|(B.E. Wofford & Kral) McNeill|
|Matthew Albrecht & Kimberly McCue|
The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Missouri Botanical Garden
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
The conservation of Minuartia cumberlandensis is fully sponsored.
Matthew Albrecht & Kimberly McCue contributed to this Plant Profile.
Minuartia cumberlandensis is a schizoendemic that grows exclusively behind the dripline in sandstone rockhouse shelters (cave-like recesses beneath cliff overhangs) on the Cumberland Plateau (Kentucky and Tennessee). Because this unique habitat is sheltered from abrupt climate change, this species has likely persisted in rockhouses since the Pleistocene. The delicate sandwort occurs in tufts and produces tiny white flowers from early July through August.
Distribution & Occurrence
Minuartia cumberlandensis occurs on shaded, fine-grained, sandy floors of "rockhouses," sandstone ledges, and solution pockets of the Pottsville Formation in Tennessee (Wofford and Kral 1979, Wofford and Smith 1980). This unique habitat is shared with few other plant species.
|27 known occurrences in Tennessee, one in Kentucky (USFWS 1996). Plants can be numerous within their restricted areas.|
Conservation, Ecology & Research
Fruiting phenology: Sept. Nov.
Plants are probably self-incompatible (Winder 2004).
Dispersal is highly localized, as seedlings are typically distributed adjacent to previously reproductive adults (Winder 2004).
Seed viability appears to be high in natural populations (Winder 2004).
M. cumberlandensis has a narrow ecological niche requiring cool temperatures, perpetually moist sand, and deep shade.
Associated species include: Silene rotundifolia, Thalictrum clavatum, Heuchera parviflora, and Ageratina luciae-brauniae (USFWS 1996)
Human activities: hiking, camping, rockclimbing, and digging for archaeological artifacts (USFWS 1996).
Majority of genetic variation within the species resides in a central cluster of populations in Picket, Co., Tennessee (Winder 2004).
Observed heterozygosity is low, suggesting some populations are at risk of inbreeding depression (Winder 2004).
Extremely reduced gene flow among populations results in most of the genetic variation being distributed among populations (Winder 2004).
Center for Research and Endangered Wildlife (CREW) has successfully developed a propagation protocol via tissue culture.
An experimental population was established in the Daniel Boone National Forest (Kentucky) from material propagated by the CREW lab.
The majority of sites are at least partially within public ownership, including Pickett State Park and Pickett State Forest.
Determine what ecological processes (e.g., dispersal, historical, or niche limitation) limit the distribution of this species in unoccupied and occupied rockhouse shelters.
Conduct pollination ecology studies to determine whether plants are obligate outcrossers.
Develop educational materials to inform the public about the status of the species.