JSU Botanist Awarded $20,000 Grant to Research Endangered Plant


Photo courtesy US Dept of Agriculture

Dr. Jimmy Triplett, assistant professor of biology and curator of the JSU Herbarium, has been awarded a $20,000 grant by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to research a critically endangered aquatic plant only found in a few areas of Northeast Alabama and Northwest Georgia, including Little River Canyon. 

The four-inch tall, pointy-tipped Kral’s Water Plantain, or “Sagittaria secundifolia,” grows just below the surface of the river, flowering from May to July. The species is clonal – meaning it is connected through one root system – and reproduces asexually. Water pollution is one reason the plant has become endangered, as it depends on clean water to survive. 

Dr. Triplett will conduct ecological and genetic studies aimed at better understanding the diversity and reproductive biology of the plant. The goal is to secure the survival of this rare plant in the wild while providing educational opportunities for JSU students assisting with the research. The grant represents a nationwide effort to protect endangered American species, through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

T. Wayne Barger with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources praised Dr. Triplett’s conservation and research efforts in the grant award letter, stating: “Your research investigating the rare flora within the state of Alabama is a valuable asset to the scientific community.”