The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Bok Tower Gardens
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
The conservation of Ziziphus celata is fully sponsored.
Carl W. Weekley contributed to this Plant Profile.
Florida ziziphus (Ziziphus celata) is one of the rarest and most imperiled plants in Florida. It is so rare that the taxonomists who named it thought they were describing an extinct species. And given its limited geographic distribution, small populations, lack of genetic diversity and reluctance to reproduce sexually, the taxonomists fear could still prove true.
Florida ziziphus was named and described in 1984 from a specimen that had languished in an herbarium drawer for 36 years. No live plant was known to the taxonomists who described it (Judd and Hall 1984). But, beginning in 1987 (Delaney et al. 1989), six small populations of Florida ziziphus were discovered along a 35 mile stretch of the Lake Wales Ridge in Central Florida. Its natural habitat was probably longleaf pine/wiregrass sandhill, but today four of the six known populations are in pastures, where they have been subjected to mowing, periodic (unsuccessful) attempts at eradication, and trampling by cattle.
A member of the buckthorn family (the Rhamnaceae), Florida ziziphus is a single or multi-stemmed woody shrub, 3 to 6 ft. in height. It has spiny, zigzag branches with small (less than 1 in. long) alternate leaves, shiny on their upper surface. The leaves are deciduous, falling in December before flowering begins in early January.
Flowers are tiny--four fit neatly on the face of a dime--and are perfect, containing both anthers and a pistil surrounded by a nectar ring. Mature plants bloom profusely, with flowers numbering in the tens of thousands. The fragrant flowers attract legions of insects, including flower flies, bees, wasps and butterflies. Some floral visitors are quite noisy and on sunny mornings plants can be heard as well as smelled from several yards away. The fruit is a drupe about 1/2 in. in length that turns yellow as it ripens in late May.
Most populations of Florida ziziphus consist of more or less distinct clumps of apparently disparate plants which, once examined genetically, turn out to be a single genetic individual (a clone). These clones are not only self-incompatibleincapable of producing offspringbut many clones are also cross-incompatible. Thus most populations do not reproduce sexually. Sterile populations can persist through vegetative growth, with new stems arising from an expanding root system, but long term viability requires the restoration of sexually-reproductive populations (Weekley et al. 1999).
Distribution & Occurrence
This species is thought to occur naturally on the periphery of turkey oak sandhills or yellow sand oak-hickory scrub communities. (USFWS 1999) However, most known species are persisting in pastures.
|Six sites/populations: three populations each comprise a single genotype; two sites have two or three genotypes (Weekley et al. in press, Godt et al. 1997); the number of genotypes on the newly discovered sixth site is not yet known. At least four populations are self-sterile.|
Conservation, Ecology & Research
Conversion of sandhill habitat for agricultural purposes
Abrahamson, W.G. 1984. Post-fire Recovery of Florida Lake Wales Ridge Vegetation. American Journal of Botany. 71, 1: 9-21.
Abrahamson, W.G.; Johnson, A.F.; Layne, J.N.; Peroni, P.A. 1984. Vegetation of the Archbold Biological Station: an example of the southern Lake Wales Ridge. Florida Scientist. 47: 209-250.
Delaney, K.R.; Wunderlin, R.P.; Hansen, B. 1989. Rediscovery of Ziziphus celata (Rhamnaceae). Sida. 13: 325-330.
Godt, M.J.W.; Race, T.; Hamrick, J.L. 1997. A population genetic analysis of Ziziphus celata, an endangered Florida shrub. Journal of Heredity. 88, 6: 531-533.
Judd, W.S.; Hall, D.W. 1984. A new species of Ziziphus (Rhamnaceae) from Florida. Rhodora. 86: 381-387.
Race, T. 1998. Update on Ziziphus celata: the persistent species. Plant Conservation. 8, 2: 1.
Race, T. Florida Ziziphus (Ziziphus celata). Bok Tower Gardens Newsletter. 8.
USFWS. 1988. Listing Proposed. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 13, 9-10: 7.
USFWS. 1988. Proposed Endangered Status for Liatris ohlingerae and Ziziphus celata. Federal Register. 53, 188: 37818-37821.
USFWS. 1993. Endangered status for four Florida plants. Federal Register. 54, 143: 31190-31196.
Wallace, S.R. 1991. Central Florida Scrub: Trying to Save the Pieces. Endangered Species UPDATE. 8, 1: 60-62.
Weekley, C.; Race, T.; Hardin, D. 1999. Saving Florida Ziziphus: Recovery of a rare Lake Wales Ridge endemic. The Palmetto. 19, 2: 9-10,20.
Weekley, C.W.; Kubisiak, T.L.; Race, T. 2002. Genetic impoverishment and cross-incompatibility in remnant genotypes of Ziziphus celata (Rhamnaceae), a rare shrub endemic to the Lake Wales Ridge, Florida. Biodiversity and Conservation. 11: 2027-2046.
Weekley, C.W.; Race, T. 2001. The breeding system of Ziziphus celata, a rare endemic plant of the Lake Wales Ridge, Florida: implications for recovery. Biological Conservation. 100: 207-213.