A number of plants of an endangered species have now been planted in the Francis Marion National Forest.
Schwalbea Americana’s common name is American Chaffseed. It thrives as part of long-leaf Pine forests, and needs regular fires to reproduce. It flourished when Native Americans would burn forests once or twice per year during hunting burns.
Danny Carlson is a biological science technician with the US Forestry Service. In the early 1980s, forestry officials started taking note that the plant was dying out. “It wasn’t listed at the time, it was one we were concerned about… then in 1987 I was asked to collect some seeds to send to Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.”
He was able to gather 200-300 seeds.
In 1992, the Chaffseed became endangered.
April Punsalan is a botanist with US Fish and Wildlife. “It was lost from 10 states because it’s a coastal plains species, so there’s high development pressures along the coast.”
By 2004, this species was no longer found at this site. They believe it DOES exist at four other locations in the Francis Marion National Forest, but there WERE nine populations in the forest.
Those seeds from 1987 were brought back to South Carolina and recently 90% of the seeds germinated. Today they were planted back in their forest. Punsalan was excited. “So we’re super excited to reintroduce this species back to this site.”
Danny is proud to be able to personally plant some of the seedlings he gathered 30 years ago. ” You know, all species are important. They serve some purpose or they wouldn’t be out there. The way I look at it is, we should try to preserve or conserve as many species as possible, keep them from going extinct, because we don’t know what the impacts or what the implications would be if they were extinct.”
These are the first plants from the seeds being planted. More plants will be planted in the forest later this fall.