-12)

Overall Threat Impact: High
Overall Threat Impact Comments: The primary threat to Matelea alabamensis is alteration or degradation of habitat. In Florida, many steepheads have sustained conversion of probable M. alabamensis habitat to pine plantations. Although selective, low intensity logging may stimulate M. alabamensis vines by increasing light penetration (Kral 1983), clearcutting and intensive site preparation probably reduces or eliminates the plant. In addition, erosion, siltation and subsequent degradation of M. alabamensis habitat is occurring due to past and current silvicultural and road-building activities in adjacent uplands, both on protected and unprotected lands (T. Henkel, pers. comm.). The effects of silvicultural practices may cause the local extirpation of the species. Similar land management practices may pose threats to extant and potential populations of M. alabamensis in Alabama and Georgia (Drapalik 1991, pers. comm.). M. alabamensis is also threatened by invasive plants, particularly Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) (Patrick et a. 1994). Allison (1996) notes that exotic plants may invade areas which are cleared near the tops of ravines or bluffs and outcompete this species.

Other threats to M. alabamensis are low reproductive output and herbivory. Reduced light availability due to progressive canopy closure in upper slope forests may reduce the viability of existing M. alabamensis populations. Although plants will persist for long periods of time in areas of reduced light, plants are not robust and fruit production is low (Hogan 2002). Canopy closure may be higher than the historical situation because of fire suppression adjacent to and into its habitats. Canopy thinning may benefit M. alabamensis; however, fire may be detrimental today. Hurricanes and tropical storms provide some disturbance at the southern most sites (Hogan 2002). Herbivory by caterpillars and perhaps other animals (deer?) was noted on many of the M. alabamensis vines monitored in 1991 at a Florida preserve and may constitute a threat (Gordon et al. 2004). The caterpillar species may be Milkweed Tiger Moth (Gholson 1991, pers. comm.). Entire fruits were removed throughout their development, and presumably consumed by herbivores (Gordon et al. 2004).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: While it has never been abundant, Matelea alabamensis has sustained significant habitat loss. Less than ten localities were known historically; however, it is no longer found at most of these sites (Kral 1983). In 1995, Matelea alabamensis was rediscovered in Alabama after not having been seen in the state since 1902. The species is currently known from a couple dozen occurrences. In Florida, Matelea alabamensis populations have been monitored in four ravines at a preserve since 1991. The number of plants at this site has more than doubled since 1991; however, the number of flowering and fruiting plants has decreased (Gordon et al. 2004). Low fruit production is a concern (Gordon et al. 2004). At this preserve, ten fruits were produced in 1991 but no more than 5 fruits have been found in any subsequent year as of 2002 (Gordon et al. 2004). Fruit production apparently depends on climbing vines in higher light (Gordon et al. 2004). Herbivory from caterpillars and deer may also be having a significant impact on reproductive success (Gordon et al. 2004).

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Rare plant (never abundant), vulnerable to canopy closure. Low fruit production is a concern (Gordon et al. 2004).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: The known range distribution of M. alabamensis includes southeastern Alabama, southwestern Georgia, and the northcentral Panhandle of Florida. In Alabama, no records for the species were recorded since the type collection from Dale County in 1902 (Vail 1903; Scott Gunn 1991, Georgia Heritage Program, pers. comm.; Don Drapalik 1991, pers. comm.), until Jim Allison re-located it in 1995. Forested slopes of the Chattahoochee River in Alabama may offer suitable habitat for M. alabamensis; the area has received little attention with regards to this species and requires a systematic survey. In Georgia, three populations of M. alabamensis (and possibly a fourth) are thought to be extant. They include: 1) Kolomoki Mounds State Park, Early County. In 1982, four separate groups of plants totalling in excess of 50 were indicated by Drapalik (McDaniel 1982). While these plants are protected in theory, the sites are becoming "overgrown" which may prove detrimental to the plants (Drapalik 1991, pers. comm.). 2) Clay County. A population of limited size near the Altamaha River approximately four miles south of Ft. Gaines; in 1988 Drapalik observed several small plants and thought there probably were more. However, overstory closure may be suppressing and perhaps have already eliminated these plants; this unprotected area needs more surveying (Drapalik 1991, pers. comm.). 3) Randolph County. One fruit probably of M. alabamensis was collected from this county in 1988. No other information is known about this possible occurrence (Tom Patrick, Georgia Heritage Program, 1991, pers. comm.).

4) Clay County. One plant observed in 1978; "none found recently"; overstory closure very advanced, plants may be eliminated (McDaniel 1982). In Florida, four populations of M. alabamensis at the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve in Liberty County have been marked and intensively monitored by TNC beginning in 1991. Additionally, at least five other occurrences have been observed within the confines of ABRP and several in steepheads on adjacent private lands. Systematic survey of the steepheads at ABRP and surroundings will undoubtedly uncover more populations of M. alabamensis. Several populations, some large and vigorous, occur on Eglin Air Force Base, in Walton County, Florida.

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, FL, GA

Range Map
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U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Henry (01067)
FL Gadsden (12039), Liberty (12077), Walton (12131)
GA Clay (13061), Early (13099), Wayne (13305)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Altamaha (03070106)+, Lower Ochlockonee (03120003)+, Lower Chattahoochee (03130004)+, Apalachicola (03130011)+, Choctawhatchee Bay (03140102)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A perennial herb with 1-3 stems, each reaching several meters in length and either twining on shrubs and trees or prostrate. Herbage produces a milky sap. Leaves are opposite, widely ovate to ovate-oblong, and up to 15 cm long and 12 cm wide. The inflorescence consists of clusters of yellow-green flowers. The fruit is a follicle, 6 to 9 cm long, covered with small pointy projections. Blooms from late April to early June. Fruiting from August to October.
General Description: Perennial, herbaceous vine, climbing by twining, to about 2 m tall, with a milky sap. The leaves are simple, opposite, ovate, to 15 cm long and 12 cm wide, the apex acute to abruptly tapered and the base cordate. Flowers in axillary clusters of 1-12; petals green, up to 1 cm long, with a network of darker green veins. In the center of the flower is a rounded-pentagonal, green and white structure, 2.3-2.6 mm wide, called the gynostegium. It is surrounded at its base by a yellow to orange-yellow disk. The fruit is a pod about 6-9 cm long, covered with small, pointy projections and seeds are ca. 1 cm long and tipped with a tuft of hairs. Flowering period: April to June; fruiting period: August to October (Henkel, 1991 and Allison, 1996).
Technical Description: The following technical description is taken from Kral (1983), adapted from Drapalik (1970).

Stems: 1-3 from a stout, erect, fibrous-rooted rhizome, prostrate or twining on shrubs or trees, to several meters long, simple or branching, terete, pale green or tinged with maroon, from nearly smooth to hirtellous, sometimes with a scattering of long, spreading, yellowish trichomes, the newer growth often also with an admixture of short-stalked to sessile, reddish glands.

Leaves: Opposite, the petioles stiffly spreading, mostly 3-5 cm long, slender, the upper side somewhat concave, the lower side rounded, the surface yellow-green or maroon, scattered-hirsute, also with a scattering of eglandular and glandular hairs mixed with some sessile glands; blades ovate to suborbicular, 5-10 (-15) cm long, apically acuminate or acute, rarely narrowly rounded or even emarginate, entire, the base cordate or auriculate with the sinus narrow or closed, the upper surface deep yellow-green, sparingly to copiously hirtellous, the short, erect hairs swollen-based, the lower surface usually more copiously hirtellous, particularly along the veins, and also along the veins often with sessile or short- stalked glands.

Inflorescence: Umbels usually one per node from the upper nodes, subtended by an involucel of a few small, lance-linear, hirtellous, green bractlets, on spreading, strongly ribbed, hirtellous and glandular peduncles 1.0-1.5 cm long, the slender rays (pedicels) usually few (mostly 2-5), spreading, slender but stiff, hirtellous and glandular.

Flowers: Bisexual, regular, rotate, flattish, ca. 2.5 cm wide across the petals; sepals 5, joined at very base, the triangular lobes spreading, ca. 3 mm long, acute, pale green, hirtellous, also with sessile and stalked glands; corolla lobes 5, spreading, flat, ca. 8-9 mm long, elliptical or narrowly ovate, the tips narrowly rounded, sometimes slightly emarginate, the margins entire, the surface greenish yellow with a reticulum of deeper green, above glabrous, beneath hirtellous and glandular; gynostegium (a weld of stamen and female parts) surrounded at base by a fleshy, orangish disc, this with 5 conical, suberect horns opposite the 5 calyx lobes and forming peripherally a thinnish, irregularly and shallowly 5-lobed, strongly erose fringe; gynostegium elevated above the perinath base ca. 1 mm, yellow-green, the truncate apex ca. 3 mm wide, obscurely pentagonal, nearly covered by 5, thin broadly triangular, inflexed flaps of anther tissue; anther apparatus consisting of 2 saclike pollinia (masses of pollen) connected by a yokelike pair of arms (translocator) spreading from a lenslike "chitinous" gland (corpusculum) located at the apex of a vertical slit (interstaminal slit); ovularies 2, superior, connivent to form a single style apically, this expanded distally to form a peltate stigma (most of the gynostegial head) which is receptive in 5 radial lines beneath and opposite the glands.

Fruit: Follicles yellowish-green, lance-ovoid, muricate, ca. 10 cm long; seeds numerous, flattish, obovate in outline, brownish, erose-margined, bearing a white "coma" of long, thin hairs at the narrow end.

Diagnostic Characteristics: Flowers are needed to positively identify M. alabamensis. Superficially, the flowers of M. alabamensis resemble those of M. flavidula, which is also found in the southeastern U.S.; the petals are strongly spreading, similar in outline, yellow green with dark green reticulation and the fruit is also similar. However, the corona and coronal appendage tips of M. alabamensis are at a level below the gynostegial head. In M. flavidula, the corona and appendages extend to a level above the gynostegial head (Kral 1983). Additionally, the reticulum of M. alabamensis is more conspicuous than that of M. flavidula (Gholson, pers. comm. 1991). The most distinguishing characteristic between the two species is that the gynostegium of M. alabamensis has a white center (anther flaps) surrounded by a ring of yellow (reduced corona) and that of M. flavidula has a yellow center surrounded by a white ring (Allison 1996). Of the 9 taxa of Matelea found in the southeastern U.S., only two have the corona and coronal appendage tips at a level below the gynostegial head; these two are M. alabamensis and M. gonocarpos, which otherwise have very different looking flowers. M. alabamensis has strongly reticulate, broader petals in strong contrast to the narrower, not evidently reticulated petals of M. gonocarpos. In addition, the ovary and fruit of M. alabamensis are muricate (roughened with short hard points, hence "spiny pod"), while those of M. gonocarpos are smooth. M. alabamensis fruit are more densely muricate than any other Matelea in this area.

Reproduction Comments: Matelea alabamensis is a perennial, herbaceous vine. Flowering occurs from late March into June; at ABRP (1991) peak flowering occurred from March-May (Henkel/Gordon 1991 pers. comm.). Phenological development of flowers may occur rapidly; the percentage of flowers ultimately yielding fruit may be low: an average of 21% of the plants that flowered produced fruit across four sites at ABRP in 1991. Overall, 6.6% of the plants censused (n=151) produced fruit (Gordon, pers. comm.)

Matelea is a fly-pollinated genus (Drapalik 1970). Small flies are readily observed during flowering on the Altamaha populations (K. Tassin, pers. obs.). Drapalik collected Hylemia platura (Anthomyiidae) on material transplanted to Chapel Hill, North Carolina (Allison 1996). Allison (1996) also observed small ants on flowering plants. Like other milkweeds the seeds of M. alabamensis are wind dispersed. The seeds contain a tuft of "cottony" hairs at their bases which aid in wind dispersal (Allison 1996). Since M. alabamensis usually occurs in ravines or along bluffs which are typically narrow habitat corridors, wind dispersal does not aid in significantly spreading the plant to other areas. In most cases, M. alabamensis occurs in isolated locations with little or no chance of spreading to new areas.

Growth, flower, and fruit production may be increased when vines are able to climb, either on understory plants or woody debris. On average, 52% of the climbing plants, compared to 12% of the prostrate plants, flowered in 1991 at ABRP. Fruits (n=10) were only developed on climbing vines (Gordon, 1991, pers. comm.).

Ecology Comments: Florida populations of M. alabamensis contain approximately 20-80 individuals, with higher numbers possible. Plants often occur in groups of 2-6 individuals, with groups scattered over several dozen to several hundred meters of contiguous steephead slope. Isolated individuals of variable stature are scattered throughout populations. Robustness and vigor of individual vines is invariably greater in climbing plants, as opposed to those which grow horizontally along the ground. Age structure appears to be variable in a given population; most populations contain a mix of mature, reproductively active individuals as well as small, recently emerged, non-reproductive plants; environmental variables may affect age structure. Little is known regarding recruitment in M. alabamensis; field observations suggest that emergence of new individuals may occur in a population throughout the growing season (Henkel 1991, pers. comm.). Seed numbers in the 7 fruit that reached maturity ranged from 19-81. (Gordon 1991, pers. comm.)

Little definitive knowledge is available concerning the autecology of M. alabamensis. Field observations suggest that the species has rather narrow habitat requirements. The narrow elevational zone of occurrence on upper steephead slopes suggests at the least specific soil and/or light regime requirements. Observations by Kral (1983) and Henkel (pers. comm.) indicate that light penetration through the canopy and availability of support for climbing may be positively related to growth and reproduction in M. alabamensis; light gaps created through limited anthropogenic disturbance (Kral 1983) or natural tree fall (Henkel pers. comm.) may serve this function. Increasing shade through canopy closure results in suppression of the vines (McDaniel 1982).

Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cliff, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Forest Edge, Forest/Woodland, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: Upper areas of slopes and bluffs, in open or dense oak-hickory-mixed hardwood forests, with sandy soils. Typically in areas with high light penetration and yet with adequate understory plants and woody debris available for climbing; tree fall gaps may be especially favorable for the species. Overstories may be dominated by southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) and American beech (Fagus grandifolia) or by oaks and hickories. In Alabama and Georgia, it has been observed on upper hillsides in "generally disturbed oak woods or semi-sunny hardwoods, on sandy soils" (McDaniel 1982) or "sandy hillsides on edge of woods" (Vail 1903). In Florida, it is known from mixed pine-hardwood forests on the upper slopes of deep steephead ravines where there is a narrow band of moderate soil moisture conditions (Chafin 2000).

At The Nature Conservancy's Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve (ABRP), plants are restricted to a relatively narrow band approximately 5-20 m below the upper rim of steepheads, occurring on slopes of variable grade and every aspect. Soils are deep, fine, sandy loams that are usually moister than those of the upland area, but drier than those of the inner ravines. At ABRP, the overstory on the upper, more xeric ravine slopes where M. alabamensis occurs is dominated by Quercus and Carya spp., in contrast to the lower slopes dominated by Magnolia grandiflora and Fagus grandifolia; specific associates noted by Kral (1983) and others include Quercus hemisphaerica, Q. virginiana, Q. nigra, Q. alba, Carya cordiformis, C. glabra, C. pallida, with a scattering of Prunus serotina, Nyssa spp., Tilia americana, Liquidambar styraciflua, Pinus echinata, P. taeda, and P. glabra. Understory associates include Cornus florida, Hamamaelis virginiana, Ostrya virginiana, Carpinus caroliniana, Magnolia ashei, Prunus umbellata, Rhus copallina, Vaccinium arboreum, V. elliottii, Sebastiana fruticosa; lianas such as Parthenocissus, Vitis, Toxicodendron radicans, Anisostichus, Smilax, and Campsis are common. Kral notes herbaceous associates such as Hexastylis arifolia, Trillium underwoodii, T. catesbaei, Spigelia, Carex, Polygonatum, and Sanguinaria. A.K. Gholson (1991, pers. comm.) lists some of the specific associates at ABRP as: Quercus geminata, Sebastiana fruticosa, Magnolia grandiflora, Persea palustris, Ostrya virginiana, Prunus alabamensis, Yucca flaccida, Carya pallida, Castanea pumila, and Viburnum acerifolium.

Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Stewardship should focus on monitoring known populations and protecting habitat from logging and erosion (Chafin 2000). Management to create canopy gaps and provide structure for the vines to climb on may be necessary to maintain and increase population numbers. The most robust and reproductive individuals tend to be in higher light (Gordon et al. 2004). Hand-thinning canopy trees in the vicinity of plants with low flower production may be beneficial (Patrick et al. 1995). At a site in Florida, opening the canopy was correlated with a higher percentage of flowering plants (Gordon et al. 2004). Allowing upland fires to burn at the upper edges of hardwood forests may also be beneficial (Chafin 2000). In addition, exotic plants that are are competing with Matelea alabamensis should be controlled. Finally, the impact of herbivores should be assessed. Where herbivores are significantly impacting reproductive success, exclosures may be beneficial.
Restoration Potential: Most likely, little recovery potential exists on a regional scale for M. alabamensis, based in part on its extreme rarity, seemingly narrow habitat requirements, and the probably small original natural range of the species. However, in protected areas such as ABRP, mitigation of erosion and appropriate habitat management based on increased understanding of the species' requirements could increase the size and viability of extant M. alabamensis populations. For instance, creating small scale, appropriately placed artificial light gaps may increase vigor and reproductive activity of suppressed extant populations. Reintroduction of fire on uplands adjacent to steephead slopes should open the canopy and increase light availability to the understory. Both increased light and greater density of understory species which would provide support for vertical growth of the vine may improve reproductive success.

Hypothetically, M. alabamensis could be reintroduced to appropriate habitat from which it has been extirpated; nothing is known about this. Recovery and/or perpetuation of M. alabamensis populations on silvicultural land may require restriction of activities near steephead slopes.

Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Protection of given occurrences of M. alabamensis consists primarily of protection of the immediate habitat of each population. Steephead ravine slopes containing occurrences should be maintained intact, as well as an upslope buffer zone of natural vegetation. Secondarily, silvicultural and road-building activities resulting in erosion and siltation of M. alabamensis habitat should be curtailed and eliminated when possible and extant erosion mitigated. Thus, management of adjacent uplands is important.
Management Requirements: While the need for active management of M. alabamensis is unclear, the possibility of population decline due to increasing shade exists (Drapalik 1991, pers. comm.). While natural tree falls probably serve to maintain the species naturally, selective thinning of the canopy may be beneficial where shading is high and the plants are not vigorous. For example, management for this species may require removal of canopy or understory vegetation, and placement of artificial structures for vines to climb on.

Research concerning fire effects may indicate need for active fire management. Further, development of a vegetative key to the Matelea species at ABRP and to the seedling stage of M. alabamensis would be useful in identifying and quantifying populations.

Monitoring Requirements: Based both on what is known and what is not known concerning geographical occurrence and condition of extant populations, biological monitoring of M. alabamensis is advised. Monitoring of M. alabamensis should consist of the following: 1) continue a systematic survey begun in 1991 on the southern tract of ABRP to ascertain the extent of occurrence of the species on protected land; 2) systematic survey of private steephead lands (primarily St. Joe Paper Co.) near ABRP for occurrence of M. alabamensis; 3) continue and expand monitoring begun in 1991 of growth, reproduction, recruitment, and overall viability of selected populations of M. alabamensis at ABRP; 4) expand information on environmental conditions as they relate to viability of M. alabamensis populations.

This information is needed to determine appropriate management for the species in Florida. In Alabama and Georgia, systematic surveys for M. alabamensis should be conducted in areas of probable occurrence (Scott Gunn; Tom Patrick; D. Drapalik, 1991, pers. comm.). Favorability of habitat (i.e. percent cover, etc.) should be assessed at any occurrence site.

Due to its extreme rarity, monitoring procedures for M. alabamensis should involve assessment of condition and viability of populations on an Element Occurrence by Element Occurrence basis. Increase, decrease, and stability in populations should be assessed relative to habitat condition over several growing seasons in order to clarify appropriate threat mitigation and need for management.

To assess the status and trends of a population of M. alabamensis it should be monitored annually. The number of individual plants, number of flowering plants, number of fruiting plants, the number of climbing plants and percentage of canopy cover should all be part of any monitoring program.


Management Programs: The Nature Conservancy's Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve has a management objective to "maintain stable or increasing populations of Matelea alabamensis at Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve. Clarify the factors contributing to flower and fruit production" (Thomas 1995).
Monitoring Programs: Current monitoring efforts at ABRP include: 1) Field survey for occurrence of M. alabamensis in probable steephead habitat, make detailed location notes (ABRP and St. Joe Paper Co. lands). 2) Monitoring of four selected populations (separate steepheads) at ABRP (initiated 1991). All individual plants are marked and assessed periodically through the growing season for growth, vigor, flowering and fruit production, and recruitment. Growth and fecundity are evaluated relative to environmental conditions, particularly availability of light and support structures for climbing. This approach should be applicable to any Element Occurrence, with variations in sampling intensity, parameters measured, etc. Annual monitoring of these populations may yield information on long term population viability and plant/environment interrelationships, which could be useful in devising management schemes for this species.

Partial surveys through 1991 discovered several additional populations of M. alabamensis on the southern tract of ABRP. Approximately 15-20% of potential steephead habitat has been systematically surveyed. At ABRP, herbivory was recorded in June and July 1991. Vine climbing characteristics and fruit production were monitored in 1992. Beginning in 1993, survival, vine climbing, and flower and fruit production were monitored annually. The monitoring objective at Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve is to annually census four populations of M. alabamensis in four separate ravines. A 20% decrease in abundance in any population over two years will trigger a management change. Reproductive activity will be censused and correlated with growth form and environmental conditions. Surveys of St. Joe steepheads are limited and unsystematic. Isolated occurrences of M. alabamensis have been noted and in all probability more populations await discovery.

Key contacts: 1) Terry Henkel, 11825 Rainbow Lake Rd., Athens, OH 45701, (614/593-8624); 2) Doria Gordon, State Ecologist, The Nature Conservancy, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, (904/392-5949); 3) Greg Seamon, Northwest Florida Land Steward, The Nature Conservancy, 515-A North Adams St., Tallahassee, FL 32301, (904/222-0199).

Management Research Programs: Ongoing monitoring programs at ABRP contain research elements dealing with distribution and autecology of M. alabamensis. Effects of fire, herbivory, and artificial overstory gaps remain to be studied. Key contacts: Susan Wallace (Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales, Florida) will examine germinability of seed collected from mature fruits at ABRP in Fall, 1991.
Management Research Needs: Specific questions needing study to improve conservation efforts of M. alabamensis include: 1) extent and location of element occurrences on steepheads in Liberty County, Florida, as well as elsewhere over its known geographical range (Georgia and Alabama); 2) autecology of the species, in particular its reproductive biology (including pollinator identity) and recruitment with respect to microenvironmental conditions, in particular overstory light penetration; 3) the effects of fires of upland origin on extant populations; 4) extent, dynamics, and effects of herbivory on extant populations; 5) effect of artificial overstory gaps on individual and population vigor; 6) delineation of viable population size; 7) relationship between the time of flowering and the number of follicles produced.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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Excellent Viability: An A-ranked occurrence of Matelea alabamensis should consist of 150 or more reproductively active (i.e., flowering and fruiting) plants along with numerous vegetative stems. Ideal habitat conditions are characterized by partially to lightly shaded slopes canopied with mature mixed hardwoods and pine. These occurrences prefer a relatively open understory with minimal competition from native and exotic species. The presence of non-native species should be less than 10 % of the population area.
Good Viability: A B-ranked occurrence of Matelea alabamensis should consist of 50 to 149 reproductively active plants with an equal or greater number of vegetative stems. Optimal habitat conditions are characterized by partially to lightly shaded slopes beneath a canopy of mature mixed hardwoods and pine. These occurrences prefer a relatively open understory with minimal competition from native and exotic species. Occurrences represented by A-sized specs with a moderate influence (to 40 %) from invasive species will qualify as a B-ranked occurrence. Restoration potential to A-ranked conditions is good.
Fair Viability: A C-ranked occurrence of Matelea alabamensis should consist of 5 to 49 reproductively active plants with an equal or greater number of vegetative stems. Ideal habitat conditions are characterized by partially to lightly shaded slopes beneath a canopy of mature mixed hardwoods and pine. These occurrences prefer a relatively open understory with minimal competition from native and exotic species. C-ranked occurrences are generally heavily shaded and may have a substantial herbaceous component that results in direct competition with M. alabamensis. Occurrences represented by A- and B-sized specs heavily impacted (to 80 %) by anthropogenic modifications will qualify as a C-ranked occurrence. Restoration to a higher rank is attainable.
Poor Viability: A D-ranked occurrence of Matelea alabamensis should consist of 1 to 4 plants, either in high or poor quality habitat. Given proper management recommendations, habitat enhancement to support larger occurrences in high quality sites is good. Habitat restoration in poor quality sites is very limited or not attainable.
Justification: Specifications are based on Element Occurrence Records, personal observations, and ongoing comparative studies. Larger, higher quality occurrences generally inhabit partially to lightly shaded slopes under mixed hardwoods with no or minimal evidence of human-derived disturbance. C- and D-ranked occurrences are, for the most part, either heavily shaded or highly degraded as a result of anthropogenic influences. Selective canopy removal in excessively shaded sites is beneficial to M. alabamensis if done carefully.
Key for Ranking Species Element Occurrences Using the Generic Approach (2008).
Date: 04Jan2005
Author: Schotz, Alfred
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: 30Oct1991
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Terry W. Henkel (1991), rev. L. Morse (1995), rev. L. Chafin (1999), rev. A. Tomaino (2004)
Management Information Edition Date: 01Apr1998
Management Information Edition Author: TERRY W. HENKEL (1991); UPDATE BY KEITH R. TASSIN (1998), rev. A. Tomaino (2004)
Management Information Acknowledgments: Dr. Don Drapalik. Department of Biology. Georgia Southern University. Statesboro, GA 30460. (912/681-5494-w) (912/764-9474- h).

Mr. Angus Gholson, Jr. P.O. Box 385, Chattahoochee, FL 32324. (904/663- 4417).

Dr. Doria Gordon. State Ecologist, The Nature Conservancy. Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 (904/392-5949).

Mr. Scott Gunn. Freshwater Wetlands and Heritage Inventory. Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources. Route 2, Box 119 D, Social Circle, GA 30279 (404/557-2514)

Mr. Terry Henkel. 11825 Rainbow Lake Rd. Athens, OH 45701 (614/593-8624).

Mr. Tom Patrick. Freshwater Wetlands and Heritage Inventory. Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources. Route 2, Box 119 D, Social Circle, GA 30279 (404/557-2514).

Mr. Greg Seamon. Northwest Florida Land Steward, The Nature Conservancy. 515-A North Adams St., Tallahassee, FL 32301 (904/222- 0199).

Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 30Oct1991
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): TERRY W. HENKEL, rev. A. Tomaino

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
  • Chafin, L. G. 2000. Field guide to the rare plants of Florida. Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee. [http://www.fnai.org/FieldGuide/]

  • Clewell, A.F. 1985. Guide to vascular plants of the Florida panhandle. Florida State Univ. Press, Tallahassee, Florida. 605 pp.

  • Drapalik, D. 1970. A biosystematic study of the genus Matelea in the southeastern U.S. [Ph.D. dissertation]. Univ. North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

  • Freeman, J. D., A. S. Causey, J. W. Short, and R. R. Haynes. 1979b. Endangered, threatened, and special concern plants of Alabama. J. Alabama Acad. Sci. 50: 1-25.

  • Gordon, D. R., J. L. Slapcinsky, and S. M. Grill. 2004. Annual Research Report: A Compilation of Research Conducted or Supported by The Nature Conservancy in Florida, May 2004. Florida Science and Conservation Programs, The Nature Conservancy. Online. Available: http://www.conserveonline.org/2004/05/s/ARR_2004_FINAL_4_conserveonline#2004_05_s_en_ARR_2004_FINAL_ (accessed 15 July 2004).

  • Hogan, T. 2002. National Collection Plant Profile: Matelea alabamensis. Center for Plant Conservation. Online. Available: http://ridgwaydb.mobot.org/cpcweb/CPC_ViewProfile.asp?CPCNum=2809 (accessed 14 July 2004.

  • 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.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Kral, R. 1983c. A report on some rare, threatened, or endangered forest-related vascular plants of the South. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service Technical Publication R8-TP2, Athens, GA. 1305 pp.

  • McDaniel, S. 1982. Status report on Matelea alabamensis. Endangered and threatened plant status surveys: Region IV. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Office, Region 4, Atlanta, GA.

  • Patrick, T.S., J.R. Allison, and G.A. Krakow. 1995. Protected plants of Georgia: an information manual on plants designated by the State of Georgia as endangered, threatened, rare, or unusual. Georgia Dept. Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division, Georgia Natural Heritage Program, Social Circle, Georgia. 218 pp + appendices.

  • Small, J.K. 1933. Manual of the southeastern flora. Two volumes. Hafner Publishing Company, New York.

  • Vail, A. M. 1903. Studies in the Asclepiadaceae VII. A new species of Vincetoxicum from Alabama. Bull. Torrey Botanical Club 30: 178-179.

  • Weakley, A. S. 2004. Flora of the Carolinas, Virginia, and Georgia. Draft as of March 2004. UNC Herbarium, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill. Available online: http://www.herbarium.unc.edu/flora.htm. Accessed 2004.

  • Woodson, R. E. 1941. The North American Asclepiadaceae I. Perspective of the genera. Ann. Mo. Bot. Gard. 28: 193-244.

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