Florida Golden Aster

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Florida Golden Aster

Chrysopsis floridana

Status Endangered
Listed May 16, 1986
Family Compositae (Asteraceae)
Description Perennial herb with narrow, hairy leaves and yellow flowers.
Habitat Sand pine and oak scrub.
Threats Agricultural and residential development.
Range Florida

Description

Florida golden aster, Chrysopsis floridana, is a perennial herb with leaves covered with dense, white, short, woolly hairs. The leaves of young plants form rosettes, and upright stems grow through the center of the plant to a height of 1.5 ft (40 cm). Stems bear closely spaced, elliptical, hairy leaves. Daisy-like flowers are arranged in flat-topped clusters. Both the central disk and rays are bright yellow. An alternative scientific name for this species is Heterotheca floridana.

Habitat

Florida golden aster grows in open, sunny clearings within sand pine and oak scrub, in well-drained, fine white sand with very little organic matter. Such sites are sunny, dry, and usually have deep water tables.

Distribution

The first specimens of Florida golden aster were collected at Bradenton (Manatee County), Florida, in 1901, but the plant was not discovered again until 1953. This aster is endemic to southern Florida, but its full range is not known. It has disappeared from most of the sites where it was collected before the 1970s, including St. Petersburg Beach and Bradenton Beach. A population reported from Manatee County in 1982 was in remnant sand pine scrub in a rapidly developing residential area west of Bradenton. The Tampa-St. Petersburg metropolitan area has expanded to fill Pinellas County, leaving little remaining habitat there for the golden aster.

Five populations of the Florida golden aster remain in southern Hillsborough County on well-drained sandy soil in good habitat areas. The two largest populations, however, are in residential sub-divisions, restricted to vacant lots among remnants of scrub. Other populations are found in scrub that is grazed by cattle, along an abandoned railroad embankment, and in a recently burned-over area.

Threats

This plant benefits from limited disturbance especially fires that clear evergreen oaks and sand pines that shade the aster. It grows best in full sun with little competition from other plants; with the rapid development of Pinellas and Manatee counties, wildfires have been contained, thus inhibiting the plant's development. Dumping and heavy off-road vehicle traffic threaten the survival of several populations. The plant does not tolerate mowing.

The main threat is the loss of habitat to residential construction as the urbanization of southern Hillsborough County continues. The completion of Interstate Highway 75 from Tampa to Bradenton ensures rapid and continuing growth in the area.

Conservation and Recovery

All known plant populations are presently on private property, requiring U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) personnel to negotiate conservation agreements with the landowners.

The Recovery Plan recommends prescribed burning, brush removal, selective thinning of trees, and bulldozing areas of habitat that have been inundated with competitive plants. Florida golden aster can be nursery-propagated, and FWS hopes that new populations can be established from cultivated plants. The FWS also recommends seed storage and if the opportunity arises, land acquisition of suitable habitat.

Contact

Regional Office of Endangered Species
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1875 Century Blvd., Suite 200
Atlanta, Georgia 30345
http://southeast.fws.gov/

References

Cronquist, A. 1980. Vascular Flora of the Southeastern United States; Vol. 1, Asteraceae. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill.

Long, R. 1970. "Additions and Nomenclatural Changes in the Flora of Southern Florida." Rhodora 72:17-46.

Semple, J. C. 1981. "A Revision of the Golden Aster Genus Chrysopsis (Nutt)." Rhodora 83(835):323-384.

Ward, D. B., ed. 1979. Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida, Vol. 5. Plants. University Presses of Florida, Gainesville.

Wunderlin, R., D. Richardson, and B. Hansen. 1981." Chrysopsis floridana : Status Report Prepared for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville.