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Current Distribution and New County Records for the Confederate Daisy, Helianthus porteri (Asteraceae), in Alabama
David M. Frings and Lawrence J. Davenport

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 14, Issue 3 (2015): 484–490

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Southeastern Naturalist D.M. Frings and L.J. Davenport 2015 Vol. 14, No. 3 484 2015 SOUTHEASTERN NATURALIST 14(3):484–490 Current Distribution and New County Records for the Confederate Daisy, Helianthus porteri (Asteraceae), in Alabama David M. Frings1,* and Lawrence J. Davenport1 Abstract - Helianthus porteri (Confederate Daisy), one of the rarest plants in Alabama, has previously been known only from granitic outcrops and glades of the Piedmont province along the state’s eastern border. The discovery of new populations at Oak Mountain State Park in the sandstone outcrops of the Valley and Ridge Province led to the search for additional populations in the Piedmont, Valley and Ridge, and Appalachian Plateau provinces. We examined a total of 17 Alabama sites between 2007 and 2013 and documented 5 new populations (and 2 county records)—2 in the Piedmont and 3 in the Valley and Ridge. Introduction Helianthus porteri (A. Gray) Pruski (Confederate Daisy) has long been considered one of the rarest plants in Alabama, known only from granitic glades of 3 east-central counties. Some controversy exists concerning the correct name of this taxon, traditionally treated within the genus Viguiera in floras and checklists of the southeastern US (e.g., Cronquist 1980, Kral et al. 2011, Small 1933); here we follow the nomenclature used by Schilling (2006). This late-summer annual is 0.61–0.91 m (2–3 ft) high, has branching stems with hairy, narrow, opposite leaves. Yellow flowers appear in late August or early September and continue to bloom through the first frost of the season (Fig. 1). Natural populations of Confederate Daisy are best known from granite outcrops in the Piedmont province of South Carolina, Georgia, and extreme eastern Alabama (Fig. 2); the largest population, at Stone Mountain, GA, is celebrated each autumn with the Yellow Daisy Festival. The rocks of the habitat range from fine- to medium-grained trondhjemite to coarse- to medium-grained gneiss to quartz-diorite gneiss (Szabo et al. 1988). These dome-shaped outcrops or monadnocks, of Precambrian to Paleozoic age, weather slowly into shallow depressions that trap soil and hold moisture during dry summer months. Confederate Daisies also grow in tight fractures in the rocks that contain little, if any, soil. In addition to these natural populations, Confederate Daisy has been introduced to several other granitic areas of North Carolina (Murdy and Carter 2000, Schilling 2006). In the 1990s, amateur botanists discovered small, isolated populations of Confederate Daisy in the Valley and Ridge province of central Alabama. These populations were growing on sandstone rather than granite within Oak Mountain State Park (Shelby County) near the southwestern terminus of the Appalachian 1Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Samford University, Birmingham, AL 35229. *Corresponding author - Manuscript Editor: Alvin Diamond Jr. Southeastern Naturalist 485 D.M. Frings and L.J. Davenport 2015 Vol. 14, No. 3 Figure 1. Flowers of Confederate Daisy from the sandstone habitat at Oak Mountain State Park, Shelby County, AL. Photograph by Dr. Mike Howell. Figure 2. Distribution of Confederate Daisy in the southeastern US. Southeastern Naturalist D.M. Frings and L.J. Davenport 2015 Vol. 14, No. 3 486 Mountains. Their habitats are similar to those in the Piedmont of Georgia and east Alabama, with the exception of lithology. At Oak Mountain, the xeric habitats are based on sandstones of the Pottsville Formation of Pennsylvanian age. This extremely hard, light-gray, coarse-grained, massive-bedded sandstone contains scattered quartz pebble conglomerates; it is mapped as the Shades Sandstone Member of the Pottsville Formation by the Geological Survey of Alabama (Irvin et. al. 2002, Osborne 1996). Discovery and examination of the Oak Mountain population suggested that the daisy might be more widespread than originally thought and that additional sites for investigation should be identified. Our purpose was to determine if Confederate Daisy occurred at other locations in the Piedmont (granite) and Valley and Ridge (sandstone) provinces of Alabama, as well as in the state’s Appalachian Plateau (also sandstone). Methods Our study began in the fall of 2007 and concluded in 2013. We visited sites with known Confederate Daisy populations and collected the following data: solar exposure, pH, lithology, soil type, and elevation. We then used the field conditions observed at the known sites to identify other locations that might support previously unknown populations. We studied geologic maps to define areas that are underlain by granite and sandstone and then examined these areas on aerial photographs (Google Earth®) to determine if rock glades or expansive rock escarpments were present. If a site appeared to have the correct habitat to support Confederate Daisy, we field-checked the site for several years during the fall bl ooming season. Following this study, we deposited voucher specimens for all plant collections in the Samford University Herbarium (SAMF), Birmingham, AL. Results We surveyed 17 Alabama sites for the presence of Confederate Daisy (Table 1). This rare species had been previously documented at 4 of these sites—Almond (granite), Blakes Ferry (granite), Penton (granite), and Oak Mountain (sandstone). We located 5 new populations, 2 of which were county records (Fig. 3). Piedmont The Almond and Blakes Ferry granitic glades are located in the northern Piedmont in Randolph County, AL. Both glades are formed on Almond Trondhjemite, a fine- to medium-grained, foliated trondhjemite with abundant muscovite or biotite and epidote (Neathery and Reynolds 1975). In contrast, the Penton glade is located in the inner Piedmont in Chambers County. This glade is formed on the Rock Mills Granite Gneiss, which is included in the Dadeville Complex. The Rock Mills substrate is coarse- to medium-grained biotite granite gneiss (Szabo et al. 1988). We found 2 new Piedmont populations on Camp Hill Granite Gneiss: New Harmony in eastern Tallapoosa County near the Lee County line; and Roxana, just across the border in Lee County. Camp Hill Gneiss is composed of coarse- to Southeastern Naturalist 487 D.M. Frings and L.J. Davenport 2015 Vol. 14, No. 3 Table 1. Field data and presence of Confederate Daisy in Alabama: AT = Almond Trondhjemite, RMGG = Rock Mills Granite Gneiss, DCHG = Dadeville Complex Camp Hill Gneiss, PVB = Pottsville Formation Boyles member, PPVS = Pottsville Formation Shades Sandstone member, PPPS = Pottsville Formation Pine Sandstone member, and PPUD = Pottsville Formation undefined. Location Province County Elevation Formation Rock type Soil pH Voucher Oak Mountain State Park Valley and Ridge Shelby 900–1000 PPVS Sandstone 3.6–6.5 Davenport 3893 The Narrows Valley and Ridge Shelby 686–723 PPVS Sandstone 4.5–6.5 Davenport 3899 Moss Rock Preserve Valley and Ridge Jefferson 600–700 PPUD Sandstone 5.0–6.0 Absent Straggler’s Ridge Valley and Ridge St. Clair 900–1300 PPPS Sandstone 5.0–5.8 Davenport 4083 Bowlin Bluff Valley and Ridge St. Clair 1090–1106 PPPS Sandstone - Davenport 4139 Eight-Acre Rock Appalachian Plateau Tuscaloosa 698–735 PVB Sandstone 3.9 –4.9 Absent Hinds Road Appalachian Plateau Etowah 751–793 PPUD Sandstone 4.4–5.1 Absent Hackleburg Appalachian Plateau Marion 584–671 PPUD Sandstone 4.6–5.3 Absent Corinth Appalachian Plateau Walker 643–694 PPUD Sandstone 4.5–5.2 Absent Straight Mountain Appalachian Plateau Cherokee 1572–1677 PPUD Sandstone 6.4–7.1 Absent Lynn Overlook Appalachian Plateau DeKalb 1218–1245 PPUD Sandstone 5.3–5.8 Absent Duck River Appalachian Plateau Cullman 659–668 PPUD Sandstone 4.7–5.2 Absent Blakes Ferry Piedmont Randolph 794–835 AT Trondjhemite - Davenport 4126 Almond Piedmont Randolph 755–835 AT Trondjhemite 6.1–6.3 Davenport 4105 Penton Piedmont Chambers 755–835 RMGG Granite Gneiss 4.4–6.9 Davenport 4104 New Harmony Piedmont Tallapoosa 629–748 DCHG Granite Gneiss 6.4–6.9 Davenport 4778 Roxana Piedmont Lee 682–755 DCHG Granite Gneiss - Davenport 4790 Southeastern Naturalist D.M. Frings and L.J. Davenport 2015 Vol. 14, No. 3 488 medium-grained, foliated gneiss and quartz diorite gneiss. This gneiss may be locally rich in biotite and contain amphibolite pods. Currently, the stratigraphic relationship between the Rock Mills Granite Gneiss (Penton) and Camp Hill Granite Gneiss (New Harmony and Roxana) is uncertain. The designated boundary between these 2 formations is arbitrary and requires additional mapping and analysis (Szabo et al. 1988). Valley and Ridge We documented 3 new Valley and Ridge populations on the same sandstonebased Pottsville Formation as is found at Oak Mountain State Park: The Narrows (Shelby County), Straggler’s Ridge (St. Clair County), and Bowlin Bluff (St. Clair County). All of these sites (see Fig. 4) are developed on the basal Shades Sandstone Member of the Pottsville Formation which is composed of light-gray, very hard, coarse-grained, massive-bedded quartzose sandstone with scattered beds of quartz pebble conglomerate near the base (Raymond et al. 1988). Discussion The 9 known Alabama Confederate Daisy populations are limited by their specific habitat requirements (Table 1), which include the presence of open rock Figure 3. Distribution of Confederate Daisy in Alabama in relation to the physiographic provinces: Interior Low Plateau (ILP), Appalachian Plateau (AP), Valley and Ridge (VR), Piedmont (PM), and East Gulf Coastal Plain (GCP). Southeastern Naturalist 489 D.M. Frings and L.J. Davenport 2015 Vol. 14, No. 3 glades or escarpments formed on granites or sandstones, sandy soil with an acidic pH, and full exposure to the sun, especially on a south-facing outcrop. We found the following 8 species—each one well-adapted to these xeric conditions—at all of the Confederate Daisy sites: Andropogon virginicus L. (Broom-sedge), Cheilanthes lanosa (Michaux) D.C. Eaton (Hairy Lip Fern), Croton willdenowii G.L. Webster (Glade Rushfoil), Hypericum gentianoides (L.) BSP. (Pineweed), Liatris microcephala (Small) K. Schumann (Smallhead Blazing Star), Phemeranthus mengesii (W. Wolf) Kiger (Menges’ Fameflower), Polygala curtissii A. Gray (Curtiss’ Milkwort), and Vaccinium arboreum Marshall (Sparkleberry). Based on shared geology and soil characteristics, we identified 7 sites in the Appalachian Plateau province of Alabama that could support Confederate Daisy populations—Eight-Acre Rock (Tuscaloosa County), Hackleburg (Marion County), Corinth (Winston County), Hinds Road (Etowah County), Straight Mountain (Cherokee County), Lynn Overlook (DeKalb County), and Duck River (Cullman County). All of these locations are on the same or similar quartz sandstones as the sandstone glade sites that support populations of this species (Irvin and Osborne 2009, Szabo et. al. 1988). When we surveyed the candidate sites, we found that the plant associates listed above were present but Confederate Daisies were not. Significantly, each of these sites hosted populations of other fall-blooming, yellow-flowered composites: Helianthus longifolius Pursh (Longleaf Sunflower) or Bigelowia nuttallii L.C. Anderson (Nuttall’s Rayless Goldenrod). Figure 4. David Frings examines the Confederate Daisy population on the sandstone escarpment at Straggler’s Ridge, St. Clair County, AL. Southeastern Naturalist D.M. Frings and L.J. Davenport 2015 Vol. 14, No. 3 490 Although the habitat appeared to be suitable, we did not detect Confederate Daisy during our surveys of the Valley and Ridge location at Moss Rock (Jefferson County). This site hosts the complete set of associates listed above as well as Nuttall’s Rayless Goldenrod. The absence of Confederate Daisies from Moss Rock is most perplexing because that site lies just 12 km north of the Oak Mountain sites. Conclusions Our studies show that, contrary to published literature, Confederate Daisy is not restricted to a single rock type or physiographic province within Alabama. It is, however, apparently restricted to a narrow band of highlands and ridges near the southern terminus of the Piedmont and Valley and Ridge provinces. Outside of this band, it may be restricted by competition with other fall-blooming, yellowflowered composites. Acknowledgments We thank the Birmingham Audubon Society for awarding a Walter F. Coxe Research Fund grant to the senior author at the beginning of this project. We also thank our 2 reviewers, Brian Keener and Ed Osborne, for their very helpful suggestions. Literature Cited Cronquist, A. 1980. Vascular flora of the Southeastern United States, Volume I: Asteraceae. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 261 pp. Irvin, D.G., and W.E. Osborne. 2009. Geologic map of the Woodstock 7.5-minute quadrangle, Tuscaloosa and Bibb counties, Alabama. Quadrangle Series Map 19, Geological Survey of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL. 9 pp. Irvin, D.G., W.E. Osborne, and W.E. Ward. 2002. Geologic map of the Chelsea 7.5-minute quadrangle, Shelby County, Alabama. Quadrangle Series Map 22, Geological Survey of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL. 23 pp. Kral, R., A.R. Diamond Jr., S.L. Ginzbarg, C.J. Hansen, R.R. Haynes, B.R. Keener, M.G. Lelong, D.D. Spaulding, and M. Woods. 2011. Annotated Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Alabama. BRIT Press, Fort Worth, TX. 112 pp. Murdy, W.H., and M.E.B. Carter. 2000. Guide to the Plants of Granite Outcrops. University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA. 106 pp. Neathery, T.L., and J.W. Reynolds. 1975. Geology of the Lineville East, Ofelia, Wadley North, and Mellow Valley quadrangles. Bulletin 109, Geological Survey of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL. 120 pp. Osborne, W.E. 1996. Geology of the Helena 7.5-minute quadrangle, Jefferson and Shelby counties, Alabama. Quadrangle Series Map 14, Geological Survey of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL. 21 pp. Raymond, D.E., W.E. Osborne, C.W. Copeland, and T.L. Neathery. 1988. Alabama Stratigraphy. Circular 140, Geological Survey of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL. 97 pp. Schilling, E.E. 2006. Helianthus. Flora of North America 21:141–169. Small, J.K. 1933. Manual of the Southeastern Flora, 3rd Edition. J.K. Small, New York, NY. 1544 pp. Szabo, M.W., W.E. Osborne, C.W. Copeland Jr., and T.L. Neathery. 1988. Geologic map of Alabama. Special Map 220, Geological Survey of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL.