Pityopsis ruthii - (Small) Small
Ruth's Silk-grass
Other English Common Names: Ruth's Golden-aster
Other Common Names: Ruth's goldaster
Synonym(s): Chrysopsis ruthii Small ;Heterotheca ruthii (Small) Harms
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Pityopsis ruthii (Small) Small (TSN 196342)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.153865
Element Code: PDAST7B080
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Aster Family
Image 11996

Public Domain

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Asterales Asteraceae Pityopsis
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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: Pityopsis ruthii
Taxonomic Comments: The species has also been treated in Heterotheca and Chrysopsis.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 17Aug2009
Global Status Last Changed: 30Jun1988
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: A very localized endemic of southeastern Tennessee. The only two populations known are on short reaches of rivers which have been dammed, essentially eliminating natural water flows. On one of the rivers, annual scouring no longer occurs and shade-tolerant species are rapidly invading and replacing Pityopsis ruthii. On the other, whitewater recreation related impacts are a threat.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1

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 Tennessee (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (18Jul1985)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R4 - Southeast

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Known only to occur along short reaches of the Ocoee and Hiwassee River, Polk County, Tennessee.

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 5
Number of Occurrences Comments: Two occurrences, each stretching for a mile or more.

Population Size Comments: Approximately 600 individuals on the Ocoee River and approximately 10,000 on the Hiwassee River (USFWS 1992; USFS 2008). Based on monitoring data, the Hiwassee River population is declining (USFWS 2007).

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: The Hiwassee River population is especially threatened by competing vegetation; dams have prevented natural scouring processes and allowed competing vegetation to increase and displace and shade Pityopsis ruthii (Southern Appalachian Species Viability Project 2002; USFWS 2007; USFS 2008). The Ocoee River population is threatened by trampling in connection with whitewater recreation. Other threats may include water releases that cause sporadic, higher-than-normal flows during the growing season, and water quality degradation from chemical spills.

Short-term Trend Comments: Number of plants in the Hiwassee River subpopulations declined approximately 40% overall from 1987 to 2006 (USFWS 2007). A substantial increase in competing vegetation has been noted in monitoring plots each year (USFS 2008). All subpopulations along the Hiwassee River had high projected risk of extinction within 50 years (Thomson and Schwartz 2006). The much smaller Ocoee River population is thought to be fairly stable; in 2006 there were 779 plants compared to 631 in 1987 (USFWS 2007). On the Ocoee River, three subpopulations, representing almost 90% of the individuals on that river, were estimated to be relatively secure (Thomson and Schwartz 2006).

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Shade intolerant. Probably requires periodic flooding to remove competing vegetation.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Known only to occur along short reaches of the Ocoee and Hiwassee River, Polk County, Tennessee.

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 TN

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
TN Polk (47139)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
06 Hiwassee (06020002)+, Ocoee (06020003)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A perennial herb, 1-3 dm tall. The stems are leafy with grass-like leaves. Bright yellow flower heads bloom in late summer and fall.
Palustrine Habitat(s): HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Bare rock/talus/scree
Habitat Comments: Soil-filled cracks in phyllite boulders along river banks and in rivers. Shade intolerant but adapted to annual high water flows; requires periodic flooding and scouring to remove competing vegetation.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Continue efforts to prevent vegetation encroachment into this species' habitat and restore already degraded areas using techniques such as mechanical removal of competing vegetation, herbicides, and water flow management (USFWS 2007). Continue to protect plants from trampling due to whitewater recreation (USFWS 2007).
Restoration Potential: Efforts to establish this species on suitable habitat in the Hiwassee were unsuccessful; very low germination and seedling recruitment were observed (Cruzan and Beaty 1998 cited by USFWS 2007).
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: 30Mar1988
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Roth, E., rev. Maybury/Pyne (1996), rev. A. Tomaino (2009)
Management Information Edition Date: 17Aug2009
Management Information Edition Author: Tomaino, A.

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
  • Gunn, S.C. 1990. Ruth's golden aster technical draft recovery plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta, Georgia. 50 pp.

  • Gunn, S.C. 1992. Recovery plan for Ruth's golden aster (Pityopsis ruthii [Small] Small). Prepared for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta, Georgia. 24 pp.

  • Kartesz, J. T. 1991. Synonym names from 1991 checklist, as extracted by Larry Morse, TNC, June 1991.

  • 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. 1983a. A report on some rare, threatened or endangered forest related vascular plants of the south. USFS technical publication R8-TP2, Atlanta, GA. Vol. 1: 718 pp.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Thomson, D.M. and M.W. Schwartz. 2006. Using population count data to assess the effects of changing river flow on an endangered riparian plant. Conservation Biology. 20(4): 1132-1142.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2007. Draft five-year review for Ruth's golden aster (Pityopsis ruthii), sections provided to peer reviewers. Cookeville Field Office, Cookeville, TN. 29 pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1985. Determination of endangered status for Pityopsis ruthii (Ruth's golden aster). Federal Register 50(138): 29341-29345.

  • U.S. Forest Service (USFS). 2008. Decision notice and finding of no significant impact; experimental removal of competing vegetation from a population of Ruth's golden aster (Pityopsis ruthii) on the Hiwassee River. USDA Forest Service Cherokee National Forest, Ocoee/Hiwassee Ranger District, Polk County, Tennessee. [http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/cherokee/planning/2008/ea08.shtml]

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