COSAM » Donald E. Davis Arboretum » Alabama Plant Conservation Alliance » Minutes of APCA Meetings » May 17, 2013

Minutes from May 17, 2013

APCA group May 17 2013

APCA Meeting Minutes   17 May 2013
Held at University of West Alabama
Recorded by Patrick Thompson

Welcome by Dr. Richard Holland President of the University of West AL (Ph.D. in Botany)

Overview of Lunch and Foray details by Dr. Brian Keener

The group will have delicious local Barbecue and visit the University Gardens, Blackbelt restoration project, an acidic pocket of habitat that is home to carnivorous bladderworts, wild Blackbelt prairies, and the fossil-filled chalk banks of Old Bluffport.

Introduction by Dr. Bob Boyd to our 10th meeting, our first meeting in the far west of Alabama

APCA functions on project based model inspired by the GPCA in which we meet a couple times each year to compare notes on plant conservation projects across the state, and consider any new issues that plants may be facing that could require conservation activities to keep native plants from becoming endangered or extinct. 

Attendees: Nathan Paris, Kyle Paris, Patrick Thompson, Nathan Hall, Rachel Conley, Nancy Cobb, Richard Cobb, Betsy Fleenor, Gayle Snyder, Joan Rundles, Dana Stone, Fred Nation, Gina Todia, Amy Wright, Scott Wiggers, Les Goertzen, Dee Smith, Beth Clendenen, Nancy Lowenstein, Howard Horne, Al Schotz, Suzi Mersmann, Bob Boyd 

Dr. Boyd recognized the 3 attendees from the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. They were inspired to come by their participation in the Certificate in Native Plant Studies and the volunteer programs at BBG. They then reminded us that the Southeastern Native Plant Conference will be Nov 1st and 2nd.

Committee reports:

1) Sarracenia alabamensis  – (Patrick Thompson).  Planted out at two Camp Tuckabatchee sites.  Fire planned for 2013 at several S. alabamensis sites. Not sure how much fire got on the ground.

New germplasm was delivered to the Davis Arboretum by a lady who rescued plants from the Pierce site, which is now extirpated. Seedlings were sent to Atlanta Botanical Gardens, and are reported to be growing well.

We followed up with the guardian of the new germplasm to acquire more seeds for increased safeguarding of this genotype, and to verify locations of original material and current plants. 

The plants are doing well at their safeguarding site near Prattville. There is evidence of minimal seedling recruitment at the site. Fifteen seed pods were collected and shared with AU Horticulture. Several hundred seedlings have been started. They can be added to the existing safeguarding sites and be shared with other institutions interested in maintaining the integrity of the germplasm.

The plants come from a neighborhood NW of Clanton. It is still undetermined if the original location of the plants was the one known as the Pierce site. Richard Cobb stated that Harper’s notes are very detailed and may help. Contact Patrick if you can help compare the location of these two (or one) sites.

2) Sarracenia oreophila (Patrick Thompson). We have been tracking a new population of this species that was discovered at Serenity campground in Mentone AL. When the site was for sale and being considered as a location for a subdivision we collected seeds and the propagules are being safeguarded at ABG and the Davis Arboretum. The site has since been bought and the new landowner is interested in managing the population and is willing to outplant seedlings to increases the population at the campground. Fall seed collecting and managing of the site can begin this fall, and in a year the seedlings will be old enough to consider planting out at the site. 

3) Xerophyllum asphodeloides - (Jan Midgley). Jan was unable to attend: but she has found this species challenging to grow from seed. This year she reported good germination, possibly due to her use of a new germination medium. Seeds collected from Talladega NF population have been distributed to several sources. Georgia Tech (Jerry Pullman Lab) has germinated seeds by removing embryos and using cytokinins. Ryan Shurette was able to harvest some more seeds this year. Jan has inspected the seeds and estimates that about 40% of them are fertile. We are hoping the site gets burned this winter. If not the plants would benefit from some manual clearing. 

4) Helianthus verticillatus – (Patrick Thompson). Plants are growing well in the Arboretum: there is no report on the stem count in AL’s wild populations yet this year.

5) Lindera melissifolia – (Patrick Thompson). Two known Al populations exist on private land. Laurel wilt disease has been reported in Alabama and has been reported to attack L. melissifolia. Patrick collected 8 cuttings, 4 being held at Davis Arboretum and 4 at Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Two at the Davis Arboretum have been planted in the coastal pitcher plant bog. These died but the ones in containers are doing well.  Since the plant is extremely rare in AL, we will try to collect more cuttings this summer to work to safeguard the populations in easily observed sites. Ryan Shurette suggested a possible safeguarding site for the species in Conecuh National Forest at the last meeting because both AL populations are on Rayonier property with no permanent protection.

6) Quercus boyntonii or QUBO - (Patrick Thompson). Plant material currently in cultivation by BBG, ABG and AU’s DA from Hind’s rock and Moss Rock Preserve.  Acorns were collected this year by BBG staff from large specimens found growing at multiple private residences in Mountain Brook near Birmingham.  QUBO’s are benefitting from herbicide treatments of encroaching invasives at Moss Rock Preserve in Hoover, and the plants are becoming established in the collections of botanical gardens, raising awareness of this rare endemic oak.

7) Matalea alabamensis -(Patrick Thompson). Two known populations (Shorterville, Henry Co.; Whetstone Falls, Henry Co.) in Alabama, documented fruiting at 1 site for the first time winter 2011/2012.  Two specimens in cultivation at Davis Arboretum flowered Spring 2012 but did not set seed. AU Hort student Judson Lecompte volunteered to attempt cutting propagation on 1 of these specimens, currently growing in the greenhouse. 

8) Asplenium tutwilerae - (The Cobbs and Brian Keener). This species has rebounded from a low of 50 – 60 individuals in the wild back up to about 250, approximately the same size as it was in the 1930’s.

Keener explained that while there is a hybrid Asplenium x ebenoides with the same parent species (A. playneuronand A. rhizophyllum), its evolutionary track stops there. But A. tutwilerae is a true species of hybrid origin: the result of a doubling of chromosomes that allows it to continue on an evolutionary track all its own. John Manion is checking into ways to help preserve the site on which the species grows: unfortunately John was ill and unable to attend.

9) Xyris spathifolia – (Bob Boyd) A few gardens are now slowly propagating these plants.

Boyd and Paris brothers visited Alligator Glades West (the only known occurrence) in Fall 2011 and no identifiable plants were found. The site had suffered significant disturbance from vehicle traffic, though this is not necessarily a bad thing for Xyris which suffer in overgrown sites.  

They went to revisit the site during the blooming season in late July 2012 to look for plants in flower. Their vehicle was nearly swallowed by a mudhole and they have not been able to return. If they want to visit the site (privately owned by a Timber Management Organization) again in 2013, they need to get permission again as their original temporary letter granting access has expired.

10) Symphyotrichum georgianum – (Ryan Shurette) Thousands of plants produced by AU Department of Horticulture have been outplanted in Talladega Nat’l forest. 

Amy Wright led a discussion on increasing the role of AU Department of Horticulture in producing rare native plants and began to get into the discussion on commercialization of imperiled species that has been talked about in the GPCA. We are hoping to benefit from talking with GPCA about their policies regarding rare plant commercialization at our joint meeting in the fall.

11) Haine’s Island Park –(Gina Todia) We plan to continue to push back the aliens that threaten this biodiverse native habitat on the banks of the Alabama River. We hope to have another workday soon. Nancy Lowenstein will send out a doodle poll, and Bob will send out the list of exciting plants we have encountered there.  

12) Safeguarding committee (Patrick Thompson) Good potential for APCA to benefit again from lessons learned by GPCA. Carrie Radcliffe has worked on the GPCA’s safeguarding database through GA DNR, the State Botanical Garden of GA, and currently at ABG. The database allows for tracking of plant material and management practices across many institutions and locations in a format that can be accessed by those who need the information. We hope to achieve similar results. 

Suzi Mersmann recently moved from GA to AL. She worked with Carrie through GA DNR, and is willing to offer some experience and guidance as we develop our platform. The plan is to gather our existing data into a simple access database by this fall, and try to find grant monies to pay Carrie to help us get our plant information to mesh well with other organizations. 

There was some time devoted to discussion of new projects:

1) Phlox pulchr.a According to Richard and Nancy Cobb, populations of this species seem to be in decline. Al Schotz agreed stating that this G2 Alabama endemic is one of the state’s rarest and most charismatic plants. To follow up on this, APCA folks that are able should field check known populations. Propagation protocols are established and not too difficult.   

2) Patrick Thompson showed a few slides about how the word about APCA is reaching the public. Scot Duncan is coming out with a book titled Southern Wonder: Alabama's Surprising Biodiversity. This book highlights among other things some of our APCA project plants like the whorled sunflower and Boynton’s oak. 

Nathan Paris did some tabling for the APCA this spring at events at the Davis Arboretum which had more than 1,000 attendees.

The Azalean is the journal of the Azalea Society of America. The winter issue had an article written by Patrick Thompson titled Auburn University’s Davis Arboretum: Accomplishing its Mission Through Collections and Collaboration. The article highlighted the Arboretum’s work with the APCA and won article of the year for 2012.

3) Nancy Lowenstein introduced us to the SEEDN app for smartphones that allows you to quickly and conveniently report invasive species when you find them in the field. The data generated by this project will help shape invasive species control, hopefully streamlining it, and increasing knowledge of what is spreading where.

4) Brian Keener gave us a full tour of the online Alabama Plant Atlas. It is more easily updated than theAnnotated Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Alabama that was published in 2011. He demonstrated how you can search by county or by species and access photos of the living plant as well as the actual herbarium specimen each record in the atlas represents. 

He then took us to Google Analytics which allowed us to see who is using the Atlas, and it is people from all over the world, but the center of activity is right here in Alabama.

There is still planning going on around a joint APCA/GPCA meeting as a way to build bridges and share knowledge and expertise between our groups, as well as discuss possible collaboration on species that cross our borders. It may be on the 3rd Thursday in October 2013 at Callaway Gardens.

Meeting adjourned and tour of the campus, prairie gardens and restoration areas, and an acidic pond occupied the remainder of the day.

The following day we visited 2 spectacular Black Belt sites: see photos on our Facebook page!

Last Updated: 05/24/2016