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SPECIES:  Thalictrum dioicum
Early meadow-rue. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency image.



SPECIES: Thalictrum dioicum
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION: Pavek, Diane S. 1992. Thalictrum dioicum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. Revisions: On 6 June 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS from: early meadowrue to: early meadow-rue. Images were also added.
ABBREVIATION: THADIO SYNONYMS: NO-ENTRY NRCS PLANT CODE: THDI COMMON NAMES: early meadow-rue quicksilver-weed dioecious meadowrue TAXONOMY: The scientific name for early meadow-rue is Thalictrum dioicum L. It has three recognized varieties in Canada: Thalictrum dioicum var. adiantinum Greene, Thalictrum dioicum var. huronense Greene Thalictrum dioicum var. langfordii Greene [19]. In Canada and Minnesota, this species has been confused with Thalictrum venulosum Trel., which is a separate and valid species [12]. LIFE FORM: Forb FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: No special status OTHER STATUS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Thalictrum dioicum
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Early meadow-rue's range extends from south-central Canada south to Georgia and Alabama. It is distributed eastward from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Coast [9,17,20,21].
Distribution of early meadow-rue. Map courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC [2018, June 6] [23].
   FRES10  White - red - jack pine
   FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine
   FRES14  Oak - pine
   FRES15  Oak - hickory
   FRES18  Maple - beech - birch
   FRES19  Aspen - birch

     AL  CT  GA  IL  IA  KS  KY  MA  ME  MI
     MN  MO  ND  NH  RI  SC  SD  TN  VT  WV
     WI  LB  MB  ON  PQ  SK

   14  Great Plains
   16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

   K081  Oak savanna
   K082  Mosaic of bluestem prairie and oak - hickory forest
   K084  Cross Timbers
   K089  Black Belt
   K095  Great Lakes pine forest
   K099  Maple - basswood forest
   K100  Oak - hickory forest
   K102  Beech - maple forest
   K103  Mixed mesophytic forest
   K104  Appalachian oak forest
   K106  Northern hardwoods
   K107  Northern hardwoods - fir forest
   K108  Northern hardwoods - spruce forest
   K111  Oak - hickory - pine forest
   K112  Southern mixed forest
   K114  Pocosin

     1  Jack pine
    14  Northern pin oak
    15  Red pine
    16  Aspen
    18  Paper birch
    19  Gray birch - red maple
    20  White pine - northern red oak - maple
    25  Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch
    26  Sugar maple - basswood
    27  Sugar maple
    28  Black cherry - maple
    40  Post oak - blackjack oak
    42  Bur oak
    43  Bear oak
    44  Chestnut oak
    45  Pitch pine
    46  Eastern redcedar
    50  Black locust
    51  White pine - chestnut oak
    52  White oak - black oak - northern red oak
    53  White oak
    55  Northern red oak
    57  Yellow-poplar
    58  Yellow-poplar - eastern hemlock
    59  Yellow-poplar - white oak - northern red oak
    60  Beech - sugar maple
    64  Sassafras - persimmon
    67  Mohrs ("shin") oak
    69  Sand pine
    71  Longleaf pine - scrub oak
    72  Southern scrub oak
    73  Southern redcedar
    74  Cabbage palmetto
    75  Shortleaf pine
    76  Shortleaf pine - oak
    78  Virginia pine - oak
    79  Virginia pine
    80  Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine
    81  Loblolly pine
    82  Loblolly pine - hardwood
    85  Slash pine - hardwood
    87  Sweetgum - yellow-poplar
   108  Red maple
   109  Hawthorn
   110  Black oak


Early meadow-rue is listed as a dominant in the following classification:

Field guide to forest habitat types of northern Wisconsin - Kotar & others 1988


SPECIES: Thalictrum dioicum
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE: Nongame birds and small mammals may consume the seeds of early meadow-rue. PALATABILITY: NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE: No food value is listed for early meadow-rue. However, another similar meadow-rue (Thalictrum fendleri) has about 11 percent digestible protein [15]. COVER VALUE: NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES: The male plants reproduce asexually by stolons, which could help stabilize shaded moist disturbed habitats [14]. OTHER USES AND VALUES: The gray-green fernlike foliage is decorative. It persists in dry summer and autumn and provides good ground cover for shaded wildflower gardens [21]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Thalictrum dioicum
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Early meadow-rue is a dioecious perennial. Its hollow stems rise 8 to 28 inches (20-70 cm) from a caudex or rootstock [9]. The caudex has dried persistent bracts from the growth of previous years. The alternate, compound leaves have long stalks. Flowers have no petals and are in loose, open panicles. Both male and female flowers have four purple to greenish white sepals that drop off before fruits are formed [9]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM: Hemicryptophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES: Early meadow-rue has a shallowly rooted caudex. Foliage dies back to this rootstock each winter and resprouts in spring. Brundrett and others [3] note that it grows typically in colonies. However, Melampy [14] asserts that only male plants produce stolons; therefore, colonies are unisexual. While vegetative reproduction favors the spread of male plants, Melampy [14] notes that they may be more susceptible to environmental stresses than female plants. Male plants also reproduce sexually, having long pendulous stamens that facilitate wind pollination [9]. Fruits are achenes with no special dispersal mechanisms. Most likely, the dry fruits drop near the parent plants unless they are consumed. There is no information on the effects of animal digestive tracts on seed survival. SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Early meadow-rue commonly occurs on alluvial soils that range from well-drained sandy loams to poorly drained clays [1,16]; however, it usually is found on well-drained soils [1]. It grows in moist open woods and is found on north-facing slopes, ledges, rocky areas, ravines, and near limestone outcrops [21]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: A shade-tolerant plant, early meadow-rue occurs as a minor component (up to 25% cover, [4]) in subclimax communities of bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) and aspen (Populus tremuloides). SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: With its leaves about half grown, early meadow-rue blooms early in spring (April or May) throughout its range [9,17,20,21]. It flowers with or before the expansion of leaves on deciduous trees. Fruit begins to mature approximately 1 month later (June) [9,17,20,21]. Leaves are maintained throughout summer. In fall, leaves become senescent, and there are no living shoots during winter [9,17,20,21].


SPECIES: Thalictrum dioicum
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Early meadow-rue is a component of deciduous forests that abutt prairies. Prairie fire suppression has increased the range of this plant [4]. With a shallowly rooted caudex, the degree of resistance to fire depends on protection obtained from soil cover. As with other stolon-producing species, early meadow-rue is most likely to survive cool fires that do not consume duff [7]. However, seedlings probably will not survive. This plant would not survive severe fires. Fire risk is greatest during the summer when severe thunderstorms commonly occur throughout its range. FIRE REGIMES: Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY: Caudex, growing points in soil


SPECIES: Thalictrum dioicum
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT: Fire effects have not been studied in this plant. It is probably top-killed by fire. Any aboveground stolons also would be killed. Spring burning would have the greatest impact on this species, since it would kill the seeds that mature in June. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE: The abundance of early meadow-rue would be severely reduced immediately postfire. Since this species reproduces both vegetatively and sexually, long-term postfire recovery should be fairly successful. Off-site regeneration is possible but anticipated to be slow, since seed is not wind dispersed. Fire severity and rooting depth of the caudex controls its recovery. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Thalictrum dioicum
REFERENCES: 1. Alban, David H.; Perala, Donald A.; Schlaegel, Bryce E. 1978. Biomass and nutrient distribution in aspen, pine, and spruce stands on the same soil type in Minnesota. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 8: 290-299. [16911] 2. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434] 3. Dawson, Todd E.; Ehleringer, James R. 1993. Gender-specific physiology, carbon isotope discrimination, and habitat distribution in boxelder, Acer negundo. Ecology. 74(3): 798-815. [17565] 4. Daubenmire, Rexford F. 1936. The "big woods" of Minnesota: its structure, and relation to climate, fire, and soils. Ecological Monographs. 6(2): 233-268. [2697] 5. Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p. [806] 6. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 7. Fischer, William C.; Bradley, Anne F. 1987. Fire ecology of western Montana forest habitat types. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-223. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 95 p. [633] 8. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998] 9. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603] 10. Kotar, John; Kovach, Joseph A.; Locey, Craig T. 1988. Field guide to forest habitat types of northern Wisconsin. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin, Department of Forestry; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 217 p. [11510] 11. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384] 12. Lakela, O. 1965. A flora of northeastern Minnesota. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. 541 p. [18142] 13. Lyon, L. Jack; Stickney, Peter F. 1976. Early vegetal succession following large northern Rocky Mountain wildfires. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference and Intermountain Fire Research Council fire and land management symposium; 1974 October 8-10; Missoula, MT. No. 14. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 355-373. [1496] 14. Melampy, Michael N. 1981. Sex-linked niche differentiation in two species of Thalictrum. American Midland Naturalist. 106(2): 325-334. [18190] 15. National Academy of Sciences. 1971. Atlas of nutritional data on United States and Canadian feeds. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences. 772 p. [1731] 16. Potter, Loren D.; Moir, D. Ross. 1961. Phytosociological study of burned deciduous woods, Turtle Mountains North Dakota. Ecology. 42(3): 468-480. [10191] 17. Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. 1183 p. [7606] 18. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 19. Scoggan, H. J. 1978. The flora of Canada. Ottawa, Canada: National Museums of Canada. (4 volumes). [18143] 20. Seymour, Frank Conkling. 1982. The flora of New England. 2d ed. Phytologia Memoirs 5. Plainfield, NJ: Harold N. Moldenke and Alma L. Moldenke. 611 p. [7604] 21. Steyermark, J. A. 1963. Flora of Missouri. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press. 1725 p. [18144] 22. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090] 23. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2018. PLANTS Database, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (Producer). Available: [34262]

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