Wheeler's Peperomia / Center For Plant Conservation
Search / Plant Profile / Peperomia wheeleri
Plant Profile

Wheeler's Peperomia (Peperomia wheeleri)

Culebra Island, June 2018 Photo Credit: Carlos Pacheco
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Piperaceae
  • State: PR
  • Nature Serve ID: 134682
  • Lifeform: Forb/herb
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/10/1987

Peperomia wheeleri, and evergreen herb, can grow up to one meter in height and produces clusters of small, hermaphroditic flowers that form into spikes 10-15 centimeters in length (USFWS 1986a). P. wheeleri is restricted to the semi-evergreen forests on Culebra Island, a part of Puerto Rico. Deforestation and livestock grazing have been responsible for eliminating this species from most of its range (USFWS 1986a). Remaining populations are isolated to a National Wildlife Refuge and still face continued threat by the foraging behavior of escaped domestic fowl (USFWS 1986a, 1986b, 1986c).

Where is Wheeler's Peperomia (Peperomia wheeleri) located in the wild?


The island of Culebra has an irregular topography and occurs on volcanic and intrusive rocks (USFWS 1990). The vegetation of this island is classified as belonging to subtropical dry forests (USFWS 1990). P. wheeleri is known from a more mesic area classified as a semi-evergreen seasonal forest that consists of two strata, a tree canopy and herbaceous layer (USFWS 1990). P. wheeleri grows in the understory, herbaceous layer, on humus which collects on granodiorite boulders (USFWS 1990). P. wheeleri is associated with the following canopy species: Clusea rosea, Bursera simaruba and Ficus citrifolia (USFWS 1990). It is also associated with other species growing in the herbaceous strata: several species of Tillandsia, Anthurium acaule, Whittmackia lingulata and Epidendrum cochleatum (USFWS 1990).


P. wheeleri is only known from the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico (USFWS 1990).

States & Provinces:

Wheeler's Peperomia can be found in Puerto Rico

Which CPC Partners conserve Wheeler's Peperomia (Peperomia wheeleri)?

CPC's Plant Sponsorship Program provides long term stewardship of rare plants in our National Collection. We are so grateful for all our donors who have made the Plant Sponsorship Program so successful. We are in the process of acknowledging all our wonderful plant sponsorship donors on our website. This is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.

Conservation Actions

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

  • 01/01/2010

Threats include foraging by domestic fowl, cattle and removal of the forest canopy which destroys the humus substrate necessary for P. wheeleri (USFWS 1990).

  • 01/01/2010

P. wheeleri is restricted to the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico. Here, it can be found on the northern slopes at the island's highest elevation (200 meters), Monte Resaca (USFWS 1990). Several hundred plants are known from this site, and a majority of these plants are within the boundaries of the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge (USFWS 1990).

  • 01/01/2010

None known.

  • 01/01/2010

Ongoing conservation measures include monitoring the population and propagation efforts by the Puerto Rican Department of Sports and Recreation in cooperation with the Caribbean Field Office and Culebra National Wildlife Refuge and also by Fairchild Tropical Garden (USFWS 1990).

  • 01/01/2010

As outlined by P. wheeleri's Recovery Plan (USFWS 1990), management needs include protecting remaining plants and habitat by creating mammal exclusions to reduce or eliminate foraging and trampling by fowl and cattle. Plant protection can also be aided by monitoring populations on a long-term basis, enforcing endangered species regulations and searching for new populations. Research needs include defining habitat requirements at all life stages, determining reproductive biology and ecology (USFWS 1990). These topics include pollination and seed dispersal ecology as well as propagation, germination and seedling recruitment (USFWS 1990).

  • 01/01/2010

At Fairchild Tropical Garden in Miami, Florida, P. wheeleri produced seed in 1989. Seeds began germination after 34 days, but at a rate of less than 10% (USFWS 1990). Propagation is more successful with cuttings that root easily (USFWS 1990).


Be the first to post an update!

Taxon Peperomia wheeleri
Authority Britt.
Family Piperaceae
CPC Number 3299
ITIS 18299
Duration Perennial
Common Names Wheeler's peperomia
Associated Scientific Names Peperomia wheeleri
Distribution P. wheeleri is only known from the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico (USFWS 1990).
State Rank
State State Rank
Puerto Rico S1
Ecological Relationships

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Wind Suspected Pollinator Floral Link
Insects Suspected Pollinator Floral Link
Bats Suspected Pollinator Floral Link

Donate to CPC to Save this Species

CPC secures rare plants for future generations by coordinating on-the-ground conservation and training the next generation of plant conservation professionals. Donate today to help save rare plants from extinction.

Donate Today