On December 8, 2010, three of my sons (Timothy, Isaac, and Kenny) and I joined a volunteer group, along with a researcher from Bok Tower gardens, planting scrub lupine (Lupinus westianus var. aridorum) at Tibet Butler Nature Preserve in the Orlando, FL area. This lupine is endemic to central Florida, and is only known from a few isolated populations, so it is considered critically endangered. It is a biennial or short-lived perennial that bears racemes of pretty, purple flowers. Lupines are not orchids, but are members of the pea family--although they do share the trait of bilateral symmetry with the orchids.
Juliet Rynear, from Bok Tower Gardens, has been growing a number of seedlings of this plant in the hope of expanding its population -- volunteer groups have planted these out in several areas in central Florida, re-establishing populations where this plant has been known to grow historically, as well as creating new ones.
We met on a rather cool, sunny morning with a group of about 10 others and got straight to work, helping to plant 300-some-odd plants during the course of the morning. Here are some photos taken that day:
Plants in their peat pots.
Each has a blue flag and an "identity coin" with the individual's ID number...researchers have kept careful data on each seed as it was planted...where it came from, when it was planted, etc. so that the plants that successfully grow to maturity can be tracked.
Kenny planting a seedling.
Isaac planting a seedling.
Tim planting a seedling.
Seedling in its new home.
A more mature plant, planted a year or two ago. It should bloom in the next year.
You can learn more about this species via the following links:
We left a bit before all the seedlings were planted out in the hope of finding some Spiranthes longilabris still in flower in a wildlife management area several hours south. Alas, we found by sheer chance a few plants already bloomed out and in fruit, so better luck next year.
I will be back to photograph the lupines when it is their time to bloom this year.
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