The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Bok Tower Gardens
The conservation of Nolina brittoniana is fully sponsored.
S.K. Maddox contributed to this Plant Profile.
Nolina brittoniana is a perennial herb that is a member of the Agavaceae family. It has the typical agave-like long, stiff leaves in a grass-like clump that rise from a bulbous stem. The youngest leaves are erect while the older leaves (up to 6 feet long, 0.5 inch wide) spread on the ground. The flowering stalk reaches from 3 to 6 feet tall, and is topped with a large, showy cluster of small while flowers. Britton's beargrass flowers from March to May, but fruits, leaves, and growth habit are distinctive all year. Male and female flowers are usually borne on separate plants. Both plants are very conspicuous during flowering. The fruits are a papery, symmetrical, 3-lobed capsule, persisting through the summer (FNAI 2000).
This species may be mistaken for Nolina atopocarpa, which is a related species that may occur in the same area as Nolina brittoniana. The two species can be distinguished from one another by the shorter leaves, green (rather than white) flowers, and asymmetric fruits characteristic of Nolina atopocarpa. (USFWS 1996)
Distribution & Occurrence
Britton's beargrass occurs in a wide range of habitat types, from relatively open scrub to hammocks with closed canopies. All of the habitats where Britton's beargrass occurs are considered upland sites where soil is droughty and infertile, and are fire-dependent and fire-maintained ecosystems. The wide range of habitat types are very different in appearance, physiognomy, species composition, fire dynamics, and land use history, but are closely linked ecologically and historically (USFWS 1999).
Nolina brittoniana is usually associated with evergreen oaks, saw palmettos, various shrub heaths, and xerophytic herbs. Britton's beargrass occurs in association with several rare and/or federally listed species: Polygala lewtonii, Polygonella myriophylla, Polygonella basiramia, Paronychia chartacea spp. chartacea, Persea humilis, Liatris ohlingerae, Hypericum cumulicola, Conradina brevifolia, Calamintha ashei, Bonamia grandiflora, and Ilex opaca var. arenicola. (Wunderlin et al. 1980)
|75 sites were named on a FNAI survey, and of those, 8 to 10 are protected and managed in a attempt to recover the scrub habitat where they occur. (USFWS 1999)|
Conservation, Ecology & Research
Fire exclusion leading to overshading.
Nolina brittoniana responds to fire with increased flowering one year post fire (Menges 1996).
An on-going study of the demography, breeding system, and genetics of N. brittoniana discusses the use of spatial data to analyze the geographic factors that influence genetic diversity in the species, and aid in protection and restoration efforts for N. brittoniana (USFWS 1999).
Menges (1996) found that, while most plants produce either male or female flowers, in a few cases a single plant has been found to produce both male and female flowers (making the plant polygamodioecious).
Pollination is required for successful seed production (TNC 1995).
N. brittoniana is present in most of the tracts targeted for acquisition by State and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Polk and Highlands Counties.
This species is monitored and managed by the Lake Wales Ridge office of The Nature Conservancy.
Continue surveys in Polk and Highlands counties and on protected lands.
Protect and enhance existing populations.
Continue research on life history characteristics.
Monitor existing populations of N. brittoniana.
Provide public information on Britton's beargrass.
Baker, M.F. 1938. Florida wild flowers. New York: Macmillan Company.