DEVALL, MARGARET1*, NATHAN SCHIFF1, and DOUGLAS BOYETTE2. 1Center for Bottomland Hardwoods Research, P.O. Box 227, Stoneville, MS 38776; 2Agricultural Research Service, Stoneville, MS 38776. - Ecology and reproductive biology of pondberry (Lindera melissifolia [Walt.] Blume, Lauraceae), an endangered species.
Lindera melissifolia [Walt.] Blume (pondberry) is an endangered
plant that occurs in seasonally flooded wetlands and on the edges of
sinks and ponds. It is a stoloniferous, clonal shrub that grows to a
maximum of two meters in height and is dioecious, with small yellow
flowers that bloom in spring. Pondberry occurs in six southern states
of the USA, but it has always been rare, and knowledge of its ecology
and reproductive biology is sparse. The species has been affected by
habitat destruction and alteration, especially timber cutting,
clearing of land, and drainage or flooding of wetlands. Female clones
are smaller than male clones, and are sometimes absent from stands.
Hand-pollinated flowers did not set more fruit than open-pollinated
flowers, and flowers covered with mesh bags produced no fruit. Seed
production is erratic, and as in many other clonal species, few
seedlings occur even when seed production is high. In addition, stem
dieback is widespread, but monitored populations do not appear to be
declining. Three fungal pathogens were isolated from stems. Six insect
species were found in association with pondberry but none appear to be
limiting to the plant. Individual stems can be easily transplanted and
multiply rapidly. Opportunities for dispersal are very limited now due
to land use of areas surrounding pondberry populations and to changes
in hydrology. Introduction of plants to new areas will be necessary if
the species is to recover.
Key words: bottomland hardwoods, endangered species, Lindera melissaefolium, Lindera melissifolia, pondberry