Restoration work helps preserve Lakela’s Mint

Cheryl Peterson, Bok Tower Gardens

Dicerandra immaculata var. immaculata (Lakela’s Mint) (Lamiaceae) is a short-lived perennial endemic to the Atlantic Coastal Ridge. It has only a three-mile historical range and few remaining populations. Population modeling predicts near complete loss of plants within eight years unless habitat is improved enough to support large enough populations to withstand stressful events such as drought. Prescribed fire has not been implemented as a habitat-maintenance tool because of the dense urban interface. Regular volunteer workdays have instead been used to eliminate the biggest threats to the persistence of Lakela’s Mint by hand-pulling love vine, thinning the dense overgrowth, and herbicide-treating invasive grasses. A positive response of the mint population, tracked through bi-annual monitoring, is evident. Within one year, plants in an improved area increase in size and reproductive output by ~30%, and seedling recruitment has been observed in long-unoccupied plots. This project shows that regular workdays can be an effective strategy to rebuild Lakela’s Mint populations that are rapidly declining due to loss of quality habitat where implementing fire is not possible.