Golden club really has a split personality when it comes to habitats. It occurs in two very different wetland habitats in New York; in freshwater intertidal mud flats and marshes and also in the peat moss of a few shrub bogs. This is the only species in the genus and, unlike the related jack-in-the-pulpit, this genus has only a Jack and no pulpit! The starch in the rhizomes and seeds is edible once it is boiled (Mabberley 1987).
There are 13 existing populations but only two of these are in Sphagnum bogs and not in freshwater tidal areas. About half of the populations are in good to excellent condition. There are seven historical records from Long Island that are probably extirpated.
Short-term trends are good as existing populations have not seen a decline over the last 20 years.
There has been a decline in populations on Long Island as the area has been developed but most of the historical records from the 20th-century continue to exist today along with some new discoveries.
Hudson river populations are threatened by the spread of Phragmites and water chestnut and by the erosive power of boat wakes. Some bog populations may be threatened by too much visitation.
Establish sufficient buffers around populations to preserve the undisturbed aspect and hydrology of their habitat.
Research is needed to determine why some populations occur in the completely different habitat of Sphagnum bogs while most of the populations occur in freshwater tidal areas of the Hudson River. Habitat parameters should also be determined for the bog populations to understand why this species does not occur in similar habitat in other areas of the state.
Most known existing sites for Golden Club in New York State are freshwater tidal marshes, swamps, and mudflats. However this species is also found in other quite different Sphagnum-dominated habitats in the state (and elsewhere), such as bogs, poor fens, and coastal plain ponds. Golden Club apparently is tolerant of a wide range of acidity and exposure to light, though all of the sites it is known from are habitats of still, shallow water (New York Natural Heritage Program 2007). Sandy, muddy or peaty shores and shallow water (Fernald 1970). Swamps and shallow water, especially on the coastal plain (Gleason & Cronquist 1991).
Most of the currently extant populations of Golden Club are located in the freshwater tidal areas of the Hudson River, but there are also known extant populations in central New York, and north-central Long Island, and many historical populations from inland within the Hudson Valley and the Long Island and New York City areas.
Golden Club reaches its northern limit in New York and Massachusetts, and is found mainly along the coast south to Florida and west to Texas, but also inland to Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
Orontium aquaticum is a perennial, rooted aquatic plant growing from stout rhizomes. It has spreading (sometimes reclining or floating), strap-like (6-20 cm long and a third as wide), basal leaves only, these are also parallel-veined. The many bright yellow flowers are borne on the upper portion (2-5 cm) of a single fleshy, erect white stalk (the spadix) 20-40 cm tall.
Orontium aquaticum looks like nothing else in our state.
Golden Club flowers from mid-April through June, with vegetative leaves and fruits persisting until first frost.
The time of year you would expect to find Golden Club vegetative, flowering, and fruiting in New York.
Orontium aquaticum L.
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.
Clemants, Steven and Carol Gracie. 2006. Wildflowers in the Field and Forest. A Field Guide to the Northeastern United States. Oxford University Press, New York, NY. 445 pp.
Crow, Garrett E. and C. Barre Hellquist. 2000. Aquatic and wetland plants of northeastern North America: A revised and enlarged edition or Norman C. Fassett's a manual of aquatic plants. Volume two angiosperms: Monocotyledons. The University of Wisconsin Press. Madison, Wisconsin. 456 pp.
Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. D. Van Nostrand, New York. 1632 pp.
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.
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.
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. 2022. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.
Newcomb, Lawrence. 1977. Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: An Ingenious New Key System for Quick, Positive Field Identification of the Wildflowers, Flowering Shrubs, and Vines of Northeastern and North-Central North America. Little, Brown and Company. Boston.
Rhoads, Ann F. and Timothy A. Block. 2000. The Plants of Pennsylvania, an Illustrated Manual. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, PA.
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://newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu/, Albany, New York
Weldy, Troy W. and David Werier. 2005. New York Flora Atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research. University of South Florida]. New York Flora Association, Albany, NY. Available on the web at (http://newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu/).
Information for this guide was last updated on: January 5, 2009
Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2022. Online Conservation Guide for Orontium aquaticum. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/golden-club/. Accessed October 1, 2022.