Oenothera argillicola - Mackenzie
Shale Barren Evening-primrose
Other Common Names: shale barren evening-primrose
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Oenothera argillicola Mackenzie (TSN 27374)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.160404
Element Code: PDONA0C020
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Evening-Primrose Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Myrtales Onagraceae Oenothera
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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: Oenothera argillicola
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 22Jun2000
Global Status Last Changed: 22Jun2000
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Relatively common within its limited range, especially in Virginia. Endemic to the Appalachian shale barrens of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and southern Pennsylvania; approximately thirty counties total.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3N4

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 Maryland (S3), Pennsylvania (S2), Virginia (S3S4), West Virginia (S3)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Endemic to the Appalachian shale barrens of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and southern Pennsylvania; approximately thirty counties total.

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Unknown; approximately forty in Maryland; 100+ sites in Virginia.

Population Size Comments: Abundant on some Virginia shale barrens, although occurring in low numbers at some other sites.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: A significant threat to the insect pollinators of O. argillicola is presented by the spraying of Dimilin and BT insecticides for gypsy moth control. Because of the open habitat, shale barren insects are maximally exposed to pesticides (Dix 1990). Dimilin is a broad-spectrum biocide that persists until leaf fall and up to a few years in the duff and would have a long-term impact of shale-barren slopes. All insect occurrences on shale-barrens sprayed with Dimilin should be considered extirpated (Schweitzer in litt). BT is lepidopteran-specific and only persists for roughly one week (Dix 1990). Application during larval development may have devastating impacts on the fauna, however.

Five shale barrens in West Virginia and three in Virginia have been partially destroyed by road construction. Two additional barrens in Virginia were partially destroyed by railroad construction and one was crossed by a hiking trail (USFWS 1989). One barren has been destroyed through inundation caused by the damming of a stream (Dix 1990). Similar concerns have been expressed for barrens along the South Fork Valley of West Virginia where flood control measures are planned (Bartgis in litt.).

Moderately xeric sites may be subject to encroachment of exotic plant species such as Centauria maculata and a host of grass species (Dix 1990). Such encroachment may negatively impact the vigor of O. argillicola individuals. Threatened by succession due to suppression of fire (Southern Appalachian Species Viability Project 2002).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Slightly declining due to habitat destruction, but also colonizing roadsides near shale barrens.

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Shale barren habitat highly susceptible to erosion, even researchers occasional foot travel has a noticeable impact on the substrate.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Endemic to the Appalachian shale barrens of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and southern Pennsylvania; approximately thirty counties total.

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 MD, PA, VA, WV

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
PA Bedford (42009), Fulton (42057), Huntingdon (42061), Mifflin (42087), Perry (42099)*
WV Berkeley (54003), Grant (54023), Greenbrier (54025), Hampshire (54027), Hardy (54031), Mineral (54057), Monroe (54063), Morgan (54065), Pendleton (54071), Raleigh (54081)*, Randolph (54083), Summers (54089)*, Tucker (54093)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Upper Juniata (02050302)+, Raystown (02050303)+, Lower Juniata (02050304)+, South Branch Potomac (02070001)+, North Branch Potomac (02070002)+, Cacapon-Town (02070003)+, Conococheague-Opequon (02070004)+, Upper James (02080201)+
05 Tygart Valley (05020001)+, Cheat (05020004)+, Middle New (05050002)+*, Greenbrier (05050003)+, Lower New (05050004)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A tall biennial or short-lived perennial herb with a basal rosette of leaves, several stems, alternate cauline leaves, and large yellow flowers.
Technical Description: Roots: strong, fleshy. Stems: several from the same root, 5-15 dm tall, essentially glabrous. Leaves of the rosette: oblanceolate 6.5 - 15 (-30)cm long and 0.5-2 cm wide, acute, sinuate, tapering to the long petiole. Cauline leaves: alternate, linear lanceolate, 6.5-18 cm long and 0.5-1.5 cm wide, smooth or slightly pubescent, subentire or remotely and obscurely few toothed. Bracteal leaves: reduced, even the lowest not equalling the hypanthium. Inflorescence: spicate, more or less leafy bracted, the tip nodding. Flowers: large, epigynous, perfect, glabrous. Calyx: tubular 2-4 cm long; appendageas 2.2-3.5 mm long, subterminal, separate. Corolla: of 4, bright yellow, broadly ovate, crenulate, petals 3-4 cm long. Stamens: 8, anthers 8-12 mm long. Style: 2.2-3.2 cm long. Stigma lobes: 2.5-6.5 mm long. Capsules: abruptly divergent at the base, crowded, mostly upcurved, 2-3 cm long, glabrous, tapering to a slender summit. Seeds: 1-1.5 mm long prismatic angled.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Flowers yellow, buds erect, petals 2-4 cm, anthers 8-12 mm, ovary terete or nearly so; fruit terete, obscurely and roundly 4 angled or sulcate; stamens equal; seeds horizontal, very angular; sepal appendages separate from the base, subterminal.
Duration: BIENNIAL, PERENNIAL, Short-lived
Reproduction Comments: Easily cultivated and self seeding, this species shows exceptional growth in sandy or heavy soils. Germination percentage high.
Ecology Comments:

Oenothera argillicola flowers in late summer, typically July through October (Gleason and Cronquist 1963).

Oenothera argillicola is unusual among eastern euoenotherids in its tendency to display only minor cytogenic aberrations typical of the subgenus, as well as its restriction to a specific habitat (Stinson 1954).

According to Stinson (1954), O. argillicola consists of: "ecologically restricted, essentially lethal-free, open-pollinated individuals with all-pairing chromosomes or small circles and several pairs. In natural populations, open-pollination should lead to considerable crossing among individuals occupying the same area. At the same time, as a result of the absence of lethals, one would expect that whenever self-pollination in the circle-bearing forms did take place segregation for chromosomes configuration would occur."

Stinson (1954) further stated that based on segmental end arrangements of chromosomes, O. argillicola is most closely related to O. hookeri of the southwestern United States. The two taxa share a number of similar features, including the presence of mostly-paired chromosomes, alethal complexes, open-pollination and ancestral end arrangements.

Morphologically, however, O. argillicola most closely resembles O. parviflora. Both show similar narrow, thick glabrous leaves, subterminal sepal tips and bent stem tips (Stinson 1954). In addition, O. parviflora is able to occupy the same shale barren habitat as O. argillicola. Based on primitive characters present in O. argillicola, Stinson (1954) surmised that it is a relict of a once widely-distributed taxon that invaded the East from its ancestral home in the Southwest. This belief was also shared by Keener (1970).

It has been suggested that O. argillicola likely played a role in the origin of O. parviflora, through crossing with ancient O. strigosa or O. biennis populations in the East (Stinson 1954).

Terrestrial Habitat(s): Bare rock/talus/scree
Habitat Comments:

Oenothera argillicola is an endemic of the Appalachian shale barrens, occurring in the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and southern Pennsylvania (Stinson 1953).

The term "shale barren" is a general reference to certain mid-Appalachian slopes that possess the following features: 1) southern exposures, 2) slopes of 20-70 degrees and 3) a covering of lithologically hard and weather-resistant shale or siltstone fragments (Dix 1990). These barrens support a sparse, scrubby growth of Quercus ilicifolia, Q. prinus, Q. rubra, Pinus virginiana, Juniperus virginiana, Prunus alleghaniensis,, Rhus aromatica, Celtis tenuifolia, Kalmia latifolia, Bouteloua curtipendula, Andropogon scoparius, Phlox subulata var. brittonii, Silene caroliniana ssp. pensylvanica, Sedum telephoides, Antennaria spp., Aster spp., and species of Solidago (Dix 1990). Considerable variations in associated flora may occur locally.

Although adequate moisture is available for most plants within the substrata of the shale layers, adverse surface conditions act to restrict germination and establishment success of plants (Platt 1951). It is primarily the effect of high surface temperatures that limits reproductive success in these habitats. Surface soil temperatures are often well above the physiological tolerance of most plant species, reaching maximum temperatures of 63 degrees Celsius (Dix 1990). Such temperatures are high enough to cause direct damage to seedlings. For additional detailed information pertaining to the shale-barren community, see Dix (1990).

Artz (1948) stated that O. argillicola is able to exist in habitats other than shale barrens, but always requires areas with little or no competition. This inability to withstand competition may be one of the chief reasons why O. argillicola is largely restricted to shale barrens (Artz 1948). Typically, shale barren endemics are apparently obligates of high light intensity, a soil adequate for extensive root development, and a low level of competition (Platt 1951). The sparsity of plant life in the shale barrens has been explained as the result of a restriction in seedling establishment imposed by low soil moisture and high soil temperatures (Stinson 1953). Oenothera argillicola is apparently able to withstand and thrive in such conditions.

Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview:

Monitoring should track the status of O. argillicola occurrences with respect to current management regimes, including population (flower production, seed set, pollinator abundance, seed germination, seedling establishment and/or individual survivorship) and habitat (shrub encroachment, vegetational change, etc.) maintenance. Research needs include the identification of pollinators and their susceptibility to insecticides used to control gypsy moth infestations, basic life history information pertaining to this species (including seed germination requirements, habitat requirements and seedling survival rates), and additional inventory work. Management needs are not well understood. Shale barrens may be naturally maintained due to extreme environmental conditions and artificial habitat maintenance may not be needed. In other habitats, O. argillicola may benefit from active management such as canopy thinning or prescribed fire.

Preserve Selection & Design Considerations:

Any land acquisition effort for shale barrens and O. argillicola should take into account sufficient adjoining buffer land to adequately protect the site from outside influences, including aerial spraying for gypsy moth control.

Land protection must encompass the land needed to protect against potential impacts to O. argillicola populations and their pollinators. Shale barren habitats must be protected with sufficient buffer of scrub oak woodland or other habitat type to reduce the effects of pesticide application and other factors.

Management Requirements:

Management needs are not well understood at this time. Shale barrens may be naturally maintained due to extreme environmental conditions. Consequently, artificial habitat maintenance may not be needed. In other habitats, however, O. argillicola may benefit from active management such as canopy thinning or prescribed fire.

Management is primarily limited to exempting shale barren communities from pesticide application for gypsy moth control. Preventing application of Dimilin and BT is necessary in order to preserve the insect fauna that pollinates the species.

No active management of shale barrens appears necessary (Dix 1990). The influence of fire on barren formation and maintenance is likely negligible (Dix 1990). Fires do not typically carry through steep barrens where surfaces are bare and tree cover sparse (Platt 1951). These barrens remain open and do not require fire for opening maintenance. On barrens with shallower slopes, herbaceous cover may get relatively thick and fire may play a sole in limiting shrub succession (Thompson in litt.). Periods of severe drought may also act to eliminate shrub encroachment and reestablish the barren character (Bartgis in litt.).

Monitoring Requirements: Monitoring should track the status of O. argillicola with respect to current management regimes. Monitoring of representative sites should include the tracking of population maintenance (flower production, seed set, pollinator abundance, seed germination, seedling establishment and/or individual survivorship) and habitat maintenance (shrub encroachment, vegetational change, etc.).

Selected representative occurrences should be tracked in order to provide some indication about the general health of the species under differing management regimes and habitats. In small populations, information pertaining to number of individuals, flower production, individual age class, seed germination, seedling establishment and/or survivorship may be gathered, depending on the amount of time warranted for this species. Large populations may be monitored through establishment of permanent quadrat sampling using grids or other methods.

Habitat monitoring may be installed along with population monitoring, particularly if permanent plots have been established. Simple cover estimates of all species and ground surface within each quadrat may suffice. Photo-points may be established to track shrub encroachment.

Monitoring Programs:

At present, no active monitoring program is in place for O. argillicola, although all states within its range are tracking element occurrences.

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: 03Nov1994
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Ostlie, W.R. (WRO, 1991), rev. L. Morse (1994)
Management Information Edition Date: 15Dec1990
Management Information Edition Author: WAYNE OSTLIE
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 31Jan1992
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): ISAAC, J.; OSTILE, W. (1990)

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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  • Artz, L. 1948. Plants of the shale-barrens of the tributaries of the James River in Virginia. Castanea 13:141-145.

  • Britton, N. L. and A. B. Brown. 1913. An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada, and the British Possessions. 2nd Edition in 3 Volumes. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. B13BRI01PAUS.

  • Britton, N. L. and A. Brown. 1913. An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States and Canada. 3 vol. Dover Publications, Inc., N. Y. 2052 pp.

  • Core, E. L. 1952. The ranges of some plants of the Appalachian shale barrens. Castanea 17:105-116.

  • Core, E.L. 1946. Wild Flowers of the Appalachain Shale Barrens. Wild Flowers 22:13-18.

  • Core, E.L. 1946. Wild Flowers of the Appalachain Shale Barrens. Wild Flowers 22:13-18. A46COR01PAUS.

  • Core, E.L. 1952. The Range of some Plants of the Appalachain Shale Barrens. Cast. 17:105-116. A52COR01PAUS

  • Fernald, M.L. 1949. Gray's Manual of Botany, Eighth edition. American Book Co. New York. B49FER01PAUS

  • Fernald, M.L. 1950 Gray's Manual of Botany, 8th ed. American Book Company, New York. 1632 pp.

  • Gleason, H.A. & Cronquist, A. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second Edition. The New York Botanical Garden. Bronx, NY 10458. U.S.A. B91GLE01PAUS.

  • Gleason, H.A., and A. Cronquist. 1963. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. D. Van Nostrand Company, New York, NY. 810 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.

  • Henry, L. K. 1954. Shale-barren flora in Pennsylvania. Proc. Penn. Acad. Sci. 28: 65-68.

  • 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.

  • Keener, C.S. 1970. The natural history of the mid-Appalachian shale barren flora. Pages 215-248 in: P.C. Holt, ed. The Distributional History of the Biota of the Southern Appalachians. II. Flora. Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, VA.

  • Mackenzie, K.K. 1904. Notes on Evening Primroses. Torreya 4 (4): 56-57.

  • Mackenzie, K.K. 1904. Notes on Evening Primroses. Torreya 4 (4): 56-57. A04MAC01PAUS.

  • Platt, R.B. 1951. An ecological study of the mid-Appalachian shale barrens and the plants endemic to them. Ecol. Monogr. 21:269-300.

  • RAVEN, P.H., W. DIETRICH, AND W. STUBBE. 1979. AN OUTLINE OF THE SYSTEMATICS OF OENOTHERA SUBSECTION EUOENOTHERA (ONOGRACEAE). SYSTEMATIC BOTANY 4(3):242-252.

  • Small, J.K. 1932. Oenothera argillicola. Addisonia 17 (4): 55-56.

  • Small, J.K. 1932. Oenothera argillicola. Addisonia 17 (4): 55-56. A32SMA01PAUS.

  • 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.

  • Stinson, H. T. 1953. Cytogenetics and phylogeny of Oenothera argillicola Mackenz. Genetics 38: 389-406.

  • Strausbaugh, P.D. and Core, E.L. 1964. Flora of West Virginia, Series 65, No 3-2. West Virginia University Bulletin. B64STR01PAUS.

  • Strausbaugh, P.D. and E.L. Core. 1964. Flora of West Virginia, Series 65, No 3-2. West Virginia University Bulletin.

  • Weishaupt, C.G. 1971. Vascular Plants of Ohio, Third Ed. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co. Dubuque, Iowa. B71WEI01PAUS

  • Weishaupt, C.G. 1971. Vascular Plants of Ohio, Third edition. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co., Dubuque, Iowa.

  • Wherry, E. T. 1930. Plants of the Appalachian shale-barrens. J. Washington Acad. Sci. 20(3): 43-52.

  • Wherry, E. T. 1933. Four shale barren plants in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Academy of Science Proceedings 7:160-164.

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