Pineland blackanthers (Melanthera parvifolia) is an endemic herbaceous plant in South Florida pine rocklands and is state listed as threatened. The species was described in 1903 by John Kunkel Small based on a specimen from Big Pine Key in Monroe County. It is predominantly in Miami-Dade and Collier Counties.
As part of the CPC’s new Florida Biobanking Initiative, Fairchild’s Conservation Team collected seeds of this species from a large, stable population in Zoo Miami’s pine rockland. The pineland had recently experienced a prescribed burn (<2 years) and was in excellent condition with many herbaceous plant species flowering, especially the pineland blackanthers.
This species is in the composite or sunflower family where flowers develop in clusters of disk florets arranged like a starburst, with new florets emerging from the center and older florets at the margins. Seeds of this species were collected over two days in September and October 2021. We used drawstring organza bags to maximize seed collection efforts since this species develops inflorescences continuously over several months. We first hand-collected ripe seedheads while bagging developing infructescences, then returning later to collect ripened seeds in the bags.
Melanthera parvifolia flowers in Zoo Miami's pine rockland, October 2021. Photo by Lydia Cuni.
Wild-collected Melanthera parvifolia seeds viewed under a stereo microscope. Photo by Lydia Cuni.