New Species Finds Update – mid-July to mid-August 2018

Current Species County in iNaturalist: 555
iNaturalist Species Count July 14: 548

New Endangered Plant Species

Tillandsia fasciculata Cardinal Airplant, seen by Bryan Ames May 3rd, brought to my attention June 16
Tillandsia urtriculata Spreading Airplant, seen by Danny Goodding May 6th, brought to my attention July 17

New Common Plant Species

Buchnera floridana Florida Bluehearts, seen by Sandy Bauer July 14th
Sabatia campanulata Slender Rose Gentian, seen by Sandy Bauer July 14th

New Common Animal Species

Anatrytone logan Delaware Skipper seen by Randy Snyder July 14th
Colias eurytheme Orange Sulfur seen by Randy Snyder July 14th
Hylephila phyleus Fiery Skipper seen by Randy Snyder July 14th
Phycoides tharos Pearl Crescent seen by Bryan Ames June 11th
Polites themistocles Tawny-Edged Skipper seen by Mary Keim July 14th
Trichodes apivorus seen by Randy Snyder July 14th

Animal Species on FWC List not Previously on iNaturalist

Acris gryllus Southern Cricket Frog seen by Bryan Ames May 3, identified June 16

Plant Species on FWC List not Previously on iNaturalist

Typha latifolia Common Cattail, seen by Bryan Ames May 18th, identified June 16

Most Wanted (on FWC list or seen nearby)

Agalinis filifolia Seminole False Foxglove
Asemeia grandiflora
Showy Milkwort*
Amphicarpum muhlenbergianum
Blue Maidencane
Aristida palustris
Longleaf Threeawn
Asimina angustifolia
Slimleaf Pawpaw
Baccharis halimifolia Groundsel Tree
Bacopa caroliniana Carolina Water-Hyssop
Calopogon tuberosus tuberosus
Tuberous Grass Pink
Centella asiatica
Gotu Kola (invasive)
Conoclinium coelestinum
Blue Mistflower
Diodia virginiana
Virginia Buttonweed*
Epidendrum magnoliae
Green Fly Orchid
Eulophia ecristata
Giant Orchid
Eupatorium leptophyllum
False Fennel
Hydrolea corymbosa
Skyflower*
Hymenocallis palmeri
 Alligator Lily*
Hypolepis repens
Creeping Bramble Fern
Ilex ambigua
Carolina Holly
Ilex cassine
Dahoon Holly
Ilex coriacea
Large Gallberry
Juncus effusus solutus
Eastern Soft Rush
Lachnocaulon beyrichianum
Southern Bogbutton
Lechea torreyi
Piedmont Pinweed
Liatris tenuifolia
Shortleaf Blazing Star
Ludwigia repens
Creeping Evening Primrose
Lycopodiella caroliniana
Slender Club-Moss
Lycopus rubellus
Water Horehound
Lyonia lygustrima foliosiflora
Maleberry
Oldenlandia uniflora
Clustered Mille Graines
Oplismenus hirtellus
Woodsgrass
Opuntia stricta
Shell Mound Pricklypear
Osmunda regalis spectabilis
American Royal Fern
Oxypolis filiformis
Water Cowbane
Palafoxia integrifolia
Coastalplain Palafox
Panicum verrucosum
Warty Panicgrass
Peltandra virginica
Green Arrow Arum
Pluchea foetida 
Stinking Camphorweed*
Polygonella polygama
October Flower
Quercus chapmanii
Chapman’s Oak
Quercus geminata
Sand Live Oak
Quercus minima
Dwarf Live Oak
Quercus nigra
Water Oak
Rubus argutus
Sawtooth Blackberry
Rhynchospora fascicularis
Fascicled Beaksedge
Rhynchospora inundata
Narrowfruit Horned Beaksedge
Sagittaria lancifolia
Lanceleaf Arrowhead
Scoparia dulcis
Licorice Weed*
Setaria magna
Giant Bristlegrass
Smilax pumila
Sarsparilla vine
Syngonanthus flavidulus
Yellow Hatpins
Tiedemannia filiformis 
Water Cowbane*
Tillandsia balbisiana 
Spreading Airplant
Tillandsia bartramii
Bartram’s Airplant
Tillandsia fasciculata
 Cardinal Airplant
Triadenum virginicum V
irginia Marsh St. John’s Wort
Typha latifolia Common Cattail
Vittaria lineata
Shoestring Fern
Xyris fimbriata
Fringed Yellow-eyed Grass

*If found in the Osceola County part of Split Oak, would be a first iNaturalist record for Osceola.

New plants found in Split Oak Forest from the BioBlitz through July 2018

I’ve been inspired by our hiking group1 finding a new plant species to look at how many new plant and animal species we have documented in Split Oak since the BioBlitz on May 4-6, 2018.

Vernonia angustifolia, Narrowleaf tall ironweed, photo by Valerie Anderson

This summer-blooming wildflower in the Aster family was not vouchered2 in Osceola County and it had not been recorded in iNaturalist3, by FWC4 or in a herbarium5 as being present in Split Oak Forest.

BioBlitz

Danny Goodding, a PhD candidate at the University of Central Florida, planned and ran the entire event. Scheduling it in May meant that we could perhaps observe Spring wildflowers that were not observed by the FWC contractor that created the plant list, as they did their survey in the fall.

BioBlitz participants observed 303 species in Split Oak Forest, compared to the 400 species listed in the previously referenced FWC management plan.

The species count for Split Oak Forest on iNaturalist is currently at 548, only two months after the BioBlitz!

Including the species found during the BioBlitz, people visiting Split Oak Forest between May 4 and July 16, 2018 documented 87 new species, including 4 new endemic plant species, 43 new common plant species, 5 new species of animals, 33 new species of insect, and 2 new species of fungi/lichen

New Endemic Species of Plants

Phoebanthus grandiflorus Florida False Sunflower
Polygala rugelii Yellow Milkwort
Schoenocaulon dubium Florida Feathershank
Tephrosia rugelii Rugel’s Hoarypea

New Common Species of Plants

Andropogon brachystachyus Shortspike Bluestem
Asclepias tuberosa rolfsii Rolf’s Milkweed
Bromelia pinguin
 Piñuela
Carex longii Green-and-White Sedge
Centrosema virginianum Butterfly Pea
Coleataenia tenera Bluejoint Panicgrass
Crotalaria sagittalis Arrowhead Rattlebox
Croton michauxii Michaux’s Croton
Eleocharis equisetoides Horsetail spikerush
Erigeron quercifolius Oakleaf Fleabane
Erigeron strigosus Prairie Fleabane
Eryngium yuccifolium Rattlesnake master
Eupatorium mohrii Mohr’s Thoroughwort
Eustachys petraea Pinewoods Fingergrass
Galactia regularis Downy milkpea
Helianthemum nashii Florida Scrub Frostweed
Hieracium megalocephalon Coastalplain Hawkweed
Hypericum crux-andreae St. Peter’s Wort
Hypericum multilum Dwarf St. John’s Wort
Hypoxis juncea Fringed Stargrass
Hypochaeris radicata Common Cat’s Ear6
Ipomoea sagittata Saltmarsh Morning Glory7
Lactuca graminifolia Grass-Leaf Lettuce
Ludwigia maritima Seaside Primrosewillow
Mimosa quadrivalis floridana Florida Sensitive Briar
Paspalum setaceum Thin Paspalum
Physostegia virginiana Obedient Plant
Proserpinaca pectinata Combleaf Mermaidweed
Ptilimnium capillaceum Herbwilliam
Pluchea odorata Marsh Fleabane
Polygala cruciata cruciata Drumheads
Polygala nana Candyroot
Rhexia mariana Maryland Meadowbeauty
Rhynchospora megalocarpa Sandyfield Beaksedge
Rhynchospora microcephala Bunched Beaksedge
Rubus trivialis Southern Dewberry
Spiranthes praecox Grass-leaved Ladies’ Tresses
Stipulicida setacea setacea Pineland Scalypink
Stylisma patens angustifolia Narrowleaf Coastalplain Dawnflower
Vernonia angustifolia Narrowleaf Tall Ironweed8
Woodwardia virginica Virginia Chainfern
Xyris caroliniana Carolina Yellow-eyed Grass
Yucca filamentosa Adams’ Needle

New Common Species of Animals

Hyla gratiosa Barking Tree Frog
Nerodia fasciata Banded Water Snake
Plestiodon fasciatus Common Five-Lined Skink
Plestiodon laticeps Broadhead skink
Setophaga striata Blackpoll Warbler

New Common Species of Insects

Anisomorpha buprestoides Southern Two-Striped Walkingstick
Amblytropidia mysteca
Brown Winter Grasshopper
Amblycorypha floridana
Florida Oblong-winged  Katydid
Augochlora pura
Pure Green Augochlora
Bombus impatiens
Common Eastern Bumble Bee
Camponotus socius Ant without a common name
Chalcophora georgiana Southern Sculptured Pine Borer
Chloridea virescens Tobacco Budworm Moth
Chlorotabanus crepuscularis
Colonus sylvanus Sylvan Jumping Spider
Dasymutila occidentalis Common Velvet Ant
Dermacentor variabilis American Dog Tick
Dolomedes triton Six-spotted Fishing Spider
Eriophora ravilla Tropical Orbweaver
Eurycotis floridana Florida Woods Cockroach
Florinda coccinea Black-tailed Sheetweaver
Harmonia axyridis Asian Lady Beetle
Ischnura hastata Citrine Forktail
Larinia director
Odontoxiphidium apterum Wingless Meadow Katydid
Omphalocera munroei Asimina Webworm Moth
Orphulella pelidna Spotted-winged Grasshopper
Pisaurina undulata Slender Nursery Web Spider
Psinidia fenestralis Longhorn Band-Wing Grasshopper
Poecilognathus unimaculatus Hairless Bee Fly
Polacantha gracilis
Proctacanthus fulviventris Spine-Tailed Robber Fly
Rabidosa punctuata Dotted Wolf Spider
Satyrium favonius favonius Southern Oak Hairstreak
Schistocerca alutacea Leather-colored Bird Grasshopper
Stichopogon abdominalis
Trioza magnoliae Red Bay Psyllid
Urola nivalis Snowy Urola Moth

New Species of Fungi and Lichen

Astraeus hygrometricus Hygroscopic Earthstar
Pycnoporus coccineus Southern Cinnamon Polypore

Missing Plant Species 9

Agalinis filifolia Seminole False Foxglove
Amphicarpum muhlenbergianum
Blue Maidencane
Aristida palustris
Longleaf Threeawn
Asimina angustifolia
Slimleaf Pawpaw
Baccharis halimifolia Groundsel Tree
Bacopa caroliniana Carolina Water-Hyssop
Calopogon tuberosus tuberosus
Tuberous Grass Pink
Centella asiatica
Gotu Kola
Diodia virginiana
Virginia Buttonweed
Epidendrum magnoliae
Green Fly Orchid
Eulophia ecristata
Giant Orchid
Eupatorium leptophyllum
False Fennel
Hypolepis repens
Creeping Bramble Fern
Ilex ambigua
Carolina Holly
Ilex cassine
Dahoon Holly
Ilex coriacea
Large Gallberry
Juncus effusus solutus
Eastern Soft Rush
Lachnocaulon beyrichianum
Southern Bogbutton
Lechea torreyi
Piedmont Pinweed
Liatris tenuifolia
Shortleaf Blazing Star
Ludwigia repens
Creeping Evening Primrose
Lycopodiella caroliniana
Slender Club-Moss
Lycopus rubellus
Water Horehound
Lyonia lygustrima foliosiflora
Maleberry
Oldenlandia uniflora
Clustered Mille Graines
Oplismenus hirtellus
Woodsgrass
Opuntia stricta
Shell Mound Pricklypear
Osmunda regalis spectabilis
American Royal Fern
Oxypolis filiformis
Water Cowbane
Palafoxia integrifolia
Coastalplain Palafox
Panicum verrucosum
Warty Panicgrass
Peltandra virginica
Green Arrow Arum
Polygonella polygama
October Flower
Quercus chapmanii
Chapman’s Oak
Quercus geminata
Sand Live Oak
Quercus minima
Dwarf Live Oak
Quercus nigra
Water Oak
Rubus argutus
Sawtooth Blackberry
Rhynchospora fascicularis
Fascicled Beaksedge
Rhynchospora inundata
Narrowfruit Horned Beaksedge
Sagittaria lancifolia
Lanceleaf Arrowhead
Scoparia dulcis
Licorice Weed
Setaria magna
Giant Bristlegrass
Smilax pumila
Sarsparilla vine
Syngonanthus flavidulus
Yellow Hatpins
Tillandsia balbisiana 
Spreading Airplant
Tillandsia bartramii
Bartram’s Airplant
Tillandsia fasciculata
 Cardinal Airplant
Triadenum virginicum V
irginia Marsh St. John’s Wort
Typha latifolia Common Cattail
Vittaria lineata
Shoestring Fern
Xyris fimbriata
Fringed Yellow-eyed Grass

Missing Animal Species10

Acris gryllus dorsalis Florida Cricket Frog
Hyla squirella Squirrel Tree Frog
Kinosternon baurii
Striped Mud Turtle
Pantherophis alleghaniensis
Eastern Rat Snake
Plestiodon inexpectatus
Southeastern Five-Lined Skink
Pseudacris ocularis
Little Grass Frog
Pseudacris nigrita
Southern Chorus Frog
Thamnophis saurita sackenii
Peninsula Ribbon Snake

Missing Invasive Plant Species

Psidium guajava Guava

Action Alert: Brevard County Landfill to pollute the St. John’s River

Indicative of the political and environmental climate in Central Florida, Brevard County wants to put a dump on the Osceola County line directly feeding into the headwaters of the St. John’s River. The public notice states that water flows directly into the St. Johns River and Lake Washington from the site.  Lake Washington is where the City of Melbourne gets its drinking water.

Please email your objections to Jeffrey.S.Collins@usace.army.mil.

You may model your comments on The Central Florida Sierra Club Group’s comments here.

While the entirety of Split Oak Forest in the Kissimmee River Basin it is adjacent to lands that feed into the St. Johns River and the quality of the St. Johns River is within the purview of Friend’s of Split Oak Forest’s mission.

CFX Board considers road through Split Oak feasible

Today the entire board and many members of Friends of Split Oak Forest as well as members of Speak Up Wekiva and concerned local residents attended and spoke at the Central Florida Expressway governing board meeting.

On the agenda were the three projects taken over from the Osceola County Expressway Authority. The chairman of that board, Atlee Mercer, made some amusing comments to the CFX board toward the end of the public comment period:

“These roads haves been talked about for almost 30 years. We had a plan. We vetted it entirely. We passed it at our board. We passed it on to you. You chose to revisit it. That’s OK. I get it. But don’t lose sight of that plan. I’m here to say that this road, this connection, is critical to the long-term health of Central Florida and the East Coast. And it needs to be constructed because it is an integral part of that southern beltway.”

Yes, roads are really, really healthy, Mr. Mercer. This is part of his ‘this is a road that’s got to be built’ mantra that he leans on in times like these.

It’s unfortunate because the Osceola Parkway Extension is not a critical part of the beltway. It’s a spur of the beltway that leads into the airport. The completion of the beltway would be an extension of the Northeast Connector to the that has not yet been planned.

Map of the beltway from the spring 2018 CFX concept studies season
Orlando metro beltway map with my annotations indicating the logical placement of the corridors completing the beltway

Friends of Split Oak Forest, along with most of the commentators, were concerned with the Osceola Parkway Extension, of which six out of the seven routes go through Split Oak Forest.1 Despite consistent requests from a variety of groups starting during the CFX Kickoff series of meetings in Fall 2017, CFX leadership refuses to re-examine a route that avoid both Lake Ajay Village and Split Oak: OCX E-1. I wrote an entire post on this issue.

OCX E-1 by Kimley Horn

At this meeting, several board members indicated that they would like the alternative that avoids Lake Ajay and Split Oak to be considered. Let’s see if these board member comments go the way of Buddy Dyer’s comment about investigating lower speed limits so that sharper curves could be considered. That way is nowhere. By interviewing CH2M engineers and CFX engineers long after the board meeting where Buddy said that, I learned that no orders had been given to engineer any route options at a lower speed limit.

Osceola County released this video after the meeting.

Several news articles were written immediately following the meeting:

Central Florida Expressway Authority moves ahead with study of contentious Split Oak road by Scott Powers in Florida Politics

Expressway Authority advances toll road at Split Oak Forest and Lake Ajay Village by Kevin Spear in the Orlando Sentinel

Florida Pennyroyal

Florida (or wild or false) Pennyroyal (Piloblephis rigida) is a native plant in the mint family that grows in Split Oak Forest. It grows into pretty obvious mounds and usually flowers in the spring. It can be used to make a delicious tea or mixed drink. You’ll find it throughout peninsular Florida in the dryer upland plant communities while hiking, as well as in native plant enthusiasts’ yards. You can find this plant for sale at native nurseries like Green Isle Gardens in Groveland and The Natives in Davenport1

Florida Pennyroyal photographed by Valerie Anderson found near Lake Two in Split Oak Forest WEA, March 3, 2018.

Florida Pennyroyal used to be a reliable nectar plant for honeybees, but is no longer. Central Florida beekeepers that I’ve spoken to aren’t aware of it as a nectar plant2. As a member of the mint family, its flowers are easily accessible to honeybees.

I have personally observed Florida Pennyroyal twice in Split Oak Forest, once this past Saturday near Lake Two and last November I saw it without flowers in the Osceola part. iNaturalist has two other observations in Split Oak Forest. The USF Herbarium has four vouchered specimens in Orange and Osceola counties, the earliest from 1952, pictured below.

USF Herbarium specimen of Piloblephis rigida collected by George R. Cooley, 1952

Invasive species in Split Oak Forest

This post kicks off National Invasive Species Awareness Week 2018! Split Oak Forest has been incredibly well-managed by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for over 20 years. They’ve kept a tight burn rotation as well as aggressively controlled the few invasive species that were onsite when Split Oak Forest was acquired by the two counties.

Wild hogs (Sus scrofa) are the most destructive invasive animal species in Split Oak. They are difficult to control even when trapped and hunted extensively. They dig on the sides of paths and firebreaks and anywhere they can find grubs, fungi, and easily-accessible roots.

Natal grass (Melinis repens) is scattered throughout Split Oak Forest, but appears to be restricted near the main entrance, disturbed areas (like our spoil sandhills by Lake 1 and Lake 2), and along firebreaks.

Natal grass in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh by J.M. Garg via Wikimedia Commons

Caesar weed (Urena lobata) is restricted to the oak hammock called Eagles Nest Hammock. There is little groundcover there to compete with it, save a few saw palmettos (Sabal palmetto) and beautyberry (Callicarpa americana).

Caesarweed in Osceola County by Osceola CISMA

Split Oak is lucky to be not afflicted with cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica), which ifs very expensive and difficult to control.

Cogongrass in Osceola County by Osceola CISMA

Similarly, no old world climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum) is found in Split Oak, but I have found it along the Swamp Trail in Moss Park just 100′ from Split Oak’s boundary.  We (and Orange EPD and FWC) should keep an eye on it and preferably treat it soon.

Old world climbing fern in Osceola County by Osceola CISMA

Split Oak Forest Burn History and Fire Management

In light of an incorrect statement by an elected official about Split Oak Forest’s burn history, I have decided to describe Split Oak’s fire management and why it’s critical to the integrity of the park.

I requested Split Oak Forest’s burn history from the managers of the site, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and was given this Burn History Map 2017 -2018. I created a heat map of the whole site using this data.

To summarize, every burn unit in Split Oak Forest has been burned with a prescribed fire in the last thirteen years. FWC has conducted 125 separate controlled burns on Split Oak since they’ve been managing it.

216 acres (+/-12%) of Split Oak was burned in the past year. Four burns were conducted last fall.

There are two places within Split Oak Forest that have never burned under FWC’s management. The first is Lake Hart, which is a body of water, so would only burn if it’s water levels dropped several feet for an extended period of time so that the bottom could dry out and be flammable. This would not occur because SFWMD controls Lake Hart’s level via S62. You can view S62’s real-time status here.

The second is the Lake Mary Jane Marsh. ‘Slough marshes’ such as this one used to burn more frequently in the past but are rarely burned by public agencies on purpose these days because the muck will smoulder for weeks and sometimes months. A good example of this were the muck fires last spring that caused road closures in Lake County, covered by WFTV.

Newly emerging saw palmetto fronds indicate a less-than-week-old fire in Unit 13. Photo taken August 2017.

Burned sticks of oak sprouts and gallberry bushes as well as the fire-scarred longleaf pine in the foreground and a completely torched longleaf in the background are evidence of the July burn in Unit 7.

A burn-scarred slash pine tree from the April 2016 burn in Unit 16A as of January 2018, looking over Lake Two.

Split Oak Forest must be managed according to a management plan that honors the original intent of establishing Split Oak Forest (page 15):

“The principle management emphasis at Split Oak Forest will be the protection and enhancement of habitat that is important to state and federally listed wildlife populations.”

Based on the condition of Split Oak prior to acquisition by the two counties, only improved fire management were anticipated as necessary to meet that goal (page 4):

“Only fire management is needed in most of the upland portion of the site.”

Prescribed fire is a major theme in Split Oak Forest’s current management plan.

The League of Women Voters opposes any road through Split Oak Forest

We gained four strong voices today in the fight to save Split Oak Forest from the Osceola Parkway Extension:

  1. Wayne Liebnitzki, a  Republican running for the US Senate Seat in District 9
  2. The League of Women Voters of Florida
  3. The League of Women Voters of Orange County
  4. The League of Women Voters of Seminole County

Here is their letter to Fred Hawkins, Jr., Chair of the Osceola Board of County Commissioners and Chair of the Central Florida Expressway Authority.