April 10, 2009

Health checks made on rare Florida plants

U.S. wildlife managers say they're checking the health of eight rare plants found only in Florida's Everglades National Park and Miami-Dade County.

The plants are so rare they must be examined in their natural habitat every five years, as required by the U.S. endangered-species law, The Miami Herald reported Friday.

The mostly tiny species include sandlace, snakeroot, wireweed, fragrant prickly-apple, Key tree cactus, Lewton's polygala, pygmy fringe-tree and scrub blazingstar, the Herald reported.

The plants live in pine rockland, slash pine and saw palmetto forests that are among the world's rarest habitats, said the National Wildlife Service.

Just more than 1 percent of the region's original 190,000 acres of pineland remains, mostly in the Everglades, with the rest scattered in protected lands across Miami-Dade County.