Overview

Distribution

National Distribution

Colombia

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Historically found on the Coastal Plain from North Carolina south through Florida and west to Louisiana and in Cuba. It is presumed to still be extant in Cuba. FNA (2002) also reports it from Columbia, South America.

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Ala., Fla., La., N.C., S.C.; West Indies (Cuba); South America (Colombia).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Plants 30–130 cm. Pseudobulbs underground. Leaves: blade linear-lanceolate, 15–70 × 1–3.5 cm, apex long-acuminate. Inflorescences erect, densely flowered toward apex, to 170 cm. Flowers yellowish green with purplish brown markings, 0.75–1 cm wide; sepals and petals converging over column and disc of lip in natural position, yellowish green; sepals oblong, 10–15 × 4–5 mm, apex acuminate; lateral sepals slightly oblique; petals oblong-elliptic, 8–15 × 4–5 mm; lip dark purplish brown with green margins, 3-lobed, middle lobe strongly reflexed in natural position, nearly circular, 5–10 × 5–10 mm including lateral lobes, apex obtuse, lateral lobes incurved in natural position, truncate to obtuse; disc green; column green, 3–4 mm, apex blunt. Capsules ovoid, to 2 cm.
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Diagnostic Description

The long, plicate (pleated) leaves are distinctive (Weakley 2004) among southeastern temperate orchids. Nonetheless, when small and not yet flowering, it can be confused with Calopogon tuberosus. Pteroglossaspis, however, typically has 2-3 leaves emerging directly from the corm, while Calopogon typically has only one leaf that emerges from the scape (Weakley 2004). Luer (1972) also noted that in early spring the long, narrow, ribbed leaves can be easily overlooked as they appear very similar to the grasses and palmetto seedlings with which this species commonly grows. In tropical South Florida, it is even more important to look for this species during flowering as the plicate leaves do not uniquely identify it; that character must be used in combination with the naked scape, distinctive yellowish/purplish flowers, and large flower bracts, exceeding the flowers (Bridges 1995).

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Synonym

Cyrtopodium ecristatum Fernald, Bot. Gaz. 24: 433. 1897; Bletia verecunda Chapman; Cyrtopodium strictum Grisebach; Eulophia ecristata (Fernald) Ames; Triorchos ecristatus (Fernald) Small; T. strictus (Grisebach) Acuña
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Type Information

Isolectotype; Isosyntype for Cyrtopodium ecristatum Fernald
Catalog Number: US 37874
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined; Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Sex/Stage: ; Flowering and Fruiting
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): A. H. Curtiss & J. R. Rundell
Locality: Duval, Florida, United States, North America
Microhabitat: Dry pine barrens.
  • Isolectotype: Romero G. A. 1993. Orquídea (Mexico). 13: 276.; Fernald, M. L. 1897. Bot. Gaz. 24: 433.; Isosyntype: Romero G. A. 1993. Orquídea (Mexico). 13: 276.; Fernald, M. L. 1897. Bot. Gaz. 24: 433.
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Isolectotype; Isosyntype for Cyrtopodium ecristatum Fernald
Catalog Number: US 774900
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined; Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): A. H. Curtiss
Locality: Florida, United States, North America
Microhabitat: Dry pine barrens.
  • Isolectotype: Romero G. A. 1993. Orquídea (Mexico). 13: 276.; Fernald, M. L. 1897. Bot. Gaz. 24: 433.; Isosyntype: Romero G. A. 1993. Orquídea (Mexico). 13: 276.; Fernald, M. L. 1897. Bot. Gaz. 24: 433.
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Isolectotype; Isosyntype for Cyrtopodium ecristatum Fernald
Catalog Number: US 774882
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined; Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): A. H. Curtiss
Locality: Florida, United States, North America
Microhabitat: Dry pine barrens.
  • Isolectotype: Romero G. A. 1993. Orquídea (Mexico). 13: 276.; Fernald, M. L. 1897. Bot. Gaz. 24: 433.; Isosyntype: Romero G. A. 1993. Orquídea (Mexico). 13: 276.; Fernald, M. L. 1897. Bot. Gaz. 24: 433.
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Isolectotype; Isosyntype for Cyrtopodium ecristatum Fernald
Catalog Number: US 814177
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined; Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): A. H. Curtiss
Locality: Florida, United States, North America
  • Isolectotype: Romero G. A. 1993. Orquídea (Mexico). 13: 276.; Fernald, M. L. 1897. Bot. Gaz. 24: 433.; Isosyntype: Romero G. A. 1993. Orquídea (Mexico). 13: 276.; Fernald, M. L. 1897. Bot. Gaz. 24: 433.
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Isolectotype; Isosyntype for Cyrtopodium ecristatum Fernald
Catalog Number: US 814176
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined; Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): A. H. Curtiss
Locality: Florida, United States, North America
  • Isolectotype: Romero G. A. 1993. Orquídea (Mexico). 13: 276.; Fernald, M. L. 1897. Bot. Gaz. 24: 433.; Isosyntype: Romero G. A. 1993. Orquídea (Mexico). 13: 276.; Fernald, M. L. 1897. Bot. Gaz. 24: 433.
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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: SUMMARY: Found in numerous Coastal Plain habitats. This species tolerates a relatively wide range of moisture conditions, from very xeric to seasonally inundated or almost permanently saturated soils, although most of the records of the plant are from dry, at least seasonally droughty sites. Habitats include scrub oak lands, pine rocklands, pine-palmetto flatwoods, and dry-mesic pine savannah. END SUMMARY.

The broad range of habitats prohibits a concise description of the physical and biological features of "the" habitat of Eulophia ecristata. Published habitat descriptions and label notes for all specimens from Florida and Mississippi have been compiled and correlated with personal knowledge of Coastal Plain habitats and the draft natural community classifications of Florida (Duever 1984) and North Carolina (Schafele 1984). This resulted in 37 site-specific habitat descriptions for Eulophia, falling into 10 natural communities or habitat types which are presented and described below in general order from the most xeric to most mesic.

1) Scrub; Sand Pine Scrub; Central Florida Sand Pine-Scrub Oaks - A very distinctive natural community and the object of many ecological investigations (Laessle 1958, Mulvania 1931, Kurz 1942, Veno 1976, and others) developed on old dunes with deep white fine sand substrate and occasional or rare fire (Duever 1984). The open canopy is composed of Pinus clausa and/or Quercus myrtifolia or chapmanii. There are scattered to dense shrubs, mostly Ceratiola ericoides, Serenoa repens, or various woody mints. The herbs are widely scattered between the shrubs, as presumably is Eulophia. Six records of Eulophia can be placed in this type, all in central Florida, where Wunderlin (1982) suggests that this is the most common habitat for the species.

2) Sandhill; Pine-Oak Sandhill Woodland - (Central Florida type?) - Developed on deep sandy uplands with annual or frequent fire (Duever 1984) not quite as xeric as scrub. Object of much study in Florida (op. cit.) as well as in North Carolina (Wells and Shunk 1931) and Georgia (Faust 1976). Longleaf pine is usually present as an open canopy, with an understory of oaks such as Quercus incana, laevis, and/or margaretta, with wiregrass (Aristida stricta) often conspicuous in the herb layer. Only 2 Eulophia sites were in this natural community, both in central Florida.

3) Pine Rockland; South Florida Pine Rockland - Developed on flatland with exposed limestone substrate and frequent fire (Duever 1984). Characterized by Pinus elliottii var. densa and mixed tropical shrubs and herbs (Duever 1984). An endangered (G1) community, with one Eulophia record from Dade Co., FL.

4) Pine Rockland (?); Northern Florida Pine Rockland (?) - One Eulophia collection is from a "high rocky pineland" in Columbia Co., FL. This region is underlain by the Ocala Limestone and other Limestone formations and is a karst plain. The exact vegetation type here is unknown to me but is likely to be quite interesting.

5) Mesic flatwoods; Southern Pine Flatwoods (?) Community developed on flatland with sand substrate with frequent fire (Duever 1984). Characterized by a (fairly closed) canopy of Pinus palustris or Pinus elliottii over a grassy (much Aristida stricta) herb layer, with scattered evergreen shrubs. Moist in winter and spring but often droughty in summer and fall. This is the most common habitat for Eulophia, presumably throughout its range and particularly in the northern part. Fire is essential for the maintenance of this type (Garren 1943, Lemon 1949, Quarterman and Keever 1962, et al.) and greatly influences the composition of the shrub and herb layers. This is the most common vegetation type over large regions of the Lower Coastal Plain.

6) Pine/Palmetto Flatwoods - This is segregated from the preceding type by the overwhelming dominance of Serenoa repens in the shrub layer, often forming solid masses over large areas, particularly in northern and central Florida. Five Eulophia collections specifically mention this community segregate, and Luer (1972) considers Eulophia to be common in "dry, sandy palmetto fields," presumably this community type after the trees have been cut.

7) Dry-mesic pine savannah - This type has a more open pine canopy and frequent fire with a somewhat more diverse herb layer than pine flatwoods. This is the "dry savannah" of Walker and Peet (1983) and has a predominantly grassy (Aristida, Andropogon) herb layer with many composites and legumes and few shrubs. Three Eulophia sites could be placed in this type, mostly in the northern part of the range.

8) Mesic pine savannah - This is what is thought of as the "typical," diverse pine savannah of the Lower Coastal Plain. The name is from Walker and Peet (1983) and corresponds in part to the "Hydric Savannah" of NC (Schafele 1984) and "Wet Flatwoods" of FL (Duever 1984). This community is very wet in winter and spring and usually moist throughout much of the growing season. Frequent fire is necessary for the maintenance of this type (Kologiski 1977, Christensen 1981), which has been the object of much ecological study. Four Eulophia sites can be referred to this type.

9) Seepage slope; Lower Coastal Plain (open?) acid seepage slope - This type is on or at the base of a slope, usually saturated but rarely inundated by downslope seepage and with frequent or occasional fire. The only Eulophia record for this type is in Liberty Co, FL, although other records are on the uplands just above seepage slopes.

10) Various natural and unnaturally open areas, not typeable - These include "roadside," "open, grassy fields," "open hillsides," and "dry, grassy areas" where not enough information is known to define the natural community type. Four Eulophia records, mostly at the northern limit of the range, are from this "type."

In thinking further about the habitat of Eulophia and its management, threats, etc., the common features, as well as the distinctions, of these habitats must be considered. The major requirement seems to be for a somewhat open area, with at least filtered sunlight and no dense shrub competition. The areas may be naturally open for long periods without fire, or dependent on frequent or annual fire to reduce competition. Pines are always present; Eulophia has not been found under a hardwood canopy, though scrubby oaks may be frequent associates, and the pines may be so scattered as to be of little effect on the species. About the only moisture limitation seems to be no flooding during the growing season - winter inundation is acceptable, as is extreme desiccation with water only available shortly after rains. These habitat conditions are more or less adequately met over much or most of the land surface of the Lower Coastal Plain from North Carolina to Texas.

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Old fields, pine savanna, and scrub oak lands; of conservation concern; 0--200[--500]m.
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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 - 300

Comments: About 100 very scattered EOs in the U.S.

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General Ecology

Little has been written on the biology or ecology of Pteroglossaspis ecristata. A few questions and hypotheses by this author constitute the remainder of this section. Pteroglossaspis ecristata generally occurs in small, dispersed populations. Several collectors mention seeing only one plant at a site (and collecting it!), and it typically is described as being rare or occasional, or occurring in low numbers. Only at two sites, both within the city of Tampa, has Pteroglossaspis been described as "frequent" or "numerous," numbering in the hundreds of plants. It is possible that these generally low reported population numbers reflect a count of only the plants which flowered in a given year, and that many other individuals may only exhibit vegetative growth or lie dormant underground in some years. This situation has been commonly reported for other orchids, particularly some of those whose growth may be stimulated by fire (Sheviak 1974). The inconspicuous nature of vegetative specimens makes it nearly impossible to make estimates of their population numbers. Also, the moisture relations of a given site in a particular year may influence the number of individuals which flower. Particularly in the more xeric habitats, favorable rainfall conditions may be required for development and flowering, and the plants may even remain dormant in drier years. In the moister habitats, such as moist pine savannas, it seems that soil moisture would rarely be a limiting factor, and absence of fire may explain low population numbers. Experimental studies and much further observation will be necessary in order to understand the ecology of Pteroglossaspis ecristata. Pteroglossaspis ecristata is unlikely to persist in areas with a closing shrub layer, and as such, it is a successional species in some habitats in the absence of fire. The natural role of fire in most coastal plain communities has been well documented, and fire must be considered a part of the natural cycle of most of the habitats occupied by Pteroglossaspis. The unnatural suppression of fire would result in Pteroglossaspis eventually being displaced by woody species in all its habitats.

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering summer--fall.
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Life Cycle

Persistence: PERENNIAL, DECIDUOUS

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Reproduction

Little has been written on the biology or ecology of Eulophia ecristata. Luer (1972) gives the phenological cycle of established plants as follows: "Early in the spring the leaves rise from a solid, tuberous corm. The new growth appears from the side or top of last year's corm along with a new set of roots which fan out from the base of the new corm. There are usually several long...leaves, two of which dominate...From the corm and near the leaves, the growth of the scape soon follows and reaches its blooming height any time from late July to late September... Often twelve or more flowers bloom at once and each lasts for about one week. The fruits, which quickly follow, ripen as erect, globular, pods. By November the capsules have dried, soon to split and scatter their dustlike seeds. During the winter the leaves wither, die, and disappear, leaving a healthy corm for the next season."

No information exists on germination and establishment of Eulophia ecristata or on pollinators or reproductive biology, life history, etc. A few questions and hypotheses by this author constitute the remainder of this section. Eulophia ecristata generally occurs in small, dispersed populations. Several collectors mention seeing only one plant at a site (and collecting it!), and it typically is described as being rare or occasional, or occurring in low numbers. Only at two sites, both within the city of Tampa, has Eulophia been described as "frequent" or "numerous," numbering in the hundreds of plants. It is possible that these generally low reported population numbers reflect a count of only the plants which flowered in a given year, and that many other individuals may only exhibit vegetative growth or lie dormant underground in some years. This situation has been commonly reported for other orchids, particularly some of those whose growth may be stimulated by fire (Sheviak 1974). The inconspicuous nature of vegetative specimens makes it nearly impossible to make estimates of their population numbers. Also, the moisture relations of a given site in a particular year may influence the number of individuals which flower. Particularly in the more xeric habitats, favorable rainfall conditions may be required for development and flowering, and the plants may even remain dormant in drier years. In the moister habitats, such as moist pine savannahs, it seems that soil moisture would rarely be a limiting factor, and absence of fire may explain low population numbers. Experimental studies and much further observation will be necessary in order to understand the ecology of Eulophia ecristata.

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Colombia

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N2 - Imperiled

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G2 - Imperiled

Reasons: Known from widely scattered sites on the Coastal Plain of North Carolina south through Florida and west to Louisiana and also in Cuba and Columbia, South America. FNA (2002) indicated this species has a spotty distribution throughout its range. Most known occurrences have very small population sizes (<10 plants) This species may once have been more common, but it has lost much of its potential habitat and now requires active managment to persist at the remaining sites.

Environmental Specificity: Moderate to broad.

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Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 30 to >90%

Comments: This species is in rapid decline due to loss of habitat and overcollection.

Global Long Term Trend: Decline of 10-90%

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Threats

Degree of Threat: High

Comments: The greatest threat to Pteroglossaspis ecristata is the destruction of its habitat by conversion to urban, suburban, or agricultural uses. This is particularly apparent in central Florida, where much potential and past habitat is now in suburban developments or citrus plantations. Many of the collection sites in this area are in suburban areas which likely have already been destroyed. In the northern part of the range, the management techniques used in pine plantation agriculture may drastically threaten the species. Disturbance of the soil by heavy machinery, bulldozing, and windrowing of competing vegetation before planting, or herbicide use are threats.

The greatest natural threat is the lack of fire. In xeric sand pine scrub habitats, it may take many decades for Pteroglossaspis to be crowded out by shrub growth, whereas in moist pine savannahs only a few years without fire can result in shrub growth which eliminates the species. In a natural landscape, given populations may be periodically suppressed or destroyed by lack of fire at a particular site, but other populations would be enhanced or created by the fire regime in a nearby area. With the alteration of those large scale natural processes and the destruction of much potential habitat, the remaining populations probably need active management to persist.

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Management

Restoration Potential: The requirements for establishment of Eulophia are unknown but are likely, as with most orchids, quite exacting and difficult to duplicate. As such, recovery by active seeding, transplantation, etc. seems unlikely. The most likely beneficial technique for the recovery of a declining or apparently extirpated population is prescribed burning, with or without clearing of some woody vegetation first. Prescribed burning could also be attempted in apparently suitable habitats where Eulophia has not been observed to see if the establishment of new populations could be enhanced by particular fire regimes. Recovery potential using fire is unknown but seems promising due to the ecology of the communities supporting the species.

Preserve Selection and Design Considerations: Very few specifically protected sites for Eulophia ecristata currently exist. While the plant is at least historically known from a fairly large number of sites (approximately 50 counties in 6 states, at least 60, probably more, locations), its habitats are threatened, and the plant may exist at fewer sites than the range and number of historic sites would indicate. Sites for protection of Eulophia should emphasize protection of fairly large areas of intact habitats. In this way, adequate protection can be afforded the communities and probable other rare species present. Larger areas allow for the populations to spread under proper management and help mitigate off-site threats. Sites must be designed to facilitate burning of parts of the site, while leaving some control areas to observe the fire effects on Eulophia. Protection of alteration of drainage pattern may be necessary at some sites, both to insure a stable water regime and to protect the site from herbicide run off or silt deposition. With a plant that has such a wide range and apparently sizeable number of historic sites, it must be emphasized that the protection of any given site must primarily be the protection of the opportunity of continued occurrence in the area and of the affected community types. Protected sites do occur on some state properties in Florida.

Management Requirements: It seems fairly clear the Eulophia ecristata needs active management in order to persist at most sites. This management needs to be prescribed burning in the late fall or winter to maintain a generally fairly open shrub layer and good herbaceous cover. While there is no direct evidence of the beneficial effects of burning on Eulophia, its role in the creation and maintenance of most of the habitats occupied by the species has been well-documented (Garren 1943, Laessle 1958, Veno 1976, Monk 1968, Quarterman and Keever 1962, Christensen 1981, Folkerts 1982, Kologiski 1977, Lemon 1949, Wells 1928, Wharton 1978, Walker and Peet 1983, all issues of the Proceedings of the Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference, and many others). At this point, what is needed is to collect data to determine how Eulophia fits into the fire ecology of these communities and correlate the results with this ecological literature to determine the specific management practices most appropriate for the species. In the absence of this data, one can only follow the techniques shown to be most desirable in maintenance of the community composition of the specific site.

Other than fire, additional management may be necessary at some sites. It may be necessary to restrict access if trampling by foot or vehicles is a possibility or if collection or inadvertent picking of the flowers is likely. Sites should be monitored for the effects of human use and influences of surrounding land uses on the site, such as drainage, herbicide runoff, grazing, or silt deposition. The site on Fort Bragg is currently under a two-year, winter burn regime, but it is also subject to occasional wildfires from the adjacent live-ammunition impact area (TNC 1991-93). No other occurrences are know to be under active management for Pteroglossaspis, although some are most likely burned for its timber management benefits.

Management Programs: Apparently, active management for Eulophia is beginning by the Crosby Arboretum Foundation at a site in Mississippi. This should include periodic burning, not only of the bog but of the entire site. The site on Fort Bragg is currently under a two-year burn regime, but it is also subject to occasional wildfires from the adjacent live-ammunition impact area (TNC 1991-93) No other occurrences are known to be under active management for Eulophia, although some are most likely burned for its timber management benefits.

Monitoring Programs: No current monitoring programs are known for Eulophia ecristata.

Management Research Programs: There seem to be no current research programs on this species.

Management Research Needs: The above outlined monitoring approach can provide much data which can be considered as research on the species. In addition, a more fundamental question which a larger research project could address is why a species which occupies such a broad range of habitats over a large range is so sporadic and occurs in such small numbers in most places. The species biology of many orchids has been intensively studied, and a project on Eulophia would provide much useful information. Research is needed even to determine how and where to preserve the species and how to manage preserves to insure its survival.
Also:

1) An assessment needs to be made of the current status of Eulophia in Florida to clarify its variety and degree of threat in the state where it is historically most common.

2) The Outer Coastal Plain from South Carolina to Louisiana should be searched for additional sites to clarify its status in the northern part of range. Numerous areas of apparently suitable habitat should be searched in September and the results used to assess whether the plant is extremely rare and absent from some regions (i.e. western Florida panhandle, Alabama) or has been neglected or overlooked.

3) Protected sites should be secured on sites in public ownership (Florida State Parks, National Forests, etc.). Attempts should be made to locate large populations in intact habitats for protection by land acquisition.

4) Monitoring of protected populations and research into species biology and effects of management practices should be undertaken.

Biological Research Needs: Research on the reproductive biology of Pteroglossaspis could include studies on (1) the response of plants and seeds to winter, spring, summer, and fall seasons burns; (2) the in situ environmental conditions necessary for germination of seeds (i.e., light, moisture, and nutrient requirements; seedbed conditions); (3) the types of pollinators which visit flowers, and how these pollinators are affected by different burning periods and/or frequencies; (4) the amount of viable seed produced in burned and unburned sites; and (5) the different types of seed dispersal mechanisms that exist. Detailed, demographic studies of Pteroglossaspis populations occurring in different habitats should be designed to determine the relative rates an importance of asexual versus sexual growth for the species. Analysis of the genetic diversity present between and within different populations would also be useful for determining the amount of sexual reproduction that naturally occurs.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Risks

Stewardship Overview: Pine management using less destructive logging techniques, and using natural regeneration or planting without first disrupting the soil surface may under some conditions improve the habitat (Bridges 1995). Prescribed burning, including burning for timber management, can be beneficial.
Burning should be done the late fall or winter to maintain a generally fairly open shrub layer and good herbaceous cover (Bridges 1995).

Other than fire, additional management may be necessary at some sites. It may be necessary to restrict access if trampling by foot or vehicles is a possibility or if collection or inadvertent picking of the flowers is likely. Sites should be monitored for the effects of human use and influences of surrounding land uses on the site, such as drainage, herbicide runoff, grazing, or silt deposition.

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Notes

Comments

Cyrtopodium stricta, described by Grisebach in 1866, is referable to this species (G. A. Romero-G. 1993). Despite the nomenclatural priority of the epithet stricta over ecristata, it cannot now be taken up in Pteroglossaspis because of the existence of P. stricta Schlechter, an African species described in 1915. Moreover, when Rolfe transferred Cyrtopodium ecristatum to Pteroglossaspis in 1904, he did not include Cyrtopodium strictum Grisebach within his concept of the species, and so his name Pteroglossaspis ecristata is legitimate. Pteroglossaspis ecristata has a spotty distribution throughout its range, perhaps because of its rather inconspicuous habit (D. S. Correll 1950).
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: This plant is refered to as Eulophia ecristata in most botanical literature; Kartesz (1994 checklist) classifies it in the genus Pteroglossaspis.

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