The Possible Effect of Cypsela Morphology on Endemism in Solidago shortii

Evan Phillip Singleton


This project focuses on the differences between Solidago altissima and S. shortii, or the common and Short’s goldenrods, respectively, and endeavors to provide an explanation for the narrow endemism of Short’s goldenrod, relative to that of the common goldenrod.  The common goldenrod has a range spanning from Southern Canada to Northern Mexico, while the Short’s is found only in two locations in Kentucky and Indiana. They are rather similar to the untrained eye, but further observation reveals drastic morphological differences between the seeds of the two species, with those of the Short’s being far larger than those of the common goldenrod, despite the two species having pappi, or parachute-like tufts of hair, of virtually identical size.  This project examines data collected in the laboratory relating both to the morphology of the cypselae of the two species and behavior of the cypselae of the two species under conditions analogous to those seen in nature.  The achenes of the Short’s goldenrod were observed to be statistically significantly longer and wider than those of the common goldenrod, but no significant differences observed in the length of the pappi of the two species.  The cypselae of the Short’s goldenrod were observed to fall statistically significantly faster and be blown for a statistically significantly shorter distance than those of the common goldenrod.  This difference in the ability of the cypselae to be disseminated via wind may contribute to the rarity and endemism of the Short’s goldenrod.


goldenrod; solidago; anemochory; seeds

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