COSAM » Donald E. Davis Arboretum » Alabama Plant Conservation Alliance » Minutes of APCA Meetings » May 22, 2015

Minutes from May 22, 2015

APCA group May 22 2015

APCA/GPCA Joint Meeting Minutes 22 May 2015
Held at Birmingham Botanical Gardens (BBG)
Recorded by Patrick Thompson

Meeting opened by Bob Boyd, who introduced Fred Spicer, Executive Director and CEO for BBG.

Fred welcomed us back to the gardens, and told us about recent improvements to BBG and the surrounding area.  Among them is monitoring of numbers of participants in educational programs-36,000, and contact hours-41,000! This includes 1,500 hours with the public in their plant conservation programs. 


  • Bob Boyd, Auburn University Dept of Biological Sciences, and APCA Coordinator
  • Dana Stone, Alabama Forestry Commission
  • Amy Wright, Professor AU Department of Horticulture 
  • Kate Fuller, AU Grad Student, Forestry, Herman’s Lab
  • Suzi Mersmann, Wildlife Biologist, Gopher tortoises 
  • Sharon Hermann, AU Biological Sciences Professor, Fire ecologist
  • John Manion, Curator Kaul Wildflower Garden, Birmingham Botanical Gardens
  • Dee Smith, Curator, AU Davis Arboretum
  • Teri Briggs, AU Davis Arboretum
  • Patrick Thompson, AU Davis Arboretum
  • Beth Clendenen, AU Horticulture
  • Richard Cobb, AL Wildflower Society (ALWS)
  • Nancy Cobb, ALWS
  • Tim Mersmann, US Forest Service District Ranger, Conecuh National Forest
  • Ryan Shurette, US Forest Service
  • Jonathan Stober, US Forest Service, Talladega NF Shoal Creek District
  • Jennifer Ceska, GPCA Coordinator 
  • Jennifer Davidson, BBG Native Plant Intern
  • Rachel Conley, Westervelt Ecological
  • Jeremiah Devore, M.S. student, AU Horticulture Department
  • Becky Pudner, M.S. student, AU Biological Sciences Dept., Hermann’s Lab
  • Mincy Moffett, Botanist, GA DNR
  • Ron Determann, Atlanta Botanical Garden (ABG)
  • Joanne Beck, US Forest Service Biologist
  • Nancy Loewenstein, AU School Forestry and Wildlife Sciences (and AL Invasive Plant Council)
  • Gwendolyn Griffin, Native Gardner, BBG volunteer
  • Jan Midgley, Grower, author, native seed expert
  • Patrick Daniels, Native landscaper
  • Michelle Reynolds, Author, native gardener
  • Carrie (and Heron) Radcliffe, ABG/GPCA database manager
  • Richard Carrol, USFWS geologist 
  • Scott Duncan, Author and Professor, B’ham Southern College, montane LLP, Fire in glades 
  • Jamie Nobles, Ruffner Mountain
  • Andreas Moshiagnous, USFWS Atl
  • Scott Wiggers, USFWS botanist
  • Keith Tassin, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) of AL
  • Dan Spalding, Anniston Natural History Museum
  • Chuck Byrd, TNC AL
  • Brian Keener, Alabama Plant Atlas, U West AL
  • Gail Snyder, BBG Volunteer
  • Betty Anderson, BBG Volunteer
  • Jimmy Rickard, USFWS, GA
  • Mark Bailey, Conservation Southeast Inc.
  • Traci Wood, AL Dept. Conservation and Natural Resources
  • Tony Edwards, Geologist, land management

Special Presentation: Schwalbea americana American chaffseed Research Project

By Master’s Student Kate Fuller (Sharon Hermann Lab AU)

This species is a G2, G3, and an S1 in AL. It is hemi-parasitic on perhaps numerous species, in AL habitat, notably on Pityopsis graminifolia. It prefers an open canopy with an herbaceous ground layer, and is threatened by habitat loss and lack of fire.

This project includes monitoring of the Alabama population and propagation. Future plans include safeguarding and out planting.  Multiple sites have been planted in South Carolina, one with over 100 individuals. Wiehle Nature Center currently under consideration for potential outplanting site.

Special Presentation: “Alabama and Georgia: Biodiversity marvels cut from the same cloth”

Scot Duncan promotes ecological literacy and conservation as a professor at Birmingham Southern College and through his new book;  Southern Wonder – Alabama’s Surprising Biodiversity.
His talk explained why both states enjoy such exceptional biodiversity:

  • Climate
  • Geological Diversity
  • Isolating features; like their diversity of watersheds

It also explored some of their biogeographic similarities and differences, i.e. Level IV ecoregions

  • 30% shared
  • 33% GA only
  • 37% AL only

If endemism patterns match ecoregion patterns, this reinforces the opportunity for cooperation across borders as well as the necessity of efforts by both APCA and GPCA. 

AL and GA are #1 and #2 in extinction rates in the 31 eastern states.  The majority of protected lands are in the western states.  This is one reason conservation in the southeast requires more work with landowners.

Good news:

  • Can anyone name any globally extinct plants from AL or GA? (nobody in room could!)
  • Land trusts, and ecological restoration, are alive and well in the southeast
  • Endangered species have been delisted (Eagle, pelican, gator pictures)
  • Students understand the value of ecosystem services
  • (applause)

Speaking of students…Brian Keener plugs Alabama Wildflower Society Scholarship opportunity (contact him for more information)


Special Presentation: “Programmatic Challenges for the APCA: A look at legal, funding, and structural hurdles”

Mincy Moffet (GA DNR) and Traci Wood (AL DCNR)

Mincy opens with a visual of the 3 legged stool metaphor for what supports a robust PCA and safeguarding program.  

  • Conservation Horticulture 
  • Habitat Management/Restoration
  • Regulatory Oversight

AL Challenges (4):

  1. 1) Lack of rare plant protection law in AL
    • GA has the Wildflower Protection Act, and 2/3 of other states have some comparable legislation
  2. 2) Lack of directed ESA section 6 funds to plant recovery
    • 6th section of the Endangered Species Act: Cooperation with States
    • Funds conservation programs for listed, candidate, and proposed species   
    • States must have “an adequate and active program for the conservation of endangered and threatened species”
    • GA spends $250,000 - $300,000 on these programs, in part to GPCA partners 
    • Monies come through the State Wildlife Grant Program (SWG) 
  3. 3) Lack of specific inclusion of plant conservation in State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP)
    • “You wanna get a SWG, you gotta do a SWAP” (Mincy Moffett quote)
    • Species in danger of extinction, and abundant game species get funding, SWGs can be used to cover species before they get listed
      • Benefit wildlife and habitat
      • Nongame species
      • Focused on G1, G2, and G3 species
      • Research, surveys, species and habitat management and monitoring
      • CAN’T be used for plant conservation
      • CAN be used for habitat conservation
    • SWAP = Action Plan to work proactively
    • GPCA and DNR work together on Plants Technical Team 
  4. Lack of a paid APCA Conservation Coordinator position
    • We CAN accomplish this! Soft money, multiple funding sources, be resourceful

Can also encourage participation in the APCA by important state, and federal agencies, utility and transportation entities. Talk to AL Power, DOT, DOD, Core of Engineers, set up MOAs (Memorandum of Agreement), and get some balls rolling.

Traci Wood stepped up and told us that AL’s DCNR is already working with habitat restoration that results in plant conservation.

Recent Non-Game Symposium dealt with many animal conservation issues, but plants had no representative.  

The DCNR is very ecologically aware of the big picture and very glad to be invited and aware of the efforts of the APCA and hopes to continue involvement going forward from today. 

Special Presentation: “Alabama’s State Wildlife Action Plan”
Mark Bailey (Conservation Southeast Inc.)

Opened with some great stats on Alabama’s freshwater diversity, highlighting the need for a plan to keep conservation on track statewide.

SWAPs are revised on a ten year cycle. With 2015’s nearly complete, the next revision will be submitted in 2025. 

The plan addresses several key elements:

  • Species of Greatest Conservation Need
  • Key habitats approach
  • Threats/problems facing AL’s wildlife
  • Conservation actions approach
  • Monitoring approach
  • Plan for future revisions
  • Public participation (your input is invited!):

Amendments can be made to the plan, so plants may be able to be included before 2025.

Lunch: Thanks to BBG for providing an excellent lunch to participants!

Special Presentation: “Formation of the Southeastern PCA”
Jennifer Ceska (GPCA Coordinator)

Jennifer Ceska (GPCA Coordinator) made us aware of the growing awareness of our efforts and the success of the PCA model.  Keeping conservation on the land has proven effective when entities cooperate within a state. There is potential for continued growth of PCAs in the Southeast and there may be a gathering of such folks at a botanical garden in the Atlanta area between January and March 2016, though such a thing has not been officially announced. 

Center for Plant Conservation is looking for a national model.  Other groups have successful models, i.e. PARC- Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.

APCA Committee Reports

Green Pitcher Plant, Sarracenia oreophila

Patrick Thompson: Currently APCA project addresses one site in Mentone AL. 


  1. Increase plants at the Serenity campground site
  2. Increase ex-situ holdings in AL
  3. Facilitate other conservation efforts with the species


  1. Collect seeds August 2015 
  2. Count pitchers, flowers, and crowns in 2015
  3. Work with landowners to consider outplantings
  4. Maintain site/current in situ population

Chuck Byrd reported that a TNC crew was able to visit the site in 2014 and clear encroaching vegetation.

Ron and Carrie from ABG reported micro satellite mapping of many AL oreophila sites by ABG and mentioned low survivorship of outplanting efforts during the 80’s and 90’s in Chattahoochee National Forest

Scott Wiggers pointed out that trial and error attempts from that time period did not yield much helpful information.

Georgia Aster Symphyotrichum georgianum

Ryan Shurette reports that population could be as high as 6-8,000 plants which are being actively managed on approximately 7 acres in Talladega National Forest (TNF), through an effort involving Alabama Power, the US Forest Service, and Auburn University Horticulture.  

Joanne Beck reported lots of natural recruitment with thinning and fire.

Turkeybeard Xerophyllum asphodeloides

Jonathon Stover brings an excellent report after 5 years of limited progress with this species.  Formerly known from only 2 sites in the TNF, Stover has found 9 additional sites in the surrounding area comprising perhaps as many as 500 plants.  He also reports good seed collection over the winter, and plans to continue collection and pursuing new sites. 

Jan Midgley reports seeds sprouting when covered with a thin layer of gravel.

Tutweiller’s Spleenwort  Asplenium tutwilerae

John Manion reports that a team of experienced lab volunteers have improved spore germination techniques in BBG’s propagation lab (to be visited later during the tour). Gametophytes in the petri dishes continue to increase. The current leaser of the Havana Glen site has restricted access to the species only population.  Property owner has always been receptive, and access will hopefully be restored. 

Alabama Leather Flower, Clematis socialis

Since the last meeting, the committee for this species has been formed and populated. 

John Manion reports BBG has recently signed a conservation agreement with TNC regarding this species. They are currently working to improve 2 sites through brush removal, and have attempted some cross pollination in the field.  1,000s of stems have been observed.

Harper’s Ginger, Hexastylis speciosa

Since the last meeting, the committee for this species has been formed and populated.

Dee Smith reports that this is an S2, G2 plant, and that 6 sites have been visited.  Plants have been collected and there are plans to propagate.

Brian Keener reports the discovery of a possible hybrid between H. speciosa and H. shuttleworthii.  

Pondberry, Lindera melissifolia

Sharon Herman reports she has taken over as chair of this committee. Threats to this species persist as laurel wilt is reported nearer and nearer to AL populations. There is much discussion about issues facing the plant:

  • Males can outgrow females in some instances
  • Has been documented that males can switch genders
  • Both genders documented at both AL sites
  • In GA large clumps have been transplanted with some success, though the majority of outplantings of container plants fail.
  • 10 ft tall individuals reported to have 2 inch thick stems and bark

Alabama Phlox, Phlox pulchra

Since the last meeting, the committee for this species has been formed and populated.

Jeremiah Devore reports the following goals

  • Evaluate distribution of species
  • Visit and evaluate sites for threats 
  • Focus propagation work on threatened sites

Boynton Oak, Quercus boyntonii

Patrick Thompson reports recent efforts to visit and evaluate sites have resulted in documentation of some large individuals and healthy populations, though acorn production at visited sites appears to be low again this year.

At the Forever Wild board meeting on 12/18/14, Thompson and a representative from the city of Gadsden addressed the board to advocate the appraisal of the previously nominated Hinds Road site (a sandstone rock outcrop in the vicinity of the site where the holotype for the species was collected). The board approved the appraisal.   

Ketona Glades Yellow-eyed Grass, Xyris spathifolia

Bob Boyd reports plans for a site visit over the summer when the plants are in flower, and continued successful propagation increases the possibility of moving some of these plants to an outplanting site on TNC’s glades.  Currently all known plants are in cultivation by gardens.  

AL Canebrake Pitcher Plant, Sarracenia alabamensis

Dee Smith reports that after talking with committee members it seems the sites are being monitored by TNC and we can work with them to best determine how to make a significant impact on management.  They can provide the information on what site work they need assistance with and schedule work days accordingly.  ABG and Davis Arboretum will continue with seed collection and propagation for safeguarding and augmentation/reintroduction. 

Whorled Sunflower, Helianthus verticillatus

Group discussion agrees that with this species’ recent listing as federally endangered Alabama’s sites should be visited and evaluated possibly for augmenting with safeguarding material away from the roadside. 

Haine’s Island Park

Reported to be looking good during last work day to kill invasive plants. Another work day will be planned in the future year to maintain progress.

Safeguarding Database

Patrick Thompson reported that primarily ex situ work is being recorded in our current database. A datasheet will be generated and sent out so that records of any plants acquired by an APCA partner as part of the activities of a formed APCA committee can be added to the database.  

Carrie Radcliffe gave the APCA a quick review of the impressive scope of GPCA’s database currently funded and housed with ABG. Group discussion followed on the complications with Alabama’s dual heritage program databases and issues with standardizing our records so they are compatible with platforms like Biotics for utility across state borders through Natureserve.  This is a bit of an oversimplification of the discussion.  Cost, access, and security are among the issues to be overcome in order to develop this important tool for a robust PCA and safeguarding program.   

Meeting adjourned for tour of Kaul Wildflower Garden led by John Manion, followed by tour of Fred Spicer’s home garden.

Saturday’s foray was to Village Creek Canyon (Jefferson Co. AL), led by Zac Napier of Freshwater Land Trust and with John Manion and Fred Spicer helping ID plants encountered there.

Last Updated: 05/24/2016