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Fringed Campion

Fringed Campion

Silene polypetala

Status Endangered
Listed January 18, 1991
Family Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Description Perennial with opposite, obovate leaves and pink or white, fringed flowers.
Habitat Moist hardwood forests.
Threats Logging, residential development, competition from alien plant species.
Range Florida, Georgia

Description

Fringed campion is a perennial belonging to the pink family. It spreads vegetatively by means of runner-like rhizomes (underground horizontal stems) and leafy offshoots, both terminating in rosettes which persist through the winter. The opposite, obovate (ovals that taper toward the stem) leaves are 1-4 in (3-9 cm) long. Each rosette produces one or more flowering shoots up to 16 in (40 cm) tall. The pink or white flowers, which have leafy bracts, are arranged in groups of three to five in a terminal cluster. The flower consists of a hairy, tubular calyx and five separate petals, which are divided into a lower part equal in length to the calyx, and an upper part, extending about 1 in (2.5 cm) from the calyx, this upper part is divided into slender segments giving it a fringed appearance. Flowers bloom from March to May. This species has also been known as Cucubalus polypetalus and Silene baldwinii.

Habitat

Fringed campion grows in moist hardwood forests in two separate geographic locations in Georgia and Florida. It is found both on steep ravine slopes and north-facing hillsides and on level bottom-land. At one site in Talbot Country, Georgia, fringed campion occurs together with the Endangered relict trillium (Trillium reliquum); at another site it occurs with Scutellaria ocmulgee, which is a candidate for listing. Near the Georgia-Florida border, the species occurs along with the Endangered Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia).

Distribution

Fringed campion was first collected in central Georgia in 1788. It has been known only from two separate geographic areas: a four county area in central Georgia, west of Macon, and a three-county area near the confluence of the Flint and Apalachicola rivers on both sides of the Georgia-Florida border.

The known population of fringed campion occurs on 15 sites within its historic range. The northern portion of that range is in central Georgia, from Macon in Bibb County, west through Crawford, Taylor, and Talbot counties. Ten sites are known in this area, with a population of more than 610 rosette-clusters. The largest site contains more than 225 rosette-clusters.

The southern portion of the range lies along the east side of the Flint and Apalachicola rivers at the boundary between Decatur Country, Georgia, and Gadsden County, Florida. There are two sites in Georgia, two in Gadsden County, Florida, (in and south of Chattahoochee) and one site west of the Apalachicola River in Jackson County, Florida. In 1988 there were about 250 plants in the two southwest Georgia sites, which are on public land administered by the Army Corps of Engineers. A 1980 survey counted about 250 plants at one of the Florida sites. There are no current estimates of the numbers at the other two Florida sites.

Threats

The principal threats to the fringed campion are logging, invasion by Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), and residential development. Two sites are threatened by nearby logging activities, which may alter the water seepage pattern and summer shade, perhaps leading to the loss of some plants. Six sites are vulnerable to direct clear-cutting. At four of the sites vulnerable to logging, Japanese honeysuckle is present or encroaching. This aggressive, non-native plant is known to destroy populations of forest herbs.

Conservation and Recovery

Three known sites of the fringed campion are in residential areas. One of these is being conserved by the present homeowner, but another is likely to be lost to house construction or landscaping.

The fringed campion has been cultivated by a commercial garden since the 1950s. Cuttings collected from a wild population were propagated to create a nursery stock, and plants have been distributed to other nurseries. The species is easily propagated by tissue culture techniques as well as by cuttings. One botanist has created a hybrid between S. polypetala and S. virginica, which has potential as a garden ornamental. This hybrid is sold commercially by a nursery in Aiken, South Carolina. However, the propagation of the fringed campion in captivity is not a substitute for the preservation of the species in its wild habitats.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, in cooperation with the University of Georgia, is establishing new populations of fringed campion in two wildlife management areas in Monroe County and Troup/Heard counties. The critical habitat of the populations of the fringed campion on private land must be protected. This could be done by acquiring the land and establishing ecological reserves, or by negotiating conservation easements with the landowners. The known populations of the fringed campion should be monitored, and research undertaken into its biology and habitat needs.

Contacts

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Regional Office, Division of Endangered Species
1875 Century Blvd., Suite 200
Atlanta, Georgia 30345
http://southeast.fws.gov/

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office
6620 Southpoint Drive South, Suite 310
Jacksonville, Florida 32216-0958
Telephone: (904) 232-2580
Fax: (904) 232-2404

References

Allison, J. R. 1988. "Report on a Botanical Survey of North-facing Ravines and Bluffs along the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers in Southwestern Georgia." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville, Florida.

Duncan, W. H., and L. E. Foote. 1975. Wildflowers of the Southeastern United States. University of Georgia Press, Athens.

Faust, W. Z. 1980. "Status Survey for Silene polypetala." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville, Florida.

Kral, R. 1983. A Report on Some Rare, Threatened, or Endangered Forest-related Vascular Plants of the South. USDA, Forest Service. Technical Publication R8-TP2.

McCollum, J. L., and D. R. Ettman. 1989. Georgia's Protected Plants. Georgia Department of Natural Resources and USDA Soil Conservation Service.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1992. Fringed Campion (Silene polypetala). Endangered and Threatened Species of the Southeastern United States (The Red Book) FWS Region 4. http://endangered.fws.gov/i/q/saq6l.html

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