Eryngium cuneifolium - Small
Wedgeleaf Button-snakeroot
Other English Common Names: Snakeroot, Wedgeleaf Eryngo
Other Common Names: wedgeleaf eryngo
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Eryngium cuneifolium Small (TSN 29488)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.146092
Element Code: PDAPI0Z0A0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Carrot Family
Image 10412

© Alfred R. Schotz

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Apiales Apiaceae Eryngium
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Eryngium cuneifolium
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 29Feb2000
Global Status Last Changed: 06Dec1991
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: A Florida Scrub endemic with an extremely restricted range with about 20 occurrences, all in Highlands County, Florida. The species' habitat is decreasing in extent and quality due to the development of residential subdivisions and the citrus industry.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Florida (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (21Jan1987)
Comments on USESA: Eryngium cuneifolium was listed endangered under the Endangered Species Act on January 21, 1987.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R4 - Southeast

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: In 1987 Eryngium cuneifolium was reported from 11 localities in Highlands County, one in Putnam County, and one in Collier County. The total number of individuals was unknown. In 1993, found only in Hendrie Ranch, Highlands Co., Florida (??)

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 5
Number of Occurrences Comments: 18 occurrences recorded as of 10/90; Florida. 20 occurrences reported ca. 1998.

Population Size Comments: Only large populations are in Highlands County.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Destruction of habitat by housing and citrus industries is probably the prime threat to this species as well as most of the ancient scrub endemics (Christman 1988). A secondary and less obvious threat is closure of the canopy in some areas that are not properly managed for this species. Species can colonize disturbed areas. The disturbance caused by fire may play a crucial role in the preservation, or at least revitalization (Abrahamson 1984), of the scrub habitat. As this area is developed it will be harder to maintain a natural fire regime.

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Needs fire or mechanical disturbance to maintain habitat. Cannot tolerate competition or shading.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: In 1987 Eryngium cuneifolium was reported from 11 localities in Highlands County, one in Putnam County, and one in Collier County. The total number of individuals was unknown. In 1993, found only in Hendrie Ranch, Highlands Co., Florida (??)

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States FL

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
FL Highlands (12055)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Kissimmee (03090101)+, Western Okeechobee Inflow (03090103)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: An aromatic, erect, perennial herb, ascending from a woody root, growing 20-50 cm tall. Leaves are bristle-tipped; basal leaves are long-stalked, 4 cm long; stem leaves are spreading-ascending. Flowers are borne in bristly-looking heads, and are mostly greenish-white in color, later tinged with pale blue. (Based on Hall 1993.)
Technical Description: Perennial herb to ca. 66 cm tall, arising from a long stout taproot often > 20 cm long, the caudex somewhat woody, the vegetative lower stem single or often branched near the base, to 4 mm wide, weakly ribbed. Leaves cuneiform (wedge shaped), aromatic, the larger ones clustered near the base, becoming smaller distally into the inflorescence, appearing to be long petiolate but with the base spreading to half the width of the stem, to ca. 65 mm long, to ca. 23 mm wide near the distal end, with 3(5) bristle-tipped teeth distally and often 2(4) thin lateral teeth lower on the blade, the teeth with a thick white marginal rib. Inflorescence a terminal compound umbel but often with 1-many lower cauline branches also terminating in compound umbels, the junctions of axes all bracteate, the flowers in dense headlike compressed umbels of ca. 9-15 flowers at the tips of the terminal branches of the compound umbel, the headlike umbels ca. 5-10 mm across, appearing involucrate with several small leaflike bracts at all axis junctions. Flowers epigynous, the ovary 2-carpellate, the outer ovary covered with white fingerlike papillae, the sepals 5, linear, sharp pointed, green with a thick white midrib and wide white hyaline margins, ca. 1.3-2.1 mm long, the petals 5, equal or subequal to the sepals, white, thin, acute, clasped by the sepals and clasping the stamens in development, sometimes splitting while the tips remain partially connate, the stamens 5 arising from the thin disk forming a wavy ring at the base of the petals, the anther wall white, the pollen yellow, the style elongate, thin, the stigma straight, truncate to slightly expanded (compiled from specimens at FLAS).

Note that Kral (1983) and Wunderlin (1982) report that the flowers are blue but in all specimens examined at FLAS they were white and many of the labels indicated that the flowers were white when collected. Kral (pers. comm., 1991) reports that both E. aromaticum and E. cuneifolium have either white or blue flowers.

Diagnostic Characteristics: Eryngium cuneifolium is easily identified, even in sterile condition, by its erect habit and peculiar aromatic leaves with usually three sharply pointed or spine-tipped lobes at the distal end with a prominently thickened white margin around each of the lobes. It can be distinguished from Eryngium aromaticum Baldw. ex Ell. which it closely resembles by the disposition of the leaves and the habit. In E. cuneifolium there is an erect stem or stems with a pseudo-rosette of larger leaves at the base of the plant and the cauline leaves being much smaller and relatively few in number. In E. aromaticum the stems are mostly decumbent and the leaves are generally similar in size to each other and are equally and relatively closely disposed along the stem. The leaves of E. aromaticum are generally smaller than those of E. cuneifolium and they have a tendency to have several thin lateral lobes especially in the lower leaves.
Duration: BIENNIAL
Reproduction Comments: Eryngium cuneifolium blooms from July to January, has a deep taproot and probably tolerates burning, like many other scrub species. The endemic distribution may reflect restriction to the most open, xeric microsites (which may occur only on the Lake Wales Ridge) and/or poor seed dispersal (E. Menges, pers. comm.). Kral (1983) reports that reproduction by seed is heavy. E. cuneifolium may be more reliant on disturbance than many other species; no information exists on the potential mechanism by which the species responds positively to fire. Other factors may influence the colonization of new areas (i.e., very specific germination or seedling requirements or possibly a missing fruit or pollen vector).
Ecology Comments: Found generally in areas of open sand or disturbed soil (burned areas, road shoulders, blowouts, firebreaks). Increases after fire, both resprouting from the taproot and coming up from seed. In rosemary scrub at Archbold, its abundance showed a weak decline with time since fire. (Christman & Judd 1990, Kral 1983, Menges & Kohfeldt 1994)
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Sand/dune, Shrubland/chaparral
Habitat Comments: SUMMARY: According to Christman and Judd (1990), this species is generally found in areas of open sand, including blowouts and other highly disturbed soil surfaces, such as road shoulders.END SUMMARY. Generall in areas of open sand, including blowouts and other highly disturbed soil surfaces, e.g., road shoulders according to Christman and Judd (1990); exposed sunny openings; areas in scrub, especially rosemary scrub.

Plants found growing with E. cuneifolium include Pinus clausa, P. elliottii var. densa, Ceratiola ericoides, Quercus inopina, Q. geminata, Q. chapmannii, Lyonia ferruginea, Ximenia americana, Persea humilis, P. palustris, Prunus geniculata, Bumelia tenax, Sabal etonia, Palafoxia feayi, Opuntia humifusa, Smilax auriculata, Vitis munsoniana, Hypericum cumilicola, Nolina brittoniana and Polygonella fimbriata (From herbarium labels by W.S. Judd and S.J. Christman). Menges (pers. comm. 1991) reports that Euphorbia floridana, Liatris ohlingerae, Paronychia chartacea, and Polygonella basiramia are other common co-occurring species (pers. comm.).

Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary
Stewardship Overview: Since only a tiny number of the known individuals are on protected land, acquisition for preservation is a priority. Almost all of the privately owned sites on which this species occurs are fast being developed for housing and citrus groves.

This species depends on fire or equivalent mechanical land disturbance to maintain its open sand habitat. Populations should be monitored, and the life history and propagation of E. cuneifolium with and without disturbance should be examined. This research will lead to informed management decisions. Furthermore, the scrub near Palm City should be further explored for the important disjunct population discovered (and reported here) by Robert Kral in 1972.

Restoration Potential: We know of no introductions of this species although its propensity for disturbed sites may indicate that this is a possibility. Without more information, only areas which have maintained a high number of scrub endemics should be considered potential habitats. Viable seed set and establishment is unknown.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: As stated above, habitats that appear to be of marginal quality for other species (eg. roadsides) should not be immediately excluded from consideration. Since this species requires open areas to prosper, the area protected would ideally be large enough to allow for a fire management program, especially since we do not understand the role of fire in maintaining this species; however, mechanical disturbance could be used to maintain openings in smaller areas. A good population would consist of several mature plants in an area that has an open canopy or no overstory.
Management Requirements: This species will require active management in a preserve situation. The absence of an overstory and maintenance of an open understory seems to be crucial for this species. Fire may be useful as a tool although it may be difficult in such an open habitat (Johnson 1982). Thinning of encroaching species and/or soil disturbance may be necessary if prescribed burning is not feasible.

Kral (1983) suggests that thinning or cutting of the overstory and possibly prescribed burns would be beneficial if done properly. One of these actions at a regular interval is probably necessary in order to maintain most of the known populations of this species. (See information on natural fire in scrub in Management information for Bonamia grandiflora).

Fire or mechanical removal should both be attempted experimentally on extant populations and in experimentally seeded populations. However, many sites are open and will not require such intervention in the near future. Mechanical scraping adjacent to seed sources or in conjunction with sowing may increase recruitment (E. Menges, pers. comm. 1991).

Monitoring Requirements: Monitoring is highly recommended in areas with different burn and disturbance histories.

Monitoring procedures should take into account variables such as light levels or overstory cover and amount of disturbance and soil exposure as well as the traditional variables of frequency, cover, density etc.

Management Programs: No active management programs specifically designed for this species are known to be in progress.
Monitoring Programs: Menges has monitored all populations at the Archbold Biological Station that occur in rosemary scrub (about 15) from 1988 to the present. Research focus is on population dynamics, with annual censuses at each site. An experimental burn of one population is planned for summer, 1991. Future life history work is planned.
Management Research Programs: Eric Menges is conducting the only research currently being conducted on this species.
Management Research Needs: Kral (pers. comm.) reports finding a population of Eryngium cuneifolium in a coastal scrub remnant in Martin Co: Palm City, W of Stewart in 1972, but he has not distributed the specimens or otherwise reported it. This area should definitely be surveyed as it would represent a very significant range extension and disjunction.

Research on the effect of disturbance (type, amount, and frequency) on site colonization and adult plant survival is also necessary. Other questions include: Why is it found in such a small area when it seems to do so well in disturbed habitats? Is it actually the disturbance or is it some concurrent factor such as light or competition? Is this species showing gap-dynamics strategies? Several other species of Eryngium have been found to possess very useful medicinal compounds (see Navarrete et al. 1990 for example) or desirable qualities for cultivation (See Vletter 1990 for example). If this species were examined and found to be directly and immediately useful for a commercial purpose, the potential for non- traditional type funding for preservation, management and research would greatly increase.

Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 08Jul1991
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Gerald Guala (1991)
Management Information Edition Date: 08Jul1991
Management Information Edition Author: GERALD GUALA
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 08Jul1991
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): GERALD GUALA; REV. M.E. STOVER, TNC-HO (2/95)

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

  • Abrahamson, W.G. 1984b. Species response to fire on the Florida Lake Wales Ridge. American J. Botany 71(1): 35-43.

  • Christman, S.P. 1988. Endemism and Florida's interior sand pine scrub. Final project report on project #GFC-84-101 to Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Tallahassee, Florida. 247 pp. + maps, tables & appendices.

  • Christman, S.P., and W.S. Judd. 1990. Notes on plants endemic to Florida scrub. Florida Scientist 53(1): 52-73.

  • Hall, D.W. 1993. Illustrated plants of Florida and the Coastal Plain. Maupin House, Gainesville, Florida. 431 pp.

  • Hall, David W. 1993. Illustrated plants of Florida and the coastal plain. Maupin House, Gainesville, FL. pp. 431.

  • Johnson, A.F. 1982. Some demographic characteristics of the Florida rosemary, Ceratiola ericoides. American Midland Naturalist 108:170-174.


  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kral, R. 1983c. A report on some rare, threatened, or endangered forest-related vascular plants of the South. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service Technical Publication R8-TP2, Athens, GA. 1305 pp.

  • Kral, R. 1991. Personal communication. P.O. 1705, Station B, Vanderbilt Univ., Nashville, Tennessee. 37235, (615) 322-3548.

  • Menges, E.S., and N. Kohfeldt. In press. Life history strategies of Florida scrub plants in relation to fire. Submitted to Bull. Torrey Botanical Club.

  • Menges, Eric, Ph.D. 1991. Personal communication. Archbold Biological Station, Box 180, Route 2, Lake Placid, FL 33852, (813) 465-2571.

  • Navarrete, A., D. Nino, B. Reyes, C. Sixtos, E. Aguirre, and E. Estrada. 1990. On the hypocholesteremic effect of Eryngium heterophyllum. Fitoterapia 61(2):182-184.

  • Vletter, F. 1990. Eryngium planum plant named Calypso. Plant-Pat-U-S-Pat-Trademark-Off. Washington, D.C., The Office. Feb 13, 1990. (7152) 2 p. plates.


  • Wunderlin, R.P. 1982. Guide to the vascular plants of central Florida. Univ. Presses Florida, Gainesville. 472 pp.

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