Chionanthus pygmaeus - Small
Pygmy Fringetree
Other Common Names: pygmy fringetree
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Chionanthus pygmaeus Small (TSN 32949)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.156325
Element Code: PDOLE01010
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Olive Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Scrophulariales Oleaceae Chionanthus
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Chionanthus pygmaeus
Taxonomic Comments: Distinct species.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 16Jan2013
Global Status Last Changed: 16Jan2013
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: A Florida endemic that has a narrow geographic range and is restricted to scrub habitat, which is rapidly disappearing due to residential development and agriculture. Most sites have only a few individuals. The Florida Natural Areas Inventory's database currently contains 55 occurrence records, but many of the occurrences may no longer have suitable habitat.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2N3

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Florida (S2S3)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (21Jan1987)
Comments on USESA: Listed endangered by USFWS on January 21, 1987.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R4 - Southeast

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Chionanthus pygmaeus is endemic to the xeric, coarse white sand scrub/oak scrub found at the southern end of the Central Florida Ridge in Lake, Highlands and Polk counties.

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: Fifty-one known occurrences in 1990.

Population Size Comments: Sometimes locally common but many populations only have a few plants.

Overall Threat Impact: Very high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: The rapid loss of suitable scrub habitat in Central Florida to residential, recreational and related commercial development is of the utmost concern. Some of these well drained upland soils are also being converted to citrus production. The long term exclusion of fire from the scrub can lead to a dense canopy layer unfavorable to the growth of the short pygmy fringetree.

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Short-term Trend Comments: Population trend seems to be on the decline due to scrub development and lack of burning.

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Cannot tolerate heavy shade.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Chionanthus pygmaeus is endemic to the xeric, coarse white sand scrub/oak scrub found at the southern end of the Central Florida Ridge in Lake, Highlands and Polk counties.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States FL

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
FL Hardee (12049)*, Highlands (12055), Hillsborough (12057), Lake (12069), Orange (12095), Osceola (12097)*, Polk (12105)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Upper St. Johns (03080101)+, Oklawaha (03080102)+, Kissimmee (03090101)+, Western Okeechobee Inflow (03090103)+, Peace (03100101)+, Little Manatee (03100203)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A shrub or small tree, growing to 5 m tall, but often much smaller. Stems sometimes arise from branches buried by blowing sands. Twigs and bark are gray or gray-brown. Leaves are leathery, 3-10 cm long, the upper surfaces dark yellow-green, the lower paler. Flowers are fragrant, white in color, and 5-petaled. Fruit is an oval drupe becoming purple in late summer. This plant can be highly variable, depending upon habitat.
Technical Description: Small shrub 0.3 to 2.75 (4.5)m tall (usually 0.3 - 1.5m), stems sometimes arising from branches buried by blowing sands. Twigs and bark gray or gray-brown. Leaves few, opposite, thin leathery, entire, 3-10 cm long, elliptic or nearly so, upper surface dark yellow-green, lower paler, petioles short, commonly maroon. Inflorescence showy, appearing with new growth in the spring. Panicles drooping and fringelike, having numerous opposite branches with green leaf-like bracts, terminating in 3 - 6 flowered cymules. Flowers fragrant, the 4 corolla lobes linear, about 1 - 1.5 cm long, white. Fruit an oval drupe 2.0 - 2.5 cm long, becoming purple in late summer (Abrahamson,1984b; Deuver, 1983; Hardin, 1974; Kral, 1983; Small, 1924; Ward, 1979). Flowering occurs from March to May.
Diagnostic Characteristics: This shrub is characterized by its small size, gray twigs bearing few elliptic, dark green, leathery leaves with maroon petioles, and showy flowers in the spring.
Duration: PERENNIAL
Reproduction Comments: The life history of C. pygmaeus has not been reported in the literature. Few seedlings or plants with fruit were seen in the field during the scrub survey done by Gary Schultz in August and September, 1983, for the FNAI. The fruit of the closely related Chionanthus virginicus is eaten by many animals including deer, rodents and birds. The natural germination of its seed usually occurs in the second spring after seed-fall due to a two-phase dormancy in the seeds (USDA, 1974).

Hardin (1974) proposed a couple of theories as to why C. pygmaeus has larger drupes than C. virginicus. He stated that this may reflect a selective pressure at the time of seedling establishment. One advantage could be more stored food in the seed allowing quicker establishment of a more extensive root system and thereby escaping desiccation during germination. A second could be that larger fruit reflect differential selection by the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus). This could lead to a "higher germination rate among the seeds that pass through their bodies and germinate in a nitrogen-rich environment."

Ecology Comments: Pygmy fringetree seldom occurs as more than a small population on any given site. The scrub areas with the largest number of plants are fairly open and without an overstory canopy as Chionanthus cannot tolerate heavy shade (unpublished FNAI data). Small (1924) suggested that the underground stems of this shrub make it less likely to be eliminated by fire.
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest/Woodland, Sand/dune, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: SUMMARY: Generally found in the xeric, coarse white sand of scrub/oak scrub found at the southern end of the Central Florida Ridge. Also found occasionally in longleaf pine-turkey oak vegetation, high pineland, dry hammocks, and transitional habitats. (Based on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1987 and 1989.) END SUMMARY. Common woody plant associates include Quercus geminata, Q. chapmanii, Q. inopina, Q. myrtifolia, Ceratiola ericoides, Ilex opaca var. arenicola, Carya floridana, Serenoa repens, Sabal etonia, Lyonia ferruginea, etc. There may also be thin overstory of scattered Pinus clausa or P. elliottii (Kral, 1983). Also found occasionally in longleaf pine-turkey oak vegetation, high pineland, dry hammocks, and transitional habitats (Martin, 1987; USFWS, 1989).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: 1) Preservation of existing populations of Chionanthus pygmaeus, especially the Saddle Blanket Lakes Scrub in extreme southern Polk Co. as proposed by the FNAI to the state CARL Program.

2) Appropriate management plans for Tiger Creek, thin overstory and fire management. Implement a program of different prescribed burning schedules.

3) Monitor results.

4) Use field surveys to monitor known populations and search for new ones.

5) Research the life history and propagation of C. pygmaeus.

Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Pursue additional protection of scrub lands with Chionanthus pygmaeus. Forty acres should be considered the minimum size for a scrub site, but a smaller size could be considered for an exemplary population of Chionanthus (Suzanne Cooper, FNAI pers. comm.). The site should have a fairly open canopy and be large or secure enough to allow fire as a management tool. (However, even scrub remnants of less than 5 acres may retain good species diversity for 50+ years (unpublished FNAI community element abstract).
Management Requirements: Active management is needed to prevent woody growth from shading or crowding out Chionanthus. This could be accomplished by prescribed burning or thinning of the overstory (Kral, 1983).

Most of Florida's natural fires occur from June to September when lightning from thunderstorms is most abundant (Abrahamson,1984a). Dr. Ron Myers (Archbold Biological Station, pers. comm. on June 20, 1984) wrote that scrub naturally burned every 20 - 80 years in a high intensity canopy fire that opens areas for understory species. He recommended managing for the habitat system until more is learned about individual species' requirements. He suggested varying fires both temporally and spatially rather than sticking to one set fire frequency for a particular site, as natural burning occurred whenever sufficient fuel coincided with optimum weather conditions and an ignition source. Dr. Jack Stout (UCF, pers. comm. on July 31, 1984) wrote that he thought scrub historically burned in late spring or during the winter when conditions were most dry. He felt scrub would be hard to burn during the summer rainy season. He advised having many 25 to 100 acre units of scrub at different stages of recovery from fire. This would give a variety of successional stages which the various plants and animals could populate and reproduce.

Monitoring Requirements: Monitor Chionanthus pygmaeus populations on and off Tiger Creek Preserve - its population trend seems to be on the decline due to scrub development and lack of burning (Kral, 1983; Ward, 1979).

Periodic field surveys of known habitats performed on a one to five (?) year cycle and exploration of likely habitat for new populations.


Management Programs: Proper schedules for burning scrub have not yet been developed and certain species may have their own specific preferred fire regime. In areas where burning is not feasible, thinning or cutting of the overstory could be tried.
Monitoring Programs: The FNAI should be contacted for further information. Gary Schultz field searched for this species in Polk and Highland Counties for the FNAI in August and September, 1983.
Management Research Programs: Ann Johnson (1982) in studies at Archbold Biological Station (ABS), found that Ceratiola scrub (an associated community) can be difficult to burn because it is not very flammable and there is little fuel to carry a fire between the shrubs. Apparently, rosemary stands (or at least their centers) experience less frequent fire than the surrounding scrubby flatwoods. She concluded that Ceratiola appears to be adapted to a fire cycle of 30-40 years. Warren Abrahamson (1984a) recently published some data on the results of fire on Lake Wales Ridge vegetation at ABS. He found that ridge species' populations are revitalized by fire but do not require fire in the sense of maintaining a fire subclimax. He gives data on the recovery of dominant species of 4 major vegetation associations but does not mention rarer species. He was unable to successfully burn sand pine or rosemary scrub in these studies (Abrahamson,1984b).

Other knowledgeable individuals on scrub and sandhill vegetation include Dr. Jack Stout, Dr. Ron Myers, and Don Richardson. Stout is working on scrub preservation strategies in east-central Florida. Myers is studying the ecological effects of fire on Florida's sand ridges. Richardson is currently a graduate student at USF in Tampa exploring the effects of allelopathy in the Florida scrub. (FNAI is the most informed on occurrences and distribution of rare plant species in Florida.)

Management Research Needs: Research on ideal habitat and management requirements for C. pygmaeus is needed. Need to monitor the results of different prescribed burning schedules on reproduction and regeneration of this species.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 14Feb1986
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: GARY SCHULTZ (1986); rev. M.E. Stover, TNC-HO (2/95)
Management Information Edition Date: 14Feb1986
Management Information Edition Author: GARY SCHULTZ
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 14Feb1986
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): GARY SCHULTZ; REV. M.E. STOVER, TNC-HO (2/95)

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Abrahamson, W.G. 1984a. Post-fire recovery of Florida Lake Wales Ridge vegetation. American J. Botany 71(1): 9-21.

  • Abrahamson, W.G. 1984b. Species response to fire on the Florida Lake Wales Ridge. American J. Botany 71(1): 35-43.

  • Duever, L.C. 1983. Natural communities of Florida's inland sand ridges. Palmetto 3(3): 1-3.

  • Hall, D.W. 1993. Illustrated plants of Florida and the Coastal Plain. Maupin House, Gainesville, Florida. 431 pp.

  • Hall, David W. 1993. Illustrated plants of Florida and the coastal plain. Maupin House, Gainesville, FL. pp. 431.

  • Hardin, J.W. 1974. Studies of the southeastern U.S. Flora. IV. Oleaceae. Sida 5: 274-285.

  • Johnson, A.F. 1982. Some demographic characteristics of the Florida rosemary, Ceratiola ericoides. American Midland Naturalist 108:170-174.

  • KRAL, R. 1983.A REPORT ON SOME RARE,THREATENED,OR ENDANGEREDFOREST-RELATED VASCULAR PLANTS OF THE SOUTH.VOL I ISOETACEAETHROUGH EUPHORBIACEAE;VOL II AQUIFOLIACEA THROUGH ASTERACEAE& GLOSSARY.USDA FOREST SERV,SE REG.,ATL,GA. TECH PUBL R8-TP2

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kral, R. 1983c. A report on some rare, threatened, or endangered forest-related vascular plants of the South. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service Technical Publication R8-TP2, Athens, GA. 1305 pp.

  • Prance, G.T., ed. 1977. Extinction is forever. New York Botanical Garden, New York.

  • RADFORD, A., H. AHLES AND C. BELL. 1968 MANUAL OF THE VASCULAR FLORA OF THE CAROLINAS. THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS CHAPEL HILL. 1183 PP + LXI.

  • Radford, A.E., H.E. Ahles, and C.R. Bell. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Univ. North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 1183 pp.

  • Small, J.K. 1924. Plant novelties from Florida. Bull. Torrey Botanical Club 51: 379-393.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1987. Determination of endangered or threatened status for seven Florida scrub plants. Federal Register 52(13): 2227-2234.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1989. Recovery plan for eleven central Florida scrub plants. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta, Georgia. 64pp.

  • U.S. Forest Service (USFS). 1974. Seeds of Woody Plants in the United States. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Agricultural Handbook #450.

  • WARD, D.B. (ED). 1979. RARE AND ENDANGERED BIOTA OF FLORIDA, VOLUME 5: PLANTS. UNIVERSITY PRESSES OF FLORIDA, GAINESVILLE.

  • WUNDERLIN, RICHARD P. 1982. GUIDE TO THE VASCULAR PLANTS OF CENTRAL FLORIDA. UNIV. PRESSES OF FLA., TAMPA, ST. PETERSBURG, FT. MEYERS, SARASOTA

  • Ward, D.B., ed. 1979. Rare and endangered biota of Florida. Vol. 5: Plants. Univ. Presses of Florida, Gainesville.

  • Wunderlin, R.P. 1982. Guide to the vascular plants of central Florida. Univ. Presses Florida, Gainesville. 472 pp.

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