A Rare Plant Census Experience
by Mark Elliott, President, Paynes Prairie Chapter
|Conradina etonia in Etoniah Creek SF. Photo|
by Mark Whitten.
It is now on both State and Federal lists of endangered plants. Based on reports from Charlie Pedersen, these plants have been counted annually for about 18 years. In 2000, biologists counted about 700 individual plants. A few years later 2369 plants were counted; in 2018, we counted less than 1500. Most individuals now occur on state forest lands, but some also grow on private inholdings within the forest.
Are you interested in improving habitat for this endangered plant? Join us on our workday in Etoniah Creek SF, March 16-17th, 2019.
|Volunteers pose in front of a patch of flagged plants. |
Photo: Mark Whitten
|A flagged C. etoniah seedling in a recently|
disturbed area. Photo: Mark Whitten
Ironically present-day management of Etonia rosemary might require disturbance by heavy machinery (plus occasional fire) to mimic the effects of these extinct mammals. Much more research is needed.
|A very photogenic C. etonia flower. Photo: Mark Whitten.|
Back to the survey: We counted a total of 1475 plants. Population estimates fluctuate from year to year, but have never exceeded 2400 plants. There is an effort by the Putnam Land Conservancy to continue to buy some of the private lands where it grows3. And, The USFWS is currently conducting a Species Status Assessment (SSA) to review the literature, research, monitoring, and land management needs of Etonia rosemary.
Currently a work day is being planned to remove some of the tall woody scrub plants that are shading the Etonia rosemary plants to give them a better chance at survival. Join us on March 16-17th, 2019 to help this plant thrive in its only protected home location, Etoniah Creek State Forest.
 For more about scrub you can read our short description here, FNAI's Natural Community account here, USFWS's factsheet here.
 Kral and McCartney. 1991. A new species of Conradina (Lamiaceae) from northeastern peninsular Florida. SIDA, Contributions to Botany Vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 391-39. https://www.jstor.org/stable/41966900
 The Putnam Land Conservancy and the Florida Native Plant Society are partners on the Warea Area Project. Watch a video short and read a blog post about the Warea Area.