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Tephrosia curtissii (Small ex Rydb.) Shinners
South Florida Status: Critically imperiled. Two occurrences in one conservation area (Hollywood North Beach Regional Park) and one non-conservation area (Lummus Park).
Taxonomy: Dicotyledon; Fabaceae.
Habit: Perennial terrestrial herb.
Distribution: Endemic to peninsular Florida. Wunderlin (1998) reports it as occasional in the central peninsula.
South Florida Distribution: Broward, Hendry, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties.
South Florida Habitats: Coastal strand and, probably, flatwoods.
Protection Status: Listed as endangered by FDACS (as T. angustissima) and as critically imperiled by FNAI.
Aids to Identification: T. angustissima is distinguished from other species of Tephrosia in Florida by having a glabrous style (Wunderlin, 1998). The variety curtissii is distinguished from other varieties of T. angustissima by being minutely strigose and having leaflets 2-8 times longer than wide (Wunderlin, 1998).
References: Chapman, 1883; Small, 1933a; Shinners, 1962b; Long & Lakela, 1976; Austin, 1980; Isely, 1982; Isely, 1990; Wunderlin, 1998; Chafin, 2000; Coile, 2000.
Synonyms: T. angustissima Shuttlew. ex Chapm. var. curtissii (Small ex Rydb.) Isley; T. leptostachya DC., misapplied; T. seminole Shinners; Cracca curtissii Small ex Rydb.
Historical Context: Allan H. Curtiss first collected Curtiss’ hoarypea in 1895 on beach ridges near the Jupiter Inlet in northern Palm Beach County (5561, FLAS, NY). Austin et al. (1980b) reported it for South Beach Park and Red Reef Park in Boca Raton based upon surveys conducted in 1979. Between 100 and 200 plants were observed at South Beach Park, while only four plants were observed at Red Reef Park. Curtiss’ hoarypea is not thought to be currently present at either site. Austin has searched for plants at South Beach Park, but has not been able to find any specimens (personal communication, 10 March 2001). In 1984, Jerry Derenthal collected a specimen near both of these sites, at Spanish River Park (1, FAU), where its status is unknown.
In 1986, Ted Hendrickson and Ann Buckley collected Curtiss’ hoarypea at Hollywood North Beach Regional Park in Broward County (501, FTG). Gann and Bradley observed this occurrence in 1995. Plants were growing along a roadside in a disturbed coastal strand. While this site is considered a conservation area (Jue et al., 2001), it is used primarily for beach access.
In 1999, Gary Hunt reported to Bradley that he knew of a population of Curtiss’ hoarypea at Lummus Park on Miami Beach. Hunt had known of this station for several years. Bradley observed this station in 1999 (2039, FTG). Fewer than 100 plants were growing in open sand behind beach dunes. Lummus Park is a recreational park with a renourished beach and a very narrow restored beach dune system.
In 1919, Perley Poore Sheehan made a single collection of Curtiss’ hoarypea in Hendry County at Godden’s Mission, now in the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation (848, NY). It was this specimen that Shinners (1962b) used as the type for his T. seminole, a species that later was placed into synonymy under T. angustissima var. curtissii.
Major Threats: Habitat destruction at Hollywood North Beach Regional Park and Lummus Park; exotic pest plant invasions, especially beach naupaka (Scaevola sericea); coastal erosion; trampling.
Recommendations: • Survey Red Reef Park, South Beach Park, and Spanish River Park. • Map and monitor known stations on a regular basis. • Develop conservation agreement with the City of Miami to restore and maintain a viable population of Curtiss’ hoarypea. • Control beach naupaka and other exotic pest plants that threaten Curtiss’ hoarypea. • Study feasibility of reintroducing Curtiss’ hoarypea to other stations within its historical range.