In dry, sandy disturbed sites a quirky, unobtrusive plant sprawls across the landscape. It is sand-dune spurge (Euphorbia cumulicola) and is best identified by the flare of bright red on the low-growing plant’s leaf edge. We knew this state-endangered, Florida endemic plant is present at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, but until recently, we didn’t know exactly where.
The Center for Plant Conservation’s Florida Plant Rescue (FLPR) initiative prompted us to go looking. Sand-dune spurge is considered globally rare and in need of conservation collection. Naples Botanical Garden conservationists, with partners from Rookery Bay, combed portions of the preserve, found the plant, and collected its seed for long-term storage.
Now that the population’s location has been confirmed, the species can be better monitored and managed. An additional bit of good news: Freshly familiar with the species, Garden conservationists discovered another population of sand-dune spurge in a neighboring preserve! Once they obtain the necessary permissions, they will collect seeds from this additional population, adding genetic diversity to seed bank holdings.