North Florida Ecological Services Office
Southeast Region

Species Account/Biologue

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Warea amplexifolia

Photo of Wide-leaf Warea floral cluster courtesy of Shirley Denton.

Photo of Wide-leaf Warea floral cluster courtesy of Shirley Denton.

Close-up photo of Wide-leaf Warea leaf courtesy of Shirley Denton.

Close-up photo of Wide-leaf Warea leaf courtesy of Shirley Denton.

FAMILY:  Brassicaceae (Mustard family)

STATUS:  Endangered (Federal Register, April 29, 1987)

DESCRIPTION AND REPRODUCTION:  Wide-leaf warea is a summer annual herb growing to a height of about 0.8 meters (3 feet), with slender branching stems arising from an elongate tap root.  The leaves are alternately arranged along the stem and are generally heart-shaped.  They are about 8 millimeters (0.3 of an inch) to about 30 millimeters (1.3 inches) l0ng and from about 4 millimeters (0.2 of an inch) to nearly 20 millimeters (0.8 of an inch) wide, with conspicuous basal lobes which clasp the stem.  The flowers are showy and are borne in small, rounded, puff-like clusters at the ends of the branches.  Each flower has four pale purple petals with a rounded upper portion, an elongated stalk-like lower portion, and six stamens which protrude above the petals.  The pistil is narrowly cylindrical and is borne at the end of a long stalk.  The fruit is a dry, thin, curved pod of about 30 millimeters (1 inch) to about 75 millimeters (3 inches) in length which is borne at the end of a 9- to 14-millimeter (0.3- to 0.5-inch) long stalk.  The pod (silique) eventually splits lengthwise into two portions which spread apart revealing a thin central partition around which the small brown seeds are attached.

Wide-leaf warea is occasionally confused with the three other species of the genus.  It is distinguished from Warea sessilifolia by its conspicuously heart-shaped leaves and lighter purple flowers; it is easily separated form Warea carteri and Warea cuneifolia by its stalkless and auriculate-based leaves.  Keys to the species of Warea are given by Payson (1922), Small (1933), and Channel and James (1964).

Reproduction is exclusively sexual by the production of seeds, which are probably released from the pods by wind action.  The small seeds generally fall near the parent plant.  No information exists on the yearly fluctuation in seed production, seed viability, germination requirements, or the extent of soil storage.  Flowering occurs from mid-August to early October, and fruiting occurs from late September to mid-November.  Senescence (old age) occurs just before the fruit matures; the population overwinters as seeds.

RANGE AND POPULATION LEVEL:  Endemic to central Florida where it is known from Lake and Polk Counties and historically from Osceola and Orange Counties.  Less than 30 populations have been documented, but many have been extirpated.  Judd (1980) believed the former range included Lake County, western Orange County, extreme northwestern Osceola County and northern Polk County, but indicated that the range had been reduced to three sites in Lake County and a single site in northern Polk County before his survey.  Since then, additional sites have been discovered in Lake, Polk and Osceola counties and several of the previously documented sites have been eliminated.  The present distribution includes Lake, Polk, and Osceola counties; the species has probably been extirpated from Orange County.

HABITAT:  Wide-leaf warea is found on the Lake Wales Ridge, an elongated area of raised and usually dry soils, with elevations up to about 100 meters (300 feet), extending from central Highlands County northward and gradually disappearing in southern Marion County.  The region supports dry forests of Pinus palustris (long-leaf pine) or Pinus clausa (sand pine), and various communities dominated by scrubby oaks such as Quercus geminata (sand live oak), Quercus myrtifolia (myrtle oak), Quercus incana (bluejack oak), and Quercus chapmanii (Chapman's oak), or Ceratiola ericoides (Florida rosemary).  Warea amplexifolia is restricted to Pinus palustris and scrubby oak forests.

REASONS FOR CURRENT STATUS:  Loss of habitat is the primary threat to this species.  Wide-leaf warea is known or assumed extirpated from several sites in Orange, Lake and Osceola Counties within its historical range.  There are very few areas of upland, dry, open Pinus palustris woods that exist at the present time in the area of well-drained white sandy soil from Leesburg to Haines City.  This area is now covered with citrus groves, with the few remaining wooded areas occupying mainly lowland sites.  Many populations of wide-leaf warea are surrounded by citrus groves and/or urban developments such as Orlando, Tavares, Leesburg, and are vulnerable to development pressures.

The plant's attractive flowers dispose it to picking by vandals and curiosity seekers, and to taking for use as a cultivated ornamental.  Additionally, because this species is an annual, and extremely restricted in both range and numbers, it is vulnerable to disturbance and natural disasters.  The failure of any one of the remaining populations to set seed in the fall could result in the extirpation of that population and a further reduction in the already small genetic variability of the species.  Recovery efforts should focus on finding a means to protect existing population sites, and on establishing new populations at secure sites within the historic range.  Any currently unprotected sites should be monitored regularly for any changes in the species' status.


Bard, A.M.Warea amplexifolia at Lake Griffin State Recreation Area. Division of Recreation and Parks, Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection; Apopka, FL.  Unpublished report prepared under contract with the USFWS, Jacksonville, Florida.

Judd, W.S.Warea amplexifolia. Unpublished Report Prepared for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville, Florida.  22 pages.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.Warea amplexifolia (wide-leaf). Federal Register 52(82):15501-15505. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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

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Last updated: February 7, 2018