State Status: Pennsylvania Threatened (PT)
PBS Status: Pennsylvania Threatened (PT)
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S2
Did You Know?
This species is not very showy compared to others of its kind, but its distinctive leaves makes it recognizable.
Aunt Lucy (Ellisia nyctelea) is a spring annual that grows 10-40cm tall. Its stems are light green or light purple and usually hairy along their length. The leaves tend to be oppositely arranged on the lower stem and alternately arranged on the upper stem. The hairy leaves are up to 10cm long and deeply dissected into toothed lobes.
Imperiled in the nation or state because of rarity due to very restricted range, very few populations (often 20 or fewer), steep declines, or other factors making it very vulnerable to extirpation from the nation or state.
The PA Biological Survey considers Aunt Lucy to be a species of special concern, based on the relatively few occurrences that have been confirmed. It has been assigned a rarity status of Threatened.
In Pennsylvania, it grows on damp, shady stream banks with rich alluvial soils and sometimes in disturbed ground.
Flowers in May - June
The rich shady stream banks that ellisia depends upon are highly influenced by flooding events. Alteration of the natural flood cycle, dam building, increased erosion, and clearing of floodplain forests all affect the quality of suitable habitat. Populations are also threatened by loss of habitat from development and displacement by invasive plants.
Protection of Aunt Lucy will require maintenance of known populations and preservation of rich, shaded stream bank communities. This may include sustaining appropriate hydrology, removal of invasive plants, and establishment of buffers that can moderate the effects of scouring events and run-off. Management of the known sites requires long term monitoring of populations.
Conservation Status Map
NatureServe. 2017. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available https://explorer.natureserve.org.
- NatureServe. 2018. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available at https://www.natureserve.org/explorer
- Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program. 2018.
- Rhoads, A.F. and W.M. Klein, Jr. 1993. The Vascular Flora of Pennsylvania. American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rhoads, A.F. and T.A. Block.
- 2007. The Plants of Pennsylvania: An Illustrated Manual. 2nd edition. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.