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Q Botany Circular No.
20 Fl Dept cf nsumer
Divi ant Inc
SIMPSON'S ZEPHYR LILY, ZEPHYRANTHE SIMPSONIJ
AN ENDANGERED SPECIES
K. R. Langdon1 Un.lersty of Nf0da
Three species of Zephyranthes grow naturally in the southeastern United States, Z.
atamasca (L.) Herb., Z. treatiae S. Wats., and Z. simpsonii Chapm. (1,2,3). Of
these, Z. simpsonii (Fig. 1) is the rarest and has the most limited distribution.
It is limited to Florida and occurs in isolated colonies from Alachua County south
to Hendry and Lee Counties (2). Zephyranthes simpsonii is listed as endangered in
Section 581.185, Florida Statutes.
Simpson's zephyr lily is a member of the Amaryllidaceae family. It grows from an
underground bulb, producing foliage during the winter and spring and flowers mainly
from February through April. The flowers are white, often tinged pink or purplish
on the outside as are the buds. One upright flower is produced per stem.
Fig. 1. Zephyranthes simpsonii
(DPI Photo #702748)
DESCRIPTION: Plants solitary or somewhat clumped from small tunicated bulbs. Leaves
several, glabrous, elongate-linear, 1-3 dm long, about 2 mm wide, fleshy, rounded on
back, edges rounded and smooth, sheathing bases overlapping. Scapes 1 or few, 1-2.5
dm tall, terete or somewhat flattened, broader than leaves and often appearing as
foliage dies back. Bract about as long as perianth tube, splitting into usually 2
lobes as flower develops. Flower 1 per scape, often pink to purplish externally,
white inside; perianth segments 6 in 2 similar series, oblaceolate, 3-7 cm long,
. erect to slightly spreading; anthers 6, filaments erect, inserted at top of perianth
tube; style elongate, slender; stigma with 3 short linear lobes at about the level
of anthers; ovary inferior. Fruit a 3-lobed capsule; seeds few, semicircular, shiny
Botanist, Office of Systematic Botany, P. O. Box 1269, Gainesville, FL 32602.
DISCUSSIQTi,. Zephyra~ies simpsonii grows naturally in low pine flatwoods and savan-
nas and 4t margins of wet hammocks. It also is adapted to pastures developed from
*such areas and to moist mowed roadsides (2). The main limiting factor appears to be
competitiAdh-ftom other plants. Mowing or grazing apparently reduces competition to
acceptable levels. Although Z. simpsonii usually occurs and grows best in wet or
,moist soil it grows reasonably well and multiplies on well-drained sandy soil if
competition is adequately controlled. In northwest Gainesville in an area of high,
well-drained, andy. soil, a few bulbs planted around 20 years ago have survived and
Smultiplied to some extent in a mowed area of mainly centipede grass. The area is
eS eTdoim mowed b-eween Octtber and May but is mowed frequently during the summer.
Zephyranthes simpsonii is an endangered species endemic to peninsular Florida. The
main threats to its continued existence concern habitat destruction (2). Excessive
drainage would drastically alter the species makeup of the associated vegetation as
well as provide poorer conditions for this species. Development would almost total-
ly eliminate this species. Bulldozing and root raking for pine planting would do
severe damage to it. Less severe land preparation would be relatively harmless to
Simpson's zephyr lily, although the later dense growth of pine trees probably would
eliminate it except along roadways. The most hopeful indication for survival of
this species is its adaptability to pastures and mowed roadsides.
1. Godfrey, R. K., and J. W. Wooten. 1979. Aquatic and wetland plants of south-
eastern United States. Monocotyledons. Univ. of Georgia Press, Athens, GA.
2. Robinson, A. F., Jr., ed. 1982. Endangered and threatened species of the
southeastern United States. USDA Forest Service, looseleaf, unnumbered
3. Small, J. K. 1933. Manual of the southeastern flora. Univ. of North Carolina
Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 1554 pp.
Contribution No. 21, Office of Systematic Botany.