A small but mighty win for conservation

Small but mighty land conservation: 

How a .25 acre parcel is providing habitat for a critically endangered Florida flower 

 January 10, 2019 

A property no bigger than a quarter of an acre could help turn the tides for an endangered Florida plant thanks to a joint effort by Conservation Florida, the Florida Native Plant Society, and the Putnam Land Conservancy.

Clasping warea. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Clasping warea. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The vacant land, located in a subdivision about 18 miles southeast of Ocala and only 7 miles from The Villages, was acquired in late 2018 by Conservation Florida in support of its mission to protect natural and agricultural landscapes for future generations.  

Though the parcel is small in size, it is critical habitat for the endangered Warea amplexifolia, or as it is commonly called, clasping warea. This flowering herb in the mustard family thrives in the sandy soil found on the property. It is native to Florida and is so rare that only eight populations remain.  

Conservation Florida contributed the parcel in support of the Warea Area Project led by the Florida Native Plant Society and the Putnam Land Conservancy to aid in the recovery of this critically endangered plant species, which is only found in Marion, Lake, Polk and Osceola counties. 

The Putnam Land Conservancy currently owns six additional lots, holds a conservation easement on another lot in the same subdivision, and plans to acquire more.  

Clasping warea. Photo: Florida Department of Agriculture

Clasping warea. Photo: Florida Department of Agriculture

“Big wins in conservation can occur on the smallest of properties,” said Traci Deen, Conservation Florida’s executive director. “This is a big win for the future of one of Florida’s critically endangered plants. We are delighted to support the Warea Area Project with this land protection contribution.”  

The Warea Area Project seeks to acquire more land in the area to preserve important wildlife habitat and a natural corridor between adjacent protected lands.  

In addition to the clasping warea, the project area is home to other rare species including the Florida sand skink, Florida black bear, gopher tortoise, and Sherman’s fox squirrel. 

“This is a great example of organizations working together to achieve our conservation missions,” said Juliet Rynear, executive director of the Florida Native Plant Society. “We are grateful to add this property to the Warea Area Project to protect the endangered clasping warea.”