At the time of listing, lyrate bladderpod was known from two sites in northern Alabama. Several additional sites have been located since its listing in 1990, including a large population in Lawrence County. Two of these sites discovered after listing, have not been seen in recent years. Currently, there are three populations in three different counties known for this species. The majority of the largest population is in Lawrence County and is permanently protected and managed due to its location on a preserve owned by The Nature Conservancy. This Lawrence County population is thriving and there are no apparent threats. The remaining two populations are small, isolated and declining due to lack of adequate management. There is no protection for these sites and their continuation is questionable. The small number of sites and lack of protection for all but one of these populations, illustrates the extreme vulnerability of this species. However, since populations exist for years as seed banks, it is likely that a number of the populations not seen in recent years will reappear with the introduction of some type of management. Thus, it is probable that there are more than the three populations currently known today.
Location in Taxonomic Tree
All extant populations of the lyrate bladderpod are found adjacent to limestone outcrops supporting cedar glades. However, little is known regarding the original system of which the lyrate bladderpod was a part. Historically, the northern Alabama glades occurred as glade complexes where open areas of limestone pavement or gravel were divided by fingers of woody vegetation to form an intricate pattern of habitats. It is thought that the lyrate bladderpod likely evolved on these type glade systems that are now highly disturbed, and exist today mostly as remnants. Currently, none of the extant populations of the lyrate bladderpod occur on relatively pristine cedar glades, as the populations are found in disturbed places, including cultivated fields, roadsides, and cattle pastures.
Lyrate bladderpod is an annual made up of one to several, usually simple and erect, stems of 4 to 12 inches (1 to 3 decimeters) in length. Leaves and stems are shortly pubescent. The outer stems are usually decumbent at the base. Basal leaves are stalked and lyrate-shaped, 0.8 to 2.8 inches (2 to 7 centimeters) long and 0.2 to 0.6 inches (6 to 15 millimeters) wide. The terminal lobes are large and orbicular to elliptic in shape. The stem leaves are ovate to broadly oblong and obtuse, 0.2 to 0.8 inches (5 to 20 millimeters) long and 0.2 to 0.4 inches (4 to 10 millimeters) wide and sessile with prominent ear-like projections, or auricles, at the bases. The margins of the stems are nearly smooth to coarsely toothed. Inflorescences are dense. The flowers are ascending on densely pubescent stalks 0.4 to 0.6 inches (1 to 1.5 centimeters) long. Sepals are pubescent, yellowish, oblong, 0.1 to 0.2 inches (3 to 4 millimeters) long and 0.1 inch (1.2 to 1.5 millimeters) wide. Petals are yellow, broadly ovate, 0.2 to 0.3 inches (5 to 7 millimeters) long and 0.1 to 0.2 inches (3.5 to 4 millimeters) wide and slightly rounded. The fruits are siliques, which are glabrous, globose in shape, 0.1 inch (2.5 to 3.5 millimeters) high and 0.1 to 0.2 inch (3 to 4 millimeters) broad. Seeds are flattened, brown, oval to nearly orbicular in outline, and margined, and range from 0.1 inch (1.5 to 2.5 millimeters) on the longest dimension.
Lyrate bladderpod is endemic to cedar glade areas in north Alabama, with one population each in Colbert, Franklin and Lawrence counties. Most glades have been unable to escape human disturbances, including those glades that naturally supported populations of the lyrate bladderpod. Cedar glades have been fragmented by agriculture and development and mostly exist as remnants today. Housing development, trash dumping, adverse agricultural practices and road building have destroyed or negatively impacted a number of cedar glade systems, including those associated with lyrate bladderpod. Populations in Franklin and Colbert counties are located near growing urban areas and residential development poses a threat to both these sites. Plants extend onto roadsides at several sites, and mowing or herbicide application prior to seed set would negatively impact these populations.
The current and historical distribution of lyrate bladderpod is confined to parts of Franklin, Colbert, and Lawrence counties in Alabama.
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