Paronychia chartacea

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Paronychia chartacea
Paro char.jpg
Photo by Shirley Denton (copyrighted, use by photographer’s permission only), Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Genus: Paronychia
Species: P. chartacea
Binomial name
Paronychia chartacea
Paro char dist.jpg
Natural range of Paronychia chartacea from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common names: Paper nailwort; Papery whitlow-wort

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: Nyachia pulvinata Small.[1]

Varieties: Paronychia chartacea Fernald var. minima (L.C. Anderson) R.L. Hartman.[1]


A description of Paronychia chartacea is provided in The Flora of North America.


There are two isolated subspecies. P. chartacea ssp. chartacea can be found in scrub habitats of the Florida peninsula, this subspecies is a short-lived perennial. P. chartacea ssp. minima is found in the karst region of the northwest Florida panhandle, it has been described as somewhat less pubescent than P. chartacea ssp. chartacea, and is annual.[2][3] Much of the distinction between the two subspecies is minimal.[4]



FSU Herbarium specimen have documented P. chartacea in sand pine scrubs with Hypericum cumulicola, herbarium labels do not specify what subspecies these specimen are. It can be inferred that the individuals growing in this habitat are of P. chartacea ssp. chartacea based on previous knowledge of the distribution of the two subspecies. P. chartacea ssp. chartacea is restricted to the Lake Wales Ridge in Highlands, Polk, Osceola, Orange and Lake Counties. Within this range, it is found growing in sand pine scrubs and Florida rosemary scrubs.[3] Soils of this area include those of St. Lucie and Archbold soil types.[5] It is a gap specialist, occurring at greater densities in areas of open bare sand, and is one of the most abundant species in the rosemary scrub seedbank.[6]

P. chartacea ssp. minima is found in nearly pure stands in the karst region of the Florida panhandle (Washington and Bay counties). It has been observed growing with Amphicarpum muhlenbergianum, Bulbostylis barbata, B. ciliatifolia, Chrysopsis lanuginosa, Eriocaulon lineare and Hypericum lissophloeus.[3]


Flowers August through November[7] and fruits in October[8]

Seed bank and germination

Germination of P. chartacea ssp. chartacea is highest in intact scrubs because invertebrate predators may use the low shrub cover of the rosemary scrubs to hide from carnivorous predators which are less likely to forage in degraded scrubs.[9] Schafer et al. 2010 found it to be one of the most abundant species in the rosemary scrub seedbank. It is an annual and obligate seeder with germination frequency increasing post-burn.[10] Seedlings have been observed to germinate over a broad range of months.[11] High density in the seed bank and above ground cover has been observed in the first ten years after fire with highest density three years post-fire.[12] One study found recently burned and long-unburned sites result in low seed density, while sites with six-ten years since fire result in high seed density.[12] Paronychia chartacea forms a persistent soil seed bank.[13]

Fire ecology

P. chartacea ssp. chartacea is a gap specialist, and can be found in high densities in gaps of rosemary scrubs. Rosemary scrubs experience fire in intervals of 10 to 100 years. Florida rosemary (Ceratiola ericoides) leaches allelopathic chemicals from its roots which can inhibit germination and kill neighboring herbs. It has been observed that the frequency increases post-fire, this is possibly due to C. ericoides individuals being killed by fire.[10] Occurrence and density of P. chartacea ssp. chartacea declined with time since fire in rosemary scrubs,[6] this is possibly due to the increase of C. ericoides.


Paronychia chartacea was observed at the Archbold Biological Station to host sweat bees from the Halictidae family such as Lasioglossum miniatulus, L. nymphalis and L. placidensis, spider wasps from the Pompilidae family such as Anoplius semirufus and Episyron conterminus posterus, thread-waisted wasps from the Sphecidae family such as Tachysphex apicalis and T. similis, and wasps from the Vespidae family such as Leptochilus krombeini and Parancistrocerus salcularis rufulus.[14]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

P. chartacea ssp. chartacea is limited to the Lake Wales Ridge, which is threatened due to fragmentation from urban and agricultural development. The loss of the scrub habitat is the primary reason this subspecies is threatened.[3] By 1980, more than two-thirds of the historic scrub habitat was destroyed.[15] Fire suppression is also threatening to this species.

Cultural use

Photo Gallery

References and notes

Molly, E. H. and E. S. Menges (2002). "Allelopathic Effects and Root Distribution of Ceratiola ericoides (Empetraceae) on Seven Rosemary Scrub Species." American Journal of Botany 89(7): 1113-1118.

  1. 1.0 1.1 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. [[1]] Center for Plant Conservation. Accessed: February 17, 2016
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 [[2]] FWS. Accessed: February 16, 2016
  4. Anderson, L. 1991. Paronychia chartacea ssp. minima (Caryophyllaceae): a new subspecies of a rare Florida endemic. Sida 14(3): 435-441.
  5. Abrahamson, W., A. Johnson, J. Layne, and P. Peroni. 1984. Vegetation of the Archbold Biological Station, Florida: An example of the Southern Lake Wales Ridge. Florida Scientist. 47(4):209-250.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Schafer, J. L., E. S. Menges, et al. (2010). "Effects of Time-Since-Fire and Microhabitat on the Occurrence and Density of the Endemic Paronychia chartacea ssp. chartacea in Florida Scrub and Along Roadsides." The American Midland Naturalist 163(2): 294-310.
  7. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 19 MAY 2021
  8. Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: October 2015. Collectors: Loran C. Anderson, Wilson Baker, L.J. Brass, Angus Gholson, Robert K. Godfrey, Ann Johnson, Beverly Judd, Walter Judd, Olga Lakela, Eric S. Menges, Susan Wallace, D.B. Ward. States and Counties: Florida: Bay, Highlands, Polk, Washington. Compiled by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
  9. Stephens, E. L., L. U. Z. Castro-Morales, et al. (2012). "Post-Dispersal Seed Predation, Germination, and Seedling Survival of Five Rare Florida Scrub Species in Intact and Degraded Habitats." The American Midland Naturalist 167(2): 223-239
  10. 10.0 10.1 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.
  11. Hawkes, C. V. and E. S. Menges (2003). "Effects of Lichens on Seedling Emergence in a Xeric Florida Shrubland." Southeastern Naturalist 2(2): 223-234.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Navarra, J. J., N. Kohfeldt, et al. (2011). "Seed bank changes with time since fire in Florida rosemary scrub." Fire Ecology 7(2).
  13. Navarra, J. J., N. Kohfeldt, et al. (2011). "Seed bank changes with time since fire in Florida rosemary scrub." Fire Ecology 7(2).
  14. Deyrup, M.A. and N.D. 2015. Database of observations of Hymenoptera visitations to flowers of plants on Archbold Biological Station, Florida, USA.
  15. Christman, S. 1988. Endemism and Florida’s interior sand pine scrub. Final project report, project no. GFC-84-101. Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission; Tallahassee, Florida