CPC Plant Profile: Plymouth Rose-gentian
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Plant Profile

Plymouth Rose-gentian (Sabatia kennedyana)

The flowers of Sabatia kennedyana are showy and large (to 5 cm in diameter), with 9 to 11 pink petals surrounding a yellow center bordered with red. Photo Credit: Dorothy Long
Description
  • Global Rank: G3 - Vulnerable
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Gentianaceae
  • State: MA, NC, NS, RI, SC, VA
  • Nature Serve ID: 153435
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 12/07/2021

Sabatia kennedyana is a perennial, herbaceous plant bearing gorgeous, pink, daisy-like flowers on tall stems. It forms colonies along the shores of coastal plain ponds from Nova Scotia south to South Carolina. The population densities and reproduction of this species are tightly tied to fluctuating water levels in these ponds, and as such, are affected by water quality and quantity in these ponds. Populations of Sabatia kennedyana are at risk throughout its range, as humans increasingly encroach on these ponds, pollute their shores, and withdraw water. Research and Management Summary: A number of individuals and institutions have studied this species. Management activities are also underway to help protect and preserve Sabatia kennedyana. Plant Description: Sabatia kennedyana can form rhizomatous colonies, with vertical, few-branched stems reaching 65 cm (25 inches) in height. Its 2 to 5 cm-long leaves are narrow and arrayed oppositely along the stem. The flowers, which appear from July to mid-September, are showy and large (to 5 cm in diameter), with 9 to 11 pink petals surrounding a yellow center bordered with red. The capsules are cylindrical and measure 7 to 11 mm in length.

Participating Institutions
Updates
  • 09/27/2020
  • Living Collection

This showy plant is propagated and sold by the Lazy S'S Farm Nursery in Barboursville, Virginia and by Plant Delights Nursery, Raleigh, North Carolina.

  • 09/27/2020
  • Propagation Research

Graduate student, Lelia Orrell (University of Massachusetts at Boston), is performing extensive research on the metapopulation dynamics, reproduction, and population genetics of Sabatia kennedyana.

  • 09/27/2020
  • Living Collection

The Norcross Sanctuary in Monson, Massachusetts, also has Sabatia kennedyana in its rare plant collection

  • 09/27/2020
  • Propagation Research

The New England Wild Flower Society has found, through germination trials, that freshly collected seed in dry , cold storage will germinate readily as long as the seed is not covered after sowing.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Sabatia kennedyana is known from Nova Scotia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and North Carolina and South Carolina. It occurs most abundantly in Massachusetts. Threats to this taxon include development, trampling, and off-road vehicles.

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

As articulated by MANHESP 1985, McHorney 1996, Enser 2001, NatureServe 2001, Orrell 2001, and COSEWIC 2001: Increased recreational use of pondshores, leading to trampling and habitat destruction Increased water withdrawal by expanding coastal popu

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Nine sites in Nova Scotia are known, encompassing approximately 3500 plants (COSEWIC 2001). Approximately 112 occurrences in 5 counties are verified in Massachusetts as of 1985 (MANHESP 1985), with 37 additional historic occurrences. The species is reported from 4 counties in Rhode Island, 1 county in South Carolina, and 1 county in North Carolina (USDA 2001). The global population is problematic to estimate, because plant numbers fluctuate widely depending upon pond water levels, but may range to approximately 10,000.

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

The New England Wild Flower Society has found, through germination trials, that freshly collected seed in dry , cold storage will germinate readily as long as the seed is not covered after sowing. COSEWIC is monitoring populations of the plant and conducting general research on the ecology of coastal plain ecosystems (COSEWIC 2001). Detailed hydrological studies of the coastal plain ponds of Barnstable are underway at The Massachusetts Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (McHorne 1996) The Norcross Sanctuary in Monson, Massachusetts, also has Sabatia kennedyana in its rare plant collection Graduate student, Lelia Orrell (University of Massachusetts at Boston), is performing extensive research on the metapopulation dynamics, reproduction, and population genetics of Sabatia kennedyana. Professor Paul Keddy, now with Southeastern Louisiana University, has published several papers on the status and ecology of Sabatia kennedyana in Nova Scotia. Graduate student, Stephen Craine (Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts) is conducting research on factors influencing the invasion of coastal plain ponds by pitch pine on Cape Cod. Graduate student Nina Coleman (University of Massachusetts at Amherst) is studying the effects of removing the invasive grass, Phragmites australis from coastal plain ponds on Cape Cod in terms of the recovery of several rare plant species This showy plant is propagated and sold by the Lazy S'S Farm Nursery in Barboursville, Virginia and by Plant Delights Nursery, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Plant Conservation Volunteers and Task Force members of the New England Wild Flower Society (Framingham, Massachusetts) regularly monitor populations of Sabatia kennedyana. COSEWIC and partner conservation organizations in Nova Scotia are developing landowner education programs to encourage protection of coastal plain ponds and more sensitive use of these critical areas by all-terrain vehicles (Wilson 1997, Phinney 1999, COSEWIC 2001) The town of Fall River, which supports an occurrence of Sabatia kennedyana and numerous coastal plain ponds, has developed an Open Space and Recreation Plan that can serve as a potential model for other communities with similar conservation concerns.

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Long-term demographic studies are needed to inform population viability analyses

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Studies of the effects of long-term seed bank storage are needed.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Sabatia kennedyana
Authority Fern.
Family Gentianaceae
CPC Number 6536
ITIS 30015
USDA SAKE
Common Names Plymouth gentian | Plymouth pink | Plymouth rose gentian
Associated Scientific Names Sabatia kennedyana | Sabatia dodecandra var. kennedyana | Sabatia dodecandra
Distribution Sabatia kennedyana exhibits a patchy distribution, occurring only in Nova Scotia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. It is reportedly historic in Connecticut (
State Rank
State State Rank
Massachusetts S3
North Carolina S2
Nova Scotia S1
Rhode Island S1
South Carolina S2
Virginia SNA
Habitat

Sabatia kennedyana is a specialized inhabitant of coastal plain pond shores along the east coast of North America. It is known from """"sandy, peaty soils and cobble beaches of streams and lakes"""" in the Tusket Valley of Nova Scotia, where there are at least 8 populations (Newell 1999, COSEWIC 2001). Periodic water level fluctuations tend to exclude competitively superior shrubs and other plants (Keddy 1985, Keddy et al. 1994). Ice scour and wave action also help to prevent the establishment of more invasive plant species (COSEWIC 2001). Absent from the coasts of Maine, New Brunswick, and New Hampshire, the species next appears in southeastern Massachusetts, where it attains the highest population densities in its range along sandy to peaty shores of freshwater ponds on the coastal plain (U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2001, MANHESP 1985). There, it occurs with other restricted members of the coastal plain plant guild, including: Eleocharis melanocarpa, Drosera filiformis, Fuirea pumila, Gratiola aurea, and Coreopsis rosea. The species occurs in similar habitats in Rhode Island (Enser 1999). The species next occurs disjunctly in Virginia and the Carolinas along river and pondshores with variable water levels. It is regarded as an obligate wetland species (USDA 2001).

Ecological Relationships

Sabatia kennedyana is perennial (or possibly biennial in some populations), with persistent, thick stolons that produce new rosettes of plants. Flowers are protandrous (male parts appear first), which may encourage out-crossing (Dudash 1990, Orrell 2001). Floral color and pattern varies widely among plants (Orrell 2001). Flowering is highest in years when the water level drops (COSEWIC 2001). Possible pollinators include syrphid flies and beetles (Orrell 2001). Studies by Dudash (1990, 1991, 1993) on the reproductive biology of the more common congener, Sabatia angularis, may be informative about inbreeding depression and pollinator limitation in S. kennedyana. Results from mixed planting trials suggest that the species is a poor competitor for light and nutrients compared to other wetland plants, and ranks low in a competitive hierarchy along with other rare specialists of coastal plain ponds (Hill and Keddy 1992, Keddy et al. 1994, Gaudet and Keddy 1995). The species is limited in its capacity to form seed banks (Wisheu and Keddy 1991), so population numbers may vary widely among years, especially if rhizomes do not survive disturbance.

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID

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