The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
New England Wild Flower Society
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
The conservation of Narthecium americanum is fully sponsored.
Elizabeth J. Farnsworth contributed to this Plant Profile.
This perennial lily, growing up to half a meter tall, graces pine barrens bogs with its beautiful yellow flowers in June and July. The species' stronghold is in New Jersey, although a few far-flung populations are reported from the Carolinas and Delaware. A few dozen small populations are scattered around the New Jersey Pine Barrens, where they line the margins of streams, cedar swamps, and bog mats that are periodically flooded and flushed by moving water. These plants are threatened by activities that change the local water regime, including dam-building by people and beavers and the conversion of swamps to cranberry bogs.
Research and Management Summary:
A handful of individuals and institutions have studied this species and it's habitat. No information on management activities is available.
This lily rises from a cluster of erect, basal leaves up to 20 cm long. The 4-9 mm-long, bright yellow flowers are crowded in a raceme at the top of the single stem and produce 1 cm-long, pointed fruits with 8 mm-long, elliptical seeds.
Distribution & Occurrence
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Stone (1911, 1912), in describing the species from New Jersey, identified its habitat as wet, sandy bogs, streams, and moist savannahs. Plants also inhabit quaking bog mats that are fed by "springy seeps" and the borders of white cedar swamps (Schuyler 1990). In general, Narthecium americanum grows in firm, sandy soils in areas that may be briefly flooded but do not accumulate deep standing water; Narthecium americanum does not tolerate stagnant water.
Associated herbaceous species include: Aster nemoralis, Calamagrostis pickeringii, Calamovilfa brevipilis, Juncus caesariensis, Lophiola americana, Muhlenbergia torreyana, Platanthera integra, Pogonia ophioglossoides, Rhynchospora oligantha, Schizaea pusilla, and Tofieldia racemosa (Stone 1912, Schuyler 1990); Sphagnum moss is also well-developed in these sites.
|35 extant populations (the only ones remaining of 60 historic occurrences) are known from New Jersey (NatureServe 2001). Since populations generally consist of fewer than 100 individual plants, the total world population is likely less than 3000.|
Conservation, Ecology & Research
Flowers appear in June and July, and form seed by a combination of selfing and cross-pollination via insect vectors (Summerfield 1974). Although copious amounts of seed may be produced and appear to germinate successfully, very few seedlings are found in wild populations of the plant (Schuyler 1990). This begs the question of whether seedling establishment is hindered by various ecological factors such as seed predation or seedling herbivory, but these factors have not been studied to date.
A related lily, the rare swamp pink (Helonias bullata) suffers extensive herbivory by deer in similar Pine Barrens habitats (E. Farnsworth, personal observation); Narthecium americanum is impacted as well, and deer management is being promoted in New Jersey as a means to reduce herbivory on both species (Steve Eisenhauer, Natural Lands Trust, personal communication).
Studies of the closely related congener, Narthecium ossifragum (Summerfield 1974), suggest that shading may inhibit both growth and reproduction of N. americanum. Low numbers of flowering stems are found in areas shaded by white cedar, where bogs are succeeding to forest (Schuyler 1990).
Conversely, where stands of cedar have been killed by fire, locally dense patches of flowering Narthecium americanum have been observed, according to field forms from the New Jersey Natural Heritage Program. Therefore, Narthecium americanum may benefit from openings in the canopy.
This species may also be somewhat fire-tolerant, if its rhizomes remain intact or it may recolonize following moderate burns. Work by Summerfield (1974) on N. ossifragum cautions that more extreme burns (which kill rhizomes) can greatly reduce the viability of populations, however.
The New England Wild Flower Society (Framingham, Massachusetts) has successfully germinated seeds of N. americanum. Dried seed will germinate without refrigeration, but chilling improves germination. Stored seed remains viable for at least 7 years.
Leslie Duthie at Norcross Sanctuary (Monson, Massachusetts) has propagated the plants from cuttings.
Long-term studies to determine how long populations can persist using only vegetative reproduction
Population viability analysis from multi-year studies of several populations
Field studies to quantify the prevalence of herbivory in populations and the degree to which this threatens viability
Controlled-burn studies to determine thresholds of fire tolerance and the ecophysiology of seed germination and seedling colonization following fire
Canopy removal studies that document the responses of plants to clearing and removal of shade
Surveys of suitable swamp habitat in Delaware, Maryland, and the Carolinas to potentially identify more populations of the plant
Molecular phylogenetic studies to determine relatedness of Narthecium americanum to the congeners N. asiaticum, N. ossifragum, and N. californicum.
If storage is feasible, seed should be collected from marginal or threatened populations
Seed bank and survival of plants following germination
Bassett, G.W. 1912. Trials and Pleasures of the Collector. Bartonia. 4, 11-13
Bassett, G.W. 1913. The Trail of the Winding Water. Bartonia. 5: 6-10.
Gates, R.R. 1918. A Systematic Study of the North American Melanthaceae from the Genetic Standpoint. Botanical Journal of the Linnaean Society. 44: 131-172.
Hoch, J.H. 1969. Poisonous Plants of South Carolina. 5. Acta Phytother. 16: 181-184.
Small, J.K. 1924. A New bog-asphodel from the Mountains. Torreya. 24, 5: 86-87.
Stone, W. 1912. Abama americana (Ker) Morong. Bartonia. 4: 1-5.
Summerfield, R.J. 1974. Narthecium ossifragum (L.) Huds. Journal of Ecology. 62: 325-339.
USFWS. 1985. Review of plant taxa for listing as endangered or threatened species. Federal Register. 50, 188: 39526-39527.
USFWS. 1997. Review of Plant and Animal Taxa that are Candidates or Proposed for Listing as Endangered and Threatened, Annual Notice of findings on Recycled Petetions, and Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions; Notice of Review. Proposed Rul