Student involvement in plant conservation is key to the Fairchild Challenge and Connect to Protect Network. During three workdays with support of 132 middle and high school students from multiple schools in Miami-Dade County, we worked to restore the health of habitat where the US endangered crenulate leadplant (Amorpha herbacea var. crenulata) grows. Our workday sites urgently needed invasive plant removal. The non-native, invasive Asian sword fern (Nephrolepis brownii) outcompetes crenulate leadplant, therefore we hoped that removing this plant would improve crenulate leadplant growth and seedling establishment. During workday orientations, all students received information about pine rockland ecology and conservation and learned how to identify Asian sword fern and crenulate leadplant.
When Fairchild researchers resurveyed the area where the work had been done, we found that the general health of adult plants was good and we found 3 new seedlings! Although this may not seem like much, for such a highly endangered plant, found only in Miami-Dade County, every seedling counts. Because students also cleared nearby areas that had been covered with invasive exotic ferns, the Amorpha nearby will have new areas for possible population expansion in the future. Thanks again to all our volunteers!
Non-native Asian sword fern invading the understory of a Miami-Dade County pine rockland.
Fairchild Biologist working to remove Asian sword fern.
Bags of Asian sword fern that was removed during a habiat restoration workday in a Miami-Dade County Pine rockland.