Harperocallis flava - McDaniel
Harper's Beauty
Other Common Names: Harper's beauty
Synonym(s): Isidrogalvia flava (McDaniel) Remizowa, D.D. Sokoloff, L.M. Campb., D.W. Stev. & Rudall
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Harperocallis flava McDaniel (TSN 42939)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.154865
Element Code: PMLIL0Y010
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Lily Family
Image 10416

© Alfred R. Schotz

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Liliales Liliaceae Harperocallis
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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: Harperocallis flava
Taxonomic Comments: Previously thought to be a monotypic genus, Campbell and Dorr (2013) and Remizowa et al. (2011), on the basis floral morphology, determined that Harperocallis is congeneric with Isidrogalvia. South American members of two other genera, Asagraea and Tofieldia, were also transferred to Harperocallis. Harperocallis flava is the only member of the genus occurring outside of South America.
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 03Sep2010
Global Status Last Changed: 07Nov1984
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Endemic to Franklin, Liberty and Bay (population discovered in 2003) counties in the panhandle of Florida and restricted to open, boggy habitats. Possibly because of the exclusion of periodic fire from much of this region, some of the populations are restricted to the shoulders of a single highway, where competitive shrubs have been eliminated. The total population was estimated at 6000 plants in 1983 by Leonard and Baker. Since then many populations have declined and a number of studies examining the environmental factors that have the greatest influence on the species postulate that precipitation and competition for nutrients may be the most influential. Lack of fire and other disturbance is another possible reason for decline, but in one study where one of the populations was burned, a decline was also observed.

While there are 8 occurrences that are ranked with good viability, this species' intrinsic vulnerability is quite high. Genetic studies revealed that of all of the genetic loci examined, there was no genetic variability detected, which suggests this species is, from a genetic perspective, at a high risk for extinction. In addition, there are other developmental abnormalities that have been observed within the species that suggest genetic instability. Given the very small distribution, the decline in the recent past, the genetic constraints and the anthropogenic threats, this species' future is precarious.

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 (02Oct1979)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R4 - Southeast

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Franklin, Liberty and Bay Counties, Florida.  In 2015, one new Harper's Beauty population was discovered on the east side of the New River, all other popualtions of this species are west of the river.

Area of Occupancy: 6-25 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Estimated is sum of acres occupied by all EOs.

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: 26 extant occurrences, 3 new occurrences discovered in 2015-2016 in natural habitats.

Population Size Comments: Keppner and Anderson (2008) summarize what is known about the population size of this species. In the early 1980s, a survey was done of the known populations of the species (Leonard and Baker 1983), and approximately 200 plants were noted at the type locality in Franklin Co., Fl. The survey attempted to locate another population that a student reported from 1975, and in doing so they found a new population that contained 5,620 plants, but not the one reported by the student. At the population in Bay Co. fewer than 300 ramets are known (Keppner and Anderson 2008), and this number is substantially higher than the size during the drought of 2007. The populations in the Walker and Silletti (2005) study make up at least 1,800 (and probably more) ramets given that they set out to sample at least 300 plants from each of 6 sites. 

If all populations of this species were healthy, in natural settings and repeatedly producing the maximum number of ramets mentioned here, the total number of genetically distinct individuals might be around 7,600, based on a rough calculation from these studies. With this said though, several studies have reported sharp declines during droughts, and individuals of this species are known to exhibit traits that indicate genetic instability (Godt et al. 1996). Finally, total population number does not seem to be the best indicator of this species' conservation priority, since it might lead one to think that the species is of lower conservation concern than it really is. One important consideration is that a genetic study, done before the Bay Co. population was discovered, found that there is no genetic diversity among populations (Godt et al. 1997).

All populations of Harper's Beauty, except the population in Bay County, were visited between 2011-2016, 71 monitoring plots (where flowering stems censused) were established by FLHP and US Forest Service during that time and monitored on an irregular basis. Total number of flowering stems (mean of each plot for 2011-2015) counted in 71 monitoring plots on the Apalacicola National Forest is 3,823. Additionally, 20 monitoring plots were established in the roadside popualtion along SR 65.  In 2015, a total of 2,055 flowering stems were counted.  However, Kesler and Trusty (2012) found that individuals have the greatest probability of flowering 1-2 years following a fire and that even during the best flowering year only 12-14% of the individuals flower.  Counts of flowering stems are at best a significant undercount to the total population size.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Few (4-12)
Viability/Integrity Comments: There are 12 occurrences ranked either A or B as of 2016.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: The greatest long term threat to this species is fire exclusion.  All but one known population (Bay County) are protected on the Apalachicola National Forest and managed with prescribed fire. However, many of the populations have suffered from insufficient fire and woody species such as titi (Cliftonia monophylla) invade the habitat, changing the species composition, light availability, and fire behavior. 

Several of the populations occur along roadsides, so any disruption of roadside vegetation (power pole maintenance, road maintenance activities, etc.) would eliminate populations on the road shouler. Natural populations are threatened by fire suprression, and hydrologic disturbances. In addition to threats by cars and equipment that mow and groom the roadsides, collection of the plants and its seed to collectors is also a threat (Godt et al. 1997).

This species was discovered to contain no genetic variation, at either the roadside populations or the more natural populations (Godt et al. 1997). The lack of genetic variation affords the species no room to adapt as the environment changes and therefore is more at risk of extinction than other species with similar characteristics. Also, Harper's Beauty exhibits polycarpelly, a conditions where flowers produce anywhere from 3 to 6 carpels, and these multicarpellate flowers outnumber the usual tricarpellate flowers. Polycarpelly is thought to be a result of individual instability, and in this species it may be an indication of genetic stress (Godt et al. 1997). It should be pointed out that the study done by Godt et al. (1997) was completed before the Bay Co. population was discovered, so it is unknown what if any genetic variation exists in that population compared to the others.

Short-term Trend: Decline of <50% to Relatively Stable
Short-term Trend Comments: A three year study of this species, found that sexual reproduction, measured via counts of flowers was extremely low. While it is suggested that plants that inhabit soils with very low nutrients reproduce more often asexually than sexually, this study lasting from 1998-2000, and during that time the number of ramets declined too. It is unknown the exact cause of the decline, however, there is evidence that it is related to reduced precipitation (Walker and Silletti 2005). Walker and Silletti (2005) found that crayfish mounds and chimneys buried many of the study's sampling plants, and while there may be some positive effects of unearthing fresh soil from below, the creation of these mounds buried plants. Overall, this study found that the populations of Harper's Beauty had low recruitment and high mortality and that the populations examined might be declining, however, a longer study period is needed to determine if the decline is a longer term trend (Walker and Sillettii 2005). In a study of the most recently discovered population of Harperocallis flava, in Bay Co. Florida, the population there also had a steep decline (23%) between 2006 - 2007, which corresponded with the worst drought in the area in recorded history (Keppner and Anderson 2008).

Long-term Trend: Decline of <70% to Relatively Stable
Long-term Trend Comments: While the long term trend is not known, it is suspected that there has been decline due to habitat loss.

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Studies could detect no genetic variability in this species (Godt et al. (1997). In addition, the study by Walker and Silletti (2005) found that recruitment was very low and mortality was high during their 3 year study. 

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Requires a very specific (but not qualified to date) microhabitat within the larger wet prairie/wet flatwoods occurring within the range of this species.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: Franklin, Liberty and Bay Counties, Florida.  In 2015, one new Harper's Beauty population was discovered on the east side of the New River, all other popualtions of this species are west of the river.

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 Franklin (12037), Liberty (12077)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Apalachicola (03130011)+, New (03130013)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A perennial herb with basal, grass-like leaves and a tall flowering stem that bears a solitary greenish-yellow flower, about 2 cm across. Blooms in May. There are 10 other members of the genus, all occurring in the Andes or the Guayana region of northern South America (Campbell and Dorr 2013).
Reproduction Comments: Blooms in mid April to early May, and fruits in July (Walker and Silletti 2005). It is thought that roadside populations of this species are dispersed by water and by lawn mowers (Godt et al. 1997).
Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen, TEMPORARY POOL
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest/Woodland, Grassland/herbaceous, Savanna, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: Occurring in the long-leaf pine ecosystem, this species occurs in acidic boggy areas in full sun with soils high in sand and peat. Most occurrences are found in open seepage bogs dominated by a suite of herbaceous species and lacking woody vegetation. Some times the species is found growing at the base of woody evergreen shrubs with few herbaceous species (Walker and Silletti 2005). Harperocallis flava grows most prolifically in places where some degree of soil disturbance has prevented a grass mat from forming. There are several populations that were found in the 1990s in more 'natural' settings due to prescribed burns and increased search efforts (Walker and Sillettii 2005). Presettlement habitat was probably open bogs surrounded by buckwheat tree (Cliftonia monophyla) and pond pine (Pinus serotina), and bog-flatwood ecotones where periodic fire prevented woody succession.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary
Stewardship Overview: Harperocallis flava, a highly restricted species to Florida's panhandle, presents challenges in determining management guidelines given the uniformity of tested genes across populations (Godt et al. 1997). This species occurs in boggy depressions in Longleaf pine ecosystems where soils are highly devoid of nutrients. For many years, there were only a few occurrences known that did not inhabit roadside ditches. In 1997 a genetic study was published that reported no genetic variation within the species, which included both the roadside and the natural populations. Given that no genetic variation was detected, there aren't specific populations that should be protected over others (this statement excludes the Bay Co. population which was only discovered 2003). All populations of this species, given how few there are, should be protected, but if prioritization has to occur it should be done based on the number of ramets, overall quality and health of the population, and health of the surrounding environment. Precipitation and competition with other species seem to have more of an influence on this species health (Walker and Silletti 2005) than a recent burn, but that statement is based only on one short-duration study. It is evident though, that this species needs disturbance to keep overgrowth to a minimum, and fire has historically provided that disturbance to the Longleaf pine ecosystem. Controlled burns or other disturbance may be needed as part of a management program if the area in question is not receiving adequate natural disturbance.

In terms of specific management guidance, threats to the species including mowing to close to roadside populations should be avoided. Natural populations should be given conservation priority over the roadside populations given that the roadside populations are probably pollinated in a linear fashion and contain less genetic potential than the natural populations (Godt et al. 1997).

Population/Occurrence Delineation
Group Name: Endemic species of Apalachicola river lowlands-EOSPECS

Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Any naturally occurring population of 3 or more individuals
Separation Barriers: Barriers for this species include dense shrub thickets, pine plantations, fire-suppressed flatwoods, developed areas.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 1 km
Alternate Separation Procedure: N/A
Date: 19Sep2003
Author: Norden, A.H. and L.G. Chafin
Population/Occurrence Viability
Justification: Use the Generic Guidelines for the Application of Occurrence Ranks (2008).
The Key for Ranking Species Occurrences Using the Generic Approach provides a step-wise process for implementing this method.

Key for Ranking Species Element Occurrences Using the Generic Approach (2008).
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 03Sep2010
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Oliver, L.
Management Information Edition Date: 03Sep2010
Management Information Edition Author: Oliver, L.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 03Sep2010
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Oliver, L.

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).

  • Campbell, L.M., and L.J. Dorr. 2013. A synopsis of Harperocallis (Tolfieldiaceae, Alismatales) with ten new combinations. PhytoKeys 21:37-52.

  • Clewell, A.F. 1985. Guide to vascular plants of the Florida panhandle. Florida State Univ. Press, Tallahassee, Florida. 605 pp.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2002a. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 26. Magnoliophyta: Liliidae: Liliales and Orchidales. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxvi + 723 pp.

  • Godt, M. W., J. Walker and J. L. Hamrick. 1997. Genetic diversity of the endangered lily Haperocallis flava and a close relative, Tofieldia racemosa. Conservation Biology 11(2) 364-366.


  • 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.

  • Keppner, L. A. and L. C. Anderson. 2008. Notes on Harper's Beauty, Harperocallis flava (Tofieldiaceae), in Bay County, Florida. Notes of the Southearn Naturalist 7(1):180-185.

  • 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.

  • Leonard, S.W., and W.W. Baker. 1983. Additional populations of Harperocallis flava McDaniel (Liliaceae). Castanea 48(2): 151-152.

  • McDaniel, S. 1968. Harperocallis, a new genus of the Liliaceae from Florida. J. Arnold Arboretum 49: 35-40.

  • Pitts-Singer, T. L., J. L. Hanula, and J. L. Walker. 2002. Insect pollinators of three rare plants in Florida longleaf pine forest. Florida Entomoligist 85(2):308-316.


  • Radford, A.E., H.E. Ahles, and C.R. Bell. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Univ. North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 1183 pp.

  • Remizowa, M.V., D.D. Sokoloff, L.M. Campbell, D.W. Stevenson, and P.J. Rudall. 2011. Harperocallis is congeneric with Isidrogalvia (Tofieldiaceae, Alismatales): Evidence from comparative floral morphology. Taxon 60(4):1076-1094.



  • Walker, J. L. and A. M. Silletti. 2005. A three-year demographic study of Harper's Beauty (Harperocallis flava McDaniel), an endangered Florida endemic. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 132 (4): 551-560.

  • Ward, D.B., ed. 1979. Rare and endangered biota of Florida. Vol. 5: Plants. Univ. Presses of Florida, Gainesville.

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

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