On the Protection of Phemeranthus rugospermus

Michael Piotrowski

Flower

Phemeranthus rugospermus is a small, rare, and charismatic species due to its succulence and interesting flower habit. In turn, these characteristics could make it an ideal poster plant for protecting the natural areas in which it is found. The newly formed Indiana Dunes National Park could benefit from the advertisement of P. rugospermus, which could, in turn, inspire more desire to protect and visit the national park. Initial interest in developing a conservation status report for this plant came out of the constraints of conducting field research in a timely manner. Scott Namestnik from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) assisted in the selection of this plant from the list of Endangered, Threatened, and Extirpated Plants of Indiana, which flowers at a time when I would be able to observe it and make accurate identifications. In addition, the Heritage Data Center of the DNR provided me with a list of historical observations of the plant to be re-surveyed in Indiana.

This conservation status report was not designed to provide any new research into the ecology or physiology of Phemeranthus rugospermus, but rather looked only into updating the current understanding of how the distribution of the plant may have changed. New populations were not searched for as this would be beyond the scope of this report. However, an updated distribution map for the plant may help establish new protections or conservation strategies for the state, as well as pointing to where efforts should be concentrated to protect existing populations.

The importance of Phemeranthus rugospermus is not evident, as its ecology is poorly understood and has no current economic use (Robertson 2003). The plant may instead be useful in future advertising campaigns for the protected areas in which they reside, and future research into the plant may lead to discoveries in its ecology or economic value.