CPC Plant Profile: Bent Avens
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Plant Profile

Bent Avens (Geum geniculatum)

This shot shows the compound, hirsute basal leaves characteristic of this spcies. Photo Credit: Robert Sutter
  • Global Rank: G2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Rosaceae
  • State: NC, TN
  • Nature Serve ID: 141196
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/25/1988

Bent Avens is endemic to the southern Appalachians and is found on only a few high peaks in North Carolina and Tennessee. It is speculated that past climate changes are the reason for its limited distribution. A warming/drying period may have made all but the highest, wettest mountains inhospitable to the plants. As a result, all known populations are found on moist cool sites above 4,000 feet in elevation. These herbaceous perennials are most often present as a basal rosette of hirsute compound leaves. In August and September the plants bloom and produce a number of stalks bearing small flowers with greenish-white petals. The floral display is not particularly showy but it is the flowers and fruits that allow biologists to distinguish this plant from others in the genus with which it sometimes occurs. Therefore, monitoring and field work on Bent Avens often occur during flowering or fruiting.

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Michael Kunz
  • 11/30/2021
  • Seed Collection

In order to update an aging seed collection from 1988 and to contribute seed to the CPC IMLS seed longevity project, team members from NCBG collected approximately 2000 seeds of Geum geniculatum (bent avens).  This species is only found at high elevations and is facing many threats including herbivory from deer, which we found extensively at this collection location.  Herbivory greatly reduced the number of individuals with mature seeds as we found many plants with clipped stems.  This collection was made possible through CPC and in cooperation with the US Forest Service.

Center for Plant Conservation
  • 08/18/2021
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

In 2021, CPC contracted North Carolina Botanical Garden to recollect seed from a population currently held in long term orthodox seed storage as part of an IMLS-funded seed longevity experiment. The National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation will evaluate how germination tested viability and RNA Integrity of seed lots decline over time in storage.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Restricted to high elevations in the southern Appalachians in northwest North Carolina and northeast Tennessee.?Locally abundant but known from only 4 populations covering 14 occurrences.

  • 01/01/2010

Habitat loss. Disruption of hydrology as a result of development or logging. (Oakley 1991)

  • 01/01/2010

There are 15 occurrences in North Carolina and 1 in Tennessee. High quality sites have thousands of individuals (Oakley 1991).

  • 01/01/2010


  • 01/01/2010

Little management is necessary. Informal monitoring is carried out by the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program and the Tennessee Ecological Services Division.

  • 01/01/2010

Much research is needed on this little known species beginning with basic life history studies. In addition, areas such as the effect of climate change should be investigated. The remnant populations of this plant persist in mountain refugia and may be unable to migrate or withstand global warming. Another sort of habitat change which requires research is hardwood canopy dieback. This is currently occurring in some high elevation forests in the Southern Appalachians. There are areas where this may affect populations of Bent Avens. The effect of this change should be studied. In addition, areas that have experienced canopy dieback may also experience encroachment by blackberries. Studies on how to best manage the blackberries may benefit the affected populations of Bent Avens. Further surveying of suitable habitat for possible populations may prove useful. This is especially important on Forest Service land being actively timbered (Oakley 1991).

  • 01/01/2010

Seed collection from populations not represented in collection.


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Taxon Geum geniculatum
Authority Michx.
Family Rosaceae
CPC Number 2021
ITIS 24651
Common Names bent avens
Associated Scientific Names Geum geniculatum
Distribution North Carolina and Tennessee (Oakley 1991)
State Rank
State State Rank
North Carolina S1S2
Tennessee S1

Bent avens is found only in the southern Appalachians at elevations of 4000-5000 feet. The most robust populations occur in seepy boulder fields and in streambeds or on banks in early to late success ional northern hardwood, boulder field and cove forests (Oakley 1991). The species is often found growing amongst a dense herb layer but does not occur in the presence of a dense shrub layer.

Ecological Relationships

Bent Avens is apparently pollinated by bumblebees and honeybees. It is thought that the seed dispersal mechanisms are wind, water and possibly animals (Oakley 1991).

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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