Featured Projects - Conservation

FNPS has a hands-on approach to conservation.  The projects listed here are large conservation and restoration projects involving many FNPS members and FNPS leaders in multiple capacities.  They range from buying and managing land to improve the protection and management of that land for target species, to major relocations of rare plants from areas to be developed or otherwise made unsuited to areas where the species can be protected and managed and their habitats improved.

Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia), is North America's most endangered conifer, and its habitat is the steep ravines along the Apalachicola River in north Florida and extending in similar habitat to about 1 mile into southern Georgia. Since the 1950s, the species has been threatened by numerous fungi. Most trees found in the wild are root sprouts that are just a few feet tall due to stem and needle blights caused by the fungi.

The FNPS TorreyaKeepers project is focused on working with private landowners to locate and conserve trees on private property.  This project will expand upon the work that Atlanta Botanical Garden (ABG) is doing on public lands and help to conserve more of the genetic diversity of Florida Torreya.  In partnership with ABG we will collect seeds and cuttings for propagation by ABG in their nursery.  We developed a brochure to help private landowners identify Florida Torreya and distinguish it from other similar-looking trees. We will also be developing a brochure on best management practices to help private landowners protect the species on their properties.

Updates

Dec. 23, 2019 -
   Blog Article
   Photographs

Resources

TorreyaKeepers Website: torreyakeepers.fnps.org

Torreya taxifolia (Florida torreya).  Photo by Bill Boothe.

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FNPS volunteers caging a Torreya tree to protect it from deer, who like to rub on the trees.

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Torreya taxifolia (Florida torreya).  Photo by Lilly Anderson-Messec.

FNPS is monitoring two extremely rare mints, longspurred balm (Dicerandra cornutissima) and blushing balm (Dicerandra modesta).  Both are federally and state listed as Endangered. 

Dicerandra cornutissima occurs only in dry yellow-sand scrubs near Ocala in Marion and Sumter counties: the largest protected poulation is in the Cross Florida Greenway.  A smaller population is also protected by the Putnam Land Conservancy.

Dicerandra modesta is endemic to Polk County where it is present at the Horse Creek Scrub Tract of the Lake Marion Creek Wildlife Management Area managed by the South Florida Water Management District.    The population is bisected by the right-of-way for the SabalTrail pipeline and a Duke Energy transmission line.  The Florida Native Plant Society is monitoring the population and restoring the area damaged during the installation of the pipeline.

Sponsors

Florida Forest Service
Duke Energy

Project Contact
Send email

Dicerandra cornutissima.  Photograph from habitat that no longer exists southwest of Ocala, by Shirley Denton.

 

 

Thanks to the success of our Citizen Science Project to Map Rare Plant Species, we were able to map an undeveloped area of sandhill that if protected, will preserve important wildlife habitat and a natural corridor connecting publically-protected conservation lands.  The project area (aka "The Warea Area") is home to numerous rare plant and animal species including Clasping Warea (Warea amplexifolia), a critically endangered plant species, the Florida Sand Skink (Plestiodon reynoldsi), Florida Black Bear (Ursus americanus floridanus), Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus Polyphemus), and Sherman’s Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger shermani).

Working with our conservation partner, Putnam Land Conservancy, the first property was acquired and preserved in 2014.  In 2018, Conservation Florida also donated a parcel to the project.  Working together, we are engaging the assistance of scientists, students and concerned citizens while we continue to acquire properties, monitor rare species and habitat, and to manage these properties for the benefit of the species that depend on them for their existence.

In 2019, Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) completed the purchase of 12.48 acres, adding to the land already preserved by Putnam Land Conservancy.  This represents the first purchase of lands significant to the conservation of native plants by FNPS.

Sponsors

Funding for the purchase was provided by grants from the Felburn Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and many private donors.

Partners

Putnam Land Conservancy
Conservation Florida

Project Contact
Send email

Warea amplexifolia, clasping warea.  Photo by Shirley Denton

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Warea amplexifolia (Clasping warea) on conservation lands acquired during this project.  Photo by Deborah Curry.

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How "Clasping" warea got its name.  Photo by Susan Carr.

Under the leadership of FNPS Conservation Committee member Scott Davis, we are documenting occurrences of Florida’s native milkweed (Asclepias) species throughout the state.  Many of our milkweed species are important hosts for monarch butterflies. 

Mr. Davis and volunteers across Florida have documented 21 native milkweed species and have tracked about 800 populations throughout the state.  Many of the documented populations and plants are roadside occurrences.  Data is shared with the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

More about the database:
It is comprehensive and assimilated into the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Database - used by vegetation managers, land managers, agencies, and more.  What it encompasses:

  • Roadsides
  • Powerline Cuts – (and herbicide Issues)
  • Public Lands

Goals:

  • To know where each species occurs
  • To monitor
  • To protect and appropriately manage (with FDOT, county, city, and private land managers)

Key Findings:

  • Many species are more uncommon than anticipated, and  they appear to be very dependent upon roadsides.
  • There are major apparent occurrence gaps in South Florida, North Central Florida, and SW Florida
  • Only a handful of sites are utilizing reduced mowing practices that are essential for maintaining appropriate habitat

WE NEED A LOT OF HELP (to mobilize local FNPS members to contact local officials and support reduced mowing and management of these important sites).  Note that reduced mowing does not mean “no mowing” because some annual mowing, properly timed, is needed at many of these sites.

How you can help:

  1. Document all sightings of Asclepias occurrences and report to conservation@fnps.org  to help fill in gaps and build the database.  Please provide an accurate location either using GPS or your cell phone. Please take a close-up picture of the plant and send it with your email.
  2. Encourage your county to adopt a wildflower resolution (if they haven’t yet). 
  3. If your county has adopted a wildflower resolution and you see a roadside population with no signs of protection, you can simply contact FDOT for populations located on state highways or a county roads department for populations located on county roads.
Resources
Project Contact
Send email

Milkweed locations map as of March 2020.

 

 

We are documenting occurrences of Florida’s rare plant species throughout the state, especially those in the path of development or that are located within road right-of-ways and utility easements.  This is important because many companies and contractors have begun using herbicide in place of mowing.  Additionally, many of our rare species require occasional or reduced mowing in order to flower and reproduce.  Management protocols for rights-of-ways are essential for the conservation of many of our rare and endemic plant species. 

FNPS and our Chapters work with partners to help monitor and manage many sensitive locations located in power line and road rights-of-ways.  We also help monitor and manage rare plant populations on public lands.

This mapping project has been instrumental in the following:

  • Our Warea Conservation & Land Acquisition Project
  • Roadside management protocol was developed for Helianthus carnosus populations in Flagler and Putnam Counties.  Funded by an FNPS Conservation Grant.
  • Bay County – Road-widening Project - Sarracenia leucophylla population was brought to the attention of planners
  • Popluations of Ruellia noctiflora, Brickellia and numerous milkweed plants in Wakulla County were rescued and relocated for the installation of a paved trail.
  • Lake County - Lilium catesbaei population conserved
  • Lee County - populations of Sacoila lanceolata and several milkweeds were conserved.

How you can help:

Document all sightings of rare plants in road rights-of-way to help fill in gaps and build the database.  Please provide an accurate location either using GPS or your cell phone.  Please take a close-up picture of the plant and send with your email (see link below).

Encourage your county to adopt a wildflower resolution (if they haven’t yet). 

If your county has adopted a wildflower resolution and you see a roadside rare plant population with no signs of protection, you can simply contact FDOT for populations located on state highways or a county roads department for populations located on county roads.

Project Contact
Send email

Annual surveys by our Pawpaw Chapter are showing the importance of land management to the rare species yellow squirrel-banana (Asimina rugelii).

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Rare Plant Location Map.  Updated June 2020.