Coefficient of Conservatism:
Coefficient of Wetness:
R. W. Smith
Dry, sandy plains, dunes, and savannas, usually with jack pine and/or oaks, often little if at all taller than the species of Comptonia and Vaccinium with which it is frequently associated; very rarely on rock outcrops or in moist places.
This is perhaps the most heterogeneous complex recognized here. Many of our specimens are undoubtedly the weakly distinguished A. stolonifera Wiegand, often (but not always) now considered a variety (for which other epithets are available) of A. spicata.
In Michigan, A. spicata (sensu latissimo) is most characteristically encountered as a low (under 1 m) colonial shrub of jack pine plains and similar dry places. Separation from the A. sanguinea complex is not easy (unless perhaps one were arbitrarily to select some single character to distinguish them and apply it rigorously). Plants with prominent veins into the leaf teeth but with short petals are, for instance, problematic and rather frequent. Specimens with leaves having more teeth than usual and perhaps more acute apices grade into the A. interior complex.
Certain plants approach A. alnifolia Nutt., often thought to range to the west of the Great Lakes but by some recognized east to Quebec and Ontario. This taxon has very compact dense racemes, less than 2.5 cm long in flower, up to 3.5 cm in fruit, with very short pedicels; in our specimens that resemble this variant, the general aspect is that of A. spicata but the leaf veins enter the teeth as in A. sanguinea, and the leaves are mostly obtuse to acute, while in A. alnifolia they are strikingly truncate or very broadly rounded at the apex. The similar A. humilis Wiegand has been variously recognized as associated with A. sanguinea or A. spicata by authors, and specimens referred to it often combine characters of both complexes; the teeth on the leaf are sometimes very few or nearly absent.