The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
New England Wild Flower Society
The conservation of Eriocaulon parkeri is fully sponsored.
Elizabeth J. Farnsworth contributed to this Plant Profile.
This small, herbaceous aquatic plant has a rosette of delicate, grass-like leaves and tiny, white flowers. It occupies fresh to brackish tidal river shores and deltas along the east coast of the United States and Canada. The plant once occurred from Quebec south to North Carolina. However, the species is declining in most states and provinces where it occurs, especially in the southern part of its range. It is presumed to have disappeared from the District of Columbia, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Research and Management Summary:
A number of individuals and institutions are researching different aspects of this species and its habitat, and limited management activities are being carried out.
Eriocaulon parkeri is an erect herb with thin (2-5 mm wide), tapering leaves 2-6 cm long that grow in a rosette from the spongy base. The leaves are often translucent and show 3-9 nerves with many cross-veins, giving them a distinctive, netted appearance.
The two to four leafless flower stalks (or "scapes") produced by a plant have 4-5 ridges; thus, the scape is angular in cross-section. These flowering stalks are 2.5-10 cm long and bear a button-like cluster of minutely hairy (or hairless) terminal flower heads that are 3-6 mm in diameter. Each tiny, unisexual flower has two sepals and two cream-white petals. A gland that produces nectar is positioned just below the tip of the petal. Plants flower from late July to September and produce capsules bearing two, elliptical 0.5 mm-long seeds.
Distribution & Occurrence
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
Eriocaulon parkeri typically grows on firm, mostly submerged mud or silt-covered gravel or cobbles of open mudflats and tidal marshes in fresh to slightly brackish tidal rivers and estuaries. Plants appear to tolerate a variety of water chemistries (including high to low conductivity and fresh to brackish conditions). Plants occupy portions of the tidal zone that are submerged by daily tides and may be subject to scouring and other disturbance.
In the northern portion of its range, Parker's pipewort is associated with common three-square, annual wildrice, common water-purslane, estuary beggar ticks, Eaton's beggar ticks, and Atlantic mudwort. Closer to the center of its distribution in southern New England and the mid-Atlantic, Parker's pipewort is associated with annual wild rice, common water-purslane, common arrowhead, pickerel weed, Eaton's beggar ticks, pygmy weed, golden club, and arrowleaf (Haines 2001).
|Eriocaulon parkeri is known from 50+ current occurrences, 31 of which are in Maine; 5 in Connecticut; 1 in Maryland; 4 in Massachusetts; 8 in New Jersey; 2 in Virginia (Haines 2001).|
Conservation, Ecology & Research
Pollination may be affected by tiny mites that crawl around the flower heads of Eriocaulon species (Ruhland 1930, Schuyler 1990). Because these mites are not highly mobile, pollination most likely occurs between flowers on the same head, rather than among plants.
Seeds may be dispersed by wind, water (Schuyler 1990), or waterfowl (Haines 2001).
Changes in sedimentation regimes resulting in shoreline erosion or burial of plants
Dredging of habitat and dumping of dredge spoi
Schuster et al. (1999) from the University of Connecticut in Storrs are studying Parker's pipewort phenology and ecology in the Connecticut River estuary. These studies focus on determining the correlation between environmental variables (substrate condition and elevation) and population size and vigor.
Donald Les (1999) and Leslie Mehrhoff, both of the University of Connecticut, are researching the effects of docks and piers on population vitality. This study will examine both the effects of existing coastal structures and recolonization rates in artificially disturbed and control sites.
Contact Botanist David Snyder with the New Jersey Natural Heritage Program for more information on research activities on Eriocaulon parkeri in that state.
Gerry Moore (Brooklyn Botanical Garden), has conducted many botanical surveys documenting occurrences of Eriocaulon parkeri in the Maurice River of New Jersey.
Volunteer task forces of the New England Plant Conservation Program of The New England Wild Flower Society (Framingham, Massachusetts) monitor populations of Eriocaulon parkeri in New England.
Multi-year demographic studies to assess variability in population numbers and to analyze population viability
Studies of correlations between distribution and habitat characteristics
Field transplant experiments to determine precise habitat requirements of the species
Studies of reproductive biology to determine flowering phenology, pollination mechanisms, pollen viability, seed production, seed longevity, seed dispersal, and seed dormancy and germination
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