CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Polygonella basiramia

c. Billy B. Boothe

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CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Polygonella basiramia

Common Names: 
Florida jointweed, purple wireweed, wireweed
(Small) Nesom & Bates
Growth Habit: 
Subshrub, Forb/herb
CPC Number: 


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Polygonella basiramiaenlarge
Photographer: c. Billy B. Boothe

Polygonella basiramia is Fully Sponsored
Primary custodian for this plant in the CPC National Collection of Endangered Plants is: 
Dorothy M. Brazis contributed to this Plant Profile.

Polygonella basiramia

This short-lived, herbaceous perennial is endemic to the central ridges of the Florida peninsula. It is found in sand pine scrub habitat, and requires periodic disturbance, such as fire, to maintain this habitat in the correct conditions for the survival and persistence of the species.

This plant is identifiable by its production of 7 to 30 thin, red or green, upright stems that grow to 0.8 meters tall. The leaves are small and hair-like. Leaves and stems range in color from red to deep green, although red coloration appears to be associated with plants found in bright sunlight as well as in older plants and seedlings. White to pinkish-sepaled flowers are borne in panicles beginning in September and continuing through October. Plants have either all female flowers or all perfect flowers. Flowering begins at the top of the panicle and moves down so that flowers and seeds are present together. Flowers are small, white to slightly pink with 5 sepals and no petals, pink pistils, and black anthers. The fruit is a three-sided achene that is 1 - 3 mm in length.

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
State Range of  Polygonella basiramia
  Polygonella basiramia most commonly occurs in gaps in rosemary phase of sand pine scrub (USFWS 1999) and high pineland. It is found on ridges and knolls, and largely restricted to white sands of the St. Lucie and Archbold soil series (NatureServe 2001).

Many species are found in gaps with P. basaramia. It is typically found with herbs, grasses, lichens and shrubs such as such as Cladonia spp., Calamintha ashei, Cnidosculus stimulosus, Eryngium cuneifolium, Euphorbia floridana, Hypericum cumulicola, Lechea cernua, L. deckertii, Licania michauxii, Paronychia chartacea, Polanisia tenuifolia, Polygonella polygama, P. robusta, Selagniella arenicola, and Stipulicida setacea.

  Endemic to three ridges in central Florida (USFWS 1999): Lake Wales, Winter Haven, and Avon Park Bombing Range ridges (Hawkes and Menges 1995) of Highlands and Polk Counties (Coile 2000). Florida Natural Areas Inventory has 142 occurrence records (NatureServe 2001).

Number Left
  Florida Natural Areas Inventory lists 142 occurrences in Highlands and Polk Counties (NatureServe 2001). Protected sites include Catfish Creek, Lake Arbuckle State Preserve, and Saddle Blanket Lakes, Highlands Hammock State Park, Flamingo Villas, Placid Lakes, Archbold Biological Station, Lake Apthorpe, and the west side of Lake June in Winter.


Global Rank:  
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  Florida S3 LE 4/2/1998  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships
  Populations of this species may present especially dense clusters of flowers to pollinators, leading to high seed production. (USFWS 1999)
Soil crust organisms may provide this species with a surface layer beneficial for seed germination, and may also be a source of nitrogen for adult plants of this and other species. (USFWS 1999)

  Principal cause of decline is conversion of scrub habitat for agriculture (principally citrus groves and cattle ranches), and for commercial, residential, and recreational purposes.
Invasive exotic vegetation.
Fire suppression and lack of disturbances.
Invasive plants are another serious threat.

Current Research Summary
  Bea Pace is monitoring this species at Saddle Blanket Preserve.
Archbold is studying the demographics of this species.
Hawkes and Menges (1995) studied density and seed production of this species in relation to open sand and time since fire.

Current Management Summary
  Using fire or mechanical disturbance to manage the habitats occupied by Polygonella basiramia.

Research Management Needs
  Conservation of Polygonella basiramia requires disturbances to create gaps. Prescribed fire or brush removal is needed to keep the vegetation open.
Map and survey populations to determine current distribution.
Monitor existing populations.
Protect and enhance existing populations.
Conduct research on life history characteristics.
Use of fire or mechanical disturbance to manage the habitats occupied by Polygonella basiramia.
Educate the public.
Prevent degradation of existing habitat and restore areas to suitable habitat.
Research the response of P. basiramia to various land management practices.
Monitor habitat/ecological processes.

Ex Situ Needs
  Conserve germplasm.
Maintain conservation garden.


Books (Single Authors)

Coile, N.C. 2000. Notes on Florida's Regulated Plant Index (Rule 5B-40), Botany Contribution 38. Gainesville, Florida: Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry.

Small, J.K. 1933. Manual of the southeastern flora. New York, NY: Hafner Publishing Company. 1505p.

Taylor, W.K. 1992. The Guide to Florida Wildflowers. Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing Company. 320p.

Books (Sections)

Hawkes, C.V. 2000. Interactions of soild crusts with four endangered herbs in xeric Florida shrub. In: Gordon, D.R.; Slapcinsky, J.L., editors. Annual Research Report: A Compilation of Research Conducted or Supported by The Nature Conservancy in Florida. Florida Science and Stewardship Programs and The Nature Conservancy.

Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the U.S., Canada, and Greenland. In: Kartesz, J.T.; Meacham, C.A., editors. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden. Chapel Hill, NC.

Myers, R.L. 1990. Scrub and High Pine. Ecosystems of Florida. University of Central Florida Press. Orlando, FL.

Electronic Sources

(2002). Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. [Web site] University of South Florida Institute for Systematic Botany. http://www.plantatlas.usf.edu/isb/default.htm. Accessed: 2008.

NatureServe. (2008). NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. [Internet].Version 7.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. http://www.natureserve.org/explorer. Accessed: (June 17, 2008).

USGS. (2002). Status of Listed Species and Recovery Plan Development. [Web site] USGS: Norther Prairie Wildlife Research Center. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/distr/others/recoprog/plant.htm. Accessed: 2002.

Journal Articles

Abrahamson, W.G. 1984. Post-fire Recovery of Florida Lake Wales Ridge Vegetation. American Journal of Botany. 71, 1: 9-21.

Abrahamson, W.G. 1984. Species response to fire on the Florida Lake Wales Ridge. American Journal of Botany. 71, 1: 35-43.

Hawkes, C.V.; Menges, E. 1995. Density and seed production of a Florida endemic, Polygonella basiramia, in relation to time since fire and open sand. American Midland Naturalist. 133: 138-148.

Hawkes, C.V.; Menges, E.S. 1996. The relationship between open space and fire for species in a xeric Florida shrubland. Bulletin Torrey Botany Club. 123, 2: 81-92.

Hunter, M.E.; Menges, E.S. 2002. Allelopathic Effects and Root Distribution of Ceratiola ericoidesi (Empetraceae) on Seven Rosemary Scrub Species. American Journal of Botany. 89, 7: 1113-1118.

Lewis, P.O.; Crawford, D.J. 1995. Pleistocene refugium endemics exhibit greater allozymic diversity than widespread congeners in the genus Polygonella (Polygonaceae). American Journal of Botany. 82: 141-149.

Menges, E.S.; Kohfeldt, N. 1995. Life history strategies of Florida scrub plants in relation to fire. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 122: 282-297.

Myers, R. 1985. Fire and the dynamic relationship between Florida sandhill and sand pine scrub vegetation. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 112: 241-252.

Nesom, G.L.; Bates, V.M. 1984. Re-evaluations of infraspecific taxonomy in Polygonella (Polygonaceae). Brittonia. 36, 1: 37-44.

Quintana-Ascencio, P.F.; Menges, E.S. 1996. Inferring metapopulation dynamics from patch-level incidence of Florida scrub plants. Conservation Biology. 10: 1210-1219.

Quintana-Ascencio, P.F.; Menges, Eric S. 2000. Competitive abilities of three narrowly endemic plant species in experimental neighborhoods along a fire gradient. American Journal of Botany. 87, 5: 690-699.

Richardson, D.R. 1989. The sand pine scrub community: An annotated bibliography. Florida Scientist. 52: 65-93.

USFWS. 1986. 18 Plants Proposed for Listing Protection. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 11, 5: 1-13.

USFWS. 1987. Determination of endangered or threatened status for seven Florida scrub plants. Federal Register. 52, 13: 2227-2234.

USFWS. 2001. A newsletter dedicated to sharing information about the Florida scrub ecosystem. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Saving Our Scrub. 2, 3: 8.

Villa-Lobos, J. 1999. South Florida Multi-Species Recovery Plan. Plant Talk, Plant Conservation Worldwide. No. 18: 15.


Boyle, O.D.; Menges, E.S., ; Waller, D.M. 2000. The Metapopulation Biology of Polygonella basiramia, a Federally Endangered Florida Scrub Endemic: Bald-Level Genetic Structure. Tallahassee, Florida: Florida Division of Forestry: Statewide Endangered and Threatened Plant Conservation Program.

Christman, S.P. 1988. Endemism and Florida's interior sand pine scrub. Tallahassee, Florida: Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. p.247 + maps, tables & appendices. Final project report on project #GFC-84-101.

Johnson, A.F. 1981. Scrub endemics of the Central Ridge, Florida. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Unpublished report.

MacAllister, B.A.; Harper, M.G. 1998. Management of Florida Scrub for Threatened and Endangered Species. US Army Corps of Engineers, Construction Engineering Research Laboratories. p.95. USACERL Technical Report 99/19.

Martin, D.; Hardin, E.D. 1991. Florida Scrub Plants. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Florida Division of Forestry.

Quintana-Ascencio, Pedro F.; Menges, Eric S. 1997. Survivorship, Growth and Fecundity of Three Narrowly Endemic Plants in Competitive Neighborhoods Along a Fire Disturbance Gradient. Tallahassee, Florida: Florida Division of Forestry: Statewide Endangered and Threatened Plant Conservation Program.

USFWS. 1989. Recovery plan for eleven Florida scrub plants. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. p.64.

USFWS. 1996. Recovery Plan for Nineteen Central Florida Scrub and High Pineland Plants (revised). Atlanta, GA: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. p.134.

USFWS. 1999. South Florida Multi-species Recovery Plan. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Region.

Weekley, Carl. 1996. Polygonella basiramia Monitoring Report #1. Tallahassee, Florida: Florida Division of Forestry: Statewide Endangered and Threatened Plant Conservation Program.


Horton, J.H. 1960. A monograph of Delopyrum Small, Dentoceras Small, Polygonella Michx., and Thysanella Gray (Polygonaceae). [Ph.D. Thesis]: University of North Carolina. Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

  This profile was updated on 3/4/2010
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