|Florida Nature: Endangered Plants (5)|
Polygala (Polygala lewtonii)-Lewton’s polygala occurs in Ocala
National Forest, on the Mount Dora Ridge in Marion County, and on the
Lake Wales Ridge in Lake, Osceola, Orange, Polk and Highlands
Counties, Florida. Lewton’s polygala occurs on yellow sands in sandhill,
turkey oak sandhill and oak-hickory scrub. Lewton’s polygala is a
short-lived perennial that grows to 20 cm in height. Plants produce
multiple stems from a central root crown. Stems may be prostrate,
ascending or erect. Lewton’s polygala has three kinds of flowers. The
fruit is a capsule containing two seeds. Each seed has a fleshy
appendage that attracts ants and is believed to aid in seed dispersal.
Wireweed (Polygonella basiramia)- Polygonella basiramia is an herbaceous perennial endemic to the central ridges of the Florida peninsula. Wireweed have remarkably diverse growth habits ranging from tall and leafy, to upright and virtually leafless. The Stems and leaves of the wireweed plant range in color from green to dark red; red coloration in the stems and leaves appears to be associated with individuals more exposed to sunlight and with older vegetative parts, although even seedlings are often red. Individual wireweed flowers are small, white to slightly pink with 5 sepals (no petals), pink pistils, and black anthers. Wireweed is most commonly found in rosemary scrub, also known as rosemary phase of sand pine scrub. Wireweed is endemic to the Lake Wales, Winter Haven, and Bombing Range ridges in central peninsular Florida. It ranges from Lake Pierce in Polk County southward to Venus near the southern tip of the Lake Wales Ridge in Highlands County
Sandlace (Polygonella myriophylla)- Sandlace occurs naturally only in scrubs on the Lake Wales Ridge in Orange, Polk and Highlands Counties. Look for it in vacant lots and road shoulders within 10 miles of US-27 in Polk and Highlands Counties. If you see this plant you know you are in true Lake Wales Ridge scrub. This sprawling evergreen shrub with needle-like leaves looks a lot like the common landscaping groundcover, creeping juniper. Sandlace's many branches zigzag along the ground and root at the nodes, forming mats. Sandlace produces small white or cream colored flowers and has small needle like leaves.
Scrub plum (Prunus geniculata)- The scrub plum is a woody shrub restricted to xeric upland habitats on the Lake Wales Ridge in Highlands, Polk, Lake, Osceola, and Orange Counties. Scrub plum is very drought tolerant, with small leaves that conserve water and a fibrous root system that can extract moisture from the well-drained soils. It has a low rounded form, generally growing to 3 to 4 feet tall. Its trunk is gnarled, and partly buried in sand. Older plants are distinguished by graying bark covered with lichens. In February and March, delicate white flowers with yellow stamens sprout from skeletal branches. Fine toothed leaves develop later, after the scrub plums have begun to set fruit. The miniature plums develop in April and May, ripening to a soft reddish purple.
Chapman's Rhododendron (Rhododendron chapmanii) Florida's native azaleas include Flame azalea, an Endangered Species which blooms bright orange and is very early flowering. Color variations and natural hybridization makes positive identification difficult. Found in moist wooded hammocks, the wild azalea can reach a height of six feet. The blooms of the wild azalea come in a variety of colors, including pinks and whites. Wild azaleas bloom in late march and April and attract a variety of butterflies, along with attracting hummingbirds.
American Chaffseed (Schwalbea americana)-American chaffseed is an erect perennial herb with unbranched stems (or stems branched only at the base) with large, purplish-yellow, tubular flowers that are borne singly on short stalks in the axils of the uppermost, reduced leaves (bracts). The leaves are alternate, lance-shaped to elliptic, stalkless, 1 to 2 inches long, and entire. The entire plant is densely, but minutely hairy throughout, including the flowers. American chaffseed occurs in sandy, acidic, seasonally moist to dry soils. It is generally found in habitats described as open, moist pine flatwood.
Cooley's Meadowrue (Thalictrum cooleyi)- Cooley's meadow-rue is a perennial herb originating from an underground rhizome. In shaded conditions, it grows with lax stems often leaning against other plants or may trail along the ground, but under ideal conditions, in full sun, these stems are erect. Cooley's meadow-rue grows up to 12 to 48 inches in height, but may grow as high as 6 feet on recently burned sites. Cooley's meadow-rue has narrower leaflets with fewer lobes than any other Thalictrum. Its stem and basal leaves are highly variable both in shape and size. Cooley's meadow-rue is an endemic of the southeastern Coastal Plain from Florida to North Carolina. Cooley's meadow-rue inhabits sunny, moist places such as open, savanna-like forest edges and clearings. The species is found along utility and highway rights-of-way in former savanna habitats.
Scrub Ziziphus (Ziziphus celata)-Florida Jujube or Scrub Ziziphus is native and endemic to the Lake Wales Ridge scrub habitat of central Florida in Polk and Highlands counties. It is a shrub to small or medium-sized tree with small, rounded leaves and orange fruits (jujubes). The branches all have sharp, distinctive thorns. Sadly, this interesting and endemic native plant is listed as endangered by the U.S. and state of Florida due to habitat destruction of the remaining and rare scrub habitat it is found in, which is also almost entirely endemic to Florida. It is suitable for xeriscaping in a native plant garden; however, permits are needed to obtain seeds. Florida ziziphus, one of the rarest plants in Florida, has been transplanted onto the Carter Creek unit of the Lake Wales Ridge National Wildlife Refuge.
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