Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Coptis groenlandica


SPECIES: Coptis groenlandica
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Sullivan, Janet. 1992. Coptis groenlandica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : COPGRO SYNONYMS : Coptis trifolia Coptis trifolia groenlandica SCS PLANT CODE : COTR2 COMMON NAMES : goldthread trifoliate goldthread Alaska goldthread canker-root TAXONOMY : The accepted scientific name for goldthread is Coptis groenlandica (Oeder) Fern. There are no recognized subspecies, varieties, or forms. It is indistinguishable from Coptis trifolia; thus many authors consider them the same entity [12,24,25,45]. This write-up also treats them as the same entity. LIFE FORM : Forb FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Coptis groenlandica
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Goldthread is distributed from Labrador south to Maryland and in the Appalachian Mountains to North Carolina and Tennessee. It extends west to Alaska in small pockets across Canada, with a more continuous distribution in Alaska and British Columbia [24,29]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES10 White - red - jack pine FRES11 Spruce - fir FRES18 Maple - beech - birch FRES19 Aspen - birch FRES20 Douglas-fir FRES22 Western white pine FRES23 Fir - spruce FRES24 Hemlock - Sitka spruce STATES : AK CT DE IN IL IA ME MD MA MI MN NH NJ NY NC OH PA RI TN VT VA WV WI AB BC MB NB NF NT NS ON PE PQ SK YT BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 1 Northern Pacific Border 2 Cascade Mountains 8 Northern Rocky Mountains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K001 Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest K002 Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest K012 Douglas - fir forest K013 Cedar - hemlock - pine forest K015 Western spruce - fir forest K020 Spruce - fir - Douglas-fir forest K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest K094 Conifer bog K095 Great Lakes pine forest K096 Northeastern spruce - fir forest K097 Southeastern spruce - fir forest K099 Maple - basswood forest K102 Beech - maple forest K103 Mixed mesophytic forest K106 Northern hardwoods K107 Northern hardwoods - fir forest K108 Northern hardwoods - spruce forest SAF COVER TYPES : 1 Jack pine 5 Balsam fir 12 Black spruce 13 Black spruce - tamarack 16 Aspen 18 Paper birch 20 White pine - northern red oak - red maple 21 Eastern white pine 22 White pine - hemlock 23 Eastern hemlock 24 Hemlock - yellow birch 25 Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch 27 Sugar maple 28 Black cherry - maple 30 Red spruce - yellow birch 31 Red spruce - sugar maple - beech 32 Red spruce 33 Red spruce - balsam fir 34 Red spruce - Fraser fir 35 Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir 37 Northern white-cedar 38 Tamarack 51 White pine - chestnut oak 60 Beech - sugar maple 107 White spruce 201 White spruce 202 White spruce - paper birch 204 Black spruce 205 Mountain hemlock 215 Western white pine 223 Sitka spruce 224 Western hemlock 225 Western hemlock - Sitka spruce 226 Coastal true fir - hemlock 227 Western redcedar - western hemlock 228 Western redcedar 229 Pacific Douglas-fir 230 Douglas-fir - western hemlock 251 White spruce - aspen 253 Black spruce - white spruce 254 Black spruce - paper birch SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Goldthread is commonly associated with cool, moist habitats on poor to moderately well drained soils at low to middle elevations [10]. It often occurs in or near peatlands of various types [21]. It occurs in a number of plant associations but is not considered indicative of particular associations, although it is more often associated with coniferous canopies than with hardwood [4]. In Ontario, goldthread is usually associated with sites under or near black spruce (Picea mariana), as opposed to sites that are open or near other tree species [8]. In northern Idaho, it usually grows underneath western white pine (Pinus monticola) stands in association with other moisture-loving plants [30]. In Michigan, it is scattered in open coniferous forests on gleysolic or organic soils on sites receiving water. It is common in nutrient-poor wetlands and is an oxylophytic species characteristic of Mor humus formations [26]. In New York, it occurs in riparian areas [7]. In Labrador, goldthread is a wide-ranging, upland species that occurs on a variety of soil types from boggy to well-drained [14,23]. Goldthread is considered diagnostic for particular edaphic conditions [6] (see Site Characteristics). It occurs as a dominant understory species in an eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)-wild lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum canadense)-goldthread type found in low lying areas in northern Wisconsin and Michigan [6,27]. It is considered indicative of minerotrophic water (water that carries mineral nutrients into the peat) in peatlands [22]. It is an understory dominant in the mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana)-yellow cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkaensis)/blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) type, the western hemlock-yellow cedar/blueberry/skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanum) type, the Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis)/blueberry/American skunkcabbage type, and the mountain hemlock/blueberry types of both low and high elevations [10].


SPECIES: Coptis groenlandica
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Goldthread foliage is used as food in small amounts by ruffed grouse [18,19]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : Native Americans chewed goldthread roots to treat mouth sores. They also made tea from the roots to treat mouth sores. The tea was also used as an eyewash, to treat indigestion, and as a tonic after prolonged illness [39]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Coptis groenlandica
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Goldthread is a small, scapose, evergreen forb. It has a long, slender creeping rhizome that is a bright golden yellow. With no main stem, goldthread is many branched and frequently matted [12,40,46]. Goldthread forms endomycorrhizal associations [34]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Hemicryptophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Goldthread propagates from rhizomes and tends to form colonies [20,47]. No documentation on seed set or fertility is available. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Goldthread is commmon in coniferous forests, swamps, bogs, and road banks [41]. It occurs in thickets, mossy places, cedar swamps, and in a diversity of damp woods and banks [24,46]. Goldthread is most frequently found in low light, cool, moist conditions on relatively infertile soils [1,9,13,17,47]. It usually occurs on Histosolic or Spodosolic soils (podzolic soils), which are poorly drained and acidic, with a deep, often not well-decomposed, organic layer [7,20,23,31,47]. Plant associates not listed in Distribution and Occurrence include: Shrubs: Hairy raspberry (Rubus pubescens), lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium [V. myrtilloides]), wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), bog blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), lingonberry (V. vitis-idaea), Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum), speckled alder (Alnus rugosa), partridge berry (Mitchella repens), raspberry (Rubus idaea), willow (Salix pyrifolia), small cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus), Viburnum alnifolium, American fly honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis), laurel (Kalmia angustifolia) [2,8,21,31,34,43]. Forbs: Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), Cypripedium acaule, wild lily-of-the-valley, starflower (Trientalis borealis), woodsorrel (Oxalis montana), yellow beadlily (Clintonia borealis), sedge (Carex spp.), creeping wintergreen (Gaultheria hispidula), goldenrod (Solidago macrophylla), violet (Viola spp.), bedstraw (Galium spp.), Aster ciliolatus, softleaved sedge (Carex disperma), leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), common fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium), glandular willowweed (E. glandulosum), woodland horsetail (Equisetum sylvaticum), Virginia strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), naked miterwort (Mitella nuda), Smilacina trifolia, mountain lover (Pachystima myrsinites), robin run-away (Dalibarda repens) [2,8,19,20,21,31,39,43]. Ferns and allies: Hay-scented fern (Dennstaedtia punctiloba), moonwort (Botrychium spp.), woodferns (Dryopteris cristata, D. carthusiana, D. spinulosa), clubmosses (Lycopodium obscurum, L. annotinum, L. ludiculum), interrupted fern (Osmunda claytoniana) [19,20,31,43,39]. Mosses: Calliergonella schreber, Hypnum cristacastrensis, Bazzania trilobata, Deiranum scoparium, feathermoss (Pleurozium schreberi), Ptilidium ciliare, Sphagnum spp. [2,8,22,39] SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative seral species. Goldthread is not tolerant of disturbance and disappears after logging, although it is not clear whether its disappearance is due to loss of the canopy or mechanical damage to the roots [30]. It appears to be intolerant of closed canopies but does require some shade, possibly because of its preference for moist sites [26,42]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Flowering occurs from May to July, depending on latitude [12,46].


SPECIES: Coptis groenlandica
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Goldthread does not appear to be well adapted to fire, despite its rhizomatous habit. It is shallow rooted and occurs in areas that tend to have long fire rotations (up to 500 years) [15]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Coptis groenlandica
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Goldthread will survive cool fires, sprouting from the rhizome if top-killed. However, the rhizome is sufficiently near the surface that it may be killed by moderate-severity fires. Removal of the overstory appears to have a negative effect on goldthread survival [5,14,15,42,44]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : After both spring and fall prescribed fires, goldthread responded with vigorous vegetative reproduction but no seed production. Both fires were relatively cool, consuming only the surface litter layer. Overstory scorch was limited to 6.6 feet (2 m), and flame heights were no higher than 20 inches (50 cm) [5]. In New Brunswick, a similarly cool prescribed fire resulted in patchy charring of the surface litter and negligible removal of the organic matter. Vegetation returned quickly from surviving rhizomes [44]. In a study of post wildfire changes in average individual biomass, goldthread increased from 0.0004 ounce (0.01 gm) dry weight per individual to 0.001 ounce (0.03 gm) per individual. No population decline was indicated [48]. In other studies of post wildfire succession, goldthread reappeared slowly [33,42]. Goldthread was found to decrease significantly after a wildfire in a black spruce-feathermoss forest [15]. In a study to increase lowbush blueberry, removal of the overstory by logging in the fall of 1949 followed by prescribed fires in the spring of 1951 and the spring of 1952 resulted in a severe decline of goldthread [20]. In a postfire successional study, goldthread did not reappear in burned plots until crown cover developed to 40 percent or more [33]. Similarly, Shafi [42] reports that goldthread increased gradually after wildfire as the canopy developed, but then the population declined rapidly as the canopy closed. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Coptis groenlandica
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