Florida Golden Aster

Uploaded 21 Jul 2008
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© Lucy Jackalone
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

FAMILY: Asteraceae (Aster family)

STATUS: Endangered (Federal Register, May 16, 1986)

DESCRIPTION AND REPRODUCTION: Young plants of this perennial herb form rosettes with leaves that are covered with dense, white, short-wooly hairs. Upright stems that grow from the rosettes are 0.3-0.4 meters (1-1.5 feet) tall, with closely-spaced, obovate-elliptic, hairy leaves. The leaves are nearly as large at the top of the stem as at the bottom. The flower heads are arranged in a more or less flat-topped cluster. Each head is slightly over 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) in diameter. Both the central disc and the rays are yellow. This plant is short-lived, and reproduces entirely by seeds. Its seeds are apparently dispersed primarily by the wind.

RANGE AND POPULATION LEVEL: Florida golden aster is currently known from Hardee, Hillsborough, Manatee and Pinellas Counties, Florida. 2004 surveys on Hillsborough County lands have discovered several new populations (Cox et al. 2004). Additional survey will be conducted in 2005 on additional Hillsborough and Manatee Counties land. Systematic surveys should be continued and De Soto and Sarasota Counties should be included in this search. Historic sites include Long Key (St. Petersburg Beach) in Pinellas County, and Bradenton Beach and Bradenton in Manatee County.

HABITAT: The species grows in open, sunny areas. It occurs in sand pine-evergreen oak scrub vegetation on excessively-drained fine white sand. Historically, it also grew on beach dunes.

REASONS FOR CURRENT STATUS: The most significant threat is the direct loss of habitat due to residential and commercial development. Other threats include mowing, dumping, and the effects from excessive grazing or off-road vehicle use. Impacts which are damaging when in excess (fire, grazing, land clearing, and off-road vehicle use), can be beneficial if they produce limited amounts of bare sand areas conducive for the germination and growth of the species. The plant's restricted distribution tends to intensify any adverse effects upon the populations or habitats.

MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION: There are now a number of sites and thousands of plants under county and state protection. Specifically, Hillsborough County has purchased considerable acreage through the Endangered Land Acquisition and Protection Program that contain several large populations. Golden Aster is also documented from Lake Manatee State Recreation Area and Little Manatee River State Park in Manatee and Hillsborough Counties. Developing management plans for these and other protected sites should receive high priority. Management guidelines should also be developed to control mowing, overgrazing, excessive habitat degradation from off-road vehicle use, and dumping. The plant does not tolerate mowing. In many situations, soil disturbance and removal of overstory vegetation would promote germination and establishment of the species. Long range recovery goals of securing ha

1 response

  • Bob H

    Bob H gave props (21 Jul 2008):

    Well done!

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