Crenulate lead plant (Amorpha herbacea var. crenulata)
When CPC announced the new, network-wide seed ageing research project launched in partnership with IMLS and NLGRP, the crenulate lead plant (Amorpha herbacea var. crenulata) seemed like a natural fit for Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. This federally endangered, fire-dependent Miami endemic sub-shrub was one of the species that Fairchild’s conservation team has worked with from the beginning (i.e., the 1980s). Unfortunately, since that time, crenulate lead plant populations have significantly diminished. The largest population was developed into a car wash and the remaining populations are on protected land, but are severely fire-suppressed.
Due to the long-term fire-suppression, the remaining wild crenulate lead plants rarely flower and fruit. Yet we have observed plants respond to vigorous pruning with abundant blooms. Fairchild conservation horticulturist thus suggested we give the wild plants a heavy pruning in the spring to mimic a fire. With help from Miami-Dade Natural Areas Management, we visited one population in a Miami-Dade Environmentally Endangered Lands Preserve and we hacked away! Within a month, plants were vigorously flowering. We later put organza bags over developing seeds and waited until late summer, when we were able to harvest thousands of seeds. We were easily able to contribute 800 seeds for NLGRP’s advance ageing study, and we can’t wait to see the results of this exciting research!
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