Florida

James Lange and Jennifer Possley, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

In the event of a hurricane, low elevation and proximity to the coast place Fairchild at high risk, and thus contingency plans must be in place to preserve our ex situ collections. Anticipating severe damage and extended power loss from Hurricane Irma, we took several measures to protect our conservation collections. We will discuss actions taken by conservation staff and lessons learned from this unique storm.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Thursday, May 3, 2018

Jennifer Possley, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Since coastal dunes have constantly shifting sands, tracking individual plants over many years can be challenging. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden began working with a federally endangered plant called Beach Clustervine in the late 1990s.  This long-lived species grows only in the coastal strand area of coastal dune communities in four of Florida's southeastern counties. The Beach Clustervine has lost much of its habitat to development. In 2000, we began tracking reproduction, growth, and survival on individual plants.  The first step to tracking individuals was to give each plant a unique identifier.  In the early days, we used a numbered metal tag on a wire “necklace,” and attached to the rootstock at the center of each plant.  We staked the tag on the surface with a u hook. This is a method that worked well for us in other ecosystems and, of course, in our botanic garden. One year after we reintroduced plants to the beach, we learned that this tag-and-necklace method was not working so well for the Beach Clustervine.  The species is a dune-builder, with strong roots that actually contract as the plant grows. These contractile roots can cause the plants—and the tags—to bury themselves. When we returned to monitor, our tags were sometimes several inches beneath the sand! We came up with a simple solution to the subterranean tag troubles. For Beach clustervine and other dune plants, instead of the tag-and-necklace we used wire to attach the numbered metal tag through the hole drilled in 18 inch PVC, and then sank the pole next to the Beach Clustervine’s rootstsock, about 9” deep.  The poles are easy for researchers to find, but aren’t too unsightly on the beach. Over time, the poles may become more deeply   buried as sand accretes, but they rarely disappear between visits, and we have the opportunity to raise the poles higher if needed.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Valerie Pence and Megan Philpott, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Crotalaria avonensis is a Florida endemic found in three populations and characterized by low seed production. In the late 1990s, CREW developed protocols for tissue culture propagation from field collected shoot cuttings as well as cryopreservation methods. In order to develop a genetically representative collection for conservation, in vitro lines were established from shoots collected at all three populations from 2008-2012. Plants were produced and sent to Bok Tower Garden for further growth and for use in an outplanting by Archbold Biological Station. The resulting collection of genotypes in culture at CREW provides an example of the challenges of a genetically diverse collection of an exceptional species. C. avonensis cultures require maintenance subculturing every 2-3 months. Only a low number of replicates could be maintained for each genotype, resulting in some loss of genotypes over time. Cryopreservation offered a solution to this challenge and over the course of 16 years, a number of lines were cryopreserved. In a study of lines stored for 5.5 Ð 16 years in liquid nitrogen, there was no change in average viability of the collection in storage, although specific survival differed by genotype. A cost estimation indicated that cryopreservation could decrease the cost of maintaining the collection over 20 years by at least 1/3. Genetic analysis of the collection and the wild populations is also underway in order to determine the genetic representation of the collection.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Friday, May 3, 2019

Emily E. D. Coffey, Ph.D., Atlanta Botanical Garden

Torreya taxifolia, known as the Florida Torreya, is one of the rarest conifers in the world. Once found as a canopy tree, Torreya is an evergreen dioecious tree endemic to a narrow range of bluffs and ravines adjacent to the Apalachicola River in northwest Florida and extreme southwest Georgia. In the mid-Twentieth Century, this species suffered a catastrophic decline as all reproductive age trees died from a disease (Fusarium torrayae) that remained unknown until very recently. In the decades that followed, this species did not recover. What remains is a population approximately 0.22% of its original size, which is subjected to changes in hydrology, forest structure, heavy browsing by deer, loss of reproduction capability, as well as dieback from fungal disease. Atlanta Botanical Garden’s dedication and efforts to protect Torreya has furthered understanding of its ecology and life cycle as well as the decline of this once majestic species. We present the new in-situ and ex-situ seed experiment we are conducting at ABG as part of the recovery effort for this species.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Friday, May 4, 2018

Philip Gonsiska, Whitney Costner, Cheryl Peterson, Bok Tower Gardens

Warea amplexifolia (Clasping Warea) (Brassicaceae) is an annual endemic to sandhill habitat in the northern third of the Lake Wales Ridge in central Florida. It typically germinates between February and early May and flowers from August through October. The main threats to W. amplexifolia are development and lack of land management. In 2000, there were fewer than 20 populations; only ten small populations may still exist. The Rare Plant Conservation Program at Bok Tower Gardens monitors seven reintroduction/augmentation sites for this species. One of these is in a natural area that is part of Mountain Lake, a gated community immediately adjacent to the Gardens. Mountain Lake is the site of a naturally-occurring population, seeds from which have been used in five subsequent outplantings there between 2011 and 2017. The site received little management until 2016, when trees and brush were cleared, and part of the site was burned. In spring of 2017, 418 W. amplexifolia plants were added, along with plants of several other native associated species. Although this project is ongoing, preliminary qualitative comparisons with an introduction at Lake Louisa State Park suggest that W. amplexifolia is more successful when introduced into habitats that already have established canopy and groundcover. If these observations are supported by the data, this information will be used to guide future introduction efforts.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Friday, May 4, 2018