Citizens to the Rescue!

Members of the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) have sure been busy this hurricane season – rescuing Florida native plant communities – some from the hurricanes but mostly from the bulldozers! From the Panhandle to south Florida, FNPS and our partners have been racing to rescue native plants, and plant communities.

As of October 23rd, we have rescued 1,000s of plants in the Panhandle, countless rare Tillandsias in south Florida, and in central Florida more than 3,200 plants from a rare Sandhill parcel with many more collection days still ahead of us.

Words cannot adequately express how grateful we are for the outpouring of financial and volunteer support from our members, concerned citizens, and our conservation partners.

There are so many to thank and not enough room for here for everyone’s name, but let’s start: our 81 generous financial donors, our 100+ volunteers, and our partners from Oakland Nature Preserve, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Koreshan State Historic Site, Green Isle Gardens Nursery, Florida State Parks, Lake County Water Authority, St. Johns River Water Management District, and Lake County Parks and Trails.

Thank you all for supporting our mission in action and helping to conserve our native plant communities for future generations!
Fewflowered Milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata)

1,000’s of endangered plants were rescued in the Panhandle from a roadside trail development.

Among the species rescued were Ruellia noctiflora (Nightflowering Wild Petunia), and Asclepias lanceolata (Fewflower Milkweed).

A golf cart is loaded with Tillandsia.

The Koreshan State Historic Site, located just north of Hurricane Irma’s peninsular Florida landfall, took quite a hit. Many trees, covered in endangered Tillandsias (Air Plants) were toppled.

As soon as they could, volunteers from the Coccoloba Chapter joined park staff to rescue endangered Tillandsias from the downed trees.

Florida Bonamia (Bonamia grandiflora) with its seed pods covered in collecting bags.

Before being rescued from their Sandhill home, seeds were collected from the endangered Bonamia grandiflora (Florida Bonamia) plants.

Other endangered plants seen in this photo are Polygala lewtonii (Lewton’s Polygala), and Stylisma abdita (Showy Dawnflower).

All plants and seeds will be used for nearby restoration projects on public lands.
Chris Matson, a biologist, drives a UTV to move the rescued plants to the trailers for transport off property.
From left to right: Mark Kateli, Will Kluzowski, Jackie Rolly, and Cecie Catron rescue plants in Lake County
Green Isle Gardens owner Marc Godts moves plants into shaded enclosures to protect them from the too-intense summer hear.
After recovering for a few months from the stress of removal, all plants will be planted at nearby public lands as part of their Sandhill restoration projects.

UPDATE 2019-03-18: The plants rescued from the US-98 Bicycle Path construction were planted back along US-98 this past weekend (3/15 and 3/16) by Magnolia Chapter and Monarch-Milkweed Initiative volunteers.

Author/photos: FNPS Conservation Committee, edits and update: Valerie Anderson email


Roger Hammer said…
I'm not certain if the Mexican bromeliad weevil (Metamasius Callizona) has reached the Florida panhandle or not but, if so, relocating Tillandsia fasciculata may very well help spread this alien weevil. In fact, the very reason Tillandsia fasciculata is on the endangered list, along with Tillandsia utriculata, is due to the presence of this weevil in Florida. At the very least, the plants should be quarantined before relocating them to new sites, or treated with an insecticide like Sevin dust.
Roger Hammer said…
I just submitted a comment regarding my concern about the relocation of Tillandsia fasciculata and the spread of the Mexican bromeliad weevil. I thought those plants were up in the panhandle but now realize they were simply hurricane ravaged plants at Koreshan State Park, so please disregard my comment.
Unknown said…
Who is "we" in this blog. Implied in this comment is that "we" is the conservation committee of FNPS. However when I read on I see mention of many sites and 1000's of plants that lead me to believe that this was a much bigger effort than just the Conservation Committee. Please clarify. If there were other groups involved such as local chapters please mention those groups and/or chapters. Who specifically on the conservation committee was involved?

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