Pteroglossaspis ecristata - (Fern.) Rolfe
Giant Orchid
Other English Common Names: Crestless Plume Orchid, Wild Coco
Other Common Names: giant orchid
Synonym(s): Eulophia ecristata (Fern.) Ames
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Pteroglossaspis ecristata (Fern.) Rolfe (TSN 504667)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.154891
Element Code: PMORC27010
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Orchid Family
Image 10591

© Bruce A. Sorrie

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Orchidales Orchidaceae Pteroglossaspis
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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: Pteroglossaspis ecristata
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 02Dec2013
Global Status Last Changed: 27Jul2004
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Known from widely scattered sites on the Coastal Plain of North Carolina south through Florida and west to Louisiana and also in Cuba and Columbia. FNA (2002) indicated this species has a spotty distribution throughout its range. Most known occurrences have very small population sizes (<10 plants). This species may once have been more common, but it has lost much of its potential habitat and now requires active management to persist at the remaining sites. It is presumed to still be extant in Cuba where it is critically endangered (Urquiola Cruz et al. 2010).
Nation: United States
National Status: N2N3

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (S1), Florida (S2), Georgia (S2), Louisiana (S2), Mississippi (S1), North Carolina (S1), South Carolina (S2)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Occurs on the Coastal Plain from North Carolina south through Florida and west to Louisiana and Cuba and Columbia (FNA 2002). Extant in Pinar del Rio Province of Cuba (Urquiola et al. 2010). Range extent could not be calculated for the entire range (including Columbia and Cuba) because of incomplete locality details. It is possible based on estimates that the it would still be under 2,500,000 sq km, which is the upper limit of threshold for a score of 'G'.

Area of Occupancy:  
Area of Occupancy Comments: Incomplete distribution information, so AOO calculations are not appropriate.

Number of Occurrences: 81 - 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Over 100 EOs in the U.S.A.

Population Size Comments: While regarded as locally common at a few sites, many reports of this species are of ten or fewer individuals at a site.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Some (13-40)

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: The greatest threat to Pteroglossaspis ecristata is the destruction of its habitat by conversion to urban, suburban, or agricultural uses. This is particularly apparent in central Florida, where much potential and past habitat is now in suburban developments or citrus plantations. Many of the collection sites in this area are in suburban areas which likely have already been destroyed. In the northern part of the range, the management techniques used in pine plantation agriculture may drastically threaten the species. Disturbance of the soil by heavy machinery, bulldozing, and windrowing of competing vegetation before planting, or herbicide use are threats.

The greatest natural threat is the lack of fire. In xeric sand pine scrub habitats, it may take many decades for Pteroglossaspis to be crowded out by shrub growth, whereas in moist pine savannahs only a few years without fire can result in shrub growth which eliminates the species. In a natural landscape, given populations may be periodically suppressed or destroyed by lack of fire at a particular site, but other populations would be enhanced or created by the fire regime in a nearby area. With the alteration of those large scale natural processes and the destruction of much potential habitat, the remaining populations probably need active management to persist.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-50%
Short-term Trend Comments: This species has declined due to loss of habitat and overcollection.

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: The resiliency of the species to disturbances and alterations of the land surface has not been determined, but probably is rather poor.

Environmental Specificity: Moderate to broad.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Occurs on the Coastal Plain from North Carolina south through Florida and west to Louisiana and Cuba and Columbia (FNA 2002). Extant in Pinar del Rio Province of Cuba (Urquiola et al. 2010). Range extent could not be calculated for the entire range (including Columbia and Cuba) because of incomplete locality details. It is possible based on estimates that the it would still be under 2,500,000 sq km, which is the upper limit of threshold for a score of 'G'.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC

Range Map
No map available.

National Distribution Outside of U.S. & Canada: Colombia

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Baldwin (01003)
FL Alachua (12001), Brevard (12009), Charlotte (12015), Citrus (12017), Clay (12019), Collier (12021), Columbia (12023), DeSoto (12027), Duval (12031), Gilchrist (12041), Hardee (12049), Hendry (12051), Hernando (12053), Highlands (12055), Hillsborough (12057), Lafayette (12067), Lake (12069), Lee (12071), Leon (12073), Levy (12075), Madison (12079), Manatee (12081), Marion (12083), Martin (12085), Miami-Dade (12086), Nassau (12089), Okeechobee (12093), Orange (12095), Osceola (12097), Palm Beach (12099), Pinellas (12103), Polk (12105), Putnam (12107), Santa Rosa (12113), Sarasota (12115), Seminole (12117), St. Lucie (12111), Sumter (12119), Suwannee (12121), Taylor (12123), Volusia (12127)
LA Allen (22003), Beauregard (22011), Grant (22043), Jefferson Davis (22053), St. Tammany (22103), Tangipahoa (22105), Vernon (22115), Washington (22117)
MS Chickasaw (28017)*, Hancock (28045), Marion (28091)*, Pearl River (28109), Perry (28111)
NC Cumberland (37051)*, Hoke (37093), Robeson (37155)*, Sampson (37163)*
SC Allendale (45005), Berkeley (45015), Charleston (45019), Clarendon (45027)*, Colleton (45029), Dillon (45033)*, Dorchester (45035), Georgetown (45043), Hampton (45049), Horry (45051), Jasper (45053), Lee (45061), Richland (45079), Williamsburg (45089)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Upper Cape Fear (03030004)+, Lower Cape Fear (03030005)+*, Black (03030006)+*, Lumber (03040203)+*, Little Pee Dee (03040204)+*, Black (03040205)+, Waccamaw (03040206)+, Carolina Coastal-Sampit (03040207)+, Wateree (03050104)+, Lake Marion (03050111)+, Santee (03050112)+, Cooper (03050201)+, Edisto (03050205)+*, Four Hole Swamp (03050206)+, Salkehatchie (03050207)+, Broad-St. Helena (03050208)+, Bulls Bay (03050209)+, Middle Savannah (03060106)+, Lower Savannah (03060109)+, Calibogue Sound-Wright River (03060110)+, Canoochee (03060203)+, Ogeechee Coastal (03060204)+*, Satilla (03070201)+*, St. Marys (03070204)+, Upper St. Johns (03080101)+, Oklawaha (03080102)+, Lower St. Johns (03080103)+, Cape Canaveral (03080202)+, Vero Beach (03080203)+, Kissimmee (03090101)+, Western Okeechobee Inflow (03090103)+, Lake Okeechobee (03090201)+, Big Cypress Swamp (03090204)+, Caloosahatchee (03090205)+, Florida Southeast Coast (03090206)+, Peace (03100101)+, Myakka (03100102)+, Sarasota Bay (03100201)+, Manatee (03100202)+, Little Manatee (03100203)+, Alafia (03100204)+, Hillsborough (03100205)+, Tampa Bay (03100206)+, Crystal-Pithlachascotee (03100207)+, Withlacoochee (03100208)+, Waccasassa (03110101)+, Econfina-Steinhatchee (03110102)+, Upper Suwannee (03110201)+, Alapaha (03110202)+*, withlacoochee (03110203)+*, Little (03110204)+, Lower Suwannee (03110205)+, Santa Fe (03110206)+, Apalachee Bay-St. Marks (03120001)+, Lower Flint (03130008)+, Ichawaynochaway (03130009)+, Blackwater (03140104)+, Tibbee (03160104)+*, Mobile - Tensaw (03160204)+, Mobile Bay (03160205)+*, Lower Leaf (03170005)+, Black (03170007)+, Mississippi Coastal (03170009)+, Lower Pearl. Mississippi (03180004)+, Bogue Chitto (03180005)+
08 Little (08040304)+, Tickfaw (08070203)+*, Tangipahoa (08070205)+, Mermentau Headwaters (08080201)+, Upper Calcasieu (08080203)+, Whisky Chitto (08080204)+, West Fork Calcasieu (08080205)+, Liberty Bayou-Tchefuncta (08090201)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A perennial orchid. Leaves are long (up to 7 dm), narrow, overlapping, and clustered at the base. Flowers are yellowish green with dark purple markings and are borne in a terminal cluster of 10-30 on the tall scape. Flowers June-September.
General Description: The following description was adapted from MNHP Special Plant Abstract (undated), Radford, et al. (1968), Long and Lakela (1971), and Luer (1972). A terrestrial orchid from a large (5 cm) corm, with basal, overlapping leaves about 1-3.5 cm wide and from 15-70 cm long. Inflorescence at the top of a long (30-170 cm), naked stalk, with 5-30 flowers in the top 10-15 cm. Flowers with a three-lobed lip with the 10-15 mm central lobe prominent with a maroon to purplish-brown center edged in green. Sepals and petals yellow to yellow-green and curving over the top of the lip. A long (to 6 cm), narrow bract is present beneath each flower, greatly exceeding the flowers and very conspicuous. The fruit is a 1-2 cm long ovoid capsule.
Technical Description: The following was adapted from Radford, et al. (1968), Long and Lakela (1971), Luer (1972), Wunderlin (1982), and the author Bridges's interpretations (1986). A member of the Orchid Family (Orchidaceae), Pteroglossaspis ecristata is a terrestrial, scapose plant from 34-170 cm tall, from a thickened, fleshy corm to 5 cm in diameter bearing many slender, fibrous roots. Stem entirely concealed by membranaceous, imbricate leaf sheaths. Leaves two to four or more, all basal, plicate, sheathing each other at the base, long-petioled, linear-lanceolate to sometimes elliptic, from 15-70 cm long and 1.5-3.5 cm wide, long-acuminate, and three- to five-nerved. Inflorescence borne on a long, erect, terete scape, covered by scarious sheaths. Scape terminated by a raceme of 10-30 green and dark purple flowers, loosely or densely clustered over 10-15 cm of the scape. Floral bracts ascendant, green or variously colored, lanceolate or linear-lanceolate, to 6 cm long and 0.5 cm wide. Ovary pedicellate, stout, 1-2 cm long. Sepals and petals lemon-yellow to yellow-green, linear-oblong to oblong-lanceolate, obtuse to acuminate, the sepals 13 mm long and 4 mm wide, the laterals oblique, the petals 10 mm long and 4 mm wide, all converging over the lip. Lip deeply three-lobed, ovate, the lateral lobes truncate, curving upward, the middle lobe obtuse, slightly crenate-erose, slightly concave at the base, 10-15 mm in diameter when spread out, magenta or deep purple to deep purplish-brown or sometimes light brown, with a yellow-green or green margin; the disk smooth but veined. Column green, short, blunt, 3 mm long, 3 mm wide, the anther terminal with one pair of yellow pollinia. Fruit an ovoid capsule, erect and appressed to the rachis, from 1.5-2 cm long and about 1 cm in diameter.
Diagnostic Characteristics: The long, plicate (pleated) leaves are distinctive (Weakley 2004) among southeastern temperate orchids. Nonetheless, when small and not yet flowering, it can be confused with Calopogon tuberosus. Pteroglossaspis, however, typically has 2-3 leaves emerging directly from the corm, while Calopogon typically has only one leaf that emerges from the scape (Weakley 2004). Luer (1972) also noted that in early spring the long, narrow, ribbed leaves can be easily overlooked as they appear very similar to the grasses and palmetto seedlings with which this species commonly grows. In tropical South Florida, it is even more important to look for this species during flowering as the plicate leaves do not uniquely identify it; that character must be used in combination with the naked scape, distinctive yellowish/purplish flowers, and large flower bracts, exceeding the flowers (Bridges 1995).
Duration: PERENNIAL, DECIDUOUS
Reproduction Comments: Little has been written on the biology or ecology of Pteroglossaspis ecristata. Luer (1972) gives the phenological cycle of established plants as follows: "Early in the spring the leaves rise from a solid, tuberous corm. The new growth appears from the side or top of last year's corm along with a new set of roots which fan out from the base of the new corm. There are usually several long...leaves, two of which dominate...From the corm and near the leaves, the growth of the scape soon follows and reaches its blooming height any time from late July to late September... Often twelve or more flowers bloom at once and each lasts for about one week. The fruits, which quickly follow, ripen as erect, globular, pods. By November the capsules have dried, soon to split and scatter their dustlike seeds. During the winter the leaves wither, die, and disappear, leaving a healthy corm for the next season."

Pteroglossaspis ecristata generally occurs in small, dispersed populations. Several collectors mention seeing only one plant at a site, and it typically is described as being rare or occasional, or occurring in low numbers. Only at two sites, both within the city of Tampa, Pteroglossaspis has been described as "frequent" or "numerous," numbering in the hundreds of plants. It is possible that these generally low reported population numbers reflect a count of only the plants which flowered in a given year, and that many other individuals may only exhibit vegetative growth or lie dormant underground in some years. This situation has been commonly reported for other orchids, particularly some of those whose growth may be stimulated by fire (Sheviak 1974). The inconspicuous nature of vegetative specimens makes it nearly impossible to make estimates of their population numbers. Also, the moisture relations of a given site in a particular year may influence the number of individuals which flower. Particularly in the more xeric habitats, favorable rainfall conditions may be required for development and flowering, and the plants may even remain dormant in drier years. In the moister habitats, such as moist pine savannahs, it seems that soil moisture would rarely be a limiting factor, and absence of fire may explain low population numbers. Experimental studies and much further observation will be necessary in order to understand the ecology of Pteroglossaspis ecristata.

Ecology Comments: Little has been written on the biology or ecology of Pteroglossaspis ecristata. A few questions and hypotheses by this author constitute the remainder of this section. Pteroglossaspis ecristata generally occurs in small, dispersed populations. Several collectors mention seeing only one plant at a site (and collecting it!), and it typically is described as being rare or occasional, or occurring in low numbers. Only at two sites, both within the city of Tampa, has Pteroglossaspis been described as "frequent" or "numerous," numbering in the hundreds of plants. It is possible that these generally low reported population numbers reflect a count of only the plants which flowered in a given year, and that many other individuals may only exhibit vegetative growth or lie dormant underground in some years. This situation has been commonly reported for other orchids, particularly some of those whose growth may be stimulated by fire (Sheviak 1974). The inconspicuous nature of vegetative specimens makes it nearly impossible to make estimates of their population numbers. Also, the moisture relations of a given site in a particular year may influence the number of individuals which flower. Particularly in the more xeric habitats, favorable rainfall conditions may be required for development and flowering, and the plants may even remain dormant in drier years. In the moister habitats, such as moist pine savannas, it seems that soil moisture would rarely be a limiting factor, and absence of fire may explain low population numbers. Experimental studies and much further observation will be necessary in order to understand the ecology of Pteroglossaspis ecristata. Pteroglossaspis ecristata is unlikely to persist in areas with a closing shrub layer, and as such, it is a successional species in some habitats in the absence of fire. The natural role of fire in most coastal plain communities has been well documented, and fire must be considered a part of the natural cycle of most of the habitats occupied by Pteroglossaspis. The unnatural suppression of fire would result in Pteroglossaspis eventually being displaced by woody species in all its habitats.
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest Edge, Forest/Woodland, Old field, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Conifer
Habitat Comments: SUMMARY: Found in numerous Coastal Plain habitats. This species tolerates a relatively wide range of moisture conditions, from very xeric to seasonally inundated or almost permanently saturated soils, although most of the records of the plant are from dry, at least seasonally dry sites. Habitats include scrub oak lands, pine rocklands, pine-palmetto flatwoods, fields, dry grassy clearings, and dry-mesic pine savannah (FNA 2002; Fowler 2005). END SUMMARY.

The broad range of habitats prohibits a concise description of the physical and biological features of "the" habitat of Pteroglossaspis ecristata. Published habitat descriptions and label notes for all specimens from Florida and Mississippi have been compiled and correlated with personal knowledge of Coastal Plain habitats and the draft natural community classifications of Florida (Duever 1984) and North Carolina (Schafele 1984). This resulted in 37 site-specific habitat descriptions for Eulophia, falling into 10 natural communities or habitat types which are presented and described below in general order from the most xeric to most mesic.

1) Scrub; Sand Pine Scrub; Central Florida Sand Pine-Scrub Oaks - A very distinctive natural community and the object of many ecological investigations (Laessle 1958, Mulvania 1931, Kurz 1942, Veno 1976, and others) developed on old dunes with deep white fine sand substrate and occasional or rare fire (Duever 1984). The open canopy is composed of Pinus clausa and/or Quercus myrtifolia or Q. chapmanii. There are scattered to dense shrubs, mostly Ceratiola ericoides, Serenoa repens, or various woody mints. The herbs are widely scattered between the shrubs, as presumably is Pteroglossaspis. Six records of Pteroglossaspis can be placed in this type, all in central Florida, where Wunderlin (1982) suggests that this is the most common habitat for the species.

2) Sandhill; Pine-Oak Sandhill Woodland - (Central Florida type?) - Developed on deep sandy uplands with annual or frequent fire (Duever 1984) not quite as xeric as scrub. Object of much study in Florida (op. cit.) as well as in North Carolina (Wells and Shunk 1931) and Georgia (Faust 1976). Longleaf pine is usually present as an open canopy, with an understory of oaks such as Quercus incana, Q. laevis, and/or Q. margaretta, with wiregrass (Aristida stricta) often conspicuous in the herb layer. Only 2 Eulophia sites were in this natural community, both in central Florida.

3) Pine Rockland; South Florida Pine Rockland - Developed on flatland with exposed limestone substrate and frequent fire (Duever 1984). Characterized by Pinus elliottii var. densa and mixed tropical shrubs and herbs (Duever 1984). An endangered (G1) community, with one Pteroglossaspis record from Dade Co., FL.

4) Pine Rockland (?); Northern Florida Pine Rockland (?) - One Pteroglossaspis collection is from a "high rocky pineland" in Columbia Co., FL. This region is underlain by the Ocala Limestone and other Limestone formations and is a karst plain. The exact vegetation type here is unknown to me but is likely to be quite interesting.

5) Mesic flatwoods; Southern Pine Flatwoods (?) Community developed on flatland with sand substrate with frequent fire (Duever 1984). Characterized by a (fairly closed) canopy of Pinus palustris or Pinus elliottii over a grassy (much Aristida stricta) herb layer, with scattered evergreen shrubs. Moist in winter and spring but often droughty in summer and fall. This is the most common habitat for Pteroglossaspis, presumably throughout its range and particularly in the northern part. Fire is essential for the maintenance of this type (Garren 1943, Lemon 1949, Quarterman and Keever 1962, et al.) and greatly influences the composition of the shrub and herb layers. This is the most common vegetation type over large regions of the Lower Coastal Plain.

6) Pine/Palmetto Flatwoods - This is segregated from the preceding type by the overwhelming dominance of Serenoa repens in the shrub layer, often forming solid masses over large areas, particularly in northern and central Florida. Five Pteroglossaspis collections specifically mention this community segregate, and Luer (1972) considers Pteroglossaspis to be common in "dry, sandy palmetto fields," presumably this community type after the trees have been cut.

7) Dry-mesic pine savannah - This type has a more open pine canopy and frequent fire with a somewhat more diverse herb layer than pine flatwoods. This is the "dry savannah" of Walker and Peet (1983) and has a predominantly grassy (Aristida, Andropogon) herb layer with many composites and legumes and few shrubs. Three Pteroglossaspis sites could be placed in this type, mostly in the northern part of the range.

8) Mesic pine savannah - This is what is thought of as the "typical," diverse pine savannah of the Lower Coastal Plain. The name is from Walker and Peet (1983) and corresponds in part to the "Hydric Savannah" of NC (Schafele 1984) and "Wet Flatwoods" of FL (Duever 1984). This community is very wet in winter and spring and usually moist throughout much of the growing season. Frequent fire is necessary for the maintenance of this type (Kologiski 1977, Christensen 1981), which has been the object of much ecological study. Four Pteroglossaspis ecristata sites can be referred to this type.

9) Seepage slope; Lower Coastal Plain (open?) acid seepage slope - This type is on or at the base of a slope, usually saturated but rarely inundated by downslope seepage and with frequent or occasional fire. The only record for this type is in Liberty Co, FL, although other records are on the uplands just above seepage slopes.

10) Various natural and unnaturally open areas, not typeable - These include "roadside," "open, grassy fields," "open hillsides," and "dry, grassy areas" where not enough information is known to define the natural community type. Four records, mostly at the northern limit of the range, are from this "type."

In thinking further about the habitat and its management, threats, etc., the common features, as well as the distinctions, of these habitats must be considered. The major requirement seems to be for a somewhat open area, with at least filtered sunlight and no dense shrub competition. The areas may be naturally open for long periods without fire, or dependent on frequent or annual fire to reduce competition. Pines are always present; Pteroglossaspis ecristata has not been found under a hardwood canopy, though scrubby oaks may be frequent associates, and the pines may be so scattered as to be of little effect on the species. About the only moisture limitation seems to be no flooding during the growing season - winter inundation is acceptable, as is extreme desiccation with water only available shortly after rains. These habitat conditions are more or less adequately met over much or most of the land surface of the Lower Coastal Plain from North Carolina to Texas.

Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Continue to monitor known populations for status of threats, site condition, and abundance of plants (Schotz 2003). Survey potential habitat for new populations and unconfirmed localities. Seek long term protection for exceptional sites. Review most critical threats and consider the feasibility of their removal and how their removal will impact the quality of habitat for the species, as well as other species of interest.

Pine management using less destructive logging techniques, and using natural regeneration or planting without first disrupting the soil surface may under some conditions improve the habitat (Bridges 1995). Prescribed burning, including burning for timber management, can be beneficial.
Burning should be done the late fall or winter to maintain a generally fairly open shrub layer and good herbaceous cover (Bridges 1995).

When access roads cut through the species habitat should be moved when possible and restrict vehicular traffic when this is not an option (Schotz 2003).

Other than fire, additional management may be necessary at some sites. It may be necessary to restrict access if trampling by foot or vehicles is a possibility or if collection or inadvertent picking of the flowers is likely. Sites should be monitored for the effects of human use and influences of surrounding land uses on the site, such as drainage, herbicide runoff, grazing, or silt deposition (NatureServe 2014).

Restoration Potential: The requirements for establishment of Eulophia are unknown but are likely, as with most orchids, quite exacting and difficult to duplicate. As such, recovery by active seeding, transplantation, etc. seems unlikely. The most likely beneficial technique for the recovery of a declining or apparently extirpated population is prescribed burning, with or without clearing of some woody vegetation first. Prescribed burning could also be attempted in apparently suitable habitats where Eulophia has not been observed to see if the establishment of new populations could be enhanced by particular fire regimes. Recovery potential using fire is unknown but seems promising due to the ecology of the communities supporting the species.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Very few specifically protected sites for Eulophia ecristata currently exist. While the plant is at least historically known from a fairly large number of sites (approximately 50 counties in 6 states, at least 60, probably more, locations), its habitats are threatened, and the plant may exist at fewer sites than the range and number of historic sites would indicate. Sites for protection of Eulophia should emphasize protection of fairly large areas of intact habitats. In this way, adequate protection can be afforded the communities and probable other rare species present. Larger areas allow for the populations to spread under proper management and help mitigate off-site threats. Sites must be designed to facilitate burning of parts of the site, while leaving some control areas to observe the fire effects on Eulophia. Protection of alteration of drainage pattern may be necessary at some sites, both to insure a stable water regime and to protect the site from herbicide run off or silt deposition. With a plant that has such a wide range and apparently sizeable number of historic sites, it must be emphasized that the protection of any given site must primarily be the protection of the opportunity of continued occurrence in the area and of the affected community types. Protected sites do occur on some state properties in Florida.
Management Requirements: It seems fairly clear the Eulophia ecristata needs active management in order to persist at most sites. This management needs to be prescribed burning in the late fall or winter to maintain a generally fairly open shrub layer and good herbaceous cover. While there is no direct evidence of the beneficial effects of burning on Eulophia, its role in the creation and maintenance of most of the habitats occupied by the species has been well-documented (Garren 1943, Laessle 1958, Veno 1976, Monk 1968, Quarterman and Keever 1962, Christensen 1981, Folkerts 1982, Kologiski 1977, Lemon 1949, Wells 1928, Wharton 1978, Walker and Peet 1983, all issues of the Proceedings of the Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference, and many others). At this point, what is needed is to collect data to determine how Eulophia fits into the fire ecology of these communities and correlate the results with this ecological literature to determine the specific management practices most appropriate for the species. In the absence of this data, one can only follow the techniques shown to be most desirable in maintenance of the community composition of the specific site.

Other than fire, additional management may be necessary at some sites. It may be necessary to restrict access if trampling by foot or vehicles is a possibility or if collection or inadvertent picking of the flowers is likely. Sites should be monitored for the effects of human use and influences of surrounding land uses on the site, such as drainage, herbicide runoff, grazing, or silt deposition. The site on Fort Bragg is currently under a two-year, winter burn regime, but it is also subject to occasional wildfires from the adjacent live-ammunition impact area (TNC 1991-93). No other occurrences are know to be under active management for Pteroglossaspis, although some are most likely burned for its timber management benefits.

Monitoring Requirements: Potential habitats throughout its range need searching as do some historic occurrence sites which have not been recently searched. The Fort Bragg/Camp MacKall rare plant inventory (TNC 1991-93) rediscovered the species in North Carolina Where it had not been seen since 1957. Future intensive surveys scheduled for 1994 on the Sandhills Game Land may locate additional occurrences in the NC Sandhills region. We know little or nothing about population trends or effects of management practices on this species, and consequently, little about how to insure its protection.

To monitor Eulophia populations at protected sites, it is suggested that every observed plant be permanently marked, numbered, and mapped. Notes should be taken on the height of the flowering stem at maturity, number and length of leaves, number of flowers, and general health of each individual. These plants should then be followed over time, with searches for "new" plants each year, which would then be added to the monitoring regime. The condition of each plant over time will eventually answer the important questions of establishment, survivorship, conditions for flowering, and senescence for this species. Mere population counts will not do, as one could be counting different individuals in various years. Permanent marking of individual plants is the only way to understand the biology of supposedly long-lived herbaceous perennials. Any other important Eulophia populations which are not likely to be destroyed in the near future should also be monitored in this fashion. Notes should be kept on weather factors and management practices or natural fires or other disturbances at all sites to determine their effects. Additionally, less important sites could have simple population counts and measurements without permanently marking individual plants. In combination, this data can determine the answers to some of the questions concerning the biology and ecology of individuals and populations of this species.


Management Programs: Apparently, active management for Eulophia is beginning by the Crosby Arboretum Foundation at a site in Mississippi. This should include periodic burning, not only of the bog but of the entire site. The site on Fort Bragg is currently under a two-year burn regime, but it is also subject to occasional wildfires from the adjacent live-ammunition impact area (TNC 1991-93) No other occurrences are known to be under active management for Eulophia, although some are most likely burned for its timber management benefits.
Monitoring Programs: No current monitoring programs are known for Eulophia ecristata.
Management Research Programs: There seem to be no current research programs on this species.
Management Research Needs: The above outlined monitoring approach can provide much data which can be considered as research on the species. In addition, a more fundamental question which a larger research project could address is why a species which occupies such a broad range of habitats over a large range is so sporadic and occurs in such small numbers in most places. The species biology of many orchids has been intensively studied, and a project on Eulophia would provide much useful information. Research is needed even to determine how and where to preserve the species and how to manage preserves to insure its survival.
Also:

1) An assessment needs to be made of the current status of Eulophia in Florida to clarify its variety and degree of threat in the state where it is historically most common.

2) The Outer Coastal Plain from South Carolina to Louisiana should be searched for additional sites to clarify its status in the northern part of range. Numerous areas of apparently suitable habitat should be searched in September and the results used to assess whether the plant is extremely rare and absent from some regions (i.e. western Florida panhandle, Alabama) or has been neglected or overlooked.

3) Protected sites should be secured on sites in public ownership (Florida State Parks, National Forests, etc.). Attempts should be made to locate large populations in intact habitats for protection by land acquisition.

4) Monitoring of protected populations and research into species biology and effects of management practices should be undertaken.

Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Help
Population/Occurrence Viability
Help
Excellent Viability: An A-ranked occurrence of Pteroglossaspis ecristata should have more than 10 plants.
Good Viability: A B-ranked occurrence of Pteroglossaspis ecristata should have between 5 and 10 plants.
Fair Viability: A C-ranked occurrence of Pteroglossaspis ecristata should have between 2 and 5 plants.
Poor Viability: A D-ranked occurrence of Pteroglossaspis ecristata fewer than 2 plants.
Justification: The rank specification for Pteroglossaspis ecristata are based on current populations and expert opinion. All plants in a population are usually not visible each each year: population counts are best based on an average over several years.
Key for Ranking Species Element Occurrences Using the Generic Approach (2008).
Date: 13Jan2005
Author: Amoroso
Notes: (Fort Bragg) (SFO 1993)

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: 23Sep1997
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Edwin Bridges (1994), rev. K. Maybury (1997), L. Morse (1997), K. Maybury (2004)
Management Information Edition Date: 24Oct1986
Management Information Edition Author: EDWIN BRIDGES (1986), rev. Maybury 2004
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 29Sep1993
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Mary J. Russo; orig. Edwin Bridges (1986)

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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  • Christensen, N.L. 1981. Fire regimes in southeastern ecosystems. pp. 112-136 in Mooney, H.A., T.M. Bonnicksen, N.L. Christensen, J.E. Lotan, and W.A. Reiners (technical coordinators). Fire Regimes and Ecosystem Properties, Proceedings of the Conference. December 1978, Honolulu, Hawaii. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report WO-26.

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  • Kurz, H. 1942. Florida dunes and scrub, vegetation and geology. Florida Department of Conservation, Geologic Survey. Geologic Survey Bulletin No. 23. Tallahassee. 154 pp.

  • Laessle, A. M. 1958. The origin and successional relationship of sandhill vegetation and sand pine scrub. Ecological Monographs 28:361-387.

  • Lemon, P. C. 1949. Successional responses of herbs in the longleaf-slash pine forest after fire. Ecology 30:135-145.

  • Long, R.W., and O. Lakela. 1971. A flora of tropical Florida. Univ. Miami Press, Coral Gables, Florida. 962 pp.

  • Luer, C. A. 1972. The native orchids of Florida. New York Botanical Garden, New York. 293 pp.

  • Mississippi Natural Heritage Program. n.d. Special plant abstract for Eulophia ecristata. 2 pp.

  • Monk, C. D. 1968 Successional and environmental relationships of the forest vegetation of North Central Florida. Am. Midl. Nat. 79:441-457.

  • Mulvania, M. 1931. Ecological survey of a Florida scrub. Ecology 12:528-540.

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  • Sargent, F. H. 1965. Wulophia ecristata and Epidendrum conopseum in Mississippi. Rhodora 67:48.

  • Schafele, M. 1984. North Carolina Natural Communities (first draft). North Carolina Natural Heritage Program. Unpublished report.

  • Schotz, A. 2003. Status report on Pteroglossaspis ecristata, wild coco, in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Alabama Natural Heritage Program. Unpublished report for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

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  • Thomas, R. D. 1972. Eulophia ecristata (Fernald) Ames (Orchidaceae) in Grant Parish, Louisiana. Southw. Nat. 16:431.

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