Nolina brittoniana

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Nolina brittoniana
Noli brit.jpg
Photo taken by Shirley Denton (Copyrighted, Use by photographer’s permission only) Nature Photography by Shirley Denton
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
Order: Liliales
Family: Ruscaceae
Genus: Nolina
Species: N. brittoniana
Binomial name
Nolina brittoniana
Noli brit dist.jpg
Natural range of Nolina brittoniana from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common name: Britton's beargrass[1]

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: none.[1]

Varieties: none.[1]


A description of Nolina brittoniana is provided in The Flora of North America.

It is a perennial that grows from a short, thick, bulb-like rootstock.[2] Its green leaves are 3-9 mm wide, while its capsules 8-10 mm in diameter.[1]

It is very similar to Nolina atopocarpa; however, N. atopocarpa has shorter leaves, green flowers, and asymmetrical fruits.[3]


This species is a narrow endemic, nearly entirely limited to the Lake Wales Ridge.[4] Most species endemic to the Lake Wales Ridge are selective in habitat; however, N. brittoniana is a edaphic generalist and has a broad microhabitat tolerance (Menges 1998). It ranges from North Florida (Marion County) to southcentral Florida.[1]



In the Lake Wales Ridge, N. brittoniana occurs in scrub oak sand ridges and Pinus clausa-Ceratiola scrubs. Associated species include sand pine, scrub oak, and palmetto.[5]


This species fruits May through August.[5]

It has been observed that N. brittoniana has low levels of genetic variation despite having traits that are correlated with high genetic variation (Hamrick et al. 1991). However, compared to other Lake Wales Ridge endemics, N. brittoniana has one of the highest levels of genetic diversity.[6]

Fire ecology

Weekley and Menges (2003) found that 98% of individuals survived after a low intensity fire, suggesting this species is a strong resprouter following a fire. If the fire is high intensity, it could cause high mortality rates and low post-burn growth. Flowering is the greatest the first year post-fire, with the flowering rate dropping dramatically over subsequent years.[7]


Pollination is necessary for successful seed production.[8]

The following Hymenoptera species were observed visiting flowers of Nolina brittoniana at the Archbold Biological Station:[9]

Bees from the family Apidae: Apis mellifera

Wasps from the family Leucospididae: Leucospis robertsoni, L. slossonae

Thread-waisted wasps from the family Sphecidae: Ammophila pictipennis, Bicyrtes quadrifasciata, Cerceris fumipennis, C. rufopicta, Sphex ichneumoneus

Wasps from the family Vespidae: Pachodynerus erynnis

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Endangered: April 27, 1993.[2]

The distribution is limited to the Lake Wales Ridge, which is being quickly converted to agricultural and residential development. Fragmentation and fire suppression are also responsible for the decline in populations of endemic species along the Lake Wales Ridge.[2]

Cultural use

Photo Gallery

References and notes

Weekley, C. W. and E. S. Menges (2003). "Species and Vegetation Responses to Prescribed Fire in a Long-Unburned, Endemic-Rich Lake Wales Ridge Scrub." The Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 130(4): 265-282.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Weakley, A.S. 2015. Flora of the southern and mid-atlantic states. Working Draft of 21 May 2015. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 [[1]] FWS Accessed: February 10, 2016
  3. [[2]] Center for Plant Conservation. Accessed: February 10, 2016
  4. name="Dolan et al. 2004">Dolan, R. W., R. Yahr, et al. (2004). "Population Genetic Structure in Nolina brittoniana (Agavaceae), a Plant Endemic to the Central Ridges of Florida." Southeastern Naturalist 3(1): 25-36.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: October 2015. Collectors: Edwin L. Bridges, D. Burch, R.J. Eaton, H.A. Gleason, Robert K. Godfrey, Steve L. Orzell, James D. Ray, D.B. Ward. States and Counties: Florida: Highlands, Orange, Polk. Compiled by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
  6. Menges, E. S., R. W. Dolan, et al. (2001). "Comparative Genetics of Seven Plants Endemic to Florida's Lake Wales Ridge." Castanea 66(1/2): 98-114.
  7. Menges, E.S., D.R. Gordon, and R.W. Dolan. 1996. Demography, breeding system, and genetics of Nolina brittoniana. Report to Florida Statewide Endangered and Threatened Plant Conservation Program. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Forestry; Tallahassee, Florida.
  8. TNC. (1995). "Element stewardship abstract for Nolina brittoniana-Britton's bear grass." Arlington, Virginia: The Nature Conservancy.
  9. Deyrup, M.A. and N.D. 2015. Database of observations of Hymenoptera visitations to flowers of plants on Archbold Biological Station, Florida, USA.