Sisyrinchium sarmentosum - Suksdorf ex Greene
Pale Blue-eyed-grass
Other English Common Names: Mountain Blue-eyed-grass
Other Common Names: mountain blue-eyed grass
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Sisyrinchium sarmentosum Suksdorf ex Greene (TSN 43273)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.151762
Element Code: PMIRI0D170
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Iris Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Liliales Iridaceae Sisyrinchium
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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: Sisyrinchium sarmentosum
Taxonomic Comments: Included within Sisyrinchium angustifolium Mill. by Hitchcock and Cronquist (1973), but recognized as a distinct species by Henderson (1976) based on morphological, genetic, and geographic evidence. Most subsequent treatments (e.g. Kartesz 1999, Flora of North America 2002) have recognized as distinct. A duodecaploid thought to have originated within the S. idahoense complex.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 10Jun2015
Global Status Last Changed: 18Aug2008
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Endemic to a small area of the Cascade Mountains in south-central Washington and adjacent northern Oregon. Approximately 19 occurrences are believed extant, with at least five containing over 1000 individuals. Most occurrences are on U.S. Forest Service land. Major threats are cattle grazing, successional encroachment in the absence of natural disturbance, and competition from invasive weeds, with other threats including recreational vehicle use, hybridization with S. idahoense, hydrological changes, timber harvesting, and (possibly) disking/mowing.
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 Oregon (S1), Washington (S3)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Endemic to a small area of the Cascade Mountains in south-central Washington (Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima counties) and adjacent northern Oregon (Clackamas and Marion counties), in the vicinity of Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood. It occurs within the Eastern Cascades and Western Cascades physiographic provinces in Washington and the Western Cascades and Crest region in Oregon.

Area of Occupancy: 6-125 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: Approximately 19 occurrences are believed extant, 13 in Washington and 6 in Oregon. In addition, three additional occurrences ranked "failed to find", historical, or unknown are known from Washington, and one additional possibly historical occurrence is known from Oregon.

Population Size Comments: Most known occurrences appear to be of moderate size for a rare species, containing several hundred to a few thousand plants each. At least five populations contain over 1000 plants, three in Washington and two in Oregon. The largest known occurrence (in Washington) may contain up to 10,000 plants. Total rangewide population size is estimated to be 13,000 - 23,000 individuals.

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

Overall Threat Impact: High
Overall Threat Impact Comments: (1) Cattle grazing affects many occurrences, particularly in Washington. In Gifford Pinchot NF, Raven (2001, cited in Guerrant 2008) found that cattle consumed and trampled S. sarmentosum, strongly reducing seed production even at "lightly grazed" sites (25 head of cattle at the site, grazing for three months). Asexual reproduction via rhizomes may maintain population numbers at grazed sites, but genetic diversity could be eroded. In a different study at Little Crater Meadow, Gamon (1991, cited in Guerrant 2008) found that early spring grazing may be particularly detrimental. Although threats from cattle grazing are being managed at some sites (e.g. a portion of the Cave Creek Wildlife Special Area, Gifford Pinchot NF), the threat is ongoing at other sites. Sheep and other domestic livestock grazing may also threaten some populations. (2) Successional encroachment threatens this species' preferred open habitat at some sites, largely as a consequence of suppression of natural disturbances such as fire. (3) Competition from invasive weeds, including hound's-tongue (Cynoglossum officinale), tansy ragwort (Senecio jacobaea), Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense), and bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare), is also a threat at some sites, although some control efforts are being implemented. (4) Recreational vehicle use has recently (2004-2005) destroyed some plants, and camping may also impact populations. (5) Karst and Wilson (2002) identified hybridization with S. idahoense as a threat to some populations. Hybrids have been shown to have some but limited viability. The Berry Botanic Garden is working with the Forest Service to identify and map the distribution of these hybrids to better assess this threat. (6) Hydrological changes from road building and other human activities may be a threat. (7) Timber harvesting, particularly the ground disturbance caused by use of heavy equipment and yarding of logs, is also a potential threat. (8) Disking and mowing at a few sites may threaten the plants there, but the effects of these practices are largely unknown.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: 2 sites are historic, one is extirpated, and one failed to find as of 2003. Karst and Wilson (2002) reported that five of the smaller known populations (lasted count < 100 plants) that they visited appeared to be either historical or threatened by genetic swamping by hybridization with S. idahoense. However, they also noted that "the five largest populations appear to be thriving, in spite of over a century of cattle grazing and habitat alteration."

Long-term Trend: Unknown
Long-term Trend Comments: This species is believed to have had a very limited range at least since it was first collected in 1893 (J. Gamon pers. comm. cited in Wilson et al. 2000).

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: The species' resistance to disturbance has not been adequately documented. However, it appears to be able to colonize disturbed habitats under certain conditions. It also can withstand some grazing pressure and some agricultural practices.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Endemic to a small area of the Cascade Mountains in south-central Washington (Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima counties) and adjacent northern Oregon (Clackamas and Marion counties), in the vicinity of Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood. It occurs within the Eastern Cascades and Western Cascades physiographic provinces in Washington and the Western Cascades and Crest region in Oregon.

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 OR, WA

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
OR Clackamas (41005), Marion (41047)
WA Klickitat (53039), Skamania (53059)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
17 Middle Columbia-Hood (17070105)+, Lower Columbia-Sandy (17080001)+*, Lewis (17080002)+, North Santiam (17090005)+, Clackamas (17090011)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A perennial herb with grass-like leaves. Grows in small tufts that are typically 15-20 cm tall. The small flowers have six pale blue petaloid structures (tepals), but do not open up until late morning or mid-day. Populations at lower elevations (around 600 m) begin flowering in mid-June with mature capsules present by mid-July, while populations at higher elevations (around 900-1200 m) begin blooming in early- to mid-July and have mature capsules in mid-August.
General Description: A perennial herb up to 32 cm tall, although most plants are only 15-20 cm tall. The leaves are narrow and are typically, but not always, shorter than the stem. Both the stems and leaves are a pale green or blue-green in color. Each stem has 2-7 flowers on slender stalks (pedicels). Flowers are pale blue with a yellow spot in the center. The petal-like structures comprising the flower (tepals) are about 1.25 cm in length and pale blue in color. The anthers are yellow (adapted from WA NHP 1999).
Technical Description: From Flora of North America (2002): Perennial cespitose herbs, to 32 cm, not glaucous; rhizomes scarcely discernable. Stems simple, 1.7 - 2.8 mm wide, glabrous, margins entire. Leaf blades glabrous, bases not persistent in fibrous tufts. Inflorescences borne singly; spathes green, glabrous, keels entire; outer 27 - 48 mm, 14 - 17 mm longer than inner, tapering evenly towards apex, margins basally connate 3 - 5 mm; inner with keel evenly curved, hyaline margins 0.2 - 0.5 mm wide, apex obtuse to acute, ending 0.2 - 2.3 mm proximal to green apex. Flowers: tepals pale blue, bases yellow; outer tepals 10 - 14 mm, apex rounded, aristate; filaments connate more or less entirely, slightly stipitate-glandular basally; ovary similar in color to foliage. Capsules tan to medium brown, globose, 4 - 5 mm; pedicel erect to spreading. Seeds globose to obconic, lacking obvious depression, 1 - 1.5 mm, rugulose. 2n = 96 (duodecaploid).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Distinguished from other Sisyrinchium in its range, such as S. idahoense, by its small, pale blue (or occasionally white) tepals without a notch at the tip (i.e. apices are rounded). In addition, in S. sarmentosum, the length/width ratio of the outer tepals is about 3.0; in S. bellum and S. halophilium this ratio is 2.0 to 2.6, while in all other northwestern members of the genus it is greater than 3.0. S. sarmentosum can also be distinguished by the distinctive hyaline (thin and translucent/transparent) margin of the inner bract and its generally small habit (Henderson 1976).
Duration: PERENNIAL
Reproduction Comments: The flowers of northwestern Sisyrinchium are protandrous (male parts of the flower mature before the female parts), a condition which promotes outcrossing. However, the duodecaploid species in this group, including S. sarmentosum, tend to have less pronounced protandry and a higher degree of self-compatibility than some of the other species (especially the tetraploids) (Henderson 1976), such that wild S. sarmentosum populations likely produce seed via a mixture of self- and cross-pollination. S. sarmentosum appears capable of producing abundant seed when grazing does not prevent seed set (A. Raven pers. comm. cited in Wilson et al. 2000). It can also reproduce vegetatively, spreading by rhizomes at least on a scale of many centimeters (A. Raven pers. comm. cited in Wilson et al. 2000). Under heavy grazing, this vegetative spread is often the primary means by which the species is able to reproduce.
Palustrine Habitat(s): HERBACEOUS WETLAND
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest/Woodland, Grassland/herbaceous
Habitat Comments: Occurs within low- to mid-elevation meadows and openings within coniferous forests of the Pacific Silver Fir and Grand Fir zones. These open areas are dominated by grasses, sedges, and other herbaceous species, and are at least seasonally mesic to wet, often being filled with snow and/or water in winter and early spring. S. sarmentosum plants tend to be located along the periphery of or on slightly raised (and therefore slightly drier) sections within the wettest areas. Microsites where S. sarmentosum plants are found are relatively flat, often being slightly concave. Conifers such as lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) and Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) and shrubs such as hardhack (Spiraea douglasii) border the meadows and are occasional invaders. Underlying bedrock is basalt from various flows. Associated species include Deschampsia cespitosa, Alopecurus pratensis, Phleum pratense, Poa palustris, Juncus tenuis, Juncus ensifolius, Carex vesicaria, Carex microptera, Agrostis idahoensis, Fragaria virginiana var. platypetala, Prunella vulgaris, Trifolium repens, Potentilla drummondii, Ranunculus flammula, Solidago canadensis, Veronica scutellata, Botrychium multifidum, Antennaria microphylla and Viola adunca. 480 - 1220 m.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Continue to monitor known populations for status of threats, site condition, and abundance of plants. Survey potential habitat for new populations. Review most critical threats and consider the feasibility of their removal and how their removal will impact the quality of habitat for the species, as well as other species of interest. Cattle grazing should be prohibited within any known sites that are not currently part of an allotment, and grazing allotments with populations should be monitored regularly. Trees and shrubs may need to be removed where successional encroachment is a concern. Timber harvesting and associated activities should not be allowed within known sites and should be carefully reviewed when proposed for areas adjacent to known populations. Recreational use and road and trail construction should be limited at known and potential sites (from Gamon 1991 cited in Guerrant 2008).
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: 10Jun2015
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: ?, rev. Gamon/Maybury (1996), rev. K. Gravuer (2008), rev. A. Treher (2015)
Management Information Edition Date: 10Jun2015
Management Information Edition Author: Gravuer, K., rev. A. Treher (2015)

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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  • Abrams, L. 1940. Illustrated flora of the Pacific states: Washington, Oregon, and California. Vol. 1. Ophioglossaceae to Aristolochiaceae. Stanford Univ. Press, Stanford, California. 538 pp.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2002a. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 26. Magnoliophyta: Liliidae: Liliales and Orchidales. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxvi + 723 pp.

  • Gamon, J. 1991. Draft species management guide for Sisyrinchium sarmentosum on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Olympia, WA.

  • Gamon, J. 1991. Draft species management guide for Sisyrinchium sarmentosum on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Washington Natural Heritage Program. Olympia, WA.

  • Gamon, J., and N. Sprague. 1986. Report on the status of Sisyrinchium sarmentosum Suksd. ex Greene. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Dept. of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA.

  • Gamon, J., and N. Sprague. 1986. Report on the status of Sisyrinchium sarmentosum. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Olympia, WA. 37 pp.

  • Gamon, John and Nancy Sprague. 1986. Report on the status of Sisyrinchium sarmentosum Suksd. ex Greene. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Dept. of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA.

  • Gilkey, H.M. 1961. Handbook of Northwest flowering plants. 2nd edition revised. Binfords and Mort, Portland, Oregon. 390 pp.

  • Guerrant, E. 2008, 29 January last update. National Collection Plant Profile: Sisyrinchium sarmentosum, Center for Plant Conservation. Online. Available: www.centerforplantconservation.org/asp/CPC_ViewProfile.asp?CPCNum=4016 (Accessed 2008).

  • Henderson, D.M. 1976. A biosystematic study of Pacific Northwestern blue-eyed grasses (Sisyrinchium, Iridaceae). Brittonia 28: 149-176.

  • Henderson, D.M. 1976. A biosystematic study of Pacific Northwestern blue-eyed grasses (Sisyrinchium, Iridaceae). Brittonia 28: 149-176.

  • Hitchcock, C.L., and A. Cronquist. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest: An Illustrated Manual. University of Washington Press, Seattle, Washington. 730 pp.

  • Karst, L. D. and C. A. Wilson. 2002. Genetic variation in the rare endemic Sisyrinchium sarmentosum based on RAPDs. Poster at Botany 2002 Conference, Pyle Conference Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI. [Abstract only] Online. Available: http://www.botany2002.org/section12/abstracts/214.shtml (Accessed 2008).

  • 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.

  • Meinke, R. 1990. Monitoring design for Sisyrinchium sarmentosum at Little Crater Meadow on the Bear Springs Ranger District, Mt. Hood National Forest. Oregon Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Division, Plant Systematics and Conservation Biology Program. 45 pp.

  • Meinke, R. 1990. Monitoring design for Sisyrinchium sarmentosum at Little Crater Meadow on the Bear Springs Ranger District, Mt. Hood National Forest. Oregon Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Division, Plant Systematics and Conservation Biology Program. 45 pp.

  • Washington Natural Heritage Program and U.S.D.I. Bureau of Land Management. 1999. Field guide to selected rare vascular plants of Washington. Online. Available: http://www.dnr.wa.gov/nhp/refdesk/fguide/htm/fsfgabc.htm (accessed 2007).

  • Washington Natural Heritage Program. 1994. Endangered, threatened and sensitive vascular plants of Washington. Dept. of Natural Resources, Olympia, Washington. 52 pp.

  • Wilson, B. L., D. L. Doede, and V. D. Hipkins. 2000a. Isozyme variation in Sisyrinchium sarmentosum (Iridaceae). Northwest Science 74(4): 346-354.

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