CPC Plant Profile: Hairy Rattleweed
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Plant Profile

Hairy Rattleweed (Baptisia arachnifera)

Stems in bloom. Photo Credit: Carol and Hugh Nourse
Description
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • State: GA
  • Nature Serve ID: 157477
  • Date Inducted in National Collection:

Hairy rattleweed is an endangered taxon, found in the legume family. The perennial herb can grow nearly a meter tall and has a reddish-brown stem with dense silvery-white trichomes. Flowers bloom in the summer months of June and July, showing off clusters of bright yellow inflorescences. In fruit, the herb produces a tough, pointed, hairy bean pod (Coder 2017). The trichomes of this taxon differentiate it from a similar Baptisia species that is hairless (Chafin 2007).

Participating Institutions
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Updates
  • 10/17/2020
  • Propagation Research

The State Botanic Garden of Georgia collected seeds 2015 and 2016 for safeguarding ex situ and for return to protected land owned by The Nature Conservancy of Georgia. Generations continue to be reared at the SBGG.

  • 10/17/2020
  • Reintroduction

SBGG are following this work with an in situ safeguarding study initiated in 2011, putting plants in the ground during the Winter of 2013 (Feb-Mar) within the original range of the species, working with private landowners and USFWS Field Office in Athens, Georgia.

  • 10/17/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

SBGG have sent indexed seeds to North Carolina Botanical Garden (NCBG) for long term seed storage and will be recollecting seeds in the Fall of 2013 to increase the ex situ safeguarding collections at SBGG and in seed storage at NCBG.

  • 10/17/2020
  • Living Collection

SBGG have been safeguarding indexed material since 1997 in both potted collections and raised beds. GADNR has designated SBGG as the official safeguarding institution for this species since 2002.

  • 10/17/2020
  • Seed Collection

The State Botanic Garden of Georgia collected seeds 2015 and 2016 for safeguarding ex situ and for return to protected land owned by The Nature Conservancy of Georgia. Generations continue to be reared at the SBGG.

Jennifer Ceska
  • 12/14/2017

New plants of this species have been located illustrating need for on-going mapping and management as habitat is opened. 

Jennifer Ceska
  • 12/14/2017

The Nature Conservancy has been burning their site with great success burning annually every year except 2016 because of local drought. A safeguarding site was planted in 2014 on TNC land, mapped and tracked by students from Georgia Southern University examining survival with outplanting. Timber plantation populations continue to decline at a rate greater than 90%.

Jennifer Ceska
  • 12/14/2017

A new plan involves a study documenting how this species can thrive within timber harvest programs with a few tweaks of the land preparation for planting timber protocols. Conservation partners for this project include US Fish & Wildlife Athens and Charleston Field Offices and at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia Department of Natural Resources Nongame Conservation Section, and Botanical Guardian volunteers.

Jennfier Ceska
  • 12/14/2017

The State Botanic Garden of Georgia collected seeds 2015 and 2016 for safeguarding ex situ and for return to protected land owned by The Nature Conservancy of Georgia. Generations continue to be reared at the SBGG.

Clarice Mendoza
  • 11/09/2017

Due to the drastic reduction in population size, research has found that hairy rattleweed produces many fewer seeds than a common, closely related Baptisia species and its seeds are also heavily eaten by weevils. Another study found that plants require a relatively open canopy to flower, a condition difficult to sustain in the populations that occur in pine plantations (Chafin et. al. 2016).

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Known only from a 260 square km area of the lower Coastal Plain of Georgia, this species' native habitat overlaps with pine plantation managed for pulpwood. Some of the management techniques appear to be compatible with maintaining the open habitat this species' requires.

Duncan
  • 01/01/2010

Threats include: fire suppression, lowering of water table, site drainage, logging and conversion to pine plantations, herbicide and fertilizer use by timber industry, seed predation by weevils, and canopy closure leading to loss of sunlight and reduced fruit/seed product.

Duncan
  • 01/01/2010

26 populations remain in the Brantley and Wayne Counties, GA, but the populations are declining.

Duncan
  • 01/01/2010

SBGG have been safeguarding indexed material since 1997 in both potted collections and raised beds. GADNR has designated SBGG as the official safeguarding institution for this species since 2002. SBGG have sent indexed seeds to North Carolina Botanical Garden (NCBG) for long term seed storage and will be recollecting seeds in the Fall of 2013 to increase the ex situ safeguarding collections at SBGG and in seed storage at NCBG. SBGG are following this work with an in situ safeguarding study initiated in 2011, putting plants in the ground during the Winter of 2013 (Feb-Mar) within the original range of the species, working with private landowners and USFWS Field Office in Athens, Georgia.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Baptisia arachnifera
Authority Duncan
Family Fabaceae
CPC Number 537
ITIS 192870
USDA BAAR
Common Names Hairy Rattleweed | Hairy Wild Indigo | Cobwebby Wild Indigo | False Wild Indigo
Associated Scientific Names Baptisia arachnifera
Distribution The species is endemic to a 50-square mile area across two counties in southeast Georgia: Brantley county and Wayne county (Georgia Department of Natural Resource 1995).
State Rank
State State Rank
Georgia S1
Habitat

This herb typically grows in well-drained, sandy ridges in open pine-palmetto flatwoods (Coder 2017, Chafin et. al. 2016). It especially persists on intensively managed slash pine plantations and along road and powerline rights-of-way where competitors (invading woody plants) are kept under control (Patrick et. al. 2015).

Ecological Relationships

Hairy rattleweed has widely spreading, rhizomatous rootstocks and may even be clonal. Its large rootstock suggests that plants are long-lived and well adapted to the sandy climate of southeast Georgia. Deeming itself self-incompatible, the hairy rattleweed mainly relies on insect pollinators to effect cross-pollination. Seeds are dispersed when stems break off at ground level and are blown, tumbleweed-style, across the ground. Weevils may also contribute to dispersing seeds (Chafin et. al. 2016).

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Beetles
Weevils Apion rostrum Suspected Pollinator Floral Link
Reintroduction
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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