Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.

Florida Nature: Endangered Plants (2)
Florida golden aster is currently known from Hardee, Hillsborough, Manatee and Pinellas Counties, Florida.Florida golden aster (Chrysopsis floridana)- Florida golden aster is currently known from Hardee, Hillsborough, Manatee and Pinellas Counties, Florida. 2004 surveys on Hillsborough County lands have discovered several new populations. The most significant threat is the direct loss of habitat due to residential and commercial development.  Other threats include mowing, dumping, and the effects from excessive grazing or off-road vehicle use. The species grows in open, sunny areas.  Florida golden astert occurs in sand pine-evergreen oak scrub vegetation on excessively-drained fine white sand.  Historically, it also grew on beach dunes. Young Florida golden aster  form rosettes with leaves that are covered with dense, white, short-wooly hairs.  Upright stems that grow from the rosettes are 1-1.5 feet tall, with closely-spaced, obovate-elliptic, hairy leaves.  The leaves are nearly as large at the top of the stem as at the bottom.  The flower heads are arranged in a more or less flat-topped cluster.

Florida perforate cladonia, an endangered lichen in FloridaFlorida perforate cladonia (Cladonia perforata)-  Florida perforate cladonia is a terrestrial lichen  grown in tufts 0.8 - 2.5 inches tall, consisting of densely forking branches. The lichens branches grow up to 0.24 inch wide, and are hollow, smooth, and glossy. Cladonia perforata is  pale yellowish-gray, and intricately forked with large, conspicuous holes below each branching point. This lichen is one of two on the U.S. Endangered Species List, and it should never be collected. It exists only in a few small populations in Florida. Fewer than 30 populations of Florida perforate cladonia are known, about half of those exist on conservation lands. Florida perforate cladonia is found on  Rosemary scrub in the Florida Panhandle, Lake Wales Ridge, and Atlantic Coastal Ridge. Perforate reindeer lichen populations in the Panhandle were severely impacted by Hurricane Opal in 1995.

short-leaved rosemary, an endangered plant in FloridaShort-leaved rosemary (Conradina brevifolia)- Short-leaved rosemary is one of five shrubby mints found in central Florida scrub habitat. This species is a short-lived, aromatic, perennial shrub that grows to 1 m in height. It has highly branched stems and leaves that are linear, 4-8 mm long, and fleshy. The larger leaves on well-developed flowering branches are 6 to 8.2 mm long and mostly shorter than the internodes. One to six beautiful lavender flowers arise from the leaf axils. Short-leaved rosemary occurs on the Lake Wales Ridge in dry, white sand soils with scattered overstory of sand pine and scrub oak in clearings with other endemic shrubs and herb scrub vegetation. The shrub is protected on Lake Arbuckle State Forest and on land currently owned by The Nature Conservancy at Saddle Blanket Lakes. Endemic to central Florida in Highlands and Polk Counties, it is found at Sunray Hickory Lake, Avon Park Lake, Silver Lake, Saddle Blanket Lakes and Carter Creek.

Etonia Rosemary, an endangered plant in FloridaEtonia rosemary (Conradina etonia)- Etonia rosemary  is a federally endangered plant from the mint family which is wholly found in one population near Florahome, in Putnam County Florida.   Found in deep white sand scrub, Etonia Rosemary is a shrub that grows up to five feet tall. Clusters of  three to seven pale lavender  flowers are produced from about mid-stem and up. Many compounds in Etonia rosemary might have insect repellent properties.

Apalachicola rosemary, an endangered plant in FloridaApalachicola rosemary (Conradina glabra)-This rare mint, the Apalachicola rosemary, was listed as federally endangered in 1993. At that time, there were seven known locations of this species, six of which were on private timber company land. Since that time, the one population on State land has disappeared, but The Nature Conservancy discovered two new locations in or adjacent to one its preserves, and an exciting reintroduction effort was carried out. This Florida-endemic mint is a perennial shrub that grows to a height of 0.8 meters. The Apalachicola rosemary has linear, aromatic evergreen leaves. The upper surface of these leaves is smooth and hairless, while the lower surface is covered with dense hairs that are visible only with magnification. The flowers are white to pale lavender-pink flowers with a band of purple dots on the white throat. Flowers arise from the leaf axils in groups of 2 or 3.

Avon Park Harebells, an endangered plant in FloridaAvon Park harebells (Crotalaria avonensis)- Avon Park harebells is known from only three populations in the scrub habitat of central Florida, including Polk and Highlands counties, growing in full sun on bare white sand.  This perennial spreading herb has one to three  flowering stems, which yield small yellow flowers. The main cause for the decline of the Avon Park harebell is the conversion of high pineland and scrub for agriculture purposes.

Okeechobee gourd endangered plant in FloridaOkeechobee gourd (Cucurbita okeechobeensis ssp. okeechobeensis)-The Okeechobee gourd is a robust, often overwintering, herbaceous vine endemic to Florida. Though originally observed by William Bartram in 1774 along the St. Johns River, in the eastern peninsula, it has since been known only from the marshy shores of Lake Okeechobee, south-central peninsular Florida. It has now been rediscovered in small numbers, still extant along the St. Johns, where last seen by Bartram two and-a-quarter centuries previously. A flowering vine, the Okeechobee gourd  flowers have 5 Regular Parts and are up to 2.75 inches. They are yellow or cream. Blooms first appear in mid spring and continue into mid fall. There are separate pistillate (female) and staminate (male) flowers.
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