Eriocaulon (Eriocaulon asteroides)

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Eriocaulon asteroides
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Eriocaulon fact file

Eriocaulon description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassLiliopsida
OrderEriocaulales
FamilyEriocaulaceae
GenusEriocaulon (1)

This tiny herb has short, linear leaves that taper to a point and are arranged in rose-like clusters (3). The flower head, or capitulum, is around 5 to 7 millimetres wide and contains a small number of star-like flowers (3).

Size
Height: up to 3 cm (2)
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Eriocaulon biology

This herb is an annual, and therefore grows for just one year (3). It is often found at the same site as Eriocaulon parvulum, which is superficially similar in appearance (4).

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Eriocaulon range

Eriocaulon asteroides is known from six locations in Nigeria and Cameroon, in West Africa (1).

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Eriocaulon habitat

Found on thin, peaty, seasonally waterlogged soil in the cracks between blocks of basalt; a habitat known as 'basalt pavement' (4). Usually associated with the bladderwort Utricularia scandens, and grasses and sedges such as Loudetia simplex and Scleria interrupta, at altitudes of between 1,700 and 2,500 metres above sea level (4).

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Eriocaulon status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU - D2) on the IUCN Red List 2002 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Eriocaulon threats

Ericocaulon asteroides is considered to be Vulnerable (1), but the precise threats to its survival have not been identified. It is likely that heavy trampling by cattle on the thin soil may damage these plants by dislodging them (4). However, without some level of grazing or of grassland fires, soil can build up, and this will in turn allow grasses such as Sporobolus spp. to encroach and smother, or compete with, the small E. asteroides (4).

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Eriocaulon conservation

Surveys to discover additional populations in the Kilum-Ijim area, as well as more detailed information on existing known populations are urgently required (4). In addition, experiments to investigate the optimum level of cattle grazing and bush fires may be needed in order to guide habitat management plans (4).

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Authentication

Authenticated by Ben Pollard, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
http://www.rbgkew.org.uk

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Glossary

Annual
Lives or grows for just one year.
Capitulum
A compound flower head, consisting of many tightly packed flowers. (a type of inflorescence, the reproductive shoot of the plant, which bears flowers).
Herb
A small, non-woody, seed bearing plant in which all the aerial parts die back at the end of each growing season.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (October, 2002) www.redlist.org
  2. Pollard, B. (Jan, 2003) Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Pers comm.
  3. Cheek, M., Onana, J.-M. and Pollard, B.J. (2000) The Plants of Mount Oku & the Ijim Ridge, a Conservation Checklist. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London.
  4. Cheek, M. (Oct, 2002) Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Pers. comm.
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Image credit

Eriocaulon asteroides  
Eriocaulon asteroides

© Martin Cheek / Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Richmond
Surrey
TW9 3AB
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 332 5000
Fax: +44 (0) 208 332 5197
info@kew.org
http://www.rbgkew.org.uk

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