COSAM » Donald E. Davis Arboretum » Alabama Plant Conservation Alliance » Minutes of APCA Meetings » November 15, 2013

Minutes from November 15, 2013

APCA group May 17 2013

APCA Meeting Minutes  15 November 2013
Held at Jacksonville State University
Recorded by Patrick Thompson

Introduction by Dr. Bob Boyd and a welcome from our host Dr. Jimmy Triplett to our 11th meeting.


  • Bob Boyd, Auburn University Dept of Biological Sciences, and APCA Coordinator
  • Jimmy Triplett, Curator- Jacksonville State University Herbarium 
  • Robert Carter, Plant Ecologist- Jacksonville State University (JSU)
  • Jane Lampley, Graduate Student-JSU Herbarium
  • Francine Hutchinson, Assistant Curator -JSU Herbarium
  • Mary Shew, Natural Resource Specialist- Little River Canyon Nat’l Preserve and Russell Cave 
  • Dan Spalding, Curator- Anniston Natural History Museum
  • Dana Stone, Alabama Forestry Commission
  • Dee Smith, Curator- AU Davis Arboretum
  • Gwindolyn Griffin, Gardener and Native Plant Student Birmingham Botanical Gardens
  • Sharon Herman, AU Dept of Biological Sciences- Plant and Fire Ecologist 
  • Kate Fuller, AU Dept of Biological Sciences
  • Teri Briggs, AU Davis Arboretum
  • Leah Starino, Fort McClellan- Land Manager
  • Ryan Shurette, Forest Botanist-US Forest Service
  • Scott Wiggers, Botanist U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 
  • Jan Midgley, Grower and Native Seed Specialist
  • John Manion, Curator- Kaul Wildflower Garden, Birmingham Botanical Gardens
  • Chuck Byrd, The Nature Conservancy
  • Hunter McBrayer, Alabama Cooperative Extension
  • Patrick Thompson, AU Davis Arboretum
  • Beth Clendenon, AU Dept. of Horticulture
  • Jeremiah Devore, Graduate Student- AU Dept. of Horticulture 
  • Tom Warren, Graduate Student- AU Dept. of Horticulture

APCA Intro by Dr. Boyd

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.  Our meetings repeatedly draw a crowd as we bounce around the state, as shown by our numerous group photos. The recap of the spring meeting’s foray into West Alabama (hosted by Dr. Brian Keener and Univ. West Alabama) included slides of numerous amazing wildflowers encountered in the black belt prairies.

Also noted was the awesome GPCA meeting in Oct. at Callaway Gardens that included Plant Conservation Alliance people from several locations around the country.

Announcement was made of the exciting 2014 spring meeting May 15th and 16th at Auburn University which will be a joint meeting of the APCA and our parent organization the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance!  They have a lot of experience at this plant conservation thing, and it would be hard to overstate how much we have benefited from their guidance.  


Chuck Byrd, Oreo’s Across Alabama

Sarracenia oreophila

Chuck’s position with The Nature Conservancy allows him to work with rare plants on both privately and publicly held sites.  He will tell us today about the Green pitcher plant, and some of the issues he has to deal with while trying to conserve it. 

13 private sites

  • 4 are in fair shape
  • plants/clusters greater than 10
  • conditions stable
  • Owner is interested and open to management
  • 2 have access issues
  • Owners not currently interested in botanists on their land
  • 5 have low plant numbers
  • rediscovered populations
  • some barely hanging on (literally!)


  • Poaching 
  • Serious threat! Boaz pond pitcher plants are for sale in the Czech Republic
  • can cause landowners to deny access
  • Landowner disinterest/apathy
  • fear of liability and trespassers
  • Don’t understand why we want to save “some plant”
  • Afraid of Gov’t intervention
  • Change in land use
  • farming and ranching leads to trampling of plants and habitat
  • development leads to buildings 
  • Lack of management/fire even where everything else is good
  • weather is a limiting factor
  • limited staff for manual treatment

What can we do?

  • Continue to look for creative ways to manage weak populations
  • work with groups to adopt sites *screening for collectors*
  • Safeguarding, propagation, augmentation
  • Manage with Fire and metal, and whatever does the job
  • TNC is hiring 4 SCA burn team interns
  • Use brush mowers and handsaws 
  • Use limited herbicide to control hardwood resprouts, Triclopyr
  • Rule of thumb: don’t try to spray anything smaller than your thumb or you risk overspray
  • Continue to support landowners to manage their own site.


Q1: Fire vs Bushogging?

Fire is preferable whenever possible because it volatizes the thatch layer and in just the right conditions can volatize soil nitrogen, deterring resprouts even more.

Q2: Thatch management?

Sometimes the only option is to hand clear around the crowns of the pitcher plants.  A thick thatch layer can smother them, and encourage competition.

Tip from Sharon Herman, propane torching the root collar of hardwoods can be an effective micromanagement tool

Ryan Shurette, Georgia Aster update

Symphyotrichum georgianum –an existing population that fluctuated between several hundred and 1500 plants is being actively managed on approximately 8 acres in Talladega National Forest (TNF), through an effort involving Alabama Power, the US Forest Service, and Auburn University Horticulture. The plants occur on a transmission line right of way being maintained by AL Power. The surrounding area, once thickly planted with long leaf pines, has been cleared to savannah conditions, and is burned on a 2-4 year cycle. It has been discovered that when necessary Imazapyr can be used to manage encroaching vegetation without damaging the asters.

For 4 years seed has been collected in November and December by the Forest Service, and sent to Auburn, where under the direction of Dr. Amy Wright, the University’s Horticulture Dept. has grown out and returned to the TNF approximately 3000 new plants. These have been outplanted in TNF to augment the existing population. Ryan’s presentation included many photos of nice looking stands of plants. The project has been so successful that this year the Forest Service will be able to pay AU Hort for plants to continue the outplantings.

Xerophyllum asphodeloides - (Jan Midgley: photo below) Jan has found this species challenging to grow from seed: 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 delivered seeds to the meeting that were just harvested; this is two months later than previous seed collections, and hopefully will yield more successful results.  We are hoping the site gets burned this winter. Ryan has been maintaining it with some manual clearing. 

Xerophyllum asphodeloides

Chuck Byrd, the AL endemic Canebrake Pitcher Plant Sarracenia alabamensis  

8 sites:

4 are in good/fair shape
2 have access issues
2 sites have low plant numbers


-Roberta Case site seepage slope populations in good shape, but are very dry. There are plans to harvest timber to reduce moisture uptake by trees hopefully leaving more for the pitcher plants.

-Nearby gravel mine has changed hydrology at another good site.


  • Poaching 
  • Landowner disinterest/apathy
  • Change in land use 
  • -one site has had issues with horses on the plants
  • Lack of management/fire even where everything else is good

What can we do?

  • Continue to look for creative ways to manage weak populations
  • -work with groups to adopt sites *screening for collectors*
  • -Safeguarding, propagation, augmentation
  • Manage with Fire and metal, and whatever does the job

Tuckabatchee Boy Scout site doing very well. Seedlings spotted this year.

Hunter McBrayer, AL endemic Tutwiler’s spleenwort  Asplenium tutwilerae  

This species has rebounded from a low of 50 – 60 individuals in the wild back up to 168 ferns at Havana Glen in 2012 according to the Cobbs. Safeguarded populations have continued to increase as BBG plates out more spores and grows out more individuals. They continue to experiment with horticultural protocols for propagation.

Jeremiah Devore, Pondberry Lindera melissifolia 
Laurel wilt disease recently reported in a 3rd AL county. Sassafras suffering currently, but tenuous populations of pondberry could be in danger.  Two rounds of cuttings were collected from the sites in Alabama during June of 2013 for a propagation study at Auburn University. 

Objective: determine most effective rooting hormone, and time of year to take cuttings.

Preliminary results suggest Hormodin 2 over Dip n Grow, and later collection time could yield more success.

Methods and materials: Cuttings will be taken in the 4 summer months of 2014, and receive a variety of rooting hormone treatments and be stuck in a variety of media.

Longterm objective: by establishing more precise protocols, it will increase the success of safeguarding attempts to protect the species from disease threats in the wild. Eventually the cost of reintroduction work can be reduced to help reestablish this plant in the wild and get it off the endangered species list. 

Jeremiah Devore, AL endemic Alabama Phlox Phlox pulchra 
At the last APCA meeting it was mentioned that Alabama Phlox, an AL endemic, seemed to be decreasing across its range for unknown reasons. After finding little information in the available literature about native phlox propagation, Jeremiah decided to establish some horticultural protocols for working with this charismatic plant.

Objective: determine best hormone treatment, and the effect of stem section (terminal versus medial)

Preliminary results suggest that terminal stem cuttings do much better than medial      

Longterm objective: to boost accessible populations so that they can be safeguarded, propagated, and augmented. 

Discussion followed: Scott Wiggers pointed out that cutting propagation won’t protect a species’ genetic diversity. Jan Midgley pointed out that this species does not produce seed very well.  It was agreed that cutting material or seeds if available from multiple locations would be required to get a genetically diverse population into cultivation. It was mentioned that the species has a variety of colors in its blooms ranging from white to pinkish to lavender, and shades in between. Possibly an edaphic effect, but multiple flower colors can be observed at an individual site, so still more research needs to be done on this plant.  

Patrick Thompson, Helianthus verticillatus

Plant is growing well in the AU Arboretum and at BBG. At recent Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance meeting Malcolm Hodges (GPCA) reported stem counts in the thousands in Coosa Valley prairies across the AL border in Georgia after treating sites with fire. 

Quercus boyntonii - (Patrick Thompson) Plant material currently in cultivation by BBG, ABG and AU’s DA from Hind’s rock and Moss Rock Preserve.  Field observations suggest last year was a better year for acorn production than this year despite ample rainfall.

Matalea alabamensis -(Patrick Thompson: photo below)  Only 2 populations in AL known and both on private land. Two collected specimens from one population flowered profusely in a garden setting (see photo to right) and were regularly visited by a small fly identified as Neogriphoneura sordida (a little red fruitfly) though it was seems to be an ineffective pollinator as seeds have yet to be produced. 

Matalea alabamensis

Xyris spathifolia – (Bob Boyd) 

It is still not known if any plants survive at the single glade from which the species is reported. We are tracking propagation of this species. Atlanta Botanical Gardens is having success propagating this species. It has been recently shared with Birmingham Botanical Gardens. AU Davis Arboretum has a few plants as does Mincy Moffett (GPCA). Mincy shared plants that were put into an acidic bog display in GA along with 2 other Xyris species, but the spathifolia died: Mincy thinks that spathifolia (like tennesseensis) prefers neutral or alkaline soil.

Haine’s Island Park (Gena Todia: in absentia report)-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 this spring in collaboration with AL Invasive Plant Council.  

Safeguarding committee- (Patrick Thompson and John Manion). Patrick will be questioning people to get origin and population data on plants from our current projects. This will be handed off to Suzi Merzman who hope to work with it over the holidays, and have something to show when the spring meeting comes around.

There was some time devoted to discussion of new projects:

Beth Clendenan, a Program administrator with Auburn’s Hort Department is looking for a PhD project and is considering work with native herbaceous plants and is open to suggestions from the group.  There was some discussion about a Hexastylus speciosa project.

Meeting adjourned and Dr. Triplett drove a small group up the mountain behind the University to look at a longleaf pine area as the rain moved in and darkness fell!

Last Updated: 05/24/2016