Agalinis acuta Stephen M. Young

Agalinis acuta
Stephen M. Young

Class
Dicotyledoneae (Dicots)
Family
Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)
State Protection
Endangered
Listed as Endangered by New York State: in imminent danger of extirpation in New York. For animals, taking, importation, transportation, or possession is prohibited, except under license or permit. For plants, removal or damage without the consent of the landowner is prohibited.
Federal Protection
Endangered
Listed as Endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act
State Conservation Status Rank
S1
Critically Imperiled in New York - Especially vulnerable to disappearing from New York due to extreme rarity or other factors; typically 5 or fewer populations or locations in New York, very few individuals, very restricted range, very few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or very steep declines.
Global Conservation Status Rank
G3G4
Vulnerable globally, or Apparently Secure - At moderate risk of extinction, with relatively few populations or locations in the world, few individuals, and/or restricted range; or uncommon but not rare globally; may be rare in some parts of its range; possibly some cause for long-term concern due to declines or other factors. More information is needed to assign either G3 or G4.

Summary

Did you know?

Sandplain gerardia was one of the first New York plants to be put on the federal endangered species list, on September 7, 1988 (US Fish and Wildlife Service 2010).

State Ranking Justification

There are four known occurrences on Long Island but all of the sites are fairly small and isolated natural areas which need constant management. In good reproduction years a couple of the sites have tens of thousands of plants. There are nine historical occurrences that are now considered extirpated. There are two additional small occurrences that were known to exist until 2000 and 2004 but have since been extirpated. There are five more sites on Long Island where plants have been introduced, one with hundreds of plants, but they are not used for ranking the species.

Short-term Trends

The populations have fluctuated a lot in recent years, with some years having 1000 individuals in the state and other years with tens of thousands of plants.

Long-term Trends

There has been a very large decline from historical numbers that ranged into the hundreds of thousands or even millions, when the plant was a dominant on large tracts of maritime grassland. Loss of habitat and succession have reduced numbers to the few sites we have today. These low numbers will continue into the forseeable future.

Conservation and Management

Threats

Sandplain gerardia needs disturbed habitat in maritime grasslands, so it is often threatened by natural succession. Animal browse, usually by rabbits, can be a problem as well as encroachment by exotic plant species. One population was extirpated by the development of a roadside and another by the use of herbicides along a railroad.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Maritime grasslands need to be protected and managed by fire or grazing to protect the remaining populations.

Research Needs

We need to learn more about its habitat requirements and general ecology, including reproduction and the nature of a possible hemiparasitic relationship.

Habitat

Habitat

Agalinis acuta was traditionally a maritime grassland species maintained by fire and grazing. It was once a common species when these communities were large and dominant on some areas of Long Island. It now survives in remnant grasslands in pine barrens with broad, grassy swaths; remnants of the Hempstead Plains dominated by grasses and composites with scattered shrubs and bare areas scraped by a bulldozer; and other remnant grasslands of the South Fork including those around golf courses, and along roadsides and railroads. It does need some disturbance that provides bare soil areas within these grasslands.

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Hempstead Plains grassland (guide)
    A tall grassland community that occurs on rolling outwash plains in west-central Long Island. This community occurs inland, beyond the influence of offshore winds and salt spray.
  • Maritime grassland (guide)
    A grassland community that occurs on rolling outwash plains of the glaciated portion of the Atlantic coastal plain, near the ocean and within the influence of offshore winds and salt spray.
  • Maritime shrubland (guide)
    A shrubland community that occurs on dry seaside bluffs and headlands that are exposed to offshore winds and salt spray.
  • Pitch pine-oak-heath woodland* (guide)
    A pine barrens community that occurs on well-drained, infertile, sandy soils. The structure of this community is intermediate between a shrub-savanna and a woodland. Pitch pine and white oak are the most abundant trees. * probable association but not confirmed.

Associated Species

  • Agalinis setacea (needle-leaved agalinis)
  • Aletris farinosa (white colicroot, unicorn-root)
  • Baptisia tinctoria (wild-indigo)
  • Chrysopsis mariana (Maryland golden-aster)
  • Danthonia spicata (poverty grass)
  • Hypericum gentianoides (orange-grass)
  • Linum intercursum (sandplain wild flax, Bicknell's yellow flax)
  • Polygala nuttallii (Nuttall's milkwort)
  • Schizachyrium scoparium
  • Sericocarpus asteroides (toothed white-topped-aster)
  • Sericocarpus linifolius (narrow-leaved white-topped-aster)
  • Sorghastrum nutans (Indian grass)
  • Viola sagittata

Range

New York State Distribution

The species is only known from Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island.

Global Distribution

Agalinis acuta is known historically from five states: Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maryland, and New York. It is primarily a species of the Coastal Plain, but in Maryland exists on the Piedmont. Connecticut is known to have supported two populations (Mehrhoff 1978), but now has one small population in a cemetery. Rhode Island harbored six populations, including one "on a sandy plain between Lime Rock and the Blackstone River" (Fernald 1906), and now has a single remnant population in a cemetery. Massachusetts once supported populations ranging from Nantucket, Marthas Vineyard, upper Cape Cod and at a few disjunct inland locations to Worcester County; It was thought to be extirpated from Massachusetts until the species was rediscovered on Cape Cod in 1980 and on Marthas Vineyard in 1994. None is currently extant on Nantucket or inland from Cape Cod. A large population occurs on a serpentine barren in Maryland, discovered in 1950, and reconfirmed in 1984. Montauk, Long Island, and New York once harbored "untold millions" of Agalinis acuta plants (Taylor 1923). Agalinis acuta was thought to be extirpated from New York, but was rediscovered on Long Island and now is known from 12-13 EO's due to a combination of discoveries and restoration efforts.

Best Places to See

  • Shadmoor State Park (Suffolk County)

Identification Comments

General Description

This small herb has yellow-green, sparsely-branched stems that are 10-40 cm tall and the angles of the stems and the pedicels are smooth with no hairs. The calyx-tube is cup-shaped and its teeth are narrowly triangular and fringed with short glandular hairs. The pink corolla is tubular and flared at the top into spreading petal lobes. The tube (which is hairy on the outside and on the top of the inside) together with a lobe are 0.5-1.5 cm long with 2 yellow lines and some purple spots in the white throat. The lobes are notched at the top and the outsides are glabrous, but the margins are ciliate. The anthers are covered with dense white hairs. The yellowish-brown capsules have yellowish-brown seeds 0.04-0.06 mm long (USFWS 1995).

Identifying Characteristics

This small herb has yellow-green, sparsely-branched stems that are 10-40 cm tall and the angles of the stems and the pedicels are smooth with no hairs. The calyx-tube is cup-shaped and its teeth are narrowly triangular and fringed with short glandular hairs. The pink corolla is tubular and flared at the top into spreading petal lobes. The tube (which is hairy on the outside and on the top of the inside) together with a lobe are 0.5-1.5 cm long with 2 yellow lines and some purple spots in the white throat. The lobes are notched at the top and the outsides are glabrous, but the margins are ciliate. The anthers are covered with dense white hairs. The yellowish-brown capsules have yellowish-brown seeds 0.04-0.06 mm long (USFWS 1995).

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

The plant must be in flower or fruit.

Similar Species

Agalinis setacea is the most closely related species in New York. It stems are dark green to purple-tinged and more branched. The leaves are more numerous and more narrow than Agalinis acuta. The corolla is larger, 1.1 cm to 2.1 cm long, pinkish-purple, and the exterior surfaces of the lower lobes are hairy instead of glabrous as in Agalinis acuta. There are no notches at the tops of the lobes. The seed color is dark brown to black, not yellowish-brown (USFWS 1995). Agalinis purpurea has similar-looking flowers but they are stalkless. Agalinis tenuifolia has smaller darker flowers with the petals facing forward and hairless on the inside, although the stamens have hairs and the top petals arch over them.

Best Time to See

Agalinis acuta flowers from early August to late September and its fruits persist to first frost.

  • Flowering
  • Fruiting

The time of year you would expect to find Sandplain Agalinis flowering and fruiting in New York.

Sandplain Agalinis Images


Images of Similar Species

Taxonomy

Sandplain Agalinis
Agalinis decemloba (Greene) Pennell

  • Kingdom Plantae
    • Phylum Anthophyta
      • Class Dicotyledoneae (Dicots)
        • Order Scrophulariales
          • Family Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Additional Common Names

  • False-foxglove
  • Sandplain Gerardia

Synonyms

  • Gerardia acuta (Pennell) Pennell
  • Agalinis acuta Pennell

Additional Resources

Best Identification Reference

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.

Other References

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. 1982. New England's Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Plants. Prepared for the United States Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Northeast Region. June 1982.

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 Charles J. Sheviak. 1981. Rare Plants of New York State. Bull No. 445. New York State Museum. Univ. of New York. State Ed. Department Albany, NY.

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.

Pennell, F.W. 1929. Agalinis and allies in North America--II. Proceedings Academy Natural Sciences Philadelphia 81: 111-249.

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.

Taylor, N. 1923. The vegetation of Montauk. A study of grassland and forest. Brooklyn Botanic Garden Memoirs 2: 1-107.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1987. Proposal to determine Agalinis acuta (sandplain gerardia) to be an endangered species. Federal Register 52(223): 44450-44453.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1995. Sandplain Gerardia (Agalinis acuta) Revised Recovery Plan. Technical Draft. Hadley, Massachusetts.

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. 2009. New York Flora Atlas. [S.M. Landry and K.N. Campbell (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://www.newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu/).

Links

About This Guide

Information for this guide was last updated on: March 7, 2019

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2019. Online Conservation Guide for Agalinis decemloba. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/sandplain-agalinis/. Accessed May 26, 2019.

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