Xyris tennesseensis - Kral
Tennessee Yellow-eyed-grass
Other Common Names: Tennessee yelloweyed grass
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Xyris tennesseensis Kral (TSN 196355)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.148370
Element Code: PMXYR010M0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Other flowering plants
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Commelinales Xyridaceae Xyris
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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: Xyris tennesseensis
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 15Feb2006
Global Status Last Changed: 27Feb2000
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Despite extensive surveys, only 16 populations are known to be extant. These extant populations are in highly localized areas of Alabama (4 counties), Georgia (3 counties), and Tennessee (one county). Each site (or occurrence) occupies less than half a hectare. Most of the sites in all 3 states are located on private land and support a few hundred plants. Three (possibly 4) occurrences have been extirpated (2 sites on National Park Service land in Tennessee) in the last few years. At least 4 occurrences are declining due to highway construction and maintenance and one of the largest and newest sites in Alabama is threatened by development (Schotz, pers. comm.).

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 Alabama (S1), Georgia (S1), Tennessee (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (26Jul1991)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R4 - Southeast

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20

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

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Xyris tennesseensis is a critically rare species with 16 known populations. These populations are threatened by habitat alteration from timber production and management, gravel quarrying, highway maintenance and construction and woody plant encroachment and invasive plant encroachment. In Tennessee, timber companies own many of the sites. Clear-cutting has occurred on the upper slopes that could lead to soil erosion and water quality degradation. Any hydrological alteration that would cause the substrate to dry out would be detrimental to the species. In Georgia, a site was destroyed by highway construction, and in Alabama, a roadside site has declined due to herbicide spraying and other maintenance. Because the seeds require open, wet habitat to germinate, major threats to survival are woody species encroachment and Nepal grass Microstegium vimineum encroachment, an invasive exotic grass (Kral 1990, USFWS 1991, Pyne et al. 1995).

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Short-term Trend Comments: Ten sites throughout the range were monitored from 1997-1999, and only the Tennessee sites were monitored in 2001 (TDEC 2000, 2001). A combination of demographic monitoring and population census was conducted. The counts of fruiting spikes and/or clumps fluctuated significantly but no reasons were given. The causes of the fluctuation in numbers could be weather related, time of year of survey, or management or the lack of management, etc.

Long-term Trend: Decline of 50-70%
Long-term Trend Comments: At least four sites have been extirpated in the past.

Environmental Specificity: Narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements common.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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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 AL, GA, TN

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Bibb (01007), Calhoun (01015), Franklin (01059), Shelby (01117)
GA Bartow (13015), Floyd (13115), Gordon (13129)*, Murray (13213)*, Whitfield (13313)
TN Lewis (47101)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Conasauga (03150101)+, Coosawattee (03150102)+, Etowah (03150104)+, Upper Coosa (03150105)+, Middle Coosa (03150106)+, Cahaba (03150202)+
06 Bear (06030006)+, Lower Duck (06040003)+, Buffalo (06040004)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A perennial herb with basal, mostly erect linear leaves, 1-4.5 dm long, and branched flowering stems, mostly 3-7 dm tall, arising from a bulbous base. The inflorescence consists of brown, cone-like spikes, which occur singly at the tips of the flowering stalks and contain small, pale yellow flowers, which open in late morning and close by mid-afternoon (only 1 or 2 flowers are evident at any 1 time). Flowering occurs from August through September.
General Description: A perennial herb with basal, mostly erect, slightly twisted linear leaves, and rounded unbranched flowering stems, arising from a bulbous base. Leaves 1-4.5 dm long, 1 cm wide, flowering stems mostly 3-7 dm tall. The overlapping leaf blades are reddish-purple. Inflorescence consists of brown, compact cone-like spikes, which occur singly at the tips of the flowering stems and contain small, pale yellow flowers, subtended by spirally arranged woody scales which hide the bud and fruit. The flowers open in late morning and close by mid-afternoon with only 1 or 2 flowers evident at any one time. Flowering occurs from August through September. The minuscule seeds are farinose and are dispersed in the fall (Somers 1994).
Technical Description: Plant perennial, solitary or in small dense tufts, all leaves basal; leaves and flowering stems arising from a soft, fleshy, bulbous base with shallow roots, usually enclosed in small, dark, outer scale-leaves. Leaves mostly erect, all basal, outer ones short and scale-like, others linear, 9-45 cm long and 0.15 to 1.0 cm wide; slightly twisted, flat, bright green, tapering at base and apex, without strongly-raised nerves on the surface. Leaf blades overlapping one another along the basal 1/3 to 1/8 of their length; with pink, red, or purplish coloration in this region along with pale, thin margins and papillose surfaces. Leaf apices and upper margins are entire and slightly thickened. Stems branched, rising above the leaves to 30-70 (100) cm at flowering; round at base, flattened above with 1-5 roughened ribs; sheaths reddish or brownish basally, short-bladed, the blades not longer than the principal leaves; the stem terminated by a single cone-like flower-head.

FLOWERS yellow, bisexual, opening in the late morning. closing by mid-afternoon [only 1 or 2 flowers evident at any one time]; with obovate petal blades 4.5 mm long by 3 mm broad, long-clawed petal bases, and rounded- lacerate apices, borne in a compact, broadly ovoid, terminal, cone- or head-like spike, each flower subtended by one of a series of spirally-arranged, tough, woody scales (or bracts) which hide the buds and fruits; the bracts are suborbicular, tan or brown with a greenish dorsal area. Fruit an obovoid or broadly elliptical capsule. Seeds ellipsoid, mealy-surfaced, with 18-20 fine longitudinal lines, these sometimes interconnected, about 0.6 mm in length. Flowering occurs from August through September.

Diagnostic Characteristics: Leaves are twisted and without strongly raised nerves, base bulbous and reddish-purple. The small flowers open in late morning and close by mid-afternoon. The lateral sepals are narrow and the upper part lacerate. Two other Xyris species that could occur in the same habitat as X. tennesseensis are X. jupicai and X. torta. X. jupicai has a greenish non-bulbous base, leaves not twisted and a flattened flowering stem. X. torta has twisted strongly ribbed leaves (Kral 1990, Pyne et al. 1995).

Riverine Habitat(s): SPRING/SPRING BROOK
Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND, HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Grassland/herbaceous
Habitat Comments: Although Xyris species are usually found on acidic soils, X. tennesseensis is restricted to basic or circumneutral soils that thinly cover calcareous substrates with year-round seepage or mineral-rich water flow. This species is found in open or thin canopy woods in gravelly seep-slopes or gravelly bars and banks of small streams, springs and ditches (Kral 1990).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Several sites in Tennessee and one site in Georgia are protected through state ownership and 4 sites in Alabama are protected through federal ownership. Management plans have been written for several of these sites. Management activities have occurred at 5 Tennessee sites to reduce woody plant succession. Other management options to control woody encroachment could be controlled burns. The mesic soil and gravel substrate are very fragile; therefore, no machinery of any type should be used at any of the X. tennesseensis sites (Moffett, pers. comm.; Lincicome, pers. comm.; Somers 1994)
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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Excellent Viability: An A-ranked occurrence of Xyris tennesseensis is a site containing greater than 3,000 plants or spike stems with minimal habitat disturbance in pristine conditions.
Good Viability: A B-ranked occurrence of Xyris tennesseensis is a site containing 1,000- 3,000 plants or spike stems with minimal site disturbance, or smaller populations (50 - 1,000) in pristine conditions. May be restorable to an A-rank.

Fair Viability: A C-ranked occurrence of Xyris tennesseensis is a site containing 50-1,000 plants or spike stems with minimal disturbance, or larger populations (1,000 - 3,000) in highly disturbed sites. Could be restored to a B-rank

Poor Viability: A D-ranked occurrence of Xyris tennesseensis is a site containing less than 50 plants or spike stems in degraded or pristine habitat or larger populations (50-1,000) in highly disturbed sites.

Justification: The rank specifications for Xyris tennesseensis are based on mapped occurrences and expert opinion. The two primary factors are the number of clumps or spike stems and the condition of the habitat.

Key for Ranking Species Element Occurrences Using the Generic Approach (2008).
Date: 15Feb2006
Author: A. Bishop
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: 15Feb2006
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: A. Bishop
Management Information Edition Date: 15Feb2006
Management Information Edition Author: A. Bishop
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Original not dated; revised A. Bishop (2006)

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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  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2000. Flora of North America north of Mexico. Vol. 22. Magnoliophyta: Alismatidae, Arecidae, Commelinidae (in part), and Zingiberidae. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxiii + 352 pp.

  • 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. 1978. A new species of Xyris (sect. Xyris) from Tennessee and northwestern Georgia. Rhodora 80(823): 444-447.

  • 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.

  • Kral, R. 1990. Status report on Xyris tennesseensis. Unpublished manuscript submitted to USFWS, Jackson, MS.

  • Norquist, C. 1991. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; proposed endangered status for the plant Xyris tennesseensis (Tennessee yellow-eyed grass). Fed. Register 56(32):6341-6345.

  • Pyne, M., M. Gay, and A. Shea. 1995. Guide to rare plants - Tennessee Division of Forestry District 6. Tennessee Dept. Agriculture, Division of Forestry, Nashville.

  • Somers, P. 1994. Tennessee yellow-eyed grass (Xyris tennesseensis Kral) recovery plan. Prepared for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta, Georgia.

  • Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). 2000. Demographic monitoring of Tennessee yellow-eyed grass (Xyris tennesseensis Kral). Unpublished report for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Region, Asheville NC.

  • Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). 2001. Demographic monitoring of Tennessee yellow-eyed grass (Xyris tennesseensis Kral). Unpublished report for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Region, Asheville NC.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1991. Endangered status for the plant Xyris tennesseensis (Tennessee yellow-eyed grass). Federal Register 56(144): 34151-34154.

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