Keeping Up With Conservation: Conserving Lakela’s Mint

In February, the Rare Plant Conservation Program (RPCP) began propagation of Lakela’s Mint, Dicerandra immaculata var. immaculata, to produce plants from cuttings to augment a natural population in Vero Beach. The population is on managed lands owned by Indian River County. During contractor work several months ago to improve habitat by removing invasive species, numerous Lakela’s Mint were inadvertently damaged or destroyed. A project began in 2023 to replenish the population with new plants in order to maintain plant number and resilience. In January, seeds were collected from 50 maternal parent plants and ~2,000 seeds sown in a germination trial to produce seedlings.

The RPCP collected and processed ~500 cuttings from 100 plants in the wild. Cuttings were collected by selecting five, ~4-6 cm apical lengths from each plant, wrapping the cut end in wet paper towel in zip lock baggies, and placing the baggies on cold packs for transport to the Gardens.

Back at Bok Tower Gardens, processing involved removing the lower third of the leaves of each cutting, making a fresh cut, and treating the cut ends to a 12X dilution of rooting solution concentrate before plugging the cutting into prepared damp soil mix.

These efforts are expected to produce a genetically diverse array of seedlings and clones to successfully replenish the population. The population augmentation will be performed during rainy season in early July, which, in addition to irrigation by County staff 2x/week, will provide sufficient watering to help the plants overcome transplantation shock and become established.

Article written by Cheryl Peterson, Conservation Program Manager at Bok Tower Gardens.

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