Get to know an endangered plant – Virginia spiraea

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The Virginia spiraea is one of the loveliest plants I’ve ever seen. The creamy white flowers are in tightly packed bunches. M Young stems are greenish-yellow to dark brown and mature stems are dark gray. Mature plants reach a height of three to ten feet. The roots form a complex system. Virginia spiraea is thought to now only reproduce by its spreading underground stems or by portions of plants breaking off and washing downstream. It has become so rare and individual populations so isolated that it is not known to set fertile seed due to lack of proper cross-pollination. Although populations often flower profusely and may even produce fruit, no seedlings have been observed in the wild.

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The Virginia spiraea can be found on banks of rocky streams or moist bottomlands within high gradient sections of second and third order streams However, the sites where the plants occur are areas of deposition after high water flows rather than places of maximum erosion. It is found in the Appalachian Plateaus or the southern Blue Ridge Mountains in Alabama, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Georgia. It no longer occurs in Pennsylvania. This plant was first discovered in Virginia in 1985. Most of the existing populations consist of only a few clumps.

In its Recovery Plan, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service outline conservation needs in the following order: preserve, understand, extend knowledge and monitor populations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will consider delisting when at least three populations are sufficiently protected and stable, when additional population searches have been conducted, when representative genotypes are cultivated in permanent collections.

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If you do spot one please note were it is (your phones GPS can really come in handy for this) and tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as soon as you can.

Find out more where I did. . .

www.centerforplantconservation.org

ww.ecos.fws.gov

www.naturepreserves.ky.gov

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