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Canby's Dropwort in NCCanby's Dropwort in North Carolina


CANBY'S DROPWORT

Oxypolis canbyi

STATUS: Endangered

DESCRIPTION AND REPRODUCTION: A perennial plant, Canby's dropwort stands O.8 to 1.2 meters tall. Its leaves are quill-like and bear compound umbels of small flowers. These five-parted flowers have white petals and pale green sepals, some of which are tinged with red. The plant has a slight dill fragrance. Canby's dropwort increases vegetatively by numerous, pale, fleshy rhizomes. The flowers are bisexual and/or unisexual, and are borne from May through early August. The fruit is a strongly winged schizocarp.
 

RANGE AND POPULATION LEVEL: A total of 25 populations are known to occur in the States of Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Presently, one population each exists in Queen Anne's County, Georgia, and Scotland County, North Carolina.
 

HABITAT: This plant grows in coastal plain habitats including wet meadows, wet pineland savannas, ditches, sloughs, and around the edges of Cypress-pine ponds. The healthiest populations seem to occur in open bays or ponds which are wet most of the year and have little or no canopy cover. Ideal soils for Canby's dropwort have a medium to high organic content and a high water table. They are also acidic, deep, and poorly drained (Aulbach-Smith, 1985).
 

REASONS FOR CURRENT STATUS: The most significant threat to the species is the direct loss or alteration of its wetland habitats. Ditching and draining of lowland areas, primarily for agricultural and sivicultural purposes, has altered the groundwater table and changed the vegetative composition in many areas of the mid-Atlantic coastal plain where the species historically occurred. In addition to changing soil moisture levels, lowering of the water table enables other plants to become established, modifies vegetative succession, and makes sites less conducive overall to the plant's growth and reproduction. Road construction at the Berkeley County, South Carolina, site may have altered the groundwater table in the area where the plant historically occurred. Roadside maintenance or improvements could also threaten the other remaining South Carolina populations. Predation by larvae of the black swallowtail butterfly has been identified to occur at some of the South Carolina sites, but the degree of predation among populations and the overall impact is unknown. The species' small numbers also makes it vulnerable to potentially harmful losses from unnecessary collecting. All of the extirpated populations are presumed or known to have been destroyed by habitat loss or modification.
 

MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION: The population site in Scotland County, North Carolina, is protected and owned in part by The Nature Conservancy. Additional surveys are needed to determine if other populations may exist.
 
 

Species Distribution from known occurrences. Species may occur in similar habitats in other counties.Green counties indicate observed within 20 years. Yellow counties indicate an obscure data reference to the species in the county. Red counties indicate observed more than 20 years ago.

Species distribution of Canby's dropwort in NC

Species Location Map based on information provided by the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program.

For additional information regarding this Web page, contact Dale Suiter, in Raleigh, NC, at dale_suiter@fws.gov

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