The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Bok Tower Gardens
The conservation of Matelea alabamensis is fully sponsored.
Terri Hogan contributed to this Plant Profile.
The Alabama spiny-pod is a climbing or trailing deciduous perennial vine. Each plant produces an aerial stem (1-2 m tall) from an underground rhizome. Leaves are opposite, and can be up to 15 cm long. Small clusters of flowers are borne in the leaf axils on the upper stem. The flower is 15-23 mm wide and is comprised of 5 green petals. (from CPC...)
Distribution & Occurrence
This species appears to be a habitat specialist, restricted to a narrow band between the dry upper slopes and the mesic lower slopes of ravines within southeastern deciduous forests. Although plants are shade-tolerant and will persist for long periods in areas of reduced light, fruit production in these individuals is low.
|8 sites, approximately 20 populations, two thirds of the populations consist of fewer than 50 plants each (USFWS 1996, Drapalik Pers. Comm.)|
Conservation, Ecology & Research
1) Four populations are censused annually at The Nature Conservancy's Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve (ABRP) (Thomas et al. 1998). Information is collected on survival, recruitment, stem length and height, flowering and fruit production, vine climbing characteristics, extent of populations, percent canopy cover, and degree of herbivory.
2) Populations are censused annually within one population along the Altamaha River in Georgia (Tassin Pers. Comm.).
Ecological requirements: In a study examining the relationship between environmental factors (light, slope, aspect, and climbing characteristics) and components of plant vigor (Hogan 2000), flowering individuals were growing in significantly greater light environments overall. It was also found that climbing individuals are more likely to flower than prostrate ones.
Genetic analysis: Fourteen Matelea alabamensis populations were included in a genetic study to examine the distribution of genetic variability within and among sites and populations, population differentiation, the relationship between components of plant vigor and genetic variability, and relationships among populations of M. alabamensis (Hogan 2000). The majority (85.33%) of the genetic variation was located among individuals within populations and 15.29% of the variation resided among populations within sites. Also, all fourteen of the populations were quite different from each other. However, differences among populations within sites were often greater than differences among populations across sites. No significant correlation was detected between plant size and genetic variability or between geographic and genetic distance.
Site management: One population was partially burned at ABRP in 1993. The burn appeared to have had no detectable effect on the plants within this population (Thomas et al. 1998). Mid-canopy and small upper-canopy trees were removed in one population at ABRP reducing percent canopy cover from 5% to 39% (Thomas et al. 1998). Although little detectable effect was recorded by TNC (Thomas et al. 1998), individuals were noted to be more robust (larger, more flowers and fruits per individuals) in the cleared areas than at other populations at ABRP (Hogan 2000).
Systematics: Drapalik (1970) conducted a taxonomic study of the nine southeastern species of Matelea including Matelea alabamensis.
Manual thinning of the midstory has been conducted at one site (Thomas et al. 1998).
Fire has been introduced to two sites to examine its effect on components of vigor (Thomas et al. 1998; Bentley Pers. Comm.).
Examine the effects of fire on species
Investigate the role of soil characteristics on components of plant vigor
Determine effects of herbivory on reproduction
Study potential pollen and pollinator limitation
Conduct additional searches for new populations
Establish propagation protocols.
Hogan, T. 2000. Controls on fruit production and plant vigor in the rare alabama spiny-pod (Matelea alabamensis) at the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve. In: Gordon, D.R.; Slapcinsky, J.L., editors. Annual Research Report: A Compilation of Researc
Seamon, G.; Gordon, D.R.; Harper, B.; Slapcinsky, J. 2000. Monitoring of Alabama spiny-pod (Matelea alabamensis) on the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve. In: Gordon, D.R.; Slapcinsky, J.L., editors. Annual Research Report: A Compilation of Researc