Sunday, June 19, 2011

Highlands Scrub St. John's-wort - Hypericum cumulicola

Highlands scrub St. John's-wort (Hypericum cumulicola) is a state and federally listed endangered species confined to a few scrubs in Highlands and Polk counties along the Lake Wales Ridge. It is also one of our most unique St. John's-worts.
In some respects, this species shares characteristics with pineweed (H. gentianoides).  Both species are annuals or short-lived perennials and both have few basal leaves, a main stem that produces a large number of brushy side stems, and small scale-like leaves.  In Highlands scrub St. John's-wort, however, the main stem tends to be taller (up to about 28 inches) and the side branches tend to arise nearer the top of the plant instead of near the base of the stem.
Another main difference lies in the flowers. Though both species have five lemon yellow petals, those of Highlands scrub St. John's-wort are arranged as in a pinwheel. These flowers are most common in late spring and early summer.
This extremely rare plant is strictly protected and occurs in only a few of the Lake Wales Ridge scrubs currently protected in preserves.  As with other Florida scrub endemics, this species is an obvious example of what makes Florida's flora so unique and deserving of attention.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. If you could recommend particular pockets of these scrub along the ridge where one might intelligently access, I would be very interested in enjoying these unique places.

    I have had the opprotunity to traverse pockets of scrub close to Hobe Sound and Jupiter, and the experience was sublime. There were many types of wildflowers that I will research, and the palmetto and pine are awesome. The almost white coloration of some the the saw palmetto is so gorgeous under a full moon (yes, I love walking these places under full moon, especially close to the ocean).

    Thank you for this website, as there are a dearth of sources for information that has much depth (and that includes visual information competently) with respect to the species that abound, and the unruly variations that dance on the boarders of taxonomical arrangement.


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