North Florida Ecological Services Office
Southeast Region

Species Account/Biologue

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Deeringothamnus rugelii

Photo of Rugel's Pawpaw.  Photo courtesy of Walter K. Taylor.

Photo of Rugel's Pawpaw courtesy of Walter K. Taylor.

FAMILY:  Annonaceae (Custard-apple family)

STATUS:  Endangered, September 26, 1986

DESCRIPTION AND REPRODUCTION:   Rugel's pawpaw is a low shrub with a stout taproot.  The fruits are cylindrical berries with pulpy flesh, 3 to 6 centimeters (1 to 3 inches) long, and yellow-green when ripe.  Seeds are about the shape and size of brown beans. The annual or biennial stems are 10 to 20 centimeters (4 to 8 inches) tall, rarely taller.  The plant resprouts readily from the roots after the top is destroyed by fire or mowing.  The absence of such disturbance leads to the plant's eventual demise.  This pawpaw bears flowers with straight, oblong, canary yellow petals.

Flowering occurs in the spring and fruits are produced several months later.  Observations made during 1981 revealed that many of the plants were vigorous and flowering, but very few produced any fruits.  The pollinators (if any) are unknown.

RANGE AND POPULATION LEVEL:  This species is presently known primarily from an area near New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County, Florida.  There are presently twenty-nine known populations of which half are on public lands.

HABITAT:  The general habitat type is poorly-drained slash pine-saw palmetto flatwoods.

REASONS FOR CURRENT STATUS:  Loss of habitat to real estate development is considered to be the primary threat to this species.  Many of the populations are within 1 mile of Interstate 95 at New Smyrna Beach in a rapidly growing area.  Some of the occupied and potential habitat may eventually be used for housing or other development.  Lack of periodic fire (or occasional mowing as a substitute) to control understory vegetation results in the plant's eventually being shaded out.  The potential for indiscriminate scientific or other collecting is a threat to this species because of its limited distribution and population size.

MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION:  Means should be investigated for providing both immediate and long-term protection for the existing populations.  These sites should be burned every 2-3 years in the growing season to promote flowering and reduce competition.  Soil disturbance such as disking should be avoided.


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1986.  Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants:  Endangered Status for Three Florida Shrubs.  Federal  Register 51(187):33415-34420.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1988.  Recovery Plan for Three Florida Pawpaws.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta, Georgia  20 pages.

For more information please contact:

Annie Dziergowski
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
7915 Baymeadows Way, Suite 200
Jacksonville, Florida 32256
Click here to contact via email

Last Updated: 08/2009
Last Reviewed 09/2005

PDF Version - 157KB

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Last updated: February 7, 2018