Silene hicesiae


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Silene hicesiae
Species Authority: Brullo & Signor.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable D2 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2011-01-13
Assessor(s): Domina, G. & Troia, A.
Reviewer(s): de Montmollin, B., Bilz, M. & Lutz, M.L.
Contributor(s): Pasta, S.
This species is endemic to the Aeolian Islands: Panarea and Alicudi, near Sicily. There are two, severely fragmented, subpopulations covering an area of 3-4 hectares and the extent of occurrence (EOO) is less than 100 km². The populations are stable and count between 1,000 and 2,500 mature individuals. The main threats are posed by wildfires, grazing by herbivores, and invasive alien plants. However, the islets of Alicudi and Panarea are nature reserves and several conservation measures are being carried out. It is therefore assessed as Vulnerable D2.
2006 Critically Endangered (IUCN 2006)
2006 Critically Endangered
1997 Endangered (Walter and Gillett 1998)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is endemic to the Aeolian Islands: Panarea and Alicudi, near Sicily. The population covers an area of 3-4 hectares and the area of occupancy is therefore below 10 km². The two subpopulations are situated about 60 km apart and the EOO is less than 100 km².
Italy (Sicilia)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Recent information states between 1,000 and 2,500 mature individuals with a stable population trend (G. Domina and A. Troia pers. comm. 2011). The two subpopulations are severely fragmented.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: A perennial herb which grows on the rocky slopes of small volcanic islets.

Silene hicesiae belongs to the "Silene mollissima group", which comprises seven species endemic to the coastal cliffs of the western Mediterranean basin. These different species may have evolved when the Mediterranean became drier during the late Miocene period, about 5 million years ago, and the ancestral species became isolated into several different populations. This is one of numerous examples demonstrating how geographic separation of populations belonging to the same species, for example on islands, can contribute to the formation of new species.

It grows in the Habitats Directive listed habitat 1240 "Vegetated sea cliffs of the Mediterranean coasts with endemic Limonium spp." (Commission of the European Communities 2009).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threats that this species faces include wildfires, grazing by herbivores (e.g. rabbits), invasive alien plants (e.g. Tree of Heaven Ailanthus altissima), and incorrect management of protected areas. Any of these threats could wipe out either of the two populations.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Actions in Place
Legally: This species is listed as a priority species in Annexes II and IV of the European Union 92/43/EEC Habitats Directive. The islets of Alicudi and Panarea are nature reserves at the regional level, where the collection of S. hicesiae is strictly forbidden.

In situ and ex situ: A number of conservation measures have been implemented in the context of the EU LIFE project Conservation of priority species of the Eolian Islands' flora EOLIFE99: improvement of knowledge on the biology and ecology of S. hicesiae, reinforcement of wild populations with plants propagated ex situ, cultivation in botanic gardens and seed banks, and informing and sensitizing decision makers and the general public. This plant is also included in the GENMEDOC project (an inter-regional network of Mediterranean seedbanks), and seeds are being collected in order to propagate this species.

Actions Needed
All populations of the Tree of Heaven Ailanthus altissima near to where S. hicesiae grows need to be eliminated. The conservation programme initiated by EOLIFE99 also needs to be continued.

Bibliography [top]

Brullo, S. and Signorello, P. 1984. Silene hicesiae, a new species from Aeolian islands. Willdenowia 14: 141-144.

Chater, A.O., Walters, S.M. and Akeroyd, J.R. 1993. Silene L. In: T.G. Tutin, V.H. Heywood, N.A.Burges, A.O. Chater, J.R. Edmonson, D.M. Moore, D.H. Valentine, S.M. Walters and D.A.Webb, D.A. (Eds), Flora Europaea, Volume 1: Psilotaceae to Platanaceae. 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press, U.K. Pp. 191–218.

Commission of the European Communities. 2009. Composite Report on the Conservation Status of Habitat Types and Species as required under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive. Report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament. Brussels.

IUCN. 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2011.1). Available at: (Accessed: 16 June 2011).

Jeanmonod, D. 1984. Révision de la section Siphonomorphae Otth. Du genre Silene L. (Caryophyllaceae) en Méditerranée occidentale. 2. Le groupe de Silene mollissima. Candollea 39(1): 195-259.

La Manna, M., Lo Cascio, P., Pasta, S. and Troia, A. 2001. A multidisciplinary project for the endangered species Silene hicesiae Brullo & Signorello (Caryophyllaceae): preliminary results. In: Proceedings of "Planta Europa - Third European Conference on the Conservation of wild plants, pp. 23-28. Pruhonice (Prague), Czech Republic, 23-28 June 2001.

Montmollin, B. de and Strahm, W. (eds). 2005. The Top 50 Mediterranean Island Plants: Wild plants at the brink of extinction, and what is needed to save them. IUCN SSC Mediterranean Islands Plant Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Pasta, S. 1997. Analisi fitogeografica della flora delle isole minori circumsiciliane. Tesi di Dottorato. Univ. Firenze, 2 voll.

Troìa, A. and Burgarella, C. 2004. Genetic variability of the endangered island endemic Silene hicesiae Brullo & Signorello (Caryophyllaceae): Preliminary results. IX IOPB Meeting "Plant Evolution in Mediterranean Climate Zones", Valencia, Spain, 16-19 May 2004, pp. 133.

UNEP-WCMC. 2003. Protected Areas and World Heritage Programme, .

Walter, K.S. and Gillett, H.J. (eds). 1998. 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants. Compiled by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. IUCN - The World Conservation Union, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Citation: Domina, G. & Troia, A. 2013. Silene hicesiae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 29 March 2015.
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