Fort Stewart/Altamaha Longleaf Pine Restoration Partnership

Fort Stewart/Altamaha Longleaf Pine Restoration Partnership

Radford’s Mint Project

By Eamonn Leonard, Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Radford’s Mint (Dicerandra radfordiana) is a state endangered species with showy pink fall flowers known to exist in only two locations along the north side of the Altamaha River in southeast Georgia. It is an annual that grows up to 26” tall with cinnamon scented leaves. One location is on a private hunt club under a conservation easement with The Nature Conservancy. The second location is on Townsend WMA managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Townsend WMA is situated over extensive xeric aeolian river dunes and at the time of acquisition (2008) was planted with the invasive sand pine (Pinus clausa). Georgia DNR has clear-cut most of this and planted longleaf pine. To protect the mint populations, a six-acre buffer of mature sand pine remains. In 2009 population assessments, 278 individuals were found. Over time, trees were removed to improve the light environment. By 2015, the population had reached over 3,000 individuals. Georgia DNR Nongame staff revisited the long-term restoration plan for this species that fall. Immediately after the mint seed set, six out-planting sites were established. These were situated in three elevations that mirrored elevations on which the original populations were found and under two age classes of longleaf pines (five & ten years old). In September of 2016, the remaining mature sand pine (six acres) were clear-cut while a smaller buffer of thinned sand pine was maintained around the mint. Georgia DNR Nongame received a grant from TERN (The Environmental Resources Network) to purchase longleaf pine seedlings. Once these longleaf pines get tall enough to provide some shade, the remaining sand pine will be removed. In 2016, the original population dropped to 1,218 and the out-plantings had six individuals. In 2017, the original populations rose slightly to 1,459 and the out-plantings had 40 individuals.

IMAGE CAPTION:

Radford’s mint in flower.  Photo by Eamonn Leonard.