Newswise — Castanea – The St. Francois Mountains, in the southeastern part of Missouri, are home to the state’s highest peaks and only igneous glades. This unique area harbors a diverse flora that is currently under threat from encroaching species. Concern for survival of the glade’s plant communities has prompted a study that will lead to mapping out a conservation management plan.
An article in the current issue of the journal Castanea reports on a vouchered floristic inventory of the Buford Mountain Conservation Area. Specimens were collected on a weekly to biweekly basis during the growing season, from April to August, in both 2010 and 2011.
More than 100 years ago, logging and charcoal production were part of this region’s economy. Since 1979, however, Buford Mountain has been owned by the Missouri Department of Conservation and is a designated conservation area. The mountain has steep, forested slopes and its surface is half-covered with stones and boulders. Its igneous glades appear in patches, interspersed with wooded areas.
In addition to providing a detailed account of the flora on the mountain, this inventory sought to document any rare or endangered taxa. A thoroughwort, Eupatorium semiserratum, considered an imperiled plant in Missouri, was found in some abundance at this site. This find may cause the plant’s status to be reexamined. A rare species of milkweed, Asclepias meadii, known to exist on igneous glades in this region, was not found on the Buford Mountain site.
Red cedar and shagbark hickory are common threats to the local flora. In an effort to inhibit their spread, the Missouri Department of Conservation conducted a controlled burn in April 2011. It will be important to monitor the effects of the fire over the next few growing seasons to determine if the undesired species were sufficiently suppressed. Fire has also been shown to stimulate germination of Asclepias meadii seeds and may help bring the species back to the mountain.
This inventory identified a total of 132 vascular plant species in 102 genera and 49 families. The Asteraceae family proved the most diverse, with 22 different species represented. All plants but one, nodding foxtail, are native to Missouri.
Full text of the article, “A Survey of the Vascular Flora of Some Igneous Glades at Buford Mountain Conservation Area, Missouri
,” Castanea, Vol. 77, No. 3, September 2012, is available at http://www.castaneajournal.org/
Castanea is the journal of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society and publishes articles relating to all aspects of botany in the entire eastern United States and adjoining areas. The Southern Appalachians—the nonglaciated mountainous areas of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and southwestern New York—form an evolutionary center for native plant diversity for the northern temperate regions of the world. The society dates to 1935 and serves all persons interested in the botany of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The journal encourages submissions of scientific papers dealing with basic research in any field of plant biology, systematics, floristics, ecology, physiology, and biochemistry. For more information about the journal or society, please visit: http://www.sabs.appstate.edu/ .