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Eugenia rhombea Krug
South Florida Status: Critically imperiled. Four occurrences in five conservation areas and two non-conservation areas (Attwood Addition, Indian Key Historic State Park & privately owned Teatable Hammock; Biscayne National Park; Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge & Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammocks Botanical State Park; Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park; Vaca Key Red Stopper Site).
Taxonomy: Dicotyledon; Myrtaceae.
Habit: Small tree.
Distribution: Native to South Florida, the West Indies, Mexico, and Central America.
South Florida Distribution: Miami-Dade County and the Monroe County Keys. Reported in error from Lee County (see “Comments” below).
South Florida Habitats: Rockland hammocks.
Protection Status: Listed as endangered by FDACS and as critically imperiled by FNAI.
Aids to Identification: Scurlock (1987) has color photos; Nelson (1996) has an illustration; Chafin (2000) has illustrations and a color photo; the IRC Website has a color photo.
References: Nuttall, 1849; Chapman, 1883; Sargent, 1893; Small, 1933a; Long & Lakela, 1976; Little, 1978; Tomlinson, 1980; Correll & Correll, 1982; Scurlock, 1987; Nelson, 1994; Nelson, 1996; Wunderlin, 1998; Chafin, 2000; Coile, 2000.
Synonyms: E. procera (Sw.) Poir., misapplied.
Historical Context: John Loomis Blodgett first collected red stopper between 1838 and 1853 on the island of Key West (s.n., NY). Blodgett’s specimen states that the tree was common there, as Nuttall (1849) and Sargent (1893) also reported. Several other collections were made in hammocks on Key West: in 1896 by Allan H. Curtiss (5626, NY); in 1913 by John Kunkel Small and George K. Small (4967, NY); and in 1954 by Robert F. Thorne (s.n., FSU). Since 1954, it has only been collected in small hammock fragments at private residences, or as individual trees in private yards. T. Ann Williams observed plants in private yards in the city of Key West from the 1980s through the 1990s (personal communication, 6 March 2001). Only one small hammock remains on Key West, Little Hamaca Park, where red stopper has been cultivated as part of a hammock restoration project. It is unknown whether or not any recruitment has occurred there. Gann last observed these plants in 1992.
Alfred Russell and H.R. Totten made a collection on Key Largo in 1940 (s.n., NY). W.L. Stern subsequently collected it on North Key Largo in 1961 (1439, GH, US), probably in what is now Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Bradley collected a voucher in the refuge in 1999 (2003, FTG), at a station that had been observed by Karen Achor and others since at least 1977 (in Weiner, 1980). It was reported for what is now Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammocks Botanical State Park by Arthur H. Weiner (1980), at a station directly across the street from what is now Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Gann and Florida Park Service biologists Janice A. Duquesnel and James G. Duquesnel observed this station in 1999. Several hundred plants are thought to be present between the two stations.
In 1973, Kenneth C. Alvarez discovered plants on Upper Matecumbe Key (Avery’s Notes, 4 July 1973), in what appears to have been the privately owned Teatable Hammock. In 1974, Alvarez vouchered this station (s.n., NY). Both Weiner (1980) and Kruer (1992) reported plants there, and this station is thought to be extant. In 1999, Gann, Bradley, and J.A. Duquesnel observed plants at the Attwood Addition of the Indian Key Historic State Park, a small hammock fragment on Upper Matecumbe Key. This station is only a few blocks from Teatable Hammock on Upper Matecumbe Key, and is considered part of the same occurrence. Fewer than 10 plants were observed. J.A. Duquesnel collected geographic coordinates in 2001 (personal communication, 26 March 2001), but this station needs to be vouchered.
In 1975, Avery discovered one small tree on Totten Key in Biscayne National Park (Avery 1583, FLAS). While surveys of Totten Key by Gann and Bradley in 2001 have failed to locate any plants, surveys in 2001 by Bradley and Woodmansee located four plants on Meig’s Key and two plants on Old Rhodes Key in Biscayne National Park. The Meig’s Key station was vouchered (1519, FTG). In 1982, Avery also found one tree on Palo Alto Key (2373, FTG, USF), which is located between Totten Key and Key Largo in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This is the only report known from that island or from Pennekamp.
In 1983, Avery observed plants reported to him by Arthur H. Weiner in a private hammock on Vaca Key just south of the Key Lime Resort. Twelve plants were observed at this station. T. Ann Williams reports that she observed these plants in the mid-1980s (personal communication, 6 March 2001), that this hammock was still intact as of 2001, and that the plants are probably still present (personal communication, 18 March 2001).
J. Paul Scurlock (1987) reported the discovery of a single tree at Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park. Gann and Duquesnel also observed a single tree there in 2000, but this station needs to be vouchered.
Red stopper has been collected at or reported for a number of other sites where it is apparently now extirpated. Allan H. Curtiss collected red stopper on “Umbrella Key” (1115, GH), now Windley Key in the late 1880s. Sargent (1893) also reported it for that island. It is currently cultivated at Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park. Avery observed red stopper on Lower Sugarloaf Key in 1963 and 1964 (Avery’s Notes, 1963-1964). This station is now within Sugarloaf Hammocks, part of Florida Keys Wildlife and Environmental Area. Bradley and Woodmansee conducted a brief search for red stopper in 2000, but no plants were observed. In 1974, Robert Kral made a collection on Big Pine Key, south of US1 (53887, GH), perhaps in what is now National Key Deer Refuge.
Red stopper is widely cultivated in South Florida, and it has been out-planted in many locations in the Florida Keys. Thus far, it has not been known to naturalize outside of its historical range in South Florida.
Major Threats: Habitat destruction; exotic pest plant invasions.
Comments: In 1937, L. Eleanor Scull collected this species at “Chapman’s Hammock. Miami” (s.n., FLAS). We are unfamiliar with this locality and know of no valid reports of wild populations on the mainland. Reports from the west coast (cf. Brumbach 7474, FLAS; Wunderlin, 1982) are based upon misidentified specimens of E. axillaris or E. uniflora. The Gray Herbarium at Harvard University has a specimen from “Palm Beach & Martin counties, on Jupiter Island” collected by George R. Cooley and others in 1956 (4876, GH). This specimen has not been examined by us and should be verified.
Recommendations: • Voucher plants at Attwood Addition, Key Vaca Red Stopper Site, Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park, and Old Rhodes Key in Biscayne National Park. • Continue surveys at Sugarloaf Hammocks. • Survey National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key, Palo Alto Key in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and Totten Key in Biscayne National Park. • Map and monitor known stations on a regular basis. • Acquire Teatable Hammock and Vaca Key Red Stopper Site. • Consider augmenting population at Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park. • Consider introducing red stopper to other sites within its historical range, including Little Hamaca Park and Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park.