Our species spotlights are profiles on rare plant species across North Carolina.
Common name: hoary puccoon. This species is listed as threatened in North Carolina. In late March & early April it shows its yellow-orange blooms at PCP’s Preserves in Durham County. The taproot produces a reddish-purple juice that was used as a dye by Native Americans. This species is found in Piedmont Prairie remnants.
Observation © Eric M Powell · some rights reserved
Common name: Florida sunflower. It has NC as its northernmost range. This species is listed as threatened in North Carolina as there are very few populations limited to wet woods, bogs, and swales in the coastal plain. The primary threat to this species is habitat destruction. Another suspected threat is hybridization with Swamp Sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius), which is much more common in NC.
Common name: Canada yew. This species is an ice age relict, boreal species in which NC is the most southern extent of its range. Canada Yew is listed as threatened in NC as there is one known population in Watauga and Ashe Counties. It is dependent on late successional forest communities and is highly intolerant to disturbances such as browsing by moose and deer. Canada Yew mostly spreads by vegetative reproduction, but individuals found in isolated microsites also suggests dispersal of seeds by birds.
Sarracenia purpurea var. montana
Common name: mountain purple pitcher plant. This variety of purple pitcher plant is found only in the Southern Blue Ridge mountains of NC, SC, and GA. Just like its more common relative, the purple pitcher plant, this mountain bog variety captures rainwater in its pitcher-shaped leaves. These pitchers host a diverse community of microorganisms which digest what falls into the pitcher pools. The plant relies on these microorganisms for the nutrients they release as they grow and feed. Researchers at UNC-Asheville have been studying these communities to better understand how health and diversity among these communities impacts the vigor of the pitcher plants on which they depend. How amazing!
© Marty some rights reserved
Common name: wall-rue spleenwort. This species is an evergreen fern native to Europe and North America. This species' distribution is a great example of showing the ancient land connection between the continents. In N.A this species is found primarily in the Appalachian Mountains and the Ozarks growing on calcareous rocks such as limestone.The variety cryptolepis is listed as Special Concern-Vulnerable in North Carolina.
Common name: tall Barbara's buttons. This species was named in 2012 and is found over mafic soils in only two counties, one in NC and one in VA.
Common name: sweet white trillium. This species is endemic to the Southern Appalachian Mountains and is listed as Threatened in North Carolina. There are 38 different species of Trillium, and in early spring you can find many blooming in the mountains of North Carolina including the Sweet White Trillium. The trick to differentiating Sweet White Trillium from its more common look-alike, Trillium erectum, is its sweet smell of apples and vanilla compared to the wet dog smell of T. erectum. Beware though, the sweet smell does not last for the entire bloom period and will fade so you need to catch it early.
Common name: dwarf-flowered heartleaf. This species is federally listed as threatened and is endemic to the piedmont of North and South Carolina, where it grows in acidic soils along slopes. Hexastylis naniflora begins to bloom in March and has brownish fleshy flowers that are usually hidden in leaf litter. Fun fact- this slow-growing species produces only one new leaf per year! The main threats to this species are habitat loss and degradation.
Common name: cranberry. This species is listed as threatened in North Carolina, which is the southern edge of its distribution. The main threats are disturbances in wetland habitats, particularly changes in hydrology and succession of woody species for NC. Fun fact, cranberry species used to be called craneberries because their flowers look similar to a cranes head.