Spiraea virginiana - Britt.
Virginia Spiraea
Other English Common Names: Virginia Meadowsweet
Other Common Names: Virginia meadowsweet
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Spiraea virginiana Britt. (TSN 25345)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.135631
Element Code: PDROS1Q0E0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Rose Family
Image 10443

© Alfred R. Schotz

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Rosales Rosaceae Spiraea
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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: Spiraea virginiana
Taxonomic Comments: The two varieties sometimes recognized (var. serrulata and var. virginiana) are not maintained by Kartesz (1994 and 1999), nor are they recognized by any Heritage Program in the species' range, or by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. LEM 7Jun95
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 10Aug2004
Global Status Last Changed: 02Dec1994
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Endemic to the southern Appalachians. Although widely occurring in several Appalachian states, the majority of the occurrences are of poor quality and have low viability. Sexual reproduction is rare indicating that genetic variability within and probably between occurrences is low. Little population expansion has been reported, although several occurrences are considered protected (mostly federal and state parks). Restricted to specific riparian habitats and nowhere abundant. Most of the extant populations consist of only a few clumps. Range-wide, fewer than 30 different genotypes are thought to exist. Few mature seeds and no seedlings have been observed. Threatened by alterations in flooding regimes, and clearing or disturbance of streambank vegetation.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (SNR), Georgia (S1), Kentucky (S2), Louisiana (SNR), North Carolina (S2), Ohio (S1), Pennsylvania (SX), Tennessee (S2), Virginia (S1), West Virginia (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LT: Listed threatened (15Jun1990)
Comments on USESA: Spiraea virginiana was proposed threatened on July 21, 1989 and determined threatened on June 15, 1990.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R5 - Northeast

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Pennsylvania and Ohio south to Georgia and Tennessee. Records for Pennsylvania are historic. It occurs on streams that drain into the Ohio River and primarily within the Appalachian (Cumberland) Plateau and Blue Ridge physiographic regions, with at least one outlier in the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky.

Area of Occupancy: 126-500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: There are an estimated sixty-two extant occurrences in a total of seven states (Georgia-3, Kentucky-12, North Carolina-14, Ohio-4, Tennessee-18, Virginia-4, West Virginia-7). In North Carolina, there are about 33 sub-occurrences. 

Population Size Comments: This element reproduces vegetatively and forms clones. Most occurrences are each thought to represent a single genetic type indicating that there may be as few as 61 genetically distinct plants.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Some (13-40)

Overall Threat Impact: High
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Spiraea virginiana is intrinsically threatened by its limited range, small number of populations and lack of sexual reproduction, making it especially vulnerable to land-use conversion and habitat fragmentation. Populations are isolated, consisting of sterile clones, and damming of rivers has increased this isolation. Lack of disturbance (succession) is also a factor, as altered river flows may affect scouring regime (Southern Appalachian Species Viability Project 2002). Many sites are threatened by changes in hydrology by impoundment and by impact from recreational use, hydroelectric facilities, and run-off debris (Kadis 2002). Small populations may be threatened by severe flooding that results in wash-outs of the streambank. Exotic species (Rosa multiflora, Coronilla varia, Elaeagnus umbellata, Festuca rubra, Alliaria officinalis, Rumex obtusifolius, Polygonum cuspidatum, Pueraria lobata, Lonicera japonica, Spiraea japonica, Ligustrum sinense, Miscanthus sinensis, Arthraxon hispidus, and Phalaris arundinacea) that compete with Spiraea virginiana are also a threat. Roadside maintenance, beaver damage, deer browse, all-terrain vehicle use and upslope timbering are also threats. One site in West Virginia is near a powerline right-of-way and may be threatened by herbicide use.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: There are approximately 31 populations in seven states, down from 39 populations in eight states (Ogle 1992).

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Pennsylvania and Ohio south to Georgia and Tennessee. Records for Pennsylvania are historic. It occurs on streams that drain into the Ohio River and primarily within the Appalachian (Cumberland) Plateau and Blue Ridge physiographic regions, with at least one outlier in the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, GA, KY, LA, NC, OH, PAextirpated, TN, VA, WV

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
GA Dade (13083), Walker (13295)
KY Laurel (21125), Lewis (21135), McCreary (21147), Pulaski (21199), Rockcastle (21203), Whitley (21235)
NC Ashe (37009), Buncombe (37021), Graham (37075), Macon (37113), Mitchell (37121), Swain (37173), Transylvania (37175), Yancey (37199)
OH Scioto (39145)
PA Fayette (42051)*
TN Bledsoe (47007), Blount (47009), Cumberland (47035), Fentress (47049), Hamilton (47065), Morgan (47129), Roane (47145), Scott (47151), Sequatchie (47153), Unicoi (47171), Van Buren (47175), White (47185)
VA Carroll (51035), Dickenson (51051), Grayson (51077), Wise (51195)
WV Fayette (54019), Greenbrier (54025), Mercer (54055), Nicholas (54067), Raleigh (54081), Summers (54089), Upshur (54097)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
05 Tygart Valley (05020001)+*, Youghiogheny (05020006)+*, Upper New (05050001)+, Middle New (05050002)+, Greenbrier (05050003)+, Lower New (05050004)+*, Gauley (05050005)+, Coal (05050009)+, Lower Scioto (05060002)+, Upper Levisa (05070202)+, Ohio Brush-Whiteoak (05090201)+, Upper Cumberland (05130101)+, Rockcastle (05130102)+, South Fork Cumberland (05130104)+, Caney (05130108)+
06 Upper French Broad (06010105)+, Nolichucky (06010108)+, Watts Bar Lake (06010201)+, Upper Little Tennessee (06010202)+, Lower Little Tennessee (06010204)+, Upper Clinch (06010205)+, Emory (06010208)+, Middle Tennessee-Chickamauga (06020001)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A shrub with upright, arching branches, usually 1-3 m tall. Leaves are acute at the apex and entire or sparingly toothed. Produces showy clusters of small white flowers. Fruit is a follicle. Flowering in June and July. Fruiting in August and September.
General Description: A clonal shrub often occurring in dense clumps. Stems are sparsely branched and are upright up to 1.2 m or arching with some stems touching the ground. The leaves are alternate, simple, and have variable serration. The cream-colored flowers are in showy corymbs.
Technical Description: Colonial shrub up to 1.2 m high; largest stems 3-4 cm in diameter, dark gray, often arching or nearly horizontal; young stems upright, greenish-yellow to reddish-brown; branching often profuse in older specimens; leaves alternate, very variable in shape, size and degree of serration, generally mucronate-tipped, glaucous beneath, simply and singly serrate to entire, ranging from ovate to lanceolate; flowers 6 mm wide, bright to creamy white in tightly packed corymbs; corymbs variable in size, ranging from 5-22 cm, wide; follicles small, 2.0 mm long, 1.5 mm wide; seeds rarely produced.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Spiraea virginiana is distinguished from most other Spiraea by its creamy white flowers in corymbs, and its leaves which have an acute apex (Weakley 2004). The exotic Spiraea japonica, which also occurs along streams, has pink flowers and leaves with long-acuminate tips (Patrick et al. 1995). Spiraea virginiana closely resembles Spiraea betulifolia var. corymbosa (Ogle 1991). Spiraea virginiana is distinguished from Spiraea betulifolia var. corymbosa by its leaves which are more than twice as long as wide (as opposed to less than twice as long as wide in S. b. var. corymbosa) and cuneate base (as opposed to rounded base) (Weakley 2004). For a technical description see Gleason and Cronquist (1991) and Weakley (2004).
Reproduction Comments: Although this element may flower profusely, it is clonal and almost exclusively reproduces vegetatively. Sexual reproduction will occur when genets are placed in close proximity but is rare in the native habitat (D.W. Ogle, pers. comm., 1996).
Ecology Comments: GA -- Occurrences of Spiraea virginiana are in cracks in shelving sandstone bedrock along fast flowing creeks. Associated species include Alnus, Boykinia, Cephalanthus, Cornus amomum, Oxypolis rigidior, Viburnum cassinoides, and Xanthorhiza simplicissima.

OH -- Occurrences of Spiraea virginiana are along slow moving streams with sandstone bedrock that are scoured during flooding, gravel bars with riparian debris. Associated with Acer saccharum, Aconitum uncinatum, Alnus serrulata, Amphicarpaea bracteata, Betula nigra, Boehmeria cylindrica, Campsis radicans, Carpinus carolinia, Cephalanthus occidentalis, Fimbristylis autumnalis, Fraxinus pennsylvanica, Glyceria striata, Onoclea sensibilis, Osmunda regalis, Pilea pumila, Polygonum amphibium, Platanus occidentalis, Saururus cernuus, Tilia americana, Toxicodendron radicans, Ulmus americana, Ulmus rubra, and Vitis riparia.

NC -- Spiraea virginiana occurs along rocky bars at river edges. It grows between boulders and in fine alluvial sand and other alluvial deposits. These sites are seasonally saturated. Associated plants include Alnus serrulata, Clematis viorna, Cornus amomum, Impatiens capensis, Parthenocissus, Physocarpus opulifolius, Platanus, Rubus, Salix, Sambucus canadensis, Saponaria, Smilax, Solidago, Toxicodendron radicans, and Verbesina alternifolia.

PA -- Extirpated. Changes in the hydro-period of the Youghiogheny River from dams upstream are believed to be responsible for the loss of this element (T. Wiegman, pers. comm., 1995).

TN -- This species occurs along creek edges with margins of exposed rock and piled detritus, bars of gravel, rubble and/or boulders and including dolomitic limestone. It occurs in alluvial silt collected within cracks in the bedrock. These sites experience a regime of periodic flooding. Elevations range from 850-1420 ft. Associated species include Acer pensylvanicum, Alnus, Arisaema dracontium, Arundinaria gigantea, Conradina verticillata, Dirca palustris, Ilex verticillata, Juniperus virginiana, Liriodendron tulipifera, Orontium aquaticum, Osmunda regalis, O. cinnamomea, Phlox amoena, Salix, Senecio aureus, Silene virginica, Spiraea japonica, Toxicodendron radicans, Trautvetteria, Tsuga, Ulmus, and Viburnum dentatum.

VA -- Occurrences of Spiraea virginiana are along flood scour zones in crevices of sandstone cobbles, boulders, and massive rock outcrop, and quartzite/feldspar boulders. Soils are sandy, silty, or clay. The elevation range is 1000-2400 ft. Associated plants include Alnus serrulata, Amphicarpaea bracteata, Betula lenta, Betula nigra, Campsis radicans, Carpinus, Cephalanthus, Cornus amomum, Dirca, Equisetum hyemale, Fraxinus, Ilex verticillata, Lobelia cardinalis, Osmunda regalis, Physocarpus, Platanus occidentalis, Polygonum punctatum, Spiraea japonica, S. tomentosa, Toxicodendron radicans, Tradescantia ohiensis, Tsuga, Verbesina alternifolia, and Xanthorhiza.

WV -- Occurrences are among large boulders, flatrock, and flood debris along scoured stream-sides. Soils are silt and sand. The elevation ranges from 1000-1800 ft. Associated species are Acer rubrum, Alnus serrulata, Betula nigra, Cephalanthus occidentalis, Cornus amomum, Dirca, Ilex verticillata, Osmunda regalis, Parthenocissus, Physocarpus, Platanus, Spiraea japonica, Toxicodendron radicans, Tradescantia ohiensis, Tsuga, and Xanthorhiza.

Riverine Habitat(s): High gradient
Palustrine Habitat(s): HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian, SCRUB-SHRUB WETLAND
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Bare rock/talus/scree
Habitat Comments: Periodically flood-scoured banks of high-gradient mountain streams, meander scrolls, point bars, natural levees, and braided features of lower stream reaches, and occasionally near disturbed rights-of-way (Ogle 1992). Plants often found on geologically active areas with erosion, deposition, and slumping, along rivers with dynamic flooding regimes, sandbars, scoured river shore and flatrock habitat with crevices. These areas also are associated with cobbles, boulders, and massive rock outcrops with sandy or clay soils. The areas can be periodically xeric. Plants are often seen in silt mud and sand.
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: Spiraea virginiana has been mentioned as having some horticultural appeal (American Horticulturist).
Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Management should involve the maintenance of a flooding/scouring regime. Restabilize banks that are damaged by severe flooding. Carefully control invasive exotic species including Rosa multiflora, Spiraea japonica, Ligustrum sinense and Polygonum cuspidatum (Ogle 1992). Hand-thinning of shading trees in the vicinity of Spiraea virginiana, if done carefully, may be beneficial (Patrick et al. 1995). Further genetic research should be conducted. Reciprocal transplants among populations may be required to restore genetic variation and to enable successful reproduction (Patrick et al. 1995).
Restoration Potential: Restoration potential is good provided that there is acceptable habitat. Plants can easily be reproduced by transplanting rhizome sections, and by rooting stems and branches. Additionally, clones from differing gene pools, when placed together, will flower and manual cross pollination will result in viable seeds. These can be germinated when placed on a 50/50 mix of humus and sphagnum or by floating the seeds on water. Seeds from plants pollinated from the same gene pool have low viability (Ogle, 1991). A horticultural hobbyist in Georgia also is raising clones (T. Patrick, pers. comm., 1996).
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Preserve design should include adequate buffer area surrounding occurrences to allow for management activities. Any design should focus on hydrology. This species appears to require intermittent scouring. Preserve location should be free of any threat impoundment that will prevent scouring activity at the occurrence site. Doug Ogle (VA Highlands Community College), as well as the Arnold Arboretum, has been involved in the horticulture of this element.
Management Requirements: Determination if scouring appears necessary to limit competitive species and if recreational use of the habitat by boaters/fishermen impacts the sub-populations.
Monitoring Requirements: Sites that have not been visited within the last 5 years should be revisited.

Management Programs: Ten populations of Spiraea virginiana occur on Federal or State protected land. Spiraea populations associated with the John Flannagan Dam Project; Levisa Fork Project, and the Haysi Lake Project are being managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington Office. The recommended management actions for these projects are implementing designated trails, information signs to guide users to appropriate river access sites, monitoring of populations after extreme high and low water events, establishment of a horticultural population of each clone, and physical clearing of competitors.
Monitoring Programs: For the last year, the percent cover of a population in Kentucky (D. White, pers. comm., 1996) has been monitored. This site will continue to be monitored and a stem count per 1 sq. meter plot will be added. Occurrences in West Virginia are being monitored by the WVDNR during 1996 by the same method as Kentucky including the stem counts. Two populations in Georgia (T. Patrick, pers. comm., 1996) are monitored by simple visual observation. These sites are on protected land (TNC and State).
Management Research Programs: The Arnold Arboretum is examining the horticultural aspects of this species (germination rates and viability).
Management Research Needs: Determination if raised specimens will survive in natural habitat and if the introduced clones will eventually result in viable cross pollinated seedlings.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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Excellent Viability: Colonies of plants totaling ca 100 sq. m in areal coverage and occurring at several locations along 2 or more river miles, river bank communities stable and mostly dominated by native vegetation.
Good Viability: Colonies of plants totaling ca 50 sq m in areal coverage and occurring at several locations along 1-2 river miles, river bank communities stable and mostly dominated by native vegetation.
Fair Viability: Colonies of plants averaging smaller than 5 sq m in size and occurring at fewer than 5 locations along a water course, much of the river bank is native vegetation but may be disrupted by cleared areas or disturbance.
Poor Viability: Any occurrence where the total coverage of all colonies is less than 15 sq m.
Justification: Based on a review of occurrences and habitat rangewide.
Key for Ranking Species Element Occurrences Using the Generic Approach (2008).
Date: 25Jan2005
Author: White, D.
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: 22Jul1996
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Walton, D., D. White and K. Crowley; K. Maybury; S. Norris., rev. A. Tomaino (2004)
Management Information Edition Date: 01Jul1996
Management Information Edition Author: WALTON, D., rev. A. Tomaino (2004)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 01Jul1996
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): D. WALTON, rev. A. Tomaino (2004)

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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  • Clarkson, R. B. 1959. The West Virginia Spiraea. Castanea 24(4):143-146.

  • Flannagan, J.W., and D.W. Ogle. 1994. Spiraea virginiana monitoring. White Water Release Study CEORH-PD-B.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2014. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 9. Magnoliophyta: Picramniaceae to Rosaceae. Oxford University Press, New York. xxiv + 713 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.

  • Glencoe, J.F. Jr. 1961. Spiraea virginiana Britton: a rare southern Appalachian endemic. M.S. thesis, West Virginia Univ., Morgantown.

  • Kadis, I. 2002. Center for Plant Conservation National Collection Plant Profile: Spiraea virginiana. Online. Available: http://ridgwaydb.mobot.org/cpcweb/CPC_ViewProfile.asp?CPCNum=4076 (accessed 10 August 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.

  • Ogle, D.W. 1991a. Spiraea virginiana Britton: I. Delineation and distribution. Castanea 56(4): 287-296.

  • Ogle, D.W. 1991b. Spiraea virginiana Britton: II. Ecology and species biology. Castanea 56(4): 297-303.

  • Ogle, D.W. 1991c. Virginia's Endangered Species: Proceeding of a Symposium. Coordinated by Karen Terwilliger. Nongame and Endangered Species Program, Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries. The McDonald and Woodward Publishing Co. Blacksburg, VA.

  • Ogle, D.W. 1992. Virginia spiraea (Spiraea virginiana Britton) recovery plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 5, Newton Corner, Massachusetts. 41 pp.

  • 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.

  • Rawinski, T.J. 1988. Final Status Report: The Distribution and Abundance of Virginia spiraea (Spiraea virginiana). Submitted to US Fish and Wildlife Service.

  • 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.

  • Stine, S.J., Jr. 1993. Inventory for Virginia Spiraea (Spiraea virginiana Britton) in Ohio. US Fish and Wildlife Service Project No. E-2-1, Study No. 204.

  • Strausbaugh, P.D., and E.L. Core. 1978. Flora of West Virginia. Seneca Books, Inc., Grantsville, WV. 1079 pp.

  • Sutter, R.D., V. Frantz, and K.A. McCarthy. 1988. Atlas of rare and endangered plant species in North Carolina. North Carolina Dept. Agriculture, Plant Protection Section, Conservation Program, Raleigh, North Carolina. 174 pp.

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 1995. Biological Assessment for Spiraea virginiana: Levisa Fork Project. U.S.A.C.E., Huntington District, Huntington, WV.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1990. December last update. Virginia spiraea (Spiraea virginiana) Species Account. Endangered and threatened species of the southeastern United States (The Red Book), FWS Region 4. Online. Available: http://endangered.fws.gov/i/q/saq64.html (accessed 10 August 2004).

  • 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.

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