Avon Park Harebells

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Avon Park Harebells

Crotalaria avonensis

ListedApril 27, 1993
FamilyLeguminosae (Fabaceae)
DescriptionPerennial herb with yellow, flowering racemes, and long, rounded, somewhat succulent, leaves coated with white or yellowish-white hairs.
HabitatDry, scrub, high pine communities.
ThreatsAgricultural and urban development.


The Avon Park harebells is a perennial herb with a vertical tap root that produces flowering stems that originate as much as 4 in (10 cm) below the surface. These stems grow upright for only a few centimeters above the surface and terminate in yellow, flowering racemes. The leaves are roughly 0.5-1 in (1.3-2.5 cm) long, rounded, somewhat succulent, and coated with white or yellowish-white hairs. The racemes are both terminal and on short secondary branches opposite the leaves. The flower, shaped like a typical pea flower, has a yellow corolla about 0.3-0.4 in (7.5-10 mm) long. The keel petal (at the bottom of the corolla) is shorter than the wing petals. The seed pods are inflated, tan to gray to maroon, nearly hairless, 0.56-1 in (1.4-2.5 cm) long, and contain up to 18 seeds per pod. The pods can be nearly as long as the upright flower stalks that hold them in place. Flowering occurs between mid-March and June. After flowering, the plants enter a vegetative phase, forming clusters of stems that give a clumped or rosette appearance. The plants are dormant from late fall or early winter until March.


Avon Park harebells occurs in dry upland communities in central Florida including scrub, high pine, or intermediate "turkey oak barrens," and in the coastal scrub community in the northwestern part of the state.

Avon Park harebells typically grows in full sun on bare white sand or in association with clumps of reindeer lichens of the genus Cladonia, but many individuals are found in the partial shade of other plants.


Avon Park harebells is one of the most narrowly distributed of the Lake Wales Ridge endemics. It is currently known from three sites in Polk County. The Saddle Blanket Lakes sites may fall within the areas purchased (or to be purchased) by the State of Florida's Conservation and Recreation Lands program.


This species is being displaced by the conversion of high pine and scrub communities to agriculture; a factor in this trend is a property taxation system that favors agriculture. Human activities and a limited geographic distribution also pose threats to the species' future.

Conservation and Recovery

Efforts to preserve the endangered central Florida upland communities have been initiated. Activities include: 1) The State of Florida's Conservation and Recreation Lands program is buying land in Highlands and Polk Counties. A completed acquisition, the Arbuckle State Forest and Park (13,700 acres, or 5,544.2 hectares), includes a good representation of the scrub community. 2) The Nature Conservancy purchased property at Tiger Creek and Lake Apthorpe. 3) The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed the creation of a Lake Wales Ridge National Wildlife Refuge (10,000 acres, or 4,046.9 hectares) to protect/manage the endangered species inhabiting these ecosystems. The 12 sites that might be acquired overlap with those in State projects. A large tract at Carter Creek in Highlands County is tentatively a high priority for acquisition, if funds become available.

Efforts by the FWS to protect the threatened Florida scrub jay may benefit all the plants and animals found in the scrub ecosystem.


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Regional Office, Division of Endangered Species
1875 Century Blvd., Suite 200
Atlanta, Georgia 30345

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office
6620 Southpoint Dr., South, Suite 310
Jacksonville, Florida 32216-0958
Telephone: (904) 232-2580
Fax: (904) 232-2404


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 27 April 1993. "Endangered or Threatened Status for Seven Central Florida Plants." Federal Register 58 (79): 25746-25755.