Species Name: Cyperus pedunculatus (R. Br.) J. Kern.
Common Name(s): beach star, beachstar, West Indian sedge, junco de playa, pineapple sedge (Australia),
Synonym(s): Remirea maritima Aubl., Mariscus pedunculatus (R. Br.) T. Koyama Family: Cyperaceae
Species/taxon description: Perennial caulescent herb; creeping rhizome rooting at joints, stems arise at intervals, erect, 10-30 cm (4-12 in) tall. Leaves numerous, crowded, imbricate at base, blades recurved, 2.5-10.2 cm (1-4 in) long, stiff, sharply pointed at tip; flowers inconspicuous, yellowish white, spikelets 4-5 mm (0.2 in), scales many-nerved, hooded, the lower three or more empty, the upper fertile scales punctate between the nerves; stamens 3; stigmas 3; achene 2.3-3 mm (0.09-0.12 in) long, trigonous (Coile 2000, Austin 1991, Ward 1979, Long and Lakela 1971).
Legal Status: Florida Endangered, Imperiled (IRC)
Biogeographic Value: Native
Prepared by: Jennifer Possley and Meghan Fellows, Samuel J. Wright, Conservation of South Florida Endangered and Threatened Flora (ETFLORA) Project, Research Department, Fairchild Tropical Garden
Last Updated: April 2004 (Wright)
Background and Current Status
Range-wide distribution – past and present
Population and reproductive biology/life history
Flowering Period: Summer/Fall (FAIRCHILD, Wunderlin 1982)
Fruiting: Fall (FAIRCHILD)
Annual variability in Flowering: unknown
Growth Period: unknown
Dispersal: unknown, C. pedunculatus seeds are very light (~1mg) and it is probable that they are wind dispersed
Seed Maturation Period: unknown
Seed Production: unknown
Seed Viability: unknown, although Fairchild is currently in the process of conducting an in-field seed germination experiment and seed viability was high in congeneric Mexican species Cyperus articulatus (Vasquez et al. 1998)
Regularity of Establishment: unknown
Germination Requirements: unknown, although germination of C. articulatus is facilitated by the presence of algae, presumably by increasing moisture (Vasquez et al. 1998)
Establishment Requirements: unknown, although anecdotal evidence showed that the eliminating beach raking and reducing vehicle driving on the beach increased the population size in one Miami area park (Wright pers. obs.)
Population Size: unknown
Annual Variation: unknown
Number and Distribution of Populations: (CONFIDENTIAL)
Habitat description and ecology
Type: COASTAL DUNE (Coile 2000, Austin 1991, Ward 1979, Long and Lakela 1971).
In Singapore C. pedunculatus has been referred to as a mangrove associate species (www.mangrove.nus.edu.sg). Although it is possible C. pedunculatus has not been documented to occur within mangrove habitat in Florida.
Elevation: Low (to a few feet above sea level).
Slope: Varies (FAIRCHILD)
Moisture: Other clonal, coastal Cyperus species have been shown to tolerate a
wide range of inundation (Moreno-Casasola and Vazquez 1999, Shumway and
Light: Full sun (most) and partial shade (FAIRCHILD). Cyperus esculentus,
which is also a coastal clonal species, was affected by different quantities and qualities of light (Li et al. 2001).
Salt Tolerance: Unaffected by salt spray (Ward 1979). Plants in the coastal dune zone tend to be salt tolerant (Carter 1988). Salt tolerance levels are unknown, although we observed major mortality of plants within the pioneer zone after storm tidal surge at Site 6 (Wright per. obs).
Community: Seaward side (pioneer zone) of sand dunes commonly associated with Ipomoea pes-caprae (railroad vine), Sesuvium portulacastrum (sea purslane), Okenia hypogaea (beach peanut), and Panicum amarum (bitter panicgrass). Highest concentration of C. pedunculatus located in pioneer zone and foredune area and tapers off as you move west inland to the beginning of the coastal strand habitat (Wright pers. obs.).
Competition: Unknown, newly documented colony at Site 102 is adjacent to dense patch of exotic Scaveola sericea (beach naupaka) and stand of Casuarina equisetifolia (Australian pines), which may impede C. pedunculatus establishment outside the existing colony.
Animal use: unknown
Fire: unknown, but fires would be rare in the pioneer zone of C. pedunculatus habitat
Hurricane: At least somewhat tolerant, judging by distribution in Miami-Dade County in areas that were devastated by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 (Golden, pers. comm.). C. pedunculatus recently recolonized an area of the beach at Site 6 that was heavily disturbed (erosion, tidal surge) by Hurricane Michelle (November 2001).
Slope Movement: Will tolerate burial by sand (FAIRCHILD, Austin 1991); frequently reappears after sand moving/replenishing (Davis, pers. comm., Wright pers. obs.).
Small Scale (i.e. Animal Digging): Shares habitat with nesting Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta), effects of digging are unknown. Disturbance from digging may help facilitate dispersal and/or germination.
Protection and management
Summary: The range of C. pedunculatus in Florida consists of both protected and non-protected sites. There is a wide spectrum of management practices on protected sites, which range from nearly pristine dunes to beaches that are subject to heavy foot traffic, recreational activities, beach raking, and beach replenishment. These lack dune structure. To reduce trampling from foot traffic, dune crossovers have been constructed in numerous sites. A few sites have terminated beach raking on portions of the beach thereby facilitating the establishment of C. pedunculatus and other dune species.
Availability of source for outplanting: (CONFIDENTIAL)
Availability of habitat for outplanting: (CONFIDENTIAL)
Herbivory: One Indonesian study showed that deer graze this species
(Garsetiasih et al., 1996).
Disease: A moderate infestation of the mealybug Trionymus sp. nr. winnemucae
McKenzie infected and damaged Cyperus pedunculatus at a park in Ft. Pierce (St. Lucie County) in September 2000 (doacs.state.fl.us).
Succession: C. pedunculatus doesn’t grow under thick cover of Coccoloba
uvifera (FAIRCHILD). Sites where succession by C. uvifera is creating a closed canopy may put the species at a disadvantage. However, because beach raking and renourishment pushes further back the beginning of the pioneer and foredune vegetation, C. pedunculatus may exist further inland than it naturally would.
Weed invasion: C. pedunculatus doesn’t grow well under thick cover of Casuarina equisetifolia. (FAIRCHILD), which invades many of the dune areas where C. pedunculatus is found. Schinus terebinthifolius (Brazilian pepper) can crowd out C. pedunculatus (Langeland & Burks 1999). The aggressive exotic Dactyloctenium aegyptium (Durban crowfoot grass) also occurs within C. pedunculatus habitat (Wright per. obs.)
Fire: unknown, but could possibly survive a fire due to underground rhizome growth.
On site: Coastal development is by far the largest threat followed by foot traffic, beach raking, and driving on the beach by lifeguards, police, maintenance crews, etc. at some sites.
Off site: off-site jetties and seawalls could cause coastal erosion by trapping sand that would otherwise recycle sand and naturally replenish beaches.
Steve Bass, City of Boca Raton
Paul Davis, Palm Beach County Environmental Resource Management
Janice Duquesnel, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Juan Fernandez, City of Miami
Liz Golden, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
Frank Griffiths, Palm Beach County Environmental Resource Management
Millie McFadden, City of Miami Beach
Mike Renda, The Nature Conservancy
Tim Simmons, City of Delray Beach
Conservation measures and actions required
FAIRCHILD began monitoring and mapping C. pedunculatus in 2001-2002. FAIRCHILD surveyed every publicly owned coastal park from Miami-Dade County to Martin County and located C. pedunculatus at 18 sites (Possley 2002).
During a separate 2002 coastal survey Fairchild observed C. pedunculatus at Site 157 in Palm Beach County (Wright per. obs.) and updated the FAIRCHILD Rare Plant database.
On July 14, 2003, Fairchild staff discovered a formerly undocumented population of C. pedunculatus (Rosenberg and Wright per. obs.) at Site 102. A voucher specimen is kept in the herbarium at Fairchild Tropical Garden and location information has been updated in the Fairchild Rare Plant database. Land managers, Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI), and the Institute for Regional Conservation (IRC). have been contacted and made aware of the population.
On October 11, 2003 former Fairchild researcher Hannah Thornton observed a population of C. pedunculatus at Site 170. Fairchild surveyed the area, created a map designating the area of the population, contacted land managers and reported the occurrence to the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI). . On April 15, 2004, Fairchild staff showed the population to land managers. Steps are being taken to protect the population.
Fairchild is currently in the process of conducting a project to study the seed germination and seedling survival rates of C. pedunculatus. Fairchild is also in the process of researching the relationship of mycorrhizae with C. pedunculatus.
Significance/Potential for anthropogenic use: Contains phenolic ketones (Allan et al. 1969). The role C. pedunculatus as a dune stabilizer could be used to lessen the impact of shoreline erosion.
Recovery objectives and criteria: There are no federally established recovery goals or criteria for this species.
Most land managers are already aware of this species. Land managers need to make maintenance crews aware of species so they do not remove or herbicide the plants when the plants are near sidewalks or roadsides. Sites with severely degraded dunes may also benefit from limiting public access to dune areas and outplanting of more readily available native species, to provide habitat for C. pedunculatus as well as other native dune plants and animals. Explore the option of selective raking along South Florida beaches. Test response of the succession of dune vegetation in unraked areas.
Augment existing wild populations
Reintroducing C. pedunculatus to sites within its historic range where it is not currently found would be an excellent way to ensure continued survival of this species. However, because C. pedunculatus is not readily available in the horticultural trade this option may not be feasible.
Continue monitoring annually to watch for major trends in life history and phenology. Attempt to discern the northern and southern boundaries of this species in Florida. It may prove to be an interesting and worthwhile collaboration to work with the Conservation Program Manager at Historic Bok Sanctuary to determine the northern range of these species.
Continue with seed germination study at Site 6.
Collaborate with City of Miami to remove exotics within area of newly documented population at Site 102. Consider augmentation and/or establishment observation study in cleared area.
Research the relationship of mycorrhizae with C. pedunculatus.
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