COMMON NAME

Slender snake-cotton
Slender cottonweed


FULL SCIENTIFIC NAME

Froelichia gracilis (Hook.) Moq.


FAMILY NAME COMMON

Amaranth family


FAMILY SCIENTIFIC NAME

Froelichia gracilis


IMAGES


Habit (uprooted)

Taproot

Inflorescence

Incursion

NOMENCLATURE/SYNONYMS

Synonyms: Froelichia braunii Standl.
Oplotheca gracilis Hook.


DESCRIPTION

Botanical Glossary

Froelichia gracilis is an herbaceous annual that can grow 20-70 cm (8-28 in.) in length. The slender stems measure 1-2 mm (0.04-0.07 in.) in diameter. They mostly branch from near the base of the plant, creeping along the ground and then becoming erect. The whole plant is covered in white hairs and is somewhat silky to the touch. The leaves are mostly located below the middle part of the stems and are linear to narrowly lanceolate in shape. The largest leaves measure 8 cm (3 in.) long and 1 cm (0.4 in.) wide, but most of the leaves are smaller. The apetalous flowers of Froelichia gracilis are arranged in a 3-rowed spiral on 1-3 cm (0.4-1.2 in.) long spikes. The calices of the flowers are somewhat conic in shape and measure 3.5-4 mm (0.15 in.) across. This plant flowers from July to September. The seeds of this plant are rather small, measuring 1.2-1.4 mm (0.05 in.). Page References Fernald 605, Gleason & Cronquist 109, Holmgren 98, Magee & Ahles 459. See reference section below for full citations.


SIMILAR SPECIES

None in New England.


REPRODUCTIVE/DISPERSAL MECHANISMS

This plant is mostly dispersed by seeds. These seeds can be moved by the wind, and there is evidence of it being moved down railways by trains.


DISTRIBUTION

Froelichia gracilis is native to the western part of the United States from Iowa to Colorado and south to Arkansas and Texas. It has been introduced to the northern and eastern parts of the country from New Hampshire to Florida and north to Wisconsin. In New England it has been reported from Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.


HISTORY OF INTRODUCTION IN NEW ENGLAND

Froelichia gracilis was first recorded in Windsor, CT in 1966. In 1976 it was found in Worcester, MA, and in 1977 in Derry, NH. It is commonly found along railroad tracks, indicating possible spread along these corridors.


HABITATS IN NEW ENGLAND

Abandoned Field, Agricultural Field, Coastal Beach or Dune, Edge, Open Disturbed Area, Pasture, Railroad Right-of-Way, Roadside, Utility Right-of-Way, Yard or Garden

Froelichia gracilis is usually found along the sides of roads or railroad tracks, often in sandy soil.


THREATS

While this plant is not an immediate threat to most natural areas, it has exhibited the ability to move long distances and persist. It also has the potential of invading sandy coastal areas and pitch pine/scrub oak barrens.


DOCUMENTATION NEEDS

Documentation required: A photograph or specimen of the whole plant or inflorescence.
Best time for documentation: Summer, fall


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Integrated Taxonomic Information System
Taxonomic information about the species

PLANTS Database
General information and map

Missouri Flora
Images and description

Wisconsin State Herbarium
Image and state map


REFERENCES

Fernald, M.L.  1950.  Gray's Manual of Botany 8th edition.  American Book Company, New York.

Gleason, H. A. 1952. The New Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. New York

Gleason, H.A. and A.C. Cronquist.  1991.  Manual of Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. 2nd ed.  New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Holmgren, N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual.  New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Magee, D.W and H.E. Ahles. 1999.  Flora of the Northeast. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst.

USDA, NRCS.  2001.  The PLANTS Database, Version 3.1. (http://plants.usda.gov).  National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.