Solidago sciaphila Steele
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Basis for Former Listing
Solidago sciaphila is a narrow, regional endemic occurring only in the "Driftless Area" of southeastern Minnesota and adjacent portions of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois. It is considered rare in all four states (Semple and Cook 2006). Although it does not appear in imminent danger of extirpation in Minnesota, there was concern that populations may be in decline. This concern stemed from the accelerating pace of development in southeastern Minnesota; woodland encroachment and the resultant shading of habitat; and the increasing popularity of recreational activities such as rock climbing (Nuzzo 1995). Solidago sciaphila was listed as a special concern species in Minnesota in 1984.
Basis for Delisting
Since listing Solidago sciaphila as a special concern species, targeted rare plant surveys conducted by the Minnesota Biological Survey have documented over 75 additional populations, thus revealing that it is more common than once believed to be. Special concern status is no longer necessary, and Solidago sciaphila was delisted in 2013.
Solidago sciaphila is a herbaceous perennial with a single stem that may reach 70 cm (2.3 ft.) in height. The lower leaves are 6-15 cm (2.4-5.9 in.) long and have obovate or elliptic blades tapered to winged petioles. The mid and upper leaves are 3-10 cm (1.2-3.9 in.) long and get progressively smaller as they get closer to the inflorescence. The margins of the leaves are serrated with shallow teeth. The inflorescence is wand-shaped, 10-20 cm (3.9-7.9 in.) long, and has 20-180 heads, each with several yellow flowers. Solidago sciaphila is similar to S. speciosa (showy goldenrod), but the lower leaves are obviously serrated (Semple and Cook 2006).
Throughout its range, S. sciaphila is strongly associated with dolomite and sandstone bedrock, especially dry cliffs. In most cases it appears that the species grows in crevices or on ledges of cliffs, although sometimes it has been found in loose soil at the base of a cliff or in boulder talus. Solidago sciaphila might also be found on bedrock outcrops on high ridges that might not qualify as actual cliffs. The habitats are usually dry and exposed to full sunlight or in partial shade.
Biology / Life History
Nothing is known about the biology of S. sciaphila other than what is known about the genus Solidago in general, or what can be deduced from general observations. All Solidago have insect-pollinated flowers and wind-dispersed seeds. It is by seed alone that S. sciaphila reproduces; it apparently does not reproduce vegetatively. Given the dry, exposed nature of its habitat, it appears that S. sciaphila is likely adapted to seasonal desiccation and occasional drought.
Conservation / Management
Recreational rock climbing has been shown to cause significant damage to cliff-dwelling populations of S. sciaphila (Nuzzo 1995). It would be a simple matter to inspect cliffs that occur on public lands and are being considered for rock climbing to see if S. sciaphila is present. If it is present, then it would be prudent to prohibit rock climbing in the immediate vicinity. This caution should apply to all rare rock plants, not only S. sciaphila.
Conservation Efforts in Minnesota
A number of occurrences of S. sciaphila are known to occur on public land. However, it does not appear that the conservation of this species has been incorporated into any management plans.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 2012. Statement of need and reasonableness. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Division of Ecological and Water Resources. St. Paul, Minnesota. 337 pp.
Nuzzo, V. A. 1995. Effects of rock climbing on cliff goldenrod (Solidago sciaphila Steele) in northwestern Illinois. American Midland Naturalist 133:229-241.
Salamun, P. J. 1963. Preliminary reports on the flora of Wisconsin, No. 50. Compositae III - Composite family. Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts and Letters 52:353-82.
Semple, J. C., and R. E. Cook. 2006. Solidago. Pages 107-166 in Flora of North America Editorial Committee, editors. Flora of North America north of Mexico. Volume 20. Oxford University Press, New York, New York.