Catching Up with Conservation: Preserving Florida Bluecurls

Seeds of Florida bluecurls (Trichostema suffrutescens) finally ripened in January following the end of flowering and beginning of seed development back in October, when The Rare Plant Conservation Program had placed seed collection bags on plants in the Lake Wales Ridge State Forest. Seeds of this species are tiny, with up to four poppy seed-sized “nutlets” developing from each pollinated flower. The nutlets are elongated and irregular, and 2-4 mm long, which is typical for members of this genus.

In January, the seeds were cleaned from debris, counted, kept separate by a maternal parent, and dried to 30% relative humidity for long-term cold storage. A subset of the seeds was bisected with a scalpel at 20x under a dissecting microscope to quantify the percentage of intact, fully developed seeds. Ninety-nine percent of the seeds were intact, as determined by the presence of a white, moist embryo filling the seeds, and just 1% of the seeds were empty.

This seed collection was performed as part of a project with the Center of Plant Conservation to preserve seeds of Florida’s rare species. A germination trial to test viability will be performed in the upcoming weeks as part of the project agreement.

The article was written by Cheryl Peterson, Conservation Program Manager, Rare Plant Conservation Program at Bok Tower Gardens.