Conservation Action Plan

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Conservation Action Plan

Cyperus pedunculatus
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)

J. Possley

Background and Current Status

Range-wide distribution – past and present


Population and reproductive biology/life history

Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Habit: Graminoid

Short/Long-Lived: unknown

Pollinators: unknown

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 ( Although it is possible C. pedunculatus has not been documented to occur within mangrove habitat in Florida.
Physical Features:

Soil: Sand

Elevation: Low (to a few feet above sea level).

Aspect: unknown

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

Banks 2001).

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).
Biotic Features:

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.
Mutualism: unknown

Parasitism: n/a

Host: n/a

Other: unknown

Animal use: unknown
Natural Disturbance:

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.

Temperature: unknown

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)

Threats/limiting factors


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 (

Predators: unknown

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.

Genetic: unknown

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

Research history:

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.
Management options:

Continue managing sites 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.

Next Steps:

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.


Allan, R.D., Correll, R.L., and Wells, R.J. (1969). Two new phenolic ketones from Remirea maritima (Cyperaceae). Tetrahedron Lett. 53, 4673-4674.

Austin, D., P.N. Honychurch and S. Bass. 1991. Coastal dune plants. Published by Gumbo Limbo Nature Center of South Palm Beach County, Inc.
Carter RWG. 1988. Coastal Environments: an introduction to the physical, ecological and cultural systems of coastlines. Academic Press, London. 617 p.
Coile, N.C. 2000. Notes on Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Plants. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry. Contribution No. 38, 3rd edition. 122 pages.
Garsetiasih, R., E. Sutrisno and H.T. Hutauruk. 1996. Vegetation characteristics and population of deer (Cervus timorensis) in Ndana Island Hunting Park, East Nusa Tenggara. Buletin-Penelitian-Kehutanan-Kupang 1:2,52-57.
Johnson, A.F. and M.G. Barbour. 1990. Dunes and Maritime Forests. Pages 429-480 in R.L. Myers and J.J. Ewel (eds.) Ecosystems of Florida. University of Central Florida Press, Orlando. 765 pp.
Langeland, K.A. and Burks, K.C. 1999. Identification and biology of non-native plants in Florida’s natural areas. University of Florida Press, Gainesville.
Li, B, T. Shibuya, Y. Yogo, T. Hara, and K. Matsuo. 2001. Effects of light quantity and quality on growth and reproduction of a clonal sedge, Cyperus esculentus. Plant Species Biology 16(1):69-81.
Long, R.W. and O. Lakela. 1971. A flora of tropical Florida. University of Miami Press, Coral Gables, Florida. 962 pp.
Maranhao Estelita, M.E. 1993. The anatomy of Remirea maritima Aubl. (Cyperaceae). Naturalia (Rio Claro) 18:123-134. (In Portuguese; English summary).
Moreno-Casasola, P. and G. Vazquez. 1999. The relationship between vegetation dynamics and water table in tropical dune slacks. Journal of Vegetation Science 10(4):515-524.
Possley, J. 2002. Untitled. in Maschinski, J., M.Q.N. Fellows, J. Possley. (editors) Conservation of South Florida Endangered and Threatened Flora. Final Report to the Endangered Plant Advisory Council, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, FDACS Contract # 006466.
Shumway, S.W. and C.R. Banks. 2001. Species distribution in interdunal swale communities: The effects of soil waterlogging. American Midland Naturalist, 145(1):137-146.
Vazquez, G., P. Moreno-Casasola and O. Barrera. 1998. Interaction between algae and seed germination in tropical dune slack species: A facilitation process. Aquatic Botany 60(4):409-416.
Ward, D.B. 1979. Endangered burrowing four-o’clock. In: D.B. Ward, ed. Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida, Volume 5: Plants. University Presses of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. 175 pp.
Wunderlin, R.P. 1982. Guide to the Vascular Plants of Central Florida. University Presses of Florida. Tampa, Florida. 472 pp.
Electronic References

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