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Scrub Lupine

Scrub Lupine

Lupinus aridorum

Status Endangered
Listed April 7, 1987
Family Leguminosae (Fabaceae)
Description Pink-flowered, short-lived perennial.
Habitat Well-drained sandy soils in sand pine scrub.
Threats Residential development, collectors.
Range Florida

Description

Scrub lupine, Lupinus aridorum, is a biennial or short-lived perennial with stems up to 39 in (1 m) tall, growing from a soft woody base. Leaves are oval to elliptical, up to 2.8 in (7 cm) long. The ends of the leaves are rounded with sharp, pointed tips and both upper and under surfaces are covered with silvery hairs. The fruit is an elliptical seed pod about 1 in (2.5 cm) long. Flowering occurs in the spring; the attractive petals are pale flesh-pink except for the standard which has a black center surrounded by a maroon-red area.

Scrub lupine is most closely related to L. westianus of the Florida panhandle, which has blue flowers.

Habitat

Scrub lupine is a sand pine scrub species that grows primarily in well drained sandy soils of the Lakewood or St. Lucie series. The sands are white or occasionally yellow where stained by the roots of turkey oaks. Dominant trees in the habitat are sand pine, slash pine, and turkey oak. The under-growth is dominated by smaller shrubs, such as rosemary, scrub live oak, and tallowwood. Sandy clearings among the trees support many herbs, including wiregrass. Sand spikemoss is common.

Distribution

This plant was first collected in 1900 in Orange County, Florida, and was once more widespread in south-central Florida, especially in Orange and Polk counties.

Populations of scrub lupine remain between Orlando and Walt Disney World in Orange County, and between Winter Haven and Auburndale in Polk County. Sixteen sites totaled fewer than 340 individual plants in 1987, and numbers have since dwindled. Orlando has been, and continues to be, one of the most rapidly growing cities in Florida. And Winterhaven and Auburndale are also rapidly expanding communities whose growth threatens the continued existence of this species.

Threats

Sand pine scrub habitat has suffered from the steady expansion of the residential population in south-central Florida. Large tracts of habitat have been converted to agricultural uses (mostly citrus groves). More recently scrub has been lost to booming residential development. Of 16 known populations, all but one are on private land, much of which falls within the city limits of Orlando. All surviving sites are considered prime land for future development.

In addition, because the species is a large and attractive plant with beautiful pink flowers, it has the potential for use as a decorative landscape addition. Such use could additionally threaten the species. At one site, for instance, a landowner divided a fence he was building in order to avoid destroying a seven foot diameter scrub lupine, attesting to its landscape value. While such private protection is to be encouraged, the potential that landscapers may collect the plant from existing populations poses as serious danger to controlled recovery.

Conservation and Recovery

Scrub lupine is classified as Endangered under a Florida law, which regulates taking and sale of plants but does not provide habitat protection. The most urgent recovery goal is to secure remaining viable habitat sites by purchase or through negotiated agreement. The high cost of land in the Orlando area, however, has discouraged habitat purchases, making the future of the scrub lupine there appear grim. The state is working to acquire parcels of land in Polk County to serve as a refuge for the species.

Federal recovery guidelines were outlined in the 1995 U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) draft of the recovery plan for 19 florida scrub and high pineland plants. The plan, a revision and expansion of a 1990 recovery plan covering 11 plant species, outlines basic elements necessary to restore the scrub lupine and other endangered plants, including habitat protection through land purchase and other means (including the habitat conservation plan process for threatened animals in the Florida scrub habitat); the management of protected habitats; and the assessment of progress and plan post-recovery monitoring.

The earlier, 1990 Recovery Plan also emphasized the need for land acquisition to protect these plants. At the time, the State and private organizations had already made significant acquisitions, and more have been accomplished since then (including initial land purchase for the Lake Wales Ridge National Wildlife Refuge). These land purchases, accompanied by the other elements of the recovery plan, are likely to assure the full recovery or at least the downlisting of the large majority of the 19 plants, including the scrub lupine.

Contact

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

References

Beckner, J. 1982. "Lupinus aridorum J. B. McFarlin ex Beckner (Fabaceae), a New Species from Central Florida." Phytologia 50:209-211.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1995. "Recovery Plan for Nineteen Florida Scrub and High Pine-land Plants." U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta.

Wunderlin, R. P. 1982. Guide to the Vascular Plants of Central Florida. University Presses of Florida, Gainesville.

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