Daphnopsis Hellerana

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Daphnopsis hellerana

No Common Name

ListedJune 23, 1988
FamilyThymelaeaceae (Mezereon)
DescriptionA tropical shrub.
HabitatTropical forest on limestone.
ThreatsHabitat destruction and degradation.
RangePuerto Rico


Daphnopsis hellerana is a shrub or small evergreen tree that can grow as tall as 20 ft (6 m) and 2 in (5 cm) in diameter. Its leaves are simple, alternately arranged on the stem, elliptic to obovate in shape, blunt or rounded at the apex, and 1.2-5.1 in (3-13 cm) long and 0.6-2.4 in (1.5-6 cm) wide. The leaves and twigs are golden hairy when young. The species is dioecious (i.e., male and female flowers are borne on different plants). The flower clusters are borne at the end of young branches. The male flowers are 0.3 in (0.8 cm) long, tubular, and finely golden hairy on the outside. The female flowers are smaller, and the calyx bell-shaped and golden hairy outside and hairless inside. The fruit is an elliptic, one-seeded, white berry less than 0.8 in (2 cm) long.

D. hellerana flowers between February and April. The mechanism of pollination is not known.


D. hellerana is found in semi-evergreen or evergreen seasonal forest of the subtropical moist forest life zone. It grows on limestone hills at elevations from 490 to 1150 ft (150 to 350 m). The soil in these hills is shallow, well-drained, alkaline, and interspersed between outcrops of limestone rock. The annual precipitation varies from 59 to 79 in (150 to 200 cm).


D. hellerana is endemic to Puerto Rico (i.e., it occurs nowhere else in the world). It is restricted to the northwestern coast of the island.


Much of the forest habitat of D. hellerana has been lost to residential, agricultural, and other kinds of development. Only four populations are known to exist. There are about 61 individuals in the area of Isabela/Quebradillas, seven in the Rio Lajas hills of Toa Baja, about 50 in the Nevarez limestone hills, and seven trees on National Institute of Health land near Sabana Seca. Three of the four known populations of D. hellerana are located on privately owned land. Individuals at the known sites are threatened by continuing urban, tourist, and industrial development, limestone quarrying, landfills, and forest clearing for agriculture. The Nevarez hills population is located beside an active quarry.

Conservation and Recovery

Populations of D. hellerana on privately-owned land should be given protection through acquisition or the negotiation of conservation easements. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has included provisions to protect the species in permits issued for limestone quarrying. The Nevarez Hills site has been recommended by the DNR as a priority area for conservation. Work should be undertaken into the captive propagation of D. hellerana, to provide stock for out-planting to supplement the small wild populations of this endangered plant.


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

Caribbean Field Office
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
P. O. Box 491
Boquerón, Puerto Rico 00622
(809) 851-7297


Conservation Management Institute. Daphnopsis hellerana. Virginia Tech, Blacksburg. http://fwie.fw.vt.edu/WWW/esis/lists/e704054.htm

Silander, S. 1992. "Recovery Plan for Cornutia obovata and Daphnopsis hellerana." U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta, Georgia. 22 pp.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2000. "Daphnopsis hellerana (No Common Name)." http://endangered.fws.gov/i/q/saq4v.html

Vivaldi, J. L. and R. O. Woodbury. 1981. "Status Report on Daphnopsis hellerana. Status report submitted to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. 35 pp.