The Hunt Is On: Meet the Treasures!

The VNPS Fundraiser for 2014 is part two of the Natural Treasure Hunt, an effort to make funds available for researching, locating, and mapping some of Virginia’s floral treasures that are in need of help if we want to keep them around. On the homepage of Virginia’s Department of Natural Heritage , (DNH), our partners in the project, you will see this quote from Aldo Leopold:

To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.

L1190222-impAnd this sentiment expresses perfectly the reason the 2014 Fundraiser is so important. When a plant is lost from the rosters of this world, we know we have lost something beautiful, but we have no idea what we have lost that we might have discovered if we had kept the option open. We hope you will help us make sure that future generations have the benefits of the same resources for beauty and utility that we have now.

Let’s meet one of the treasures on the DNH’s list. Aeschynomene virginica, is commonly known as sensitive jointvetch and Virginia jointvetch; so named because its leaves fold slightly when touched. 

Aeschymonene virginica Photo credit: Virginia Department of Conservation and Rec.

Aeschymonene virginica
Photo credit: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Gary P. Fleming

Native to fresh tidal marshes in the Mid-Atlantic states, although now absent entirely from both Pennsylvania and Delaware. Habitat destruction, especially related to shorelines, has reduced its population to 24 known locations. This plant has a G2 ranking, meaning that it is imperiled because of rarity or because other factors demonstrably make it very vulnerable to extinction (extirpation).

Description from Center for Plant Conservation: Aeschynomene virginica is a robust, annual herb in the pea family that grows up to 2 meters (6 feet) tall. It produces alternate, compound leaves with 30-56 leaflets along the stem that are slightly hairy and dotted with glands. Flowers are pea-like, about 1 cm (0.4 in) long, and yellow with prominent red veins; flowers appear in late July and continue into autumn. Fruits are segmented pods about 6 cm (2.3 in) long and are produced until first frost. Not to be confused with the invasive Aeschynomene indica.

In the weeks to come, we will share more photos of the plants we seek to save. In the meantime, take a look at the entire list of species, along with the VNPS chapter that covers the area they are in, their county, GS ranking, last observation, whether the plant is in managed or private land, or has aquatic access, by clicking the link below. 



sue dingwell