Only the leaves and flower stalks of this small plant are visible since the stems grow underground. You have to get down and muddy to see the tiny flowers. The plants usually appear in one big mass and it's impossible to tell one plant from the other.
This plant is restricted to a narrow habitat (brackish tidal mudflats) that are often impacted by invasive species, run-off, dredging, or other impacts that result in limited high quality habitats. There are nine known populations and at least an additional 15 historical locations.
The populations seem to be stable at the present time.
This plant has probably never had more than 50 occurrences in the state but it has declined somewhat from its previous numbers.
These plants may be subject to dredging and filling of their habitat. The areas where they grow may be subject to changes in salinity caused by changes in runoff from uplands. Siltation has been observed at some locations as a potential threat. Canada geese were also observed favoring these plants at one population. These geese nipped the plants to ground level and severely reduced the number of visible plants. The long-term impact of this herbivory is not known. Phragmites has likely reduced the number of plants at a few sites.
Upland buffer zones should be established to protect the watershed supporting the wetlands where these plants grow.
There are no research needs at this time.
A plant of brackish marshes, brackish intertidal mudflats, peaty borders of salt marshes, rocky shores adjacent to salt and brackish marshes, and other muddy locations with brackish or salt water influences (New York Natural Heritage Program 2004). Brackish marshes and tidal shores along the coastal plain (Crow and Helquist 2000). Tidal muds and brackish marshes (Gleason and Cronquist 1991). In the mud of brackish marshes and tidal shores along the coast (Fernald 1970).
An aquatic plant of tidal mudflats, this plant is limited to brackish areas of the Hudson River and eastern Long Island.
A species of tidal areas chiefly limited to the coastal plain and estuaries along the east coast from Nova Scotia south to Florida and Louisana.
This is a very small mat-forming plant no higher than 6 cm above the mud. The numerous, arching, shiny-green leaves are narrow and strap-shaped and somewhat succulent with rounded tips. They stick out in all directions and if you look closely you can see they are divided into partitions. The arching flower stalks are not higher than the leaves and are topped by a crown of 4-9 short branches with tiny white flowers at the tip.
A plant of tidal areas with phyllodia (defined more or less as an expanded, bladeless petiole) 1-6 cm long and having (3)4-6 transverse septa. These phyllodia look like thin, tall, and somewhat succulent leaves with cross-partitions occurring up the stem. The flowering peduncles are about as long as the phyllodia with 4-9 flowers. The fruits are about 2 mm long with the thick lateral wings forming a corky margin.
To properly identify this plant, one should have plants with either flowers or fruit.
As long as this plant is observed in fruit or flower, it is not likely to be confused. If you are trying to identify the plant vegetatively, it could be confused with a long list of small plants located on the tidal mudflats and within the brackish marshes.
This plant begins to flower in late June with fruits persisting through October. Surveys should be conducted between July and October.
The time of year you would expect to find Eastern Grasswort vegetative, flowering, and fruiting in New York.
Lilaeopsis chinensis (L.) Kuntze
The epithet chinensis is usually reserved for plants native to China, some of which have now become established within North America. The epithet chinensis is used here because Linnaeus (the botanist who first described this plant from material sent to him) mistakenly thought the specimen was collected in China (Fernald 1970). This may be the only plant native to North America and not found in China or the Orient with the epithet of chinensis.
Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.
Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. D. Van Nostrand, New York. 1632 pp.
Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.
Mitchell, Richard S. and Gordon C. Tucker. 1997. Revised Checklist of New York State Plants. Contributions to a Flora of New York State. Checklist IV. Bulletin No. 490. New York State Museum. Albany, NY. 400 pp.
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2010. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2019. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.
Reschke, Carol. 1990. Ecological communities of New York State. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Latham, NY. 96 pp. plus xi.
Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research http://www.fccdr.usf.edu/. University of South Florida http://www.usf.edu/]. New York Flora Association http://www.nyflora.org/, Albany, New York
Information for this guide was last updated on: September 9, 2004
Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2019. Online Conservation Guide for Lilaeopsis chinensis. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/eastern-grasswort/. Accessed January 17, 2019.