Catching Up With Conservation: Saving Savannas Mint

On October 25th, The Rare Plant Conservation Program met with Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) staff and Americorp volunteers at Savannas Preserve State Park in Port St. Lucie for the annual fall monitoring of the endangered Savannas Mint. Savannas Mint (Dicerandra immaculata var. savannarum) was historically known from one small natural population on private property in a housing subdivision in south St. Lucie County.

Beginning in 2006, the Rare Plant Conservation Program and the FDEP worked to establish the species on protected, managed lands at the adjacent Savannas Preserve State Park. The natural population has since been extirpated, but there are now three populations of Savannas Mint at the park that are flourishing. Without establishing these new populations in the park, this species would have gone extinct. The presence of Savannas Mint in the park not only preserves the species for future generations, but helps support native bees and butterflies by providing nectar during the fall months.

Although the populations appear robust, environmental factors such as drought, pests, and habitat changes present ongoing stressors to the populations. The Rare Plant Conservation Program tracks population health by monitoring the populations twice each year. Each March, new seedlings are counted and mapped. Each October, survival of the seedlings is noted, and all living plants are counted and scored as reproductive or non-reproductive.

Keeping track like this of the only Savannas Mint populations in existence helps us learn how best to support this species best so that it can persist into the future to benefit native pollinators, and be present for future generations of park visitors to enjoy.

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

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