Scilla morrisii 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Liliopsida Liliales Hyacinthaceae

Scientific Name: Scilla morrisii Meikle
Common Name(s):
English Morris Squill, Pallid Squill
Taxonomic Source(s): WCSP. 2015. World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Available at:
Taxonomic Notes: C-band karyotyping and DNA content determinations by Greilhuber and Speta (1989) indicate that Scilla morrisii and Scilla cilicica are sibling species and that all Cypriot provenances actually belong to one endemic species, by priority Scilla morrisii, while Scilla cilicica is restricted to southern Anatolia. Some variability exists with regard to flower colour and possibly timing of leaf expansion of Scilla morrisii.

Greilhuber and Speta (1989) noted that the species Scilla morrisii may include populations of the plant identified as Scilla cilicica which occurs generally in more rocky habitats. This would alter the distribution and population data on the species, but further research is needed in order to confirm.

Andreou et al. (2015) found that two previously reported subpopulations of the plant in the Agios Neophytos area consist of hybrid plants of S. morrisii and S. cilicica Siehe, and are disregarded here, with further research required to determine if unhybridised individuals of S. morrisii exist at these two subpopulations.

Taking into consideration the above new findings and results, the distribution, range and total population of Scilla morrisii (sensu Greilhuber and Speta 1989, Speta 2011) maybe considerably larger; therefore a closer examination of these parameters may reveal that the IUCN category of Scilla morrisii (classified as Endangered in the Red Data Book of the Flora of Cyprus) should be downgraded. This issue should be discussed and resolved during the next Biogeographic seminar in order to arrange for the next monitoring and reporting of this species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(ii,iii)+2ab(ii,iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2015-03-30
Assessor(s): Andreou, M.
Reviewer(s): Christodoulou, C.S. & Allen, D.J.
Contributor(s): Kadis, C., Peraza Zurita, M.D., Georghiou, K., Delipetrou, P., Della, A., Paraskeva-Hadjichambi, D. & Hadjichambis, A.

The taxonomy of the species is controversial (Hand et al. 2011); Meikle (1985) described two species of the Scilla siberica alliance; 1) Scilla cilicica, which occurs in Cyprus in crevices of limestone rocks (30-1,000 m altitude) along the Pentadactylos range and on the Akamas Peninsula and 2) Scilla morrisii, a very rare micro-endemic confined only to the vicinity of Chrysorrogiatissa monastery in moist shaded places mainly under Quercus infectoria subsp veneris, at an altitude of about 800 m. Greilhuber and Speta (1989) indicate that the two taxa are sibling species and that all Cypriot provenances actually belong to one endemic species, by priority Scilla morrisii, while Scilla cilicica is restricted to southern Anatolia. Some variability exists with regard to flower colour and possibly timing of leaf expansion of Scilla morrisii.

Furthermore, Speta (2011) suggests that the description of Scilla (Othocallis) morrisii by Meikle (specimen 573, 1975 in Kew) was based on untypically coloured plants which were modified by a fungus (Uromyces scillarum); this is mainly the reason for accepting two separate species for the western part of the island. Also, it is suggested that plants from Pentadaktylos range are slightly different karyologically (Othocallis morrisii var. veneris).

Taking into consideration the above new findings and results, the distribution, range and total population of Scilla morrisii (sensu Greilhuber and Speta 1989 and Speta 2011) are considerably larger. Despite that, the species is assessed as EN (B1ab(ii,iii)+2ab(ii,iii)) due to an observed decline in population and AOO in one of its locations.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to the western part of the island of Cyprus, growing between 25 and 1,000 m asl.
Countries occurrence:
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:76Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:3067
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):NoExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:7Continuing decline in number of locations:No
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:NoLower elevation limit (metres):25
Upper elevation limit (metres):1000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The population size was reported to be less than 600 individuals (Montmollin and Strahm 2005). It was later estimated to be between 1,800 and 2,100 individuals (Commission of the European Communities 2009), and at about 1,000 individuals according to Tsintides et al. (2007).

Excluding hybrid subpopulations at the ‘Mavrokolympos’ Natura 2000 site, Andreou et al. (2015) considered the population to be stable at around 1,000 mature individuals, reporting the following numbers of mature individuals during a three-year monitoring project; 955 (2006), 1,669 (2007), and 1,044 (2008). Some colonies have been lost as the result of vineyard cultivation in 2007, although population size at other sub-populations increased over the period 2006-2007 (Andreou et al. 2015). The species populations are considered to be severely fragmented.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:955-1669,1044Continuing decline of mature individuals:No
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This is a perennial plant which overwinters as a bulb, in which nutrients are stored for the next spring. This species occurs mainly in north facing sides of slopes and sometimes in streams and under Quercus infectoria subsp. veneris or Pistacia terebinthus. It prefers moist, shaded crevices and banks.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The plant is not known to be utilized. All species in the Scilla genus are known for their toxic properties, which may cause serious digestive disorders.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The construction of roads at one site (‘Vouni Panagias’) and the low to moderate frequency of human induced fires were identified as the direct threats to the plant (Andreou et al. 2015). Competition from synanthropic species, such as Allium neapolitanum Cyr., Silene vulgaris (Moench) Garcke, Muscari comosum (L.) Mill., Hordeum bulbosum L., Trifolium clypeatum L., Opopanax hispidus (Friv.) Griseb., Veronica cymbalaria Bodard subsp. panormitana (Tineo ex Guss.) O.Bolòs & Vigo, Stellaria media (L.) Vill. subsp. media, Octhodium aegyptiacum (L.) DC., Galium aparine L., was evidenced at one sub-population (Andreou et al. 2015). Ecosystem conversion to cultivated areas and inbreeding due to the small and isolated subpopulations (Lienert 2004) were recorded, too. Kadis and Christodoulou (2006) also reported logging and forest clearance, and impacts from predators as threats.The above threats have been identified for Scilla morrisii sensu Meikle (1985) at Vouni Panagias.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: All known individuals are within the Parco delle Madonie Regional Natural Park, with some individuals also within the Monte Quacella, Monte dei Cervi, Pizzo Carbonara, Monte Ferro, Pizzo Otiero Site of Community Importance (Habitats Directive). The survival of this species depends on the conservation of the remaining oak forests and Pistacia trees. These have been considerably reduced by logging for timber, road construction and expansion of farmland. Large old oak trees have become rare and scattered where there used to be a closed forest cover. While the overall number of individuals do not seem to be declining, some sites within known sub-populations have been lost as a result of habitat conversion (Andreou et al. 2015), and the extent of its habitat is decreasing due to road construction, increased agricultural land use, and other threats (Montmollin and Strahm 2005).

Classifications [top]

3. Shrubland -> 3.8. Shrubland - Mediterranean-type Shrubby Vegetation
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.2. Genome resource bank
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:Yes
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:Yes
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.4. Scale Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Very Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 7 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads & railroads
♦ timing:Past, Likely to Return ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Past Impact 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.1. Fire & fire suppression -> 7.1.1. Increase in fire frequency/intensity
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.3. Other ecosystem modifications
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.1. Hybridisation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.2. Competition

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy
2. Conservation Planning -> 2.1. Species Action/Recovery Plan
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.4. Habitat trends

Bibliography [top]

Andreou, M., Kadis, C., Delipetrou, P., and Georghiou, K. 2015. Conservation biology of Chionodoxa lochiae and Scilla morrisii (Asparagaceae): Two priority bulbous plant species of the European Union in Cyprus. Global Ecology and Conservation 511-525.

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.

Council of Europe. 1992. Datasheets of flora species for revision of Appendix I of the Bern Convention. Vols III & IV. Council of Europe, Publishing and Documentation Service, Strasbourg,France.

Greilhuber, J. and Speta, F. 1989. A Giemsa C-banding and DNA content study in Scilla cilicica and S. morrisii, two little known sibling species of the S. siberica alliance (Hyacinthaceae). Plant Systematics and Evolution 165(1/2): 71-83.

Hand, R. (ed.). 2011. Supplementary notes to the flora of Cyprus VII. Willdenowia 41: 341-355.

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-3. Available at: (Accessed: 7 December 2017).

Kadis, C. 1995. On the reproductive biology of the strictly protected plants of Cyprus. PhD Thesis. University of Athens, Athens.

Kadis, C. and Christodoulou, C.S. 2006. Scilla morrisii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Cambridge Available at: (Accessed: 16/3/2015).

Kadis, C.C. and Georghiou, K. 1994. Scilla morrisii Meikle: A case study for plant diversity conservation in Cyprus. Noticiero de Biologia, Abstracts of the International Conference on landscape degradation in Mediterranean-type Ecosystems (MEDECOS VII), Chile., 32pp.

Lienert, J. 2004. Habitat fragmentation effects on fitness of plant populations—a review. Journal of Nature Conservation 12: 53-72.

Meikle, R.D. 1977. Flora of Cyprus. The Bentham-Moxon Trust Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, U.K.

Meikle, R.D. 1985. Flora of Cyprus. Bentham-Moxon Trust, London.

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.

Pantelas, V., Papachristophorou, T. and Christodoulou, P. 1993. Cyprus flora in colour: the endemics. Nicosia, Cyprus.

Speta, F. 2011. Morphologische und karyologische studien an Othocallis morrisii (Meikle) Speta (Hyacinthaceae) von der Insel Zypern. Phyton (Horn) 51(2): 217-230.

Tsintides, T., Christodoulou, C.S., Delipetrou, P. and Georghiou, K. 2007. The Red Data Book of the Flora of Cyprus. Cyprus Forestry Association, Lefkosia.

Tsintidis, T.C. and Kurtellaridis, L. 1995. The endemic plants of Cyprus. Bank of Cyprus and Cyprus Foresters Society, Nicosia.

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: Andreou, M. 2017. Scilla morrisii. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T61607A3105494. . Downloaded on 18 June 2018.
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