GPCA - Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance: A Partnership to Conserve Our Endangered Flora

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GEORGIA PLANT CONSERVATION ALLIANCE A Partnership to Conserve Endangered Flora James Affolter and Jennifer Ceska

Jennifer Ceska

Many organizations and individuals are working to protect the plant species described in this Guide; this chapter will highlight some conservation projects that are representative of the efforts undertaken by the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance. Initiatives to conserve plant species often receive less attention and less funding than programs targeting animals but, in many respects, plants are more amenable to research and conservation efforts. They are usually easier and less expensive to propagate, and they don’t run, fly, or swim away when they are released. Plants enjoy less legal protection than their animal counterparts. Animals that have been listed under the federal Endangered Species Act are protected regardless of their location. Listed plants are legally protected only on federal lands. Private landowners are not required to protect rare plant populations occurring on their property, although they do have the right to prevent others from harming them.

Students at Centennial Academy in Gainesville, Georgia, explore pitcherplants at their school’s bog habitat

This distinction makes it all the more important that citizens of Georgia appreciate the value and significance of rare plants so that they will voluntarily participate in identifying and maintaining rare plant populations under their control. Education and outreach are as important as research and land management when it comes to saving rare plants. The future of many of these species depends as much on today’s teachers and elementary school students as it does on field biologists and policy makers. 435

Jennifer Ceska

Many government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions in Georgia participate in plant conservation. In 1995, several of these groups formed a new organization — the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance (GPCA) — to coordinate their activities and combine resources. Charter members included three botanical gardens – Atlanta Botanical Garden (ABG), Callaway Gardens, and The State Botanical Garden of Georgia (SBGG) – and the Georgia Natural Heritage Program of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GADNR), the U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy of Georgia, and the University of Georgia. The list of participants and collaborators has since expanded. The activities of GPCA and its member institutions provide a framework for describing the scope of plant conservation efforts in Georgia over the last decade. Since we know so little about the biology and management needs of most rare species, research is an important component of most GPCA activities. Restoring a mountain pitcherplant bog Many projects take place at the species level and emphasize propagation and both ex situ (garden) and in situ (wild) safeguarding. Other projects focus on habitat management and efforts to restore entire communities. These efforts are reinforced by ecological studies that reveal environmental responses, genetic diversity, and germination requirements of individual species. Finally, education and outreach activities carry the plant conservation message to public and professional audiences across the state and attract much-needed volunteers. The combined resources, expertise, and outreach strategies of GPCA members provide powerful tools for plant conservation in Georgia. More help is needed, and public support is critical for long-term success. Propagating Rare Plants One way GPCA botanical gardens conserve plant species is by studying the needs of rare plants in cultivation and then applying the resulting horticultural knowledge to recovery of these species in their natural habitats. Learning to propagate plants, especially rare plants that face a variety of 436

Jennifer Ceska

challenges to their survival, requires in-depth study and observation. Finding viable seeds can be especially challenging when natural populations are in decline. Once seeds have been obtained, identifying mechanisms to break dormancy and promote germination becomes critical. As seeds are manipulated in a variety of ways, the story of how the species survives begins to emerge, along with knowledge of the environmental factors necessary for its

GPCA members visit Atlanta Botanical Garden’s pitcherplant safeguarding collection

success. Variables affecting germination include moisture, temperature, light exposure, stratification, scarification, and chemical stimuli, often in complex combinations. Learning how these factors affect seed germination and seedling recruitment is a high priority; the knowledge gained can be useful in identifying suitable safeguarding and reintroduction sites. An important measure of success of a reintroduction effort is the ability of a plant population to reproduce sexually on its own in the wild. When we find evidence of seedling recruitment and establishment, we know that plants in that site are on their way to recovery. Implementing Georgia’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. GPCA participates in the implementation of GADNR’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS), a statewide initiative with the goal of conserving Georgia’s animals, plants, and natural habitats 437

through a variety of measures, including habitat restoration and management, rare species survey and recovery, environmental education, and public outreach. Working from the CWCS priority species list, GPCA members selected 20 rare plant species with the most urgent conservation needs (Table 1) and have taken initial steps toward safeguarding these species. GPCA scientists and volunteers located and evaluated populations of these rare plants. Seeds were collected for propagation and safeguarding at GPCA botanical gardens and for planting at carefully selected and secured safeguarding sites in the wild. Plants are also propagated for augmentation of the parent populations in the wild. Table 1. Rare plant species selected for safeguarding by GPCA, ranked by conservation priority Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Scientific Name Clematis socialis Draba aprica Isoetes tegetiformans Isoetes melanospora Rudbeckia auriculata Dicerandra radfordiana Rhus michauxii Lotus helleri Silene polypetala Oxypolis canbyi Arabis georgiana Helianthus verticillatus Tsuga caroliniana Lythrum curtissii Pediomelum piedmontanum Cypripedium kentuckiense Xerophyllum asphodeloides Gentianopsis crinita Viburnum bracteatum Thalictrum cooleyi

Common Name Alabama leather flower sun-loving draba mat-forming quillwort black-spored quillwort swamp black-eyed Susan Radford’s mint dwarf sumac Carolina trefoil fringed campion Canby’s dropwort Georgia rockcress whorled sunflower Carolina hemlock Curtiss’ loosestrife Dixie Mountain breadroot southern lady’s-slipper eastern turkeybeard fringed gentian limerock arrow-wood Cooley’s meadowrue

GPCA partners are working with many rare plants in addition to the twenty species listed above. The following examples illustrate the manner in which horticultural propagation of rare species is often a necessary complement to in situ management of threatened populations. 438

Jennifer Ceska

Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana): the struggle to obtain seeds for safeguarding collections. Eastern hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis) are under attack throughout the eastern United States by the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae), an aphid-like insect from Asia. Towering old-growth hemlocks are dying and seas of hemlock seedlings are succumbing in the forest understory. The woolly adelgid is making its way through north Georgia down several of our watersheds, taking these graceful giants with it. In addition, a rare hemlock species, Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana), is also under attack by the insect (see the species account in this guide). There is only one confirmed population of Carolina hemlock in Georgia, consisting of four trees in Tallulah Gorge State Park. The adelgid is now found throughout the Gorge, and park staff are treating trees with chemicals to fight off the attack.

Tallulah Gorge State Park staff collecting Carolina hemlock cones

For three years, GPCA worked with State Park staff to collect cones of the Carolina hemlock to bring the species into cultivation for safeguarding. All four trees in the park are on the south rim of the gorge; three are at the top of the gorge at the edge of a 600-foot cliff; the fourth, a 60-foot tall state record tree, is near the suspension bridge at the bottom of the gorge, its lowest branches at least 30 feet above ground level.

GPCA relied on park staff and volunteer climbers to collect seeds. Climbers used ropes to ascend the three smaller trees and to prevent a fall into the Gorge. We were not allowed to use ropes on the state record tree, so we found climbers willing to free-climb the trunk. Hemlock cone production at Tallulah Gorge was low in 2003 and 2004, possibly due to drought. During these years, we found seeds with small embryos and poor viability, and germination rates were low. The 2003 harvest yielded only one seedling; the 2004 collection produced four. The climbing team tried again in 2005, after a wet spring and summer when cone production was high and the three smaller Carolina hemlocks were covered in plump cones. Seed viability was significantly improved and germination exceeded 439

90 percent in most treatments, yielding hundreds of seedlings. These were distributed to GPCA botanical gardens which will serve as hosts to Carolina hemlock safeguarding collections. Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia): ex situ propagation and in situ “gardening” treatments for management. Florida torreya was once abundant throughout the ravines and bluffs of the lower Chattahoochee River in southwest Georgia and the upper Apalachicola River in north Florida (see the species account in this guide). Trees began dying in the 1950s, presumably the victims of a fungal blight, and are now found in their natural habitat only as root sprouts or stump shoots from old trees felled by disease or logging. The surviving natural populations are estimated to include approximately 200 plants, none of which are able to reach sexual maturity and produce cones before succumbing to the blight. With numbers this low, Florida torreya hovers on the brink of extinction and is one of North America’s most endangered trees. GPCA is helping to protect Florida torreya from extinction by planting clones, grown from cuttings taken from wild trees, in grove-like settings at its partner institutions. Scientists at ABG, the Center for Plant Conservation in St. Louis, Missouri, and Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, collaborated in taking the cuttings, cataloging their location data, and raising the trees at botanical gardens. Each tree is assigned a code that enables scientists to track that clone back to the original tree in the wild. The source trees for many of the plants in cultivation are no longer alive, emphasizing the importance of protecting this species in cultivation. Partner institutions in GPCA are assigned one or more populations of Florida torreya trees to plant and protect.

Jennifer Ceska

GPCA’s goals include protecting trees at the various institutions, learning what makes them thrive, applying that knowledge to helping the trees survive in the wild, and propagating seedlings that can be reintroduced to the wild if the disease plaguing Florida torreya is ever brought under control. Planting Florida torreya clones at a safeguarding site


A total of 160 seedlings produced by this method were planted at Torreya State Park and The Nature Conservancyowned Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve, both in north Florida, in habitats that once supported populations of Florida torreya. GPCA members at ABG, in collaboration with Florida State Parks and The Nature Conservancy, then initiated a study to determine the effects of fertilizer, fungicide, and higher pH on the survival of these young trees.

James Affolter

The ABG holds the ex situ parent collection of Florida torreya, safeguarding all known clones of the species. Safely removed from the killing fungal blight, these clones have matured and produced seeds. ABG developed a technique for germinating the seeds that includes scarification using a metal bristle brush attached to a drill. The seeds are spun in a bucket of water and scratched by the spinning bristles, which stimulates germination.

Georgia plume (Elliottia racemosa): a threatened shrub that is not reproducing sexually in the wild. Georgia plume is a shrub or small tree endemic to Georgia that produces striking candelabra of white-flowered racemes during mid-summer (see the species account in this guide). It is believed to be clonal, with limited genetic diversity, and is found in a variety of sandy soil habitats, primarily in the Coastal Plain. Although the shrubs offer a show of flowers, are visited by a variety of pollinators, and produce fruit and viable seed, seedlings have never been

Carol Nourse

Three treatments were applied to the seedlings to determine the effect of the addition of fungicide only, fertilizer only, and fertilizer with lime. As part of this project, ABG is committed to long-term monitoring and stewardship of these plants. Information gained from this in situ horticulture project will be beneficial in developing management plans for existing populations.


documented in the wild. Scientists and land managers are puzzled by their absence. Georgia plume occurs in plant communities that were historically dominated by fire but are rarely burned today. This interruption in the natural fire regime may be a key factor undermining the species’ ability to reproduce. GPCA members have initiated a variety of horticultural, ecological, and genetic studies to better understand the life history of Georgia plume and improve management and recovery of the remaining natural populations.

Hugh Nourse

Inspired by research studies in Australia and South Africa that used smoke to stimulate seed germination, GPCA members at the SBGG tried a variety

GPCA members, Ron Determann and Malcolm Hodges, protecting Georgia plume seeds with cages

of techniques to break seed dormancy including exposing seeds to combinations of cold stratification and smoke. Viable seeds germinated well when they were given a two-month cold stratification accompanied by exposure to light. Georgia plume seeds receive similar exposure to cold and light in the wild, so what else could be impeding their survival? Seeds receiving smoke treatments also germinated well, although not significantly better than cold treatment seeds. When seedlings were tracked through their first year of growth, smoke-treated seedlings lived longer and were more robust than seedlings from other treatments. Observations in the greenhouse and in field populations indicate that Georgia plume seedlings are susceptible to root rot, and that the presence of leaf litter might contribute to the problem. This raises the possibility that controlled burns, conducted before the fruits shatter and release their seeds, 442

might encourage seedling survival in two ways: by providing chemical stimulation from smoke for growth of more robust seedlings, and by reducing the amount of leaf litter. Land managers at The Nature Conservancy of Georgia are applying these results by conducting controlled burns in and around Georgia plume populations in hopes of providing the right combination of conditions for germination and survival of seedlings in the wild.

Richard Burnette

Orchid tissue culture: specialized techniques for propagating species. GPCA partners at ABG are working to conserve native orchid species and to restore their habitats. Some species, such as tuberous grasspink (Calopogon tuberosus), spreading pogonia (Cleistes divaricata), and rose pogonia (Pogonia ophioglossoides), are grown for use in bog garden and terrestrial orchid displays in the ABG Conservation Garden. Others, such as the rare southern lady’s-slipper (Cypripedium kentuckiense) and white fringeless orchid (Platanthera integrilabia), are propagated in their tissue culture lab for use in species recovery and ecological restoration projects (see species accounts in this field guide).

ABG scientist, Carol Denhof, hand-pollinating southern lady-slipper flower

Objectives of the orchid tissue culture project include (1) identifying populations and collecting seed from threatened orchid populations in the southeastern U.S., (2) using tissue culture techniques to propagate plants for restoration and ex situ conservation, and (3) creating educational displays that showcase the beauty of native orchids and explain the need for orchid conservation of these species and their habitats. This project is vital to the protection of threatened orchid habitat and the safeguarding of rare orchid species throughout the region. 443

Native orchid populations have suffered at the hands of poachers, who dig these plants for their own collections and for sale to the nursery trade. ABG is developing propagation and cultivation techniques and sharing these with commercial growers so that, in the future, home gardeners may be able to purchase plants that are certified as propagated, not collected from the wild. Meanwhile, GPCA partners are augmenting some of the few remaining populations of these plants by returning their offspring to the wild. Habitat Management

Carol Nourse

Many of Georgia’s distinctive plant communities are threatened by the same factors that pressure individual species including residential and commercial development, agricultural and silvicultural development, pollution, and invasion by non-native species. Suppression of fire has also allowed woody vegetation to encroach on many plant communities, causing the decline of rare plant species that require high levels of sunlight. Restoring and even expanding the habitat of rare species has many advantages over ex situ preservation; it provides the opportunity to preserve a greater amount of genetic diversity, and it exposes populations to environmental factors that promote continued selection and adaptation. GPCA partners are actively involved in managing four natural communities: pitcherplant bogs, oak savannahs, longleaf pine-wiregrass woodlands, and granite rock outcrops. Each is home to a characteristic suite of rare and endangered plants, and each requires a different combination of restoration and management techniques.

Recently burned Coastal Plain pitcherplant bog

Pitcherplant bogs. These wetland habitats were once found throughout Georgia, from the mountains to the Coastal Plain. As a result of human activities, they have been eradicated from the Piedmont and nearly eradicated from Georgia’s Blue Ridge mountains. According to GADNR’s Natural Heritage Program, only two mountain pitcherplant bogs are extant in the 444

state; the rest have been converted to agricultural land. The Nature Conservancy considers mountain pitcherplant bogs to be the most endangered habitat in the Blue Ridge. Bogs are home to many rare species such as mountain purple pitcherplant (Sarracenia purpurea ssp. venosa var. montana), swamp pink (Helonias bullata), sheep laurel (Kalmia caroliniana), several orchid species, and a variety of sedges and grasses.

Jennifer Ceska

Jennifer Ceska

GPCA members have established a regular schedule of monitoring, vegetation management (including hand-cutting and removal of woody plants), hydrologiABG scientist, Ron Determann, reintroducing cal modification (slowing and mountain purple pitcherplants spreading surface water flow), and pitcherplant reintroduction in one of the two remaining mountain bogs. In addition, GPCA is attempting to ameliorate the significant damage done to pitcherplant populations by bears, who dig up plants and eat their rhizomes. Workers rescue remaining pieces of rhizomes, raise the plants ex situ, and eventually collect seeds to be raised off-site for reintroduction to the bog. The purple pitcherplant population has grown from less than 20 to more than 350 plants, and new seedlings were observed in 2003. In addition, there are four newly established mountain bog safeguarding sites that host these plants.

GPCA members collect data at Doerun pitcherplant bog

Pitcherplant bogs are more common in the Coastal Plain, although untold numbers of bogs have been lost to draining and filling. The Georgia Natural Heritage Program has been working with the Georgia Power Company to preserve many of the surviving sites. 445

Plant species diversity is higher in a Coastal Plain bog than in any other plant community in the southeastern U.S. Some of the most diverse bogs in Georgia lie under powerlines since woody vegetation is continually removed from these sites to maintain clearance for electrical lines and towers. White-top pitcherplant (Sarracenia leucophylla) was thought to be extirpated from Georgia but was re-discovered in 2000 in a powerline right-of-way. The ABG propagated thousands of new plants from seeds collected from this population. Some of these plants have been introduced to a safeguarding site on protected land near the powerline population. Seeds from this population have also been placed in a long-term seed storage facility.

Granite rock outcrops. Working closely with GPCA partners in The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Georgia Natural Heritage Program, two University of Georgia graduate students have conducted research that will contribute to long-term management of granite rock outcrops, an endangered plant community that is characteristic 446

Carol Nourse

James Affolter

Oak savannahs. The U.S. Forest Service is restoring oak savannahs on Curahee Mountain near Toccoa, Georgia, that are home to the endangered smooth coneflower (Echinacea laevigata). This habitat is an open, fire-dependent community that supports unusual herb species such as curly-heads (Clematis ochroleuca), a white-flowered goldenrod (Solidago ptarmicoides), Heather Alley planting smooth coneflower Virginia mountain mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum), and Carolina thistle (Cirsium carolinianum). Pine beetle outbreaks in 2001 and 2002 provided an opportunity for the Forest Service to convert several acres from loblolly pine plantation to oak savannah. GPCA members have propagated and reintroduced several species of herbs characteristic of the oak savannah, including the endangered smooth coneflower.

of the Georgia Piedmont. The environmental conditions on these outcrops differ greatly from the forests of oak, hickory, and pine that surround them. Temperatures on the exposed expanses of bare rock can reach 122°F during the summer, and the few pockets of shallow soil that accumulate retain little moisture. Plants that grow on the outcrops are adapted to these harsh conditions and many grow nowhere else but granite outcrops.

Longleaf pine-wiregrass woodlands. GPCA members at the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Station (Ichauway) in Newton, Georgia, have established an innovative partnership with private landowners and public agencies to develop techniques for restoring wiregrass communities on the Coastal Plain. A major obstacle to restoring wiregrass communities is the scarcity of commercial seed sources and a lack of technical knowledge regarding cultural practices for wiregrass and associated species.

Shan Cammack

Mark Poucher

Outcrop species use a range of mechanisms to delay germination until the time when emerging seedlings have the greatest chance of survival. Research by a University of Georgia graduate student in the Department of Horticulture (Tate 2005) revealed how UGA graduate student, Melissa Caspary, surveying temperature fluctuations can granite outcrop plant communities be used to enhance germination of several outcrop species. Ongoing work in the University of Georgia’s Institute of Ecology will result in an up-to-date assessment of Georgia’s outcrops and their conservation status using aerial photography and GIS mapping. Related investigations will examine the detrimental effect of invasive exotic species, particularly Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense), on the plant species growing on the outcrop margins. Experimental studies will examine the efficacy of fire as a tool for suppressing privet and protecting the margins of the outcrop communities from invasive exotics.


Landowners participating in the project agree to burn their land according to a schedule that favors production of wiregrass seed (burning in the month of May or later, rather than during the winter months).

James Affolter

The research team has modified a mechanized seed harvester to collect the mature wiregrass seeds. It strips seeds from flowering stalks using a rotating brush and vacuum, then collects them in a seed hopper. They are also testing site preparation techniques for direct seeding of wiregrass. The feasibility of using plugs for restoration purposes is also being explored, although this is more expensive than direct seeding. The long-term goal is to develop seed sources and cultivation techniques to restore the species-rich native grasslands that formed the groundcover of the once extensive longleaf pine savannahs and woodlands.

Chris Evans

Invasive Species Control. Exotic invasive species are the second leading cause of extinction worldwide. They invade and forever change natural habitats, robbing native species of resources – light, water, nutrients, and physical space – that are necessary for survival. Environmental and governmental organizations worldwide are investing significant resources in the control and eradication of invasive species. In Georgia, invasive species are increasingly a problem as plant species such as cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) find their way north from warmer climates, and species introduced from similar climates, such as in southeast Asia, are changing entire ecosystems.

Cogongrass infestation 448

GPCA confronts invasive plant species at almost every rare plant population we restore and at every safeguarding site we create. In Coastal Plain pitcherplant bogs, a great deal of resources are spent removing Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) from the streams that feed and drain the bogs.

GPCA members cut the privet down, paint the stumps with herbicide, and lay the branches on the ground to dry and carry fire through the privet thicket during the next controlled burn. In the Piedmont, we struggle with Chinese privet on the margins of granite rock outcrops, where the invasive shrubs rob rare plants of what few resources are available in this harsh environment. University of Georgia graduate students are working with GPCA land managers to test different techniques for removing Chinese privet with the least possible impact to the rock outcrops.

Jennifer Ceska

After mountain pitcherplant bogs are opened up to increase the amount of light reaching the herb layer, invasive plants such as Nepalese browntop grass (Microstegium vimineum) emerge from the seed bank and flourish. Teams of volunteers labor for hours hand-pulling the invasive grass from mountain pitcherplant bogs and bog safeguarding sites. Hand-pulling has to be repeated for up to seven years until the seed bank is exhausted. Exotic animal species are also a threat to endangered species in mountain bogs. GPCA partners in Thomas Floyd hand-pulling Nepalese browntop the Department of Natural Resources Game Management Division trap and hunt wild boar (Sus scrofa) that root up sphagnum bogs with their hooves and snouts. A wild boar herd can lay waste to years of conservation work in a matter of minutes. The boars’ nomadic habit makes them difficult to target and control. Genetic and Ecological Research Field and laboratory research by GPCA members has contributed to our understanding of the genetic diversity and ecological characteristics of rare species. Much work remains to be done, but these studies provide examples of the questions that need to be explored and the technical methods that are available. Patterns and levels of genetic diversity are important because they determine a population’s ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions. An understanding of genetic diversity is also useful when devising in situ and ex situ conservation strategies. University of Georgia researchers, Mary Jo Godt and James Hamrick, have completed numerous genetic surveys 449

of rare and endangered species native to the southeastern United States. One study compared genetic (allozyme) diversity in pondberry (Lindera melissifolia), an endangered clonal shrub (see account in this guide), and spicebush (L. benzoin), a widespread species in the same genus. The pondberry study (Godt and Hamrick 1996) indicated lower diversity in the rare species, although genetic diversity was relatively low in the common spicebush as well.

Joseph E. Jones Ecological Research Center

UGA Plant Biology Department

Godt and Hamrick (1999) also studied the endemic shrub, Georgia plume (Elliottia racemosa, see account in this guide). Seed set in this species is limited, and seedlings have not been observed in natural populations. The species spreads vegetatively by root sprouts. Compared with other woody taxa, Georgia plume has low genetic diversity both within populations and at the species level. There was evidence that some of the ten populations sampled contained many genotypes while others comprised James Hamrick assessing genetic very few. The sites with the fewest (allozyme) diversity genotypes had low seed set, implying that lack of clonal diversity might limit reproduction in some populations of this reportedly self-incompatible species.

Kathy Aleric measuring photosynthetic rates of pondberry 450

Experimental analyses of the physiological response of rare plants can provide useful information for improving management of natural populations. Kathy Aleric and Kay Kirkman (2005) studied the growth, photosynthetic, and morphological response of pondberry (Lindera melissifolia) to varied light environments. By measuring photosynthetic rates of pondberry in the field, they determined that pondberry plants can persist in full sun but that high light environments are not optimal for growth; full sun also favors species that compete with pondberry. Light levels below 42 percent appear to be sufficient for maintaining growth of this rare species.

A study of the endangered hairy rattleweed (Baptisia arachnifera, see account in this guide) was used to develop a sampling strategy to maximize genetic diversity in ex situ collections of this species (Ceska et al. 1997). Research indicated that 99 percent of the allozyme diversity in this species might be captured by sampling just two of the remaining populations. A study of the effects of light intensity on biomass production and photosynthetic rates in the endangered smooth coneflower (Echinacea laevigata, see account in this guide) demonstrated that this species performed well in moderate (43 percent of ambient sunlight) to full sun in terms of flowering and biomass production (Alley and Affolter 2005). Deeper shade (18 percent of ambient sunlight) reduced growth. Plants grown in 100, 43, and 18 percent of ambient sunlight produced photosynthetic curves with no significant differences, indicating no photosynthetic adaptation to shade. Based on these findings, the authors recommended that management practices be aimed at maintaining light levels at smooth coneflower sites above 43 percent full sun intensity. Education Since its inception, GPCA has placed a high priority on developing educational programs to support plant conservation. If people value plants, and realize that the survival of many rare plant species is dependent on human actions and decisions, our conservation work is much more likely to succeed. To address this need, GPCA partners provide resource materials for environmental education, training programs, and citizen outreach through a variety of projects.

Ginny Barber

Endangered Plant Stewardship Network (EPSN). GPCA partners at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia initiated an environmental education program that trains teachers and students to be stewards of the environment by actively growing, studying, and exploring rare plants of Georgia. Trained by SBGG and EPSN environmental educators, public school teachers developed and introduced a plant conservation curriculum into Georgia public schools in 1996. EPSN received funding from the Eisenhower Plan for the Improvement of Math and Science Education to Building a schoolyard bog habitat


conduct teacher training workshops throughout the state. Today more than 200 teachers from 20 school districts participate in the EPSN network, and the number continues to grow as we reach across state borders throughout the southeastern United States.

Jennifer Ceska

This program is making lasting connections between students and the natural environment by using rare plants, threatened habitats, and conservation biology as a training ground for science education. The program curriculum features endangered plants of Georgia and their conservation stories; protocols for creating rare plant habitats, such as pitcherplant bogs, on school sites; puppets to engage students’ imagination and create empathy; and activities that improve science process skills and promote science as a career.

EPSN founder, Anne Shenk, training teachers

For more on the Endangered Plant Stewardship Network, our Lesson Planner, and our teacher training workshops, visit our web site, Botanical Guardians. GPCA has created a network of volunteers throughout Georgia to help locate rare plant populations, monitor endangered species sites, and serve as stewards for rare species and their habitats. This network, called the Botanical Guardians project, is modeled after a successful volunteer program developed by the New England Wildflower Society. Two teams of Botanical Guardians have been created. The first is a group of plant surveyors who search for locations of rare plants. GADNR selects species for survey from their Special Concern and Watch lists. Volunteers work to locate populations based on information from GADNR files, herbarium specimens, and local knowledge. Once populations are found, volunteers cultivate relationships with landowners and inform them about the value 452

and management of the rare plants on their property. The survey data collected is important for prioritizing conservation activities and documenting the status of Georgia rare plant populations and the threats to their survival.

For information about the Botanical Guardians volunteer program, visit our web site at or contact the State Botanical Garden’s Plant Conservation Program at 706542-6448.

Tara Muenz

The second team consists of local stewards who are volunteers that live near rare plant habitats. The Botanical Guardians Coordinator finds and trains local stewards who are willing to walk sites monthly to look for signs of disturbance, such as trash dumping, vandalism, herbicide application, off-roadvehicle damage, and poaching. One of GPCA’s best sources for Botanical Guardian volunteers comes from two plant societies active in plant conservation and well versed in the flora of Georgia: the Georgia Botanical Society and the Georgia Native Plant Society, both participating organizations of GPCA.

GPCA Publications. GPCA has Botanical Guardian, David Varnadoe, surveying Florida willow produced a series of “Conservation Alerts” – brochures that explain conservation concerns and recruit the help of citizens in locating or managing rare plants and their habitats. Each brochure suggests positive actions people can take to help in the recovery of rare species. Some recent publications include “Bogs of Georgia, Conservation Efforts of the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance,” “Florida Torreya, Conservation Alert: Georgia Institutions Plant Endangered Trees to Protect Species,” “Invasive Plants of the Southeast,” and “Lost Mountain Species, A Guide to the Historic Mountain Plants of Georgia.” Our most comprehensive publication to date is the book you are holding, the Field Guide to the Rare Plants of Georgia.


GPCA Participating Organizations and Research Collaborators Atlanta Botanical Garden Callaway Gardens Chattahoochee Nature Center Coastal Plain Research Arboretum Fort Valley State University Georgia Botanical Society Georgia Department of Transportation Georgia Native Plant Society Georgia Natural Heritage Program, Georgia Department of Natural Resources Georgia Power Georgia Southern Botanical Garden Joseph E. Jones Ecological Research Station (Ichauway) North Georgia College and State University The Nature Conservancy of Georgia The State Botanical Garden of Georgia University of Georgia U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Valdosta State University Herbarium Zoo Atlanta Thanks to the photographers whose donated photographs illustrate this chapter: James Affolter, Ginny Barber, Richard Burnette, Shan Cammack, Jennifer Ceska, Chris Evans, Joseph E. Jones Ecological Research Center, Tara Muenz, Carol Nourse, Hugh Nourse, Mark Poucher, and the University of Georgia Plant Biology Department. References Cited and Suggested Reading Akeroyd, J. and P.S. Wyse Jackson. 1995. Handbook for botanic gardens on the reintroduction of plants to the wild. Botanic Gardens Conserva - tion International, in association with IUCN Species Survival Commis- sion (Reintroductions Specialist Group). Aleric, K.A. and L.K. Kirkman. 2005. Growth and photosynthetic respon ses of the federally endangered shrub, Lindera melissifolia (Lauraceae), to varied light environments. American Journal of Botany 92: 682-689. Alley, H., M. Rieger, and J.M. Affolter. 2005. Effects of developmental light level on photosynthesis and biomass production in Echinacea laevigata. Natural Areas Journal 25: 117-122. Ceska, J.F., J.M. Averett, and J.M. Affolter. 2002. Stimulating germination of Elliottia racemosa Muhlenburg ex Elliott seed using charate extract solution. Ecological Restoration 20: 69-70. 454

James Affolter

Botanic Gardens Conservation International. 2006. Conserving threatened plants and restoring plant diversity: a contribution to the global strategy for plant conservation implementing Target 8: ex situ conservation supporting recovery and restoration programmes. Botanic Gardens Con- servation International, U.K. Ceska, J.F., J.M. Affolter, and J.L. Hamrick. 1997. Developing a conserva- tion sampling strategy for Baptisia arachnifera based on allozyme diver- sity. Conservation Biology 11: 1133-1139. Falk, D.A., C.I. Millar, and M. Olwell. 1996. Restoring diversity: strategies for reintroduction of endangered plants. Island Press, Washington, DC. Falk, D.A. and K.E. Holsinger. 1991. Genetics and conservation in rare plants. Oxford University Press, New York. Given, D.R. 1994. Principles and practices of plant conservation. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon. Godt, M.J.W., and J.L. Hamrick. 1996. Allozyme diversity in the endan- gered shrub Lindera melissifolia (Lauraceae) and its widespread congener Lindera benzoin. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 26: 2080-2087. Godt, M.J.W., and J.L. Hamrick. 1999. Population genetics of the rare Georgia shrub, Elliottia racemosa. Molecular Ecology 8: 75-82. GPCA. 2005. Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance News 3: 1-28. State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Athens. Havens, K., M. Maunder, and E.O. Guerrant. 2004. Ex situ plant conserva tion: supporting species survival in the wild. Island Press, Washington, DC. New England Wildflower Society, Inc. 1992. New England Plant Conserva- tion Program. Wild Flower Notes 7(1): 1-79. Tate, S.C. 2005. Effects of stratification on the germination of six Piedmont rock outcrop species and development of a model Piedmont rock outcrop habitat garden. M.S. Thesis. Department of Horticulture, University of Georgia, Athens.

GPCA members discuss wiregrass seed collection techniques at Joseph E. Jones Ecological Research Center (Ichauway), Newton County, Georgia. 455


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