Lakela’s Mint Update

In 2019, the Rare Plant Conservation Program (RPCP) began a project funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to introduce a new population of the endangered Lakela’s Mint in a protected conservation area in Indian River County.

This species is found only in Indian River and St. Lucie Counties, in a small stretch of scrub habitat on the Atlantic Coastal Ridge, and nowhere else in the world. Being slightly higher in elevation than the surrounding land, and therefore not as prone to flooding, this area is also most desirable for development, road and railway placement, and citrus groves. Because of this, Lakela’s Mint has been reduced to just a few small, fragmented populations, all of which are in decline.

In 2019 and early 2020, seeds and cuttings from the remaining few natural populations of Lakela’s Mint took place. Hundreds of plants were propagated from these seeds and cuttings, and in August 2020, over 500 plants were transplanted into the conservation area. Irrigation lines were set up to deliver water to each individual plant.

In October, the RPCP visited the new population to collect survival, size, and reproductive data. Survival was high, and nearly all of the plants formed flowers and are now developing seeds, which will help to establish the new population.

Blog was prepared by Cheryl Peterson, Conservation Program Manager at Bok Tower Gardens.