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Foliar Indicators of Age in Louisiana Native Dwarf Palmetto Plants Jim Wandersee, Ph.D. William LeBlanc Alumni Association Professor of Biology Education.

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Presentation on theme: "Foliar Indicators of Age in Louisiana Native Dwarf Palmetto Plants Jim Wandersee, Ph.D. William LeBlanc Alumni Association Professor of Biology Education."— Presentation transcript:

1 Foliar Indicators of Age in Louisiana Native Dwarf Palmetto Plants Jim Wandersee, Ph.D. William LeBlanc Alumni Association Professor of Biology Education LSU Department of Curriculum & Instruction & LSU AgCtr Burden Research Center LSU AgCtr Burden Research Center

2 Introduction  Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal minor) is a native Louisiana plant  Understory palm found in the Southeast in swamp forests and on floodplains  Slow growing to hundreds of years of age  First described in 1691 by Le Clercq in an account of La Salle’s explorations of the Mississippi River

3 Dwarf Palmetto  Botanical Classification  Family: Palmae  Genus: Sabal  Specific epithet: minor

4 The Palm Family (Palmae) Found in sub-tropics and tropics Found in sub-tropics and tropics Third-largest monocot family Third-largest monocot family Contains >2,700 species in >200 genera Contains >2,700 species in >200 genera Greatest diversity in SE Asia & Malaysia, Central America, African Congo region, and N. Madagascar (Uhl & Dransfield, 1987) Greatest diversity in SE Asia & Malaysia, Central America, African Congo region, and N. Madagascar (Uhl & Dransfield, 1987)

5 Range: Distribution of Sabal minor  Coastal plains of the South Atlantic Seaboard and the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico  Louisiana is the ONLY state to be completely included in its range  States partially within its range are NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, MS, & TX

6 S. Minor Inflorescence Structure & Fruit Flowering season: mid-June to July

7  Sabal minor data recorded in the botanical literature suggest:  Height MINIMA: ~40 centimeters (mature)  Height MAXIMA: ~5.8 meters (mature)  As a rule of thumb, height increases from east to west (e.g., Panhandle of Florida to West Texas).  Caulescent populations have not been observed in the eastern half of its range (Ramp, 1989). Variablity in Stature

8 Research Program Goals  To improve both scientific understanding and public understanding of one of Louisiana’s most widespread and “signature” native plant species, Sabal minor.

9 Research Target: Phase I  To find the simplest way of estimating the age of individual Sabal minor plants—by investigating the predictive value of selected foliar variables that are supported by a review of relevant research literature in plant ecology and in horticulture.

10 Research Plots  Phase I: Full Sun Specimens  Will yield a conservative age estimate  Plot #1: 3-acre Barton arboretum area of BRC  ~40 individuals of varying pre-reproductive age  Phase II: Forest Understory Specimens  In full range of stages [#1-#12] of development  3 native population plots within BRC’s 100-acre forest

11 Methods  Foliar Variables under study:  Leaf surface area for largest leaf  Maximum leaf thickness for largest leaf  Leaf oven dry mass (estimated by regression equation via petiole blade- basal width for largest leaf)  Total number of leaves per plant  Total number of leaf scars per plant, plus (see next slide) plant, plus (see next slide)

12 Methods continued  Foliar Variables under study:  Munsell Plant Tissue Color Chart ratings for the largest and smallest leaves  Leaf nutrient analysis of 21 elements via ICP spectroscopy for largest and smallest leaves  These variables will be correlated to historically established, age-benchmark specimens, and to pre- and post- reproductive features described by Ramp (1989).

13 Researcher Memberships  American Association for the Advancement of Science  Botanical Society of America  Crosby Arboretum  LSU 15º Laboratory  National Association of Biology Teachers  National Tropical Botanic Garden  International Palm Society  Royal Horticultural Society


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