St. Joseph's Staff / Center For Plant Conservation
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Plant Profile

St. Joseph's Staff (Manfreda longiflora)

This closeup features the pink/red flowers. Photo Credit: San Antonio Botanical Garden
  • Global Rank: G2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Asparagaceae
  • State: TX
  • Nature Serve ID: 152287
  • Lifeform: Forb/herb, Subshrub
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 03/08/1989

Runyon's huaco is a small fleshy plant that looks a lot like an aloe with interesting reddish-brown markings. It is also commonly known as Tuberose because of its fragrant white to pink flowers which bloom on a flower stalk that sometimes reaches a height of 20 inches. In times of drought, leaves will wither first but quickly grow back after sudden rain events (Eason, pers. comm. 2017). The Mexican people call any plant used to treat snakebite "huaco", named for the huaco bird, which was able to cure itself after a snakebite. There are only 4 known populations of this taxon as its imperiled by threats such as highway and pipeline construction, maintenance, overgrazing, brush clearing, and non-native grasses. Low population numbers and low numbers of individuals could lead to extinction through any number of chance events (Damude and Poole 1990).

Where is St. Joseph's Staff (Manfreda longiflora) located in the wild?


M. longiflora grows on warm, semi-arid Tamaulipan thornland on terraces, slopes and hills (Damude and Poole 1990).


This species is endemic to the Starr and Hidalgo Counties in Texas, as well as Tamaulipas in northern Mexico (NatureServe 2016).

States & Provinces:

St. Joseph's Staff can be found in Texas

Which CPC Partners conserve St. Joseph's Staff (Manfreda longiflora)?

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

Tina Stanley
  • 08/29/2022
  • Living Collection Propagation Research

As of August 2022, San Antonio Botanical Garden holds this species in living collection and has conducted propagation research.

  • 09/19/2020
  • Propagation Research

Chris Best, USFWS, has conducted germination studies at Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge

Michael Eason
  • 12/22/2017

Thousands of plants are growing on private lands in Starr and Hidalgo counties of South Texas. 12 populations are growing in Starr County alone, with anywhere from 10-50 plants each. The species is quite cryptic, growing among other species like Echinocereus enneacanthus.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Known from fewer than 15 occurrences in south Texas and northern Tamaulipas, Mexico. Threatened by brush clearing and other pasture improvement techniques, over-collection for commercial sale, highway and pipeline construction and maintenance, overgrazing, and non-native grasses (Damude and Poole 1990 cited by Barrrett n.d.). A lack of pollinators could be a limiting factor, but this needs to be studied.

Cindy Barrett
  • 01/01/2010

Highway and pipeline construction, maintenance, overgrazing, brush clearing, over-collection, non-native grasses (Damude and Poole 1990)

Cindy Barrett
  • 01/01/2010

In 1990 there were only four populations known, containing a total of 60 plants, none of which were seedlings or juveniles. (Damude and Poole 1990)

Cindy Barrett
  • 01/01/2010

Pollination biology Response to disturbance Seed dispersal and seedling recruitment Monitoring and Surveys

Cindy Barrett
  • 01/01/2010

Germination studies Seed collection for National Seed Storage Lab


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Taxon Manfreda longiflora
Authority (Rose) Verh-Will.
Family Asparagaceae
CPC Number 3563
ITIS 503683
Duration Perennial
Common Names Longflower Tuberose | Runyon Huaco | Amole de Río | St. Joseph's Staff | longflower tuberose
Associated Scientific Names Polianthes runyonii | Runyonia longiflora | Manfreda longiflora | Agave longiflora
Distribution This species is endemic to the Starr and Hidalgo Counties in Texas, as well as Tamaulipas in northern Mexico (NatureServe 2016).
State Rank
State State Rank
Texas S2
Ecological Relationships


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