New York Natural Heritage Program
Purple Crowberry
Empetrum atropurpureum Fern. & Wieg.
Dicots
Empetrum eamesii ssp. atropurpureum specimen at the New York State Museum herbarium. Stephen M. Young
Family: Crowberry Family (Empetraceae)

State Protection: Endangered
listed species are those with: 1) 5 or fewer extant sites, or 2) fewer than 1,000 individuals, or 3) restricted to fewer than 4 U.S.G.S. 7 minute topographical maps, or 4) species listed as endangered by U.S. Department of Interior.

Federal Protection: Not Listed

State Rarity Rank: S1
A State Rarity Rank of S1 means: This plant is endangered/critically imperiled in New York because of extreme rarity (typically 5 or fewer populations or very few remaining individuals) or is extremely vulnerable to extirpation from New York due to biological factors.

Global Rarity Rank: G5T5
A Global Rarity Rank of G5T5 means: Secure globally - Both the species as a whole and the subspecies/variety are common in the world; widespread and abundant (but may be rare in some parts of its range).


Did you know?
This species was only first recognized to be present in New York State in 1990. It apparently had been overlooked or in a few cases misidentified by many fine botanists (Zika 1990).

The genus name Empetrum comes from the Greek en, which means upon, and petros, which means rock (Fernald 1970). This name alludes to the way this species grows on rocks. The species is named after Dr. edwin herbert Eames (1865-1948) a medical doctor and prolific plant collector from Connecticut and co-founder of the Connecticut Botanical Society. He was the first to observe the distinctive characters of this species. The common name purple crowberry refers to the deep purple color of the fruits and makes reference to the fact that, at least in the arctic where this plant also grows, birds relish the fruits (Waller and DiGregorio 1997).

State Ranking Justification [-]
There are five known populations and one population which was last seen in 1939. The latter population has been searched for without success but further efforts are needed to determine if it is truly extirpated. The known extant populations are restricted to the highest peaks in the Adirondacks and are all within about 5 air miles of each other. All populations are very small and are threatened by trampling from hiker traffic.

Short-term Trends [-]

Long-term Trends [-]