Besseya bullii
Image of Besseya bullii

Photo by Phyllis Higman 

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Key Characteristics

Small perennial forb (20-40 cm) of dry hillsides; prominent ovate basal leaves rounded at base; flowers yellow and small in a terminal spike.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: E
  • State Rank: S1
  • Global Rank: G3


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
St. Joseph31985
Van Buren11930
Distribution map for Besseya bullii

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Found exclusively on oak savanna remnants on steep hillsides, especially those adjacent to large rivers and lakes in southern Lower Michigan.

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

Black oak, white oak, bastard toadflax, big and little bluestem, Eastern red cedar, side-oats grama grass, birdfoot violet, dwarf dandelion, alum root, hoary puccoon, beard-tongue, bush-clover, blazing star, downy phlox, hepatica, and pussy-toes.


The species requires the maintenance of the savanna community. Brush removal and prescribed burns are recommended, since sites tend to heavily brush in without natural disturbance regime. Most examples of these sites are small and becoming degraded through further landscape fragmentation and lack of management.

General Survey Guidelines

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgement of the investigator.

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Aug 18, 2018]


Survey References

Technical References

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