In November, the Rare Plant Conservation Program visited the new population of Florida goldenaster, Chrysopsis floridana, which was introduced into protected lands in Bartow in July. Funded by a grant from the USFWS, the new population was created using 350 seedlings grown in the greenhouse at Bok Tower Gardens from seeds of four wild populations.
The state-owned site in Bartow was a hill of sand tailings from a phosphate mine in the 1970s, but since 2007 has experienced extensive efforts to restore back into scrubby flatwoods. Although the site still retains neutral to alkaline soils, numerous reintroduced native plant species have been repopulating the site.
The site was selected for the new population of Florida goldenaster because it is within the historical range of the species, Florida goldenaster can tolerate slightly alkaline soils, and the new population can help support native pollinators.
In November, the new population was in full flower. Data was collected on plant survival and reproductive status. Overall survival was roughly 94%, and nearly 60% of the new plants were reproductive.
This great success so far bodes well for its future. However, this has just been the first step in working to establish the new population. The next step will take place in the spring, with surveys to see whether new seedlings can recruit and thrive. This will be the most important predictor of whether this population will be robust and self-sustaining into the future
Blog post by Cheryl Peterson, Conservation Program Manager at Bok Tower Gardens