Schizachyrium niveum - (Swallen) Gould
Scrub Bluestem
Other English Common Names: Pinescrub Bluestem
Other Common Names: pinescrub bluestem
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Schizachyrium niveum (Swallen) Gould (TSN 42073)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.131819
Element Code: PMPOA5D060
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Grass Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Cyperales Poaceae Schizachyrium
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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: Schizachyrium niveum
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 28Jul2009
Global Status Last Changed: 28Jul2009
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Schizachyrium niveum is endemic to scrub habitats in central peninsular Florida, predominantly on the Lake Wales Ridge (Polk and Highlands counties). Approximately 55 occurrences may be extant, although many of these were last observed 1986-1988 and would benefit from re-survey. Of occurrences for which plant numbers have been reported, many are quite small. Scrub habitats in central Florida have been greatly reduced from their historical extent and continue to face threats from agricultural and urban development. Other threats to this species include fire suppression and a lack of compensatory management (periodic prescribed burning or mechanical shrub clearing), as well as ORV use.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1N2

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 Florida (S1S2)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Endemic to the xeric uplands of central peninsular Florida, predominantly on the Lake Wales Ridge. Most occurrences are clustered in Polk and Highlands counties; few records exist from St. Lucie (last observed 1998), Hernando (specimen from 1959), Osceola (type specimen collected 1940), and Indian River (specimen from 1920) counties. Mistakenly identified and reported to occur in Lowndes County Georgia in 1987.

Area of Occupancy: 126-2,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Using a 2 x 2 km grid, approximately 52 grid cells are occupied.

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: Approximately 55 occurrences are believed extant, although approximately half of these were last observed 1986-1988 and would benefit from re-survey to confirm persistence.

Population Size Comments: Of occurrences for which plant numbers have been reported, many are quite small, with very few containing over 100 plants. However, many occurrences have not yet been comprehensively censused. McCoy and Mushinsky (1992) could not distinguish whether the local population size of this species was "everywhere small" or "somewhere large" in their analysis of rarity in Florida scrub species.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: The sandhill scrub habitat in which Schizachyrium niveum occurs is threatened by agricultural and urban development. Lack of necessary management (periodic prescribed burning or mechanical shrub clearing) is an issue at many sites. Roads fragment the species' habitat at some sites; ORV use and trash dumping are also threats at several sites, especially those with open access. Exotic pest plants (e.g. Imperata cylindrica and Rhynchelytrum repens) appear to occur at the edges of a few sites and have been mentioned as potential threats.

Long-term Trend: Decline of >50%
Long-term Trend Comments: Over the last century, 85% of the Lake Wales Ridge xeric uplands has been converted to agricultural (e.g. citrus groves), commercial or residential development, and alteration of the natural fire regime adversely affects the regeneration and health of much of the remaining habitat (Weekley and Menges 2003).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Endemic to the xeric uplands of central peninsular Florida, predominantly on the Lake Wales Ridge. Most occurrences are clustered in Polk and Highlands counties; few records exist from St. Lucie (last observed 1998), Hernando (specimen from 1959), Osceola (type specimen collected 1940), and Indian River (specimen from 1920) counties. Mistakenly identified and reported to occur in Lowndes County Georgia in 1987.

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 FL

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
FL Hernando (12053)*, Highlands (12055), Lake (12069)*, Osceola (12097), Polk (12105), St. Lucie (12111)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Upper St. Johns (03080101)+, Oklawaha (03080102)+*, Kissimmee (03090101)+, Western Okeechobee Inflow (03090103)+, Florida Southeast Coast (03090206)+, Peace (03100101)+, Crystal-Pithlachascotee (03100207)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A small, strongly tufted perennial grass from slender fibrous roots, perennating by short lateral offshoot buds from the base. Leaves are 6-10 cm long, hairless except for a few hairs at their bases, very narrow, flat, and held horizontal to the stem. Flowering stalk erect, to 75 cm tall, loosely branched at the top with only 1 inflorescence at the tip of each branch. Joints of the flowering stalk are covered with silvery-white hairs, which contrast with the reddish-brown spikelets. Flowers and fruits September-November.
Technical Description: Culms: erect, slender but stiffish and wiry, the internodes numerous and rather short, smooth, terete to oval in cross-section, 0.2-0.5 mm thick, pale green to straw-colored, the nodes thickened, smooth. Leaves: sheathes strongly overlapping at culm base and persisting as fibers, more distant distally, smooth, strongly ribbed, slightly inflated, somewhat keeled; ligule an erect, firm-edged, otherwise thin, keeled, subtruncate, erose to minutely ciliate, scale 0.2-0.4 mm long; blades shortest toward culm base and tips, longest at mid-culm, spreading to reflexed, there lineal, ca. 1 mm wide, mostly 2-5 (-9) cm long, tapering from about midblade to a narrowly acute, scabrid apex, the margins slightly thickened, smooth or minutely scabrid, the midrib strongly raised beneath, the upper surface opposite the midrib strongly grooved, both surfaces at first pale green, later brownish or maroon-tinted, smooth. Inflorescence: racemes (2-) 3-5 cm, narrowly lineal, mostly 305 cm long, rather distant, rarely overlapping, erect, solitary on slender peduncles 5-6 cm long, these usually well exserted beyond a slender, inrolled peduncular sheath (spathe); rachis of raceme jointed, the joints narrowly clavate, truncate to oblique at hollowed summit, ca. 4-5 mm long, the margins from near base to apex strongly ciliate-bearded with white hairs, those toward joint apex fully 3 mm long. Spikelets: one pair to each rachis joint and falling with them, the sessile one perfect or unisexual, the first glume 5-6 mm long, narrowly triangular-lanceolate, firm, the back rounded, stramineous, apically green, the narrow apex with 2 narrow, short, erect teeth, the second glume about as long, keeled-folded, the keel green, the fertile lemma and palea shorter than the glumes, scarious, the floret awned from base, the awn twisted, ca. 1 cm long, bent slightly above the middle; stalk of staled spikelet densely bearded ciliate as in rachis joints, ca. 4-5 mm long, the spikelet narrowly triangular, green, including the apical long but weak awn ca. 3 mm long; stamens 3, the anthers ca. 3 mm long (Kral 1983).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Schizachyrium niveum is part of a complex of andropogonids that have the raceme rachis joints hollow at apex, there truncated, and which have primary peduncles terminating in but a single raceme of spikelets. Within this group it stands out from the rest by a combination of its slender, rather low, habit, its very slender, strongly white-villous-margined rachis joints and spikelet stalks (which give it a strong superficial resemblance to some Andropogon), its nearly completely smooth foliage and its densely caespitose habit. Also distinctive is the tendency for mature raceme to be straight, rather than sinous as it is in closely related species (Kral 1983).
Duration: PERENNIAL
Reproduction Comments: Spikelets paired, one sessile and bisexual, the other pedicellate and reduced (Godfrey and Wooten 1981). Both cleistogamy and apomixis have been reported for the genus (Campbell et al. 1983, Connor 1979).
Ecology Comments: Although most scrub grasses resprout following fire, Weekley and Menges (2003) found that no tagged, burned clump of Schizachyrium niveum survived two years after a prescribed fire, and they found no evidence of seedling recruitment. In another study at a Florida rosemary scrub site, these authors also found that marked and burned Schizachyrium failed to survive, although new seedlings were recruited shortly after a late spring fire. According to Weekley and Menges (2003), these results suggest that Schizachyrium may be temporarily extirpated by fire and recolonize from seeds at some later time; mechanisms other than fire and/or postfire conditions may better explain its recruitment strategy.
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Sand/dune, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral
Habitat Comments: Dry sandy areas in white sand sandhills scrub communities; in rosemary scrub, also sand pine scrub and oak scrub. According to Kral (1983), co-occurring species may include Aristida, Cenchrus, Panicum, Sorghastrum secundum, Andropogon floridanus, Paronychia, Stipulicida, Lechea, Petalostemon carolinianum, Heterotheca, and Opuntia; the understory shrubs/small trees Garberia, Ceratiola, Ilex, Bumelia, Lyonia, Asimina, Osmanthus, Ximinea, Myrica, Quercus, and Persea; and the overstory associates Pinus clausa, P. elliottii, P. palustris, Quercus myrtifolia, Q. chapmanii, Q. geminata, Q. incana, Q. margaretta, Q. laevis, and Carya floridana.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Historically, fires maintained the open nature of this species' preferred habitat, periodically reducing competition from shrubs and trees that would otherwise become dense. Prescribed fire management can maintain these conditions today or, alternatively, mechanical clearing of the scrubland can provide the open sandy areas that this species requires (Kral 1983, Chafin 2000). Management plans should also seek to exclude off-road vehicles from scrub preserves (Chafin 2000).
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: 04Nov1994
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hardin, E.D.; rev. D.L. White; rev. A. Wildman (TNC-HO), rev. K. Gravuer (2009)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 11Oct1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): A. WILDMAN, TNC-HO

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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  • Asker, S.E., and L. Jerling. 1992. Apomixis in plants. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. 298 pp.

  • Campbell, C.S., J.A. Quinn, G.P. Cheplick, and T.J. Bell. 1983. Cleistogamy in grasses. Annual Review Ecology Systematics 14: 411-441.

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

  • Connor, H.E. 1979. Breeding systems in the grasses: a survey. New Zealand J. Botany 17: 547-573.

  • Cronquist, A., A.H. Holmgren, N.H. Holmgren, J.L. Reveal, and P.K. Holmgren. 1977. Intermountain flora: vascular plants of the intermountain West, U.S.A. Vol. Six. Monocotyledons. Columbia Univ. Press, New York. 584 pp.

  • Godfrey, R.K., and J.W. Wooten. 1981. Aquatic and wetland plants of southeastern United States: Dicotyledons. Univ. Georgia Press, Athens. 933 pp.

  • KRAL, R. 1983.A REPORT ON SOME RARE,THREATENED,OR ENDANGEREDFOREST-RELATED VASCULAR PLANTS OF THE SOUTH.VOL I ISOETACEAETHROUGH EUPHORBIACEAE;VOL II AQUIFOLIACEA THROUGH ASTERACEAE& GLOSSARY.USDA FOREST SERV,SE REG.,ATL,GA. TECH PUBL R8-TP2

  • Kartesz, J. T. 1987. Unpublished plant characterization database information on vascular plant species of the U.S., Canada, and Greenland.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • McCoy, E. D. and H. R. Mushinsky. 1992c. Rarity of organisms in the sand pine scrub habitat of Florida. Conservation Biology 6(4): 537-548.

  • WUNDERLIN, RICHARD P. 1982. GUIDE TO THE VASCULAR PLANTS OF CENTRAL FLORIDA. UNIV. PRESSES OF FLA., TAMPA, ST. PETERSBURG, FT. MEYERS, SARASOTA

  • Weekley, C. W. and E. S. Menges. 2003. Species and Vegetation Responses to Prescribed Fire in a Long-Unburned, Endemic-Rich Lake Wales Ridge Scrub. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 130(4): 265-282.

  • Wunderlin, R.P. 1982. Guide to the vascular plants of central Florida. Univ. Presses Florida, Gainesville. 472 pp.

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