Cooley's Meadowrue - Center For Plant Conservation
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Plant Profile

Cooley's Meadowrue (Thalictrum cooleyi)

This plant, which is usually at least 1 meter high, is shown. Photo Credit: Rob Gardner
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Ranunculaceae
  • State: FL, GA, NC
  • Nature Serve ID: 137457
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/10/1987

Cooley's meadowrue is endemic to the coastal plain in the southeastern United States. This plant occurs in fire-dependent web bogs and savannas. The main causes for the decline of the species can be attributed to fire suppression and loss of habitat due to agricultural/silvicultural practices. Only eleven populations of this plant remain, scattered in four counties in North Carolina and one county in Florida. The single population in Florida was severely impacted by commercial timber operations, with only nine plants remaining, and one population in North Carolina was covered with fill material during road maintenance operations. While this species does indeed need some level of disturbance, it can not survive extreme habitat alterations such as bulldozing, plowing for agriculture/silviculture, or direct application of herbicides. (USFWS 1990) This rhizomatous, perennial herb can grow to heights of 1 meter or more when it flowers in late June and early July. It is dioecious, meaning that male and female flowers are not on the same plant. In fact, this is contributing to the plant's rarity, because most of the remaining populations have a 3 to 1 ratio of male to female plants, leading to reproductive and genetic problems. An extreme instance in in one site in North Carolina, where no male plants had been found at the site in 8 years (Leonard 1987). (USFWS 1990)

Where is Cooley's Meadowrue (Thalictrum cooleyi) located in the wild?


Occurs in moist to wet bogs and savannas, often growing with tulip poplar, cypress, and/or Atlantic white cedar (Leonard 1987).


Pender, Onslow, Brunswick, and Columbus counties in North Carolina and Walton county, Florida. (USFWS 1990)

States & Provinces:

Cooley's Meadowrue can be found in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina

Which CPC Partners conserve Cooley's Meadowrue (Thalictrum cooleyi)?

CPC's Plant Sponsorship Program provides long term stewardship of rare plants in our National Collection. We are so grateful for all our donors who have made the Plant Sponsorship Program so successful. We are in the process of acknowledging all our wonderful plant sponsorship donors on our website. This is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.

Conservation Actions

Tina Stanley
  • 05/11/2023
  • Seed Collection Orthodox Seed Banking

According to a March 2023 extract of the Florida Plant Rescue Database, Atlanta Botanical Garden holds 15 accessions of Thalictrum cooleyi of wild origin.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

An endemic of the southeastern Coastal Plain from Florida to North Carolina. The current distribution has been reduced to only two small areas in North Carolina and one in Florida (three to four possible populations have also been observed within a single drainage in Georgia, but these have not been positively identified as Thalictrum cooleyi). At least six historical occurrences have been lost to conversion of habitat to silviculture or agriculture and these factors continue to threaten some of the few remaining populations. Throughout the range, fire suppression has increased the relative rarity of suitable habitat (which was probably never abundant) and contributed to the species' overall decline. The remaining populations will need active management with prescribed burns in order to persist.

  • 01/01/2010

Habitat loss through succession due to fire suppression Agriculture/silviculture practices Mining (part of one population exists on the edge of an inactive marl pit mine Highway construction/Improvement Herbicide use (USFWS 1989)

  • 01/01/2010

12 locations, 11 in North Carolina and 1 in Florida (USFWS 1990)

  • 01/01/2010

None known.

  • 01/01/2010

At one of the sites where this species occurs in North Carolina, The Nature Conservancy is working with the landowner, a commercial timber company, to manage the habitat with prescribed fire. Another site in North Carolina is being managed by The Nature Conservancy in a similar way. (USFWS 1990)

  • 01/01/2010

Research on population biology Population genetics Pollination biology

  • 01/01/2010

Maintain existing collection at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. Explore possibility of conducting reintroduction projects.


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Taxon Thalictrum cooleyi
Authority Ahles
Family Ranunculaceae
CPC Number 4264
ITIS 18665
Common Names Cooley's meadowrue | Cooley's meadow-rue
Associated Scientific Names Thalictrum cooleyi
Distribution Pender, Onslow, Brunswick, and Columbus counties in North Carolina and Walton county, Florida. (USFWS 1990)
State Rank
State State Rank
Florida S1
Georgia S1
North Carolina S1
Ecological Relationships



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