Helonias bullata - L.
Swamp-pink
Other Common Names: swamppink
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Helonias bullata L. (TSN 42941)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.151923
Element Code: PMLIL10010
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Lily Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Liliales Liliaceae Helonias
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Concept Reference
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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: Helonias bullata
Taxonomic Comments: Distinct species in a monotypic genus.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 31Dec2009
Global Status Last Changed: 06Mar1992
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Helonias bullata is known from the Coastal Plain of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia (formerly also Staten Island, NY, where now extirpated), as well as from higher elevations in northern New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Restricted to forested wetlands that are perennially water-saturated with a low frequency of inundation, habitat specificity appears to be a critical factor in this species' rarity. Approximately 225 occurrences are believed extant, over half of which are in New Jersey; 80 additional occurrences are considered historical and 15 are extirpated. The species is locally abundant at several sites in New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, and North Carolina; some have 10,000+ clumps of plants. In addition to sites known to have been extirpated, significant habitat has been lost throughout the range due to factors such as drainage for agriculture. A number of local population declines have also been documented in the past 20 years. Degradation of this species' sensitive habitat via changes to the hydrologic regime is the primary threat. Such changes can be direct (ditching, damming, draining) or indirect (from development in the watershed); indirect impacts are particularly difficult to address. Other threats include poor water quality, invasive species, trash, all terrain vehicles, deer herbivory, trampling, and collection. Given this species' very specific hydrological requirements, climate change could also be an issue. H. bullata has limited ability to colonize new sites (low incidence of flowering, limited seed dispersal, poor seedling establishment) and low genetic variation, limiting its ability to adapt to changing conditions and recover when sites are destroyed.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3

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 Delaware (S2), Georgia (S1), Maryland (S2), New Jersey (S3), New York (SX), North Carolina (S2), South Carolina (S1), Virginia (S2S3)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LT: Listed threatened (09Sep1988)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R5 - Northeast

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Species occurs on the Coastal Plain in southern New York state (Staten Island), New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Occurs at higher elevations (primarily disjunct bog areas in the Southern Appalachians) in northern New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Extant populations in all states except New York. The greatest number of sites are in southern New Jersey, but the species is also locally abundant at some other sites, particularly in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Number of Occurrences: 81 - 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Intensive survey efforts since this species was Federally listed have approximately doubled the number of known occurrences. Approximately 225 occurrences are believed extant, over half of which are in New Jersey; Virginia also has a considerable number (40+). Approximately 80 additional occurrences are considered historical, with the vast majority in New Jersey and a considerable number (14) in Delaware as well. 15 occurrences are extirpated, again mostly in New Jersey.

Population Size Comments: Populations range from a few to 10,000 or more clumps (Godt et al. 1995). One population in North Carolina apparently contains 100,000+ plants. The species may be locally abundant in areas along the east coast, such as in parts of New Jersey and some watersheds in Delaware and Virginia.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Some to many (13-125)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Approximately 50 occurrences are believed to have excellent or good viability.

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Habitat degradation is the primary rangewide threat. This degradation is difficult to address through either land protection or regulatory mechanisms because it is often brought about by off-site land uses, particularly development. Evidence of detrimental effects of development on H. bullata habitat and population quality continues to accumulate; such impacts are anticipated to worsen as development continues (USFWS 2007). A major component of habitat degradation is changes to the hydrologic regime. Such changes can be direct (e.g., ditching, damming, draining) or indirect (i.e, from development in the watershed). Indirect impacts often result from increased impervious surface in the watershed, which reduces infiltration and increases overland flow of stormwater, leading to increased stream erosion, wetland sedimentation, flood volumes and velocities, water level fluctuations, and hydrologic drought (USFWS 2007). Other components of degradation associated with adjacent development include poor water quality, invasive exotic species, trash, all terrain vehicles, herbivory by overabundant deer populations, trampling, and collection (USFWS 2007). Direct habitat losses have slowed, but historical losses were substantial (USFWS 2007). Because this species requires a very specific hydrology in order to thrive, climate change, which has the potential to either increase or decrease water levels at established sites, is an anticipated threat. For example, increased drought in southern Appalachians mountain bogs may already be having detrimental impacts. Also, about 10% of known occurrences are in areas with increased vulnerability to coastal flooding due to sea level rise (USFWS 2007).

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-50%
Short-term Trend Comments: Overall trends of local population declines and extirpations are beginning to emerge (USFWS 2007). The number of occurrences considered historic has increased from 79 to 97 since 1991, a loss of 18 sites (8 in NJ, 8 in DE, and 2 in NC) (USFWS 2007). More than 20 occurrences in New Jersey and Delaware alone have documented declines in population size or condition since the early 1990s (USFWS 2007). In New Jersey, the number of occurences ranked A or B has decreased by 7 since 1991; comparing occurrence ranks from 1997 and 2004, 6 occurrences were upgraded while 20 were downgraded (USFWS 2007). Of the 27 occurrences discovered in Delaware between 1983 and 1999, 16 showed substantial declines in plant numbers during the most recent site visits (USFWS 2007).

Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-50%
Long-term Trend Comments: Many populations in New Jersey and New York have been confirmed destroyed. Significant habitat has been lost throughout the range due to factors such as drainage for conversion to agriculture.

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: The specific wetland habitat required by this species is easily degraded through both direct and secondary distubances; among the wetland types it inhabits, some such as sphagnum bogs and Atlantic white cedar swamps are particularly fragile. A low incidence of flowering, limited seed dispersal, and poor seedling establishment combine to make colonization of new sites via reproduction from seed rare for this species (Godt et al. 1995, USFWS 2007). Finally, Godt et al. (1995) found low overall genetic diversity both within the species and within populations, even relative to the means found for other endemic and narrowly distributed species. This suggests that H. bullata may have limited capacity to adapt to future environmental change.

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Habitat specificity appears to be the critical factor in defining H. bullata as a rare species (USFWS 2007). Adapted to stable habitats with a number of specialized conditions (e.g., low light, limited nutrients, and saturated soils), this species appears to compete poorly when change in one or more habitat parameters creates an opportunity for the establishment of other species (USFWS 2007). Habitat availability may be a limiting factor across much of the range; Coastal Plain forested headwater wetlands have been significantly reduced by development, and mountain bogs are both historically uncommon and impacted by agricultural conversion (USFWS 2007). Nevertheless, the New Jersey Pine Barrens contain some apparently suitable but unoccupied sites, suggesting that this species' habitat requirements are not fully understood and/or that low dispersal limits colonization of these areas (USFWS 2007). Efforts to create or restore H. bullata habitat have had limited success (USFWS 2007).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Species occurs on the Coastal Plain in southern New York state (Staten Island), New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Occurs at higher elevations (primarily disjunct bog areas in the Southern Appalachians) in northern New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Extant populations in all states except New York. The greatest number of sites are in southern New Jersey, but the species is also locally abundant at some other sites, particularly in the Mid-Atlantic region.

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 DE, GA, MD, NC, NJ, NYextirpated, SC, VA

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
DE Kent (10001), New Castle (10003), Sussex (10005)
GA Rabun (13241), Union (13291), White (13311)
MD Anne Arundel (24003), Cecil (24015), Dorchester (24019)
NC Ashe (37009), Henderson (37089), Jackson (37099), Transylvania (37175)
NJ Atlantic (34001), Burlington (34005), Camden (34007), Cape May (34009), Cumberland (34011), Gloucester (34015), Mercer (34021)*, Middlesex (34023), Monmouth (34025), Morris (34027), Ocean (34029), Salem (34033), Somerset (34035)*, Sussex (34037)*
NY Richmond (36085)*
SC Greenville (45045)
VA Augusta (51015), Caroline (51033), Henrico (51087), Nelson (51125)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Hackensack-Passaic (02030103)+*, Sandy Hook-Staten Island (02030104)+, Raritan (02030105)+, Middle Delaware-Musconetcong (02040105)+*, Crosswicks-Neshaminy (02040201)+, Lower Delaware (02040202)+, Schuylkill (02040203)+*, Delaware Bay (02040204)+*, Brandywine-Christina (02040205)+, Cohansey-Maurice (02040206)+, Broadkill-Smyrna (02040207)+, Mullica-Toms (02040301)+, Great Egg Harbor (02040302)+, Chincoteague (02040303)+, Chester-Sassafras (02060002)+, Gunpowder-Patapsco (02060003)+, Severn (02060004)+, Choptank (02060005)+, South Fork Shenandoah (02070005)+, Lower Rappahannock (02080104)+, Mattaponi (02080105)+, Maury (02080202)+, Middle James-Buffalo (02080203)+, Lower James (02080206)+
03 Saluda (03050109)+, Tugaloo (03060102)+, Upper Chattahoochee (03130001)+
05 Upper New (05050001)+
06 Upper French Broad (06010105)+, Upper Little Tennessee (06010202)+, Ocoee (06020003)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A perennial herb with basal, evergreen leaves, up to 3 dm long. Flowering stems, usually 3-8 dm tall, bear a dense terminal cluster of fragrant, attractive bright pink flowers. Typically very few plants in each population produce flowers. Blooms from early April or early May through mid-June. It is a very distinctive species and it alone makes up the genus Helonias.
Technical Description: "Tepals 6, persistent around the fruit; stamens 6, the long filaments surpassing the perianth, the blue anthers short-oblong, extrorse; ovary superior, 3-lobed, with many ovules on the axile placentae; styles 3, separate to the base; fruit an obcordate, 3-lobed, loculicidal capsule; seeds appendaged at both ends; perennial herb from a very short rhizome, with a cluster of long basal leaves and a hollow scape beset with reduced bract-like leaves and bearing a dense, terminal, spike-like raceme of pink flowers." (Gleason and Cronquist, 1991)
Diagnostic Characteristics: Helonias bullata is very distinctive when in flower or fruit; the seed shape is unique. It may be characterized by "basal leaves evergreen, elongate-spatulate, becoming 3 dm; scape elongating to 1 m, covered with short bract-like leaves at base, these becoming remote and scale-like above; raceme ovoid, 3-10 cm, ca 3 cm thick; flowers fragrant, 1 cm wide; seeds linear, 5 mm" (Gleason and Cronquist, 1991). Its basal rosette is similar to Amianthium muscitoxicum, with which it sometimes co-occurs, but the leaves of H. bullata are wider (to 4 cm vs. under 2.5 cm), widest near the pointed apex (vs. strap-shaped and rounded at the apex), form dense clumps, and are glossy and flat (vs. dull and possessing prominent central veins).
Duration: PERENNIAL
Reproduction Comments: Reproduces sexually and asexually; reproduces vegetatively via rhizomes forming clusters of closely spaced rosettes, and also produces prolific seed following flowering (although very few of the plants in a population typically produce flowers in a given year) (Sutter 1984 cited in CPC 2008, USFWS Swamp Pink Recovery Plan Technical Draft 1990). Highly self-compatible (Sutter 1984 cited in CPC 2008), although the rate of selfing vs. outcrossing in nature appears to vary widely; of fifteen natural populations sampled in a genetic study, estimates suggested that seven of the populations were highly outcrossing, while several other populations had much lower outcrossing estimates (Godt et al. 1995).

Primary seed dispersal takes place by gravity and wind, which probably carries seeds less than 40cm (Godt et al. 1995). Secondary seed dispersal by ants and water has been experimentially verified (Peterson 1992 cited in USFWS 2007). Seeds possess eliasomes (lipid-rich ridges of soft tissue) that foster dispersal by ants. Seeds can also float for days, which could facilitate long-distance downstream dispersal by water. Seeds are viable for only a few weeks, so the species does not have a seed bank (Godt et al. 1995).

Estuarine Habitat(s): Forested wetland
Riverine Habitat(s): SPRING/SPRING BROOK
Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen, FORESTED WETLAND
Habitat Comments: Restricted to forested wetlands that are groundwater influenced and are perennially water-saturated with a low frequency of inundation. Sutter (1982) described these as sites where the water table is at or very near the surface and is stable, fluctuating only slightly during spring and summer. These habitats include emergent portions of hummocks in and along stream channels in Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) swamps, headwater seepage wetlands, red maple (Acer rubrum) swamps, mixed hardwood/evergreen swamps, and (rarely) black spruce-tamarack (Picea mariana-Larix laricina) bogs. In Georgia, the species is found in coldwater Blue Ridge seepage swamps (mountain bogs) with purple pitcherplant (Sarracenia purpurea), red maple, mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), Carolina sheep laurel (K. caroliniana), rosebay rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum), and thickets of tag alder (Alnus serrulata) and peat moss (Sphagnum). The species appears to be somewhat shade tolerant and to need enough canopy to minimize competition with other more aggressive species and herbivory by deer. It is often found at stream sources.
Economic Attributes
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Economic Uses: ESTHETIC, Showy wildflower
Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Conservation of this species requires maintenance of appropriate site hydrology (Laidig et al. 2009)
Upland buffers are a key tool to minimize indirect habitat degradation, with evidence suggesting that 300-foot buffers are the minimum necessary (USFWS 2007). Of course, direct habtiat degradation, such as site drainage, should also be avoided.

Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 24Jan1992
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: David Snyder, rev. D. Snyder (1997), rev. K. Gravuer (2009)
Management Information Edition Date: 31Dec2009
Management Information Edition Author: Gravuer, K.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 22Jun1992

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).

References
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  • BRECHT, E.A. AND H.M. BURLAGE. 1945. EXPERIMENTAL DRUG PLANT CULTURE IN NORTH CAROLINA. E. MITCHELL SCI. SOC. J. 61(1/2):218-219.

  • BRITTON, N.L. 1882. HELONIAS BULLATA ON STATEN ISLAND. BULL. TORR. BOT. CLUB 9:101.

  • BROWN, S. 1910. HELONIA BULLATA. BARTONIA 3:1-6.

  • Center for Plant Conservation (CPC). 2008, 29 January last update. National Collection Plant Profile: Helonias bullata. Center for Plant Conservation. Online. Available: www.centerforplantconservation.org/collection/cpc_viewprofile.asp?CPCNum=2210 (Accessed 2009).

  • EGERTON, J.B. 1936. NOTES ON SOME RARE LOCAL PLANTS. BULL. NAT. HIST. SOC. MD 6(11):34-35.

  • Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. D. Van Nostrand, New York. 1632 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.

  • Gleason, H.A. 1952. The new Britton and Brown illustrated flora of the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 3 volumes. Hafner Press, New York. 1732 pp.

  • Gleason, H.A., and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

  • Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

  • Godt, M.J.W., J.L. Hamrick and S. Bratton. 1995. Genetic diversity in a threatened wetland species, Helonias bullata (Liliaceae). Conservation Biology 9(3): 596-604.

  • Godt, M.J.W., J.L. Hamrick and S. Bratton. 1995. Genetic diversity in a threatened wetland species, Helonias bullata (Liliaceae). Conservation Biology 9(3): 596-604.

  • HALL, I.H. 1871. HELONIAS. BULL. TORR. BOT. CLUB 3:25-26,32.

  • HALL, I.H. 1871. NOTES. BULL. TORR. BOT. CLUB 2:31.

  • Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

  • Hough, M. Y. 1983. New Jersey Wild Plants. Harmony Press, Harmony, New Jersey. 414 pp.

  • Hough, M.Y. 1983. New Jersey wild plants. Harmony Press, Harmony, NJ. 414 pp.

  • 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.

  • Laidig, K. J., R.A. Zampella, and C. Popolizio. 2009. Hydrologic regimes associated with Helonias bullata L. (swamp pink) and the potential impact of simulated water-level reductions. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 136(2): 221-232.

  • Maddox, D. 1990. Helonias bullata Recovery Research: Interim Report. DNR-Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Annapolis, MD. 5pp.

  • New York Natural Heritage Program. 2010. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

  • PORTER, T. 1881. HELONIAS BULLATA. BULL. TORR. BOT. CLUB 8:91-92.

  • RECCE, S. 1988. ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS: PROPOSAL TO DETERMINE HELONIAS BULLATA (SWAMP PINK) TO BE A THREATENED SPECIES. FED. REG. 53(37):5740-5743.

  • REDFIELD, R.W. 1964. FLOWERING PLANTS OF NEW JERSEY. N.J. NAT. NEWS 19:145.

  • Radford, A. E., H. E. Ahles, and C. R. Bell. 1968. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. 1183 pp.

  • Reschke, Carol. 1990. Ecological communities of New York State. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Latham, NY. 96 pp. plus xi.

  • SIPPLE, W.S. 1993. A NEW SITE FOR THE SWAMP PINK (HELONIAS BULLATA) IN MARYLAND. THE MARYLAND NATURALIST 37(3-4):24-27.

  • SIPPLE, W.S. 1993. LETTER OF 1 JUNE TO G.D. COOLEY RE: ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON RECENT SWAMP PINK (HELONIAS BULLATA) FIND IN ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, AND LOCAITON OF SOME OF THE MILLPONDS MENTIONED IN SIPPLE'S DRAFT POCOMOKE PAPER AND / OR SMITH'S 1938 MILLPOND PAPER.

  • SUTTER, R.D. 1984. THE STATUS OF HELONIAS BULLATA L. (LILIACEAE) IN THE SOUTHERN APPALACHIANS. CASTANEA 49:9-16.

  • Southern Appalachian Species Viability Project. 2002. A partnership between the U.S. Forest Service-Region 8, Natural Heritage Programs in the Southeast, NatureServe, and independent scientists to develop and review data on 1300+ regionally and locally rare species in the Southern Appalachian and Alabama region. Database (Access 97) provided to the U.S. Forest Service by NatureServe, Durham, North Carolina.

  • Sutter, R. 1982. The distribution and reproductive biology of Helonias bullata L. in North Carolina. North Carolina Dept. Agriculture, Plant Industry Division, Raleigh.

  • Sutter, R.D. 1984. The status of Helonias bullata L. (Liliaceae) in the southern Appalachians. Castanea 49(1): 9-16.

  • Sutter, R.D., V. Frantz, and K.A. McCarthy. 1988. Atlas of rare and endangered plant species in North Carolina. North Carolina Dept. Agriculture, Plant Protection Section, Conservation Program, Raleigh, North Carolina. 174 pp.

  • U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE. 1991. SWAMP PINK RECOVERY PLAN. U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, REGION 5, NEWTON CORNER, MA. 38 PP.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2007. Swamp Pink (Helonias bullata) 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation. Review conducted by Wendy Walsh, New Jersey Field Office, Pleasantville, NJ. [http://www.fws.gov/northeast/Endangered/PDF/Swamp%20Pink%205yr.pdf]

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1988. Determination of Helonias bullata (swamp pink) to be a threatened species. Federal Register 53(175): 35075-35080.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2008. Swamp Pink (Helonias bullata) 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Jersey Field Office, Pleasantville, New Jersey. Available online at http://www.fws.gov/northeast/Endangered/Swamp%20Pink%205YR.pdf.

  • Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research http://www.fccdr.usf.edu/. University of South Florida http://www.usf.edu/]. New York Flora Association http://wwws.nyflora.org/, Albany, New York

  • Wilson, L.K. 1990c. Swamp pink (Helonias bullata) recovery plan. Prepared for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Newton Corner, MA. 41 pp.

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