Helonias bullata

Common Names:
Linnaeus 1753
Growth Habit:
CPC Number:
Profile Contributors:
Fully Sponsored

Reference Links

ITIS - Tropicos - USDA Plants - Fish & WildLife

Participating Institutions

The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
The New York Botanical Garden
Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The conservation of Helonias bullata is fully sponsored.


This beautiful plant is locally abundant in areas along the east coast. Despite this, most existing populations are unprotected and suffer from known direct threats to their existence. There is a great deal of public interest in this plant due to its attractive bright pink clusters of spring flowers that appear in April or early May and last through mid-June. Swamp pink grows in large dense patches creating magnificent displays that are easy to find at sites where it is present. Unfortunately this species has suffered from habitat destruction that has eradicated it from many Mid-Atlantic states and continues to suffer from similar threats. (Dowling 1999) Even when the land where a population is present is protected from development, the runoff caused by development on neighboring lands poses a severe threat to this species continued existence (NatureServe 2001). In addition, the destruction of habitat in the past has severely reduced the genetic variation in the species which continues to cause problems for their continued survival (Godt et al. 1995).

A perennial rhizomatous herb, the swamp pink usually is one of the first wildflowers to bloom in the spring, blooming from March to May. Its fragrant flowers are pink and occur in a cluster of 30 to 50. Its leaves are evergreen, lance-shaped, and parallel-veined. During the winter, the leaves often turn reddish brown but are often difficult to see because they lie flat on, or slightly raised, from the ground and so are often hidden by leaf litter. However, if you do find one of these beauties during the winter months, check for a large round bud in the center of the leaves--this represents next season's flower head. These leaves form a basal rosette from which arises from a stout, hollow stem. This stem can grow from a height of 2 to 9 decimeters during flowering, and to 1.5 meters during seed maturation. After flowering, a three-lobed fruit resembling an inverted heart forms, each with many ovules that open into six lobes. These lobes release linear-shaped seeds with fatty appendages on either end (presumably eliasomes, which are eaten by ants). (USFWS 1990; Peterson 1990).

Distribution & Occurrence


Conservation, Ecology & Research