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Cooley's Meadowrue (Thalictrum cooleyi)


Picture of Cooley's Meadowruee

Status:  Endangered

Description:  Cooley's meadowrue is a perennial herb which grows from a rhizome.  The stems are usually one meter (m) in height, but sometimes grow as high as 2 m on recently burned sites.  Under ideal conditions, in full sun, these stems are erect; however, when shaded they are lax and may trail along the ground or lean on other plants.  The compound green leaves are divided into three parts and the leaflets are lance-shaped and less than 2 centimeters long.  The plant has both basal and stem leaves.  All parts of the plant are glabrous, having virtually no hairs or glands.  Each plant is unisexual, and the male to female ratio is 3 to 1.  The flowers have no petals.  The sepals on the male plants are pale yellow to white.  There are numerous stamens, and the filaments are pale lavender.  Female plants have green sepals, and their short-stalked, ribbed carpels develop into narrowly ellipsoidal achenes.  Cooley's meadowrue flowers in mid June to early July.  The fruits are spindle-shaped carpels which develop into 6 millimeter long achenes, maturing in August or September, and remain on the plant into October.  If the plants grow in partial shade instead of full sun, flowering may be delayed by as much as two weeks.

Habitat:  Cooley's meadowrue occurs on circumneutral soils in grass-sedge bogs and wet pine savannahs and savannah like areas.  It may also grow along fire plow lines, in roadside ditches, woodland clearings, and powerline rights-of-way, and needs some type of disturbance such as fire or mowing to maintain its open habitat.  Plants often found growing with Cooley’s meadowrue include tulip poplar growing with bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) and/or Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides).

Distribution and Range:  Currently, Cooley’s meadowrue is known from North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.  The North Carolina populations are located in Pender, Onslow, Brunswick, and Columbus counties and all of them occur on privately-owned land including some sites owned by The Nature Conservancy.  There is one population of Cooley’s meadowrue in Walton County, Florida.  In addition, there are several populations of Cooley’s meadowrue in Worth and Doughtery counties, Georgia, though the taxonomy of these populations is unresolved at this time.

Listing:  Cooley's Meadowrue was listed as Endangered on February 7, 1989 under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (as amended).

Threats:  Cooley’s meadowrue is threatened by loss of habitat, ecological succession, clearing for agriculture, forestry, development and road construction projects.

Why Protect Cooley's Meadowrue:  Extinction is a natural process.  Normally, new species develop through a process known as speciation at about the same rate they go extinct.  However, because of air and water pollution, over-hunting, extensive deforestation, the loss of wetlands, and other human-impacts, extinctions are now occurring at a rate that far exceeds speciation.  These actions are reducing the biodiversity on Earth.

The reduction of biodiversity reduces the ecological integrity of our environment.  All living organisms perform a function in our environment and are dependent on the functions of other organisms.  In turn, there is interconnectedness among species including us in the environment. 

For More Information about Cooley's Meadowrue... 

Do you need additional help? 

For additional information about Cooley's Meadowrue or the information presented on this webpage, contact Dale Suiter in the Raleigh Field Office at Dale_Suiter@fws.gov.

Questions related to the Service's endangered species program or other program activities can be addressed to the appropriate staff from our Asheville or Raleigh Field Offices.


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