Tall Hairy Groovebur - Agrimonia gryposepala
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Agrimonia gryposepala occurs in southeastern Montana where it associates with hardwood draws and open woodlands, sometimes along streams. The first observation was made in 1886 and all other known occurrences have been found since 1983. Recent floristic surveys have found more occurrences indicating that observations may be more limited by the scarcity of botanists than by the species. Additional data on locations, population sizes, threats, and trends is greatly needed.
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Plants: Perennials with erect stems, pinnate leaves, and egg-shaped, leafy stipules (Lesica et al. 2012). Plants produce one to several short rhizomes (about 5 centimeters) that usually have one bud each (Kline and Sorenson 2008). Roots are fibrous (Kline and Sorenson 2008). First-year seedlings generally have a few three-parted leaves. Second year plants grow a stem and flowers (Kline and Sorenson 2008). Across the entire species range, plants can be 35 to 150 centimeters tall (Kline and Sorenson 2008).
Leaves: Larger leaves have 5 to 9 leaflets, which are serrate and oblanceolate, 1 to 4 centimeters long, and glandular beneath (Lesica et al. 2012). The terminal leaflet is the largest (Kline and Sorenson 2008).
Inflorescence: Narrow, glandular, bracteate raceme (Lesica et al. 2012).
Typically flowers July to mid-August (Kline and Sorenson 2008). Before plants go dormant in the fall they grow a structure resembling a basal rosette. It actually is a short stem with a small cluster of leaves on internodes that are only a few millimeters apart. The next year, this section grows into the flower-bearing stem (Kline and Sorenson 2008).
Distinguishing the types of pubescence (use a hand lens) and their distribution on the plant is essential for identifying Agrimonia species (Kline and Sorenson 2008). There are four types of hairs: short-stalked glandular; sessile, glistening glandular; non-glandular soft (either straight or wavy); and non-glandular stiff and straight (hirsute). On its upper stem, A. gryposepala has both types of glandular hairs and hirsute non-glandular hairs (erect and about 2 millimeters tall). In contrast, A. striata has soft and hirsute non-glandular hairs (Kline and Sorenson 2008).
The mature fruits of A. gryposepala are fairly distinctive, with the lowermost row of hypanthium bristles reflexed. In comparison, the lowermost bristles of A. striata jut out at a 90 degree angle (Kline and Sorenson 2008). Stipules differ slightly: those of A. gryposepala are half-egg-shaped and incised, while those of A. striata are more sickle-shaped and either incised near the base or mostly entire (Kline and Sorenson 2008).
Cascade and Carbon counties; MT to ON south to KS, MO, IN and NC (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
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(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
Found in hardwood draws and in open woodlands, sometimes along streams. In plains, valleys (Lesica 2012).
In a New York study, survival of Agrimonia gryposepala seedlings did not change as the biomass of non-native earthworms increased, while twelve other forest understory plants showed decreased seedling survival. The negative impacts to most species were thought to be connected to a reduced leaf litter layer leading to greater moisture stress, erosion, and frost heave. A. gryposepala plants grow quickly and have a relatively broad ecological tolerance that includes younger forests and some disturbance. Indeed, A. gryposepala survival was reduced on sites with low light levels (as indicated by an increase in Leaf Area Index) (Dobson and Blossey 2015).
Flowers: The petals are 3 to 6 millimeters long and light yellow. The ovary is surrounded by a fused structure (hypanthium) which has 10 grooves on the outside and hooked bristles above. The grooves are glandular but lack stiff hairs (Lesica et al. 2012). There are around 15 stamens (Lesica et al. 2012). One to several flowers reach anthesis at once (Kline and Sorenson 2008). At this point, the stamens spread out but bend back in during the day, self-pollinating the flower if it has not been cross-pollinated (Kline and Sorenson 2008).
Fruit: The hypanthium expands to become 3 to 5 millimeters long and hardens as its bristles unfurl (Lesica et al. 2012; Kline and Sorenson 2008). It encloses a single round achene about 3 millimeters wide (Lesica et al. 2012). The mature fruit has four to five rows of bristles, with the lowermost row bent down below horizontal (Kline and Sorenson 2008).
Before germinating, fruits need to experience temperatures of 2 to 5 degrees Celsius for about two months in moist soil. Seedlings appear from 10 days to 3 months after this cold stratification (Kline and Sorenson 2008).
Agrimonia plants contain tannins and are used medicinally to tighten tissues (astringent), to stimulate the liver (cholagogue), to aid digestion (stomachic), and to reduce inflammation (antiphlogistic) (Cernaj and Oravec 1993).
A solution of ground-up stems, leaves, and roots in an organic solvent such as acetone or ethanol inhibits growth of certain bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus. This extract remains effective when exposed to heat of up to 100 degrees Celsius and is non-toxic to humans (Jensen and Miller 1951).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Cernaj, P. and V. Oravec. 1993. Variability of active substances in Agrimonia L. species. Acta Horticulturae 330:133-136.
- Dobson, A. and B. Blossey. 2015. Earthworm invasion, white-tailed deer and seedling establishment in deciduous forests of north-eastern North America. Journal of Ecology 103:153-164.
- Jensen, L. B. and W. A. Miller. 1951. Preservation of food products. Unites States Patent 2,550,262.
- Kline, G. J. and P. D. Sorenson. 2008. A revision of Agrimonia (Rosaceae) in North and Central America. Brittonia 60(1): 11-33.
- Lesica, P., M. T. Lavin, and P. F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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