Stillingia sylvatica

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Stillingia sylvatica
Stillingia sylvatica MMS.jpg
Photo taken by Michelle M. Smith
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Euphorbiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Genus: Stillingia
Species: S. sylvatica
Binomial name
Stillingia sylvatica
STIL SYLV dist.jpg
Natural range of Stillingia sylvatica from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common name: Queen's-delight

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: Stillingia sylvatica var. sylvatica; S. sylvatica ssp. sylvatica; S. spathulata (Müller of Aargau) Small


"Glabrous, monoecious, perennial herbs or shrubs with alternate leaves. Leaves finely crenate, the teeth with pointed, callous spicules, sessile or short-petiolate. Spike terminal, rachis with numerous large glands, the lower portion pistillate flowered, the upper staminate. Calyx 2-3 parted, yellow; petals none; stamens 2; stigmas 3, red. Capsules as long as broad, leaving a 3-lobed disc upon falling from plant. Seeds grayish white, ovoid; caruncle small." [1]

"Herbaceous perennial, to 8 dm tall, with few to numerous stems arising from a crown; stems branching only immediately below an inflorescence with 2-4 branches. These usually terminated in an inflorescence. Leaves elliptic, 3.5-9 cm long, 1-4.5 cm wide; petioles 0-4 mm long, base glandular-stipulate. Spike 5-12 cm long. Capsules 8-10 mm long. Seeds nearly smooth, 5-6 mm long." [1]




In the Coastal Plain in Florida and Georgia, S. sylvatica can be found in sandhills (FSU Herbarium), [2] pine flatwoods, open pine-oak woodlands, recently burned pine-oak scrubs, longleaf pine-wiregrass stands, longleaf pine-turkey oak-wiregrass, and annually burned pinelands (FSU Herbarium). Substrate types include loamy sand, sand (FSU Herbarium), and siliceous, hypothermic Ultic haplaquod of the Pomona series. [3]

Associated species include Stillingia aquatica, Phlox floridana, Asimina longifolia var. spathulata, Lactuca graminifolia, Pterocaulon undulatum, Asclepias humistrata and Quercus hemisphaerica (FSU Herbarium).


S. sylvatica has been observed flowering April through August with peak inflorescence in April and May (FSU Herbarium).[4]

Seed dispersal

This species is thought to be dispersed by ants and/or explosive dehiscence. [5] It is dispersed explosively (up to 3 meters); seeds are forcefully expelled after the fruit matures and dries. It can also be dispersed by ants. [2]

Fire ecology

It seems to respond positively to burning. In an experiment by Greenberg (2003), and he noted that the percent cover of S. sylvatica was highest 16 months after a May burn. [6]

Use by animals

The seeds of S. sylvatica contain elaiosomes and have been found in middens of Florida harvester ants, Pogonomyrmex badius. [2]

Conservation and management

Cultivation and restoration

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Radford, Albert E., Harry E. Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. 1964, 1968. The University of North Carolina Press. 667. Print.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Stamp, N. E. and J. R. Lucas. 1990. Spatial patterns and dispersal distances of explosively dispersing plants in Florida sandhill vegetation. Journal of Ecology 78:589-600.
  3. Moore, W. H., B. F. Swindel and W. S. Terry. 1982. Vegetative response to prescribed fire in a north Florida flatwoods forest. Journal of Range Management 35:386-389.
  4. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 14 DEC 2016
  5. Kirkman, L. Katherine. Unpublished database of seed dispersal mode of plants found in Coastal Plain longleaf pine-grasslands of the Jones Ecological Research Center, Georgia.
  6. Greenberg, C. H. 2003. Vegetation recovery and stand structure following a prescribed stand-replacement burn in sand pine scrub. Natural Areas Journal 23:141-151.