Protecting Rare Tampa Vervain

This month, The Rare Plant Conservation Program assisted the Conservation and Environmental Lands Management Program of Hillsborough County in seed collection for the rare Tampa vervain, Glandularia tampensis.

Hillsborough County staff recently found a previously undocumented population and requested seed collection assistance. Gillian Seymour and Rose O’Donovan, Hillsborough County Environmental Lands Management Specialists, determined that wild hog activity is a management concern at the site and felt ex-situ seed preservation in the Center for Plant Conservation National Collection at Bok Tower Gardens would be an important way to help preserve the genetic diversity of the population.

Our Rare Plant Curator provided training to the county staff in seed collection and provided data sheets and seed collection material. The Hillsborough team was then able to harvest a genetically diverse subset of seeds in the population. The Rare Plant Curator will soon be cleaning and counting the seeds and assessing their viability through germination trials, before accessioning the bulk of the seeds to storage.

The photo shows Tampa vervain in bloom in the Hillsborough County population. The species is quite rare in natural settings. The plants are somewhat ephemeral, appearing and then disappearing in mesic Flatwoods and live-oak, cabbage palm hammocks, and bloom sporadically year-round.

Blog was written by Anna Clarke, Rare Plant Curator, Bok Tower Gardens, and photographs provided by Gillian Seymour, Environmental Lands Management Specialist, Hillsborough County.