Rhodiola integrifolia subsp. leedyi (Leedy's Roseroot)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Rhodiola
Family:Crassulaceae (Stonecrop)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Status:
  • Federally Threatened
  • State Endangered
Habitat:part shade, shade, sun; north facing dolomite cliffs
Bloom season:June
Plant height:6 to 18 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: UPL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 4-petals Cluster type: flat

[photo of male flowers (subsp. integrifolia)] Flat cluster to 2 inches across at the tip of the stem, with separate male and female flowers on separate plants. Flowers are about ¼ inch across with 4 dark red, oblong petals (sometimes 5), often green or yellow at the base, and shorter, linear sepals. Male flowers have yellow-tipped stamens, female flowers have 4 or 5 carpels in the center each with a short, stout style at the tip.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate, fleshy and succulent, blue-green with a waxy coating, 1 to 2 inches long, up to ½ inch wide, widest near the tip, hairless, stalkless, and either toothless or with irregular teeth, mostly around the tip half. Stems are single or multiple from the base, smooth, unbranched, and leafy. Small colonies are produced from spreading rhizomes.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing fruit] The carpels of female flowers inflate as seed develops, expanding up to 1/3 inch long with the carpel tip spreading outward. Seeds are winged and up to 2.8 mm long.

Notes:

Leedy's Roseroot, formerly known as Sedum rosea var. leedyi, is a cliff-dwelling, glacial relic known from only 2 counties in southeastern Minnesota and is one of 3 federally Threatened plant species in the state. Rhodiola integrifolia has 3 recognized subspecies in North America, the other 2 (subsp. integrifolia and neomexicana) being western alpine and arctic species ranging from Mexico to Alaska (the flower photo above is subsp. integrifolia, taken in Alaska). Disjunct from the main species populations, subsp. leedyi populations are disjunct from each other as well, with the only other known locations in New York state and another recently discovered in the Black Hills of South Dakota. According to the DNR, the species was unknown to science until 1936, when it was discovered on cliffs above the Root River in Olmsted County. It was listed as a state Endangered species in 1984. The cliff habitat of Leedy's Roseroot is not so much at risk as are changes in hydrology and groundwater contamination from incompatible land management practices above these cliffs. The MN populations are isolated from each other and at least one may be in decline from inbreeding.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Olmsted County. Rhodiola integrifolia flowers by Alfred Cook used under CC BY 3.0 / cropped.

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