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Seabeach Amaranth

Seabeach Amaranth

Amaranthus pumilus

Status Threatened
Listed April 7, 1993
Family Amaranthaceae (Amaranth)
Description A low-growing, annual plant.
Habitat Sandy open areas on barrier beaches.
Threats Beach stabilization projects, trampling by off-road vehicles and pedestrians, and extreme storm surges and weather events.
Range Maryland, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina

Description

The seabeach amaranth is an annual plant. It has fleshy, pinkish red stems with small, rounded, green leaves 0.5-1.0 in (1.3-2.5 cm) in diameter. Its leaves are clustered toward the tip of the stem, are normally a spinach-green color, and have a small notch at the otherwise rounded tip. The flowers and fruits are inconspicuous, and are borne in clusters along the stem. Germination occurs over April to July, and full-grown, well-branched plants can reach a foot (30 cm) in diameter and consist of five to 20 branches. Some plants may exceed 3 ft (1 m) in diameter, and have more than 100 branches.

Habitat

The seabeach amaranth occurs on barrier-island beaches and sandy inlets. It occurs in overwash flats at the accreting end of barrier islands, as well as in lower foredunes and upper strands of non-eroding beaches. It also occurs in blowouts and other disturbed, sandy areas. The seabeach amaranth is intolerant of competition, and becomes eliminated in well-vegetated sites.

Distribution

The seabeach amaranth is native to the U. S. Atlantic coast. It has been reported from Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia.

Threats

The seabeach amaranth is threatened by habitat destruction and degradation by beach stabilization structures, the use of off-road vehicles, predation by herbivorous insects and feral mammals, and storm-related erosion and tidal inundation. In the mid-1990s, about 55 populations of the seabeach amaranth survived. Of these, 13 populations were in New York, 34 in North Carolina, and eight in South Carolina. Overall, the rare plant has been eliminated from about two-thirds of its historic range.

Conservation and Recovery

Most of the largest remaining populations of the seabeach amaranth are located on publicly owned land, including Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores. At these sites, the rare plant is being protected from beach armoring, a management practice that has been the single most serious threat to the survival of the seabeach amaranth. In addition, off-road vehicle traffic has been routed around areas where the rare plant is growing on Park Service lands. The collection and storage of seeds and other plant material has begun in cooperation with the Center for Plant Conservation and its member gardens. Other surviving populations of the seabeach amaranth are on different kinds of public lands, but they are not well protected from the threats that face almost all populations. Conservation of the seabeach amaranth requires the monitoring of its known populations and surveys to discover additional ones, research on the biology and habitat needs of the species, and the establishment of new populations in suitable habitat and the enhancement of depleted ones.

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
Regional Office, Division of Endangered Species
300 Westgate Center Dr.
Hadley, Massachusetts 01035-9589
Telephone: (413) 253-8200
Fax: (413) 253-8308
http://www.northeast.fws.gov/

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
Asheville Ecological Services Field Office
160 Zillicoa Street
Asheville, North Carolina 28801-1082
Telephone: (828) 258-3939
Fax: (828) 258-5330

References

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 7 April 1993. "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Amaranthus pumilus Determined to be Threatened." Federal Register 58(65):18035-18042.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. August 1993. "U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Endangered Species, Species Accounts: Seabeach Amaranth (Amaranthus pumilus )." U. S. Fish and Wild-life Service Endangered Species Program. (http://endangered.fws.gov/i/q/saq9z.html). Date Accessed: July 6, 2000.

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