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Ketona Glades Yellow-eyed Grass (Xyris spathifolia)

John Manion (Chair), Ron Determann, Chuck Byrd, Rachel Conley, Mincy Moffett, Mike Hardig, Jan Midgley

Xyris spathifolia was described in 2009 by Kral and Moffett (Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas 3(2): 469-478). This species is known from a single small site in Bibb County Alabama. This new species is one of nine new vascular plant taxa discovered during the last 12 years from the Ketona Glades, a botanical “hot spot” of dolomitic limestone outcrops limited to Bibb County. Since it is newly described, it has no federal status. NatureServe lists the species as G1 and S1.

This new species was found intermixed with federally endangered Xyris tennesseensis in a small seepage fen approximately 24 square meters in size. This fen occurs at a glade called Alligator Glades West by the Alabama Natural Heritage Program. The site is currently owned by a timber management organization called Forest Investment Associates.

This new species is in serious condition. Xyris plants tend to grow in clumps in which counts of individuals are not practical. Censuses of X. tennesseensis usually rely on counting flowering spikes. When discovered in 1999, there were about 900 spikes of X. spathifolia from 200 clumps. A visit to the site in 2009 failed to relocate any spikes or plants.

Fortunately, Mincy Moffett had maintained a single pot of plants from that site and to our knowledge it contained all the remaining plants in existence in 2009. This APCA project has two objectives. First, we would like to clear some of the encroaching woody vegetation from the Alligator Glades West site to see if that action might stimulate germination of plants or recovery of suppressed plants. Second, Moffett has divided the plants from his pot to spread them among several persons or institutions who will continue to propagate them. This will allow us to prevent extinction of the species and eventually some of these plants may be reintroduced to the original site or outplanted into new populations.

As of May 2014, plants are being maintained by Moffett and Atlanta Botanical Gardens. The committee will continue to propagate plants and spread them among cooperating institutions and individuals.

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Last Updated: 05/15/2017