Two species of Aletris occur in southern Florida: the yellow-flowered A. lutea and white-flowered A. bracteata. It is uncertain whether A. bracteata found in southern Florida is a distinct species or a variant of one of the other species found in the southeastern United States. Plants with intermediate flower colors are present in southern Florida populations, indicating environmental and/or genetic variation of A. bracteata or hybridization between A. bracteata and A. lutea. The morphology, phenology and habitat of flower color morphs of Aletris were examined in four populations of A. lutea and six populations of A. bracteata in southern Florida, as well as five populations of A. bracteata on Andros Island, Bahamas, the type locality for A. bracteata. Plants with intermediate flower color dominated five of the six A. bracteata populations in southern Florida. These plants were morphologically most similar to A. bracteata from the Bahamas. Although A. bracteata and A. lutea differed in flowering phenology in southern Florida, flowering times in some populations overlapped in March, allowing for hybridization. Florida A. bracteata plants were self-compatible and autogamous, but seed set for open-pollinated plants was higher than for self-pollinated or autogamously-pollinated plants. We hypothesize that A. bracteata and A. lutea are distinct species but that some hybridization between them has occurred in southern Florida.
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