CPC Plant Profile: Mountain Avens
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Plant Profile

Mountain Avens (Geum peckii)

The yellow flowers of this tiny alpine perennial appear from June to September on stalks that are 20-40 cm tall. Photo Credit: New England Wildflower Society
Description
  • Global Rank: G2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Rosaceae
  • State: NH, NS
  • Nature Serve ID: 146728
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 05/01/1999

This alpine-boreal member of the Rose family can be found growing along mountain streams and rocky wet meadows, as well as bogs and sphagnum-moss depressions. Known from only two places in the world -- the Presidential Mountain Range of New Hampshire, and Digby County in Nova Scotia -- the species is considered something of a glacial relict. It is threatened by encroaching forest succession, and its habitat is likely to shrink further as the climate warms. Road ditching, an expanding gull rookery, and home-building along with a rising tide of ecotourism threaten the Canadian populations. Research and Management Summary: A number of individuals and institutions have studied a number of different aspects of this species. Management activities are planned for a Canada population of Geum peckii, but have yet to be implemented as of 2001. The New England Wild Flower Society monitors populations of this species. Plant Description: Geum peckii is an herbaceous, compact perennial, growing only 20 to 40 cm tall. Several small, compound leaves, consisting of up to 6 tiny leaflets and one larger, rounded terminal leaflet, cluster around its base. The flowering stalk, appearing June to September, bears 1 to 5 spreading, yellow flowers 1 to 3 cm across.

Participating Institutions
Updates
  • 09/15/2020
  • Propagation Research

Pollination studies by Dr. John Burger, University of New Hampshire, Department of Entomology Jenny Smedmark and Torston Eriksson of the University of Stockholm, Sweden, are studying nuclear ribosomal ITS and other sequences, as well as morphological characters, in hopes of resolving inter- and intra-generic taxonomic problems within the Geum clade and allied Rosaceae (Smedmark and Eriksson 1998).

  • 09/15/2020
  • Propagation Research

Pollination studies by Dr. John Burger, University of New Hampshire, Department of Entomology Jenny Smedmark and Torston Eriksson of the University of Stockholm, Sweden, are studying nuclear ribosomal ITS and other sequences, as well as morphological characters, in hopes of resolving inter- and intra-generic taxonomic problems within the Geum clade and allied Rosaceae (Smedmark and Eriksson 1998).

  • 09/15/2020
  • Demographic Research

Hadley and Bliss (1964) conducted extensive comparative studies of the ecophysiology of alpine species in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, including G. peckii. Other studies of related alpine congeners may be helpful for understanding the biology of this rare plant (e.g., Baskin 1985, Chambers 1991, Manuel 1999).

  • 09/12/2020
  • Seed Collection

NEWFS has collected seed several times from various populations.

  • 09/12/2020
  • Propagation Research

The New England Wild Flower Society has also determined through germination trials that dried or refrigerated seed will germinate well when sowed outdoors. NEWFS has collected seed several times from various populations. This expands on the 1934 work of Nichols, who used found through seed germination trials that Geum peckii appears to require a period of exposure to winter temperatures. These trials also showed very low germination rates (<5% of 300 seeds tested).

  • 09/12/2020
  • Genetic Research

Pollination studies by Dr. John Burger, University of New Hampshire, Department of Entomology Jenny Smedmark and Torston Eriksson of the University of Stockholm, Sweden, are studying nuclear ribosomal ITS and other sequences, as well as morphological characters, in hopes of resolving inter- and intra-generic taxonomic problems within the Geum clade and allied Rosaceae (Smedmark and Eriksson 1998).

  • 09/12/2020
  • Genetic Research

Pollination studies by Dr. John Burger, University of New Hampshire, Department of Entomology Jenny Smedmark and Torston Eriksson of the University of Stockholm, Sweden, are studying nuclear ribosomal ITS and other sequences, as well as morphological characters, in hopes of resolving inter- and intra-generic taxonomic problems within the Geum clade and allied Rosaceae (Smedmark and Eriksson 1998).

  • 09/12/2020
  • Living Collection

Plants of Geum peckii have been cultivated at Garden in the Woods (NEWFS, Framingham, Massachusetts) for approximately 20 years.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Known only from less than 20 occurrences mostly in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, but also from one population on Brier Island, Nova Scotia, in the Bay of Fundy, and two mainland occurrences in Nova Scotia. Scattered but locally abundant in these restricted areas. Threatened in the U.S. by trampling and potentially by nutrient inputs caused by overnight visitors; in Nova Scotia the habitat has been altered by drainage ditches built for agriculture.

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Climatic change, which is projected to promote increased forest cover in boreal regions, may eliminate open habitat for this and other arctic-alpine species (Kutner 1994, Kimball and Weihrauch 2000) Encroaching trees and shrubs threaten one bog on Br

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

28 extant populations in northern New Hampshire (9 others are historic; known before 1982 only); estimated as between 1000 to 3000 plants, according to G2 rank 2 extant populations in Nova Scotia, one on Brier Island (several hundred stems in several sub-populations) and one newly discovered on nearby Digby Neck with 300 to 500 stems.

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Pollination studies by Dr. John Burger, University of New Hampshire, Department of Entomology Jenny Smedmark and Torston Eriksson of the University of Stockholm, Sweden, are studying nuclear ribosomal ITS and other sequences, as well as morphological characters, in hopes of resolving inter- and intra-generic taxonomic problems within the Geum clade and allied Rosaceae (Smedmark and Eriksson 1998). Hadley and Bliss (1964) conducted extensive comparative studies of the ecophysiology of alpine species in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, including G. peckii. Other studies of related alpine congeners may be helpful for understanding the biology of this rare plant (e.g., Baskin 1985, Chambers 1991, Manuel 1999). The New England Wild Flower Society has also determined through germination trials that dried or refrigerated seed will germinate well when sowed outdoors. NEWFS has collected seed several times from various populations. This expands on the 1934 work of Nichols, who used found through seed germination trials that Geum peckii appears to require a period of exposure to winter temperatures. These trials also showed very low germination rates (<5% of 300 seeds tested).

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

In 1987, The Nature Conservancy Canada purchased the area on Brier Island containing the Geum peckii population. Although a management plan was commissioned by the Brier Island Management Committee, no management activities have been undertaken to date (COSEWIC 2001). Volunteer task forces of the New England Plant Conservation Program of The New England Wild Flower Society (Framingham, Massachusetts) monitor populations of Geum peckii in New Hampshire. Plants of Geum peckii have been cultivated at Garden in the Woods (NEWFS, Framingham, Massachusetts) for approximately 20 years.

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Determine environmental factors that limit successful recruitment of seedlings; Geum peckii does not occupy much of its available habitat and it is of interest to determine why Effects of projected climate change (especially increased mean annual temperature, earlier snowmelt, and increased UV exposure) on plant ecophysiology and fitness Trials in which the canopy over Geum peckii is opened by removing trees and shrubs Methods of protecting plants from gull activity need to be devised

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Ex situ techniques for cultivation are relatively well-established for this species.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Geum peckii
Authority Pursh
Family Rosaceae
CPC Number 2022
ITIS 24655
USDA GEPE
Common Names mountain avens | white-mountain avens
Associated Scientific Names Geum peckii | Acomastylis peckii | Sieversia peckii
Distribution Geum peckii is known only from three counties in New Hampshire (USDA Plants National Database 2001) and two sites in Nova Scotia. Although Gleason and Cronquist (1991: 248) state that G. peckii exten
State Rank
State State Rank
New Hampshire S2
Nova Scotia S1
Habitat

Geum peckii occupies two types of habitat: mountainous wet meadows and stream-sides in the high mountains of New Hampshire, and bogs and wet depressions at sea level along the coast of the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. Soils in both areas are damp, with only a shallow organic layer. In the mountains, snow and ice persist well into the growing season and high winds inhibit the growth of other vegetation (Harshberger 1929, Brackley-Tolman 2001). Montane populations grow at 1200-1830 m elevation; descending to sub-alpine elevations (425-760 m) along high-gradient streams, especially at open cascades (NatureServe 2001). This species is thought to have colonized open, mineral-soil habitats as the Pleistocene glaciers retreated, and now is restricted to cold, moist, exposed depressions where competition with other species is minimal (Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001). Geum peckii is classified as an obligate wetland plant of the northeast United States (USDA Plants National Database 2001).

Ecological Relationships

Geum peckii shows many adaptive characteristics shared with other alpine perennials. Its compact architecture; small, pinnate leaves; coarse rhizome; and hairy stems keep it firmly rooted and minimize exposure to desiccating winds and harsh sun. Its cup-like flowers act like solar collectors, and adjust their position continually to follow the sun as it moves across the sky (Brackley-Tolman 2001). This action maximizes warmth inside the flower and creates energy for flowering and seed production; it may also help to attract pollinators. John Burger and Frankie Brackley-Tolman (University of New Hampshire) have identified flies as the primary pollinators of Geum peckii in the New Hampshire mountains. The plants are also capable of limited self-pollination, though seed set is boosted by insect pollination. Geum peckii differs from other alpine perennials of the White Mountains in several aspects of its physiology (Hadley and Bliss 1964). Its photosynthetic efficiency increases at higher temperatures, and it shows little photosynthetic saturation at low light levels. It shows high respiration rates, and low shoot caloric and protein values relative to other species in the area. These features may help to explain why it needs comparatively high levels of light exposure, as well as its distribution in warm microenvironments of the alpine (Hadley and Bliss 1964).

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Bees
Bees Nectar Robber Link
Beetles
Beetles Floral Visitor Link
Flies
House flies and kin Thricops spiniger Confirmed Pollinator Link
House flies and kin Thricops septentrionalis Confirmed Pollinator Link
House flies and kin Thricops hirtulus Confirmed Pollinator Link
Small flies Confirmed Pollinator Link

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