Vascular Plants of North Carolina
View Plant List

Welcome to the "Vascular Plants of North Carolina" website!

County Range Maps are now available (as of January 2019) for all of the native species in the state! These species are highlighted by bold font for the Scientific Name and a green Map tab when viewing the list. The website editors are in the process of completing range maps for all native varieties and subspecies. Eventually, range maps for non-native species/taxa will be completed.

Species accounts have now been completed (as of January 2019) for all native woody species (trees, shrubs, and woody vines). Species accounts of herbaceous species, starting with orchids, are now being written. When an account has been completed, a green Account tab shows beneath the species name (instead of a green Map tab); however, the map for that species is present.

This website aims to provide a compendium of all of the vascular plant taxa -- species as well as subspecies and varieties -- known to occur in North Carolina, or to have been reported as occurring in the state. The list provides information on the relative rarity or abundance of each taxon, both in the state and globally, as well as legal state and Federal statuses. In addition, the website will provide more detailed information on the geographic range, habitat, flowering and fruiting periods, and comments on the taxonomy and other notable features of each taxon. The website will also contain photographs of each taxon in the state, by providing an upload function for the public to submit photos to the website. Each taxon will also have a county dot map that shows the known occurrences in the state.

The original data for this website have been taken from the Biotics database of the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program (NC NHP), in November 2015. In general, the names and the global ranks from the database are provided by NatureServe (NS), with the state ranks provided by the NC NHP. Edits to the names and ranks have been made by the NC NHP in late fall 2016. The primary editor of the website (LeGrand) has made a number of changes to the (Most Prevalent) Common Name and some of the ranks; such changes are marked by * (= information was already in that field) or + (= the field was blank) after the names or ranks.

To see the entire list of the vascular plants, click on the green “View Plant List” link on the top of the Home Page screen, or on the left side of the screen, beneath "Home Page". This provides the entire state list, with the most primitive species grouped first (by Section #), and within each Section arranged alphabetically by Family, and genera arranged alphabetically within each Family. Also, the species are arranged alphabetically within each genus.

To search for a particular taxon/species, you can either
1) use the Search Bar (first row, in light lavender/blue) to enter all or part of the scientific name or the common name in the appropriate search box, and hit the orange Search tab. You may do the same to search for a family, by entering all or part of the family name in that search box. The Search function brings up just that taxon or family, with the rank and status information for that entity shown; or

2) to stay within the entire list, use the CONTROL-F or COMMAND-F keys on your keyboard to bring up a Find box, and entering text will take you to the first line on the entire list that matches your string. This is your best option to move around within the list, as the list is over 4,200 rows in length. Of course, you may also simply scroll up and down on the list with the gray tab/bar on the right hand margin of the screen.

The plant list as seen on the View Plant List screen has been formatted into 10 fields:

Section. This is a grouping of species/taxa based on taxonomy, with the most primitive groups listed first. These are taken from Weakley’s “Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States”, 2015.

    1. Clubmosses (Lycopodiophyta)
    2. Ferns (Monilophyta)
    3. Extant Gymnosperms (Acrogymnospermae)
    4. Magnoliids and Primitive Angiosperms
    5. Monocots (Monocotyledonae)
    6. Eudicots (Eudicotyledonae)

Family. This is the family name taken from the Biotics database. [The Weakley flora (above) has differing families. This website will convert over to the Weakley flora taxonomic treatment in the upcoming months.]

Scientific Name. This is the scientific (Latin) name taken from Weakley (2018).

(Most Prevalent) Common Name. The name in this field was that originally provided for the taxon in the Biotics database. However, LeGrand has changed a number of these to use the most prevalent (= most frequently used) common name as found on websites and in other references. Names were also edited for consistency within a genus name, such as use of, or removal of, hyphens. Such edits are marked with an *.

RAB Flora Synonym. This is the scientific name as found in the Radford, Ahles, and Bell’s “Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas”, 1968, where it differs from the Scientific Name on the website (i.e., the name used by NatureServe and the NC Natural Heritage Program). Scientific Name taxa on this website that were not mentioned in the RAB Manual – such as new taxa/species found in the state since 1968 – are listed as “not in RAB”. Where this field is blank, the Scientific Name on the website is the same as in the RAB manual. The phrase “in part” after a RAB Flora name indicates that the taxon was subsumed within the taxon listed in Scientific Name; this indicates that the taxon has most likely been split out from the taxon listed in the RAB manual. For example, Isoetes appalachiana, I. hyemalis, and I. valida have been split as new species out of Isoetes engelmannii, though a portion of the old I. engelmannii is still a valid species (because it is listed in Scientific Name). Many users of the website are likely more familiar with these older names than the new names, and thus this field should help avoid too much confusion with unfamiliar names in the Scientific Name field. NOTE: The website editors have not repeated the RAB Flora name for subspecies or varieties; thus, Aster dumosus is listed as the RAB Flora Synonym name for Symphyotrichum dumosum, but we have not bothered to list RAB Flora Synonym names for the three varieties. When looking for synonym names for varieties or subspecies, please check to see if any RAB Synonym is listed for the full species.

NatureServe Synonym. This is the scientific name used by NatureServe (as can be found on the NatureServe Explorer website), where it differs from the Scientific Name on the website.

State Rank. This is the measure of the relative rarity or commonness of a taxon in the state. The criteria were developed by NatureServe, and each state’s natural heritage program staff code the appropriate rank for each taxon. See State Rank at the bottom of the page for a listing of each rank code.

Global Rank. This is the measure of the relative rarity or commonness of a taxon globally. The criteria were developed by NatureServe, and their staff code the appropriate rank for each taxon. See Global Rank at the bottom of the page for a listing of each rank code.

State Status. This is the endangerment status for each taxon in the state. Taxa with no state status have this field blank on the plant list. See State Status at the bottom of the page for a listing of each status code.

US Status. This is the endangerment status for each taxon in the United States. Taxa with no US status have this field blank on the plant list. See US Status at the bottom of the page for a listing of each status code.

Each taxon (row) has two or three active links, colored in green and blue:

Scientific Name. Where the name is in bold font, with a green Account tab below the name, a Species Account and a County Range Map is present.

Species Account -- Each account contains:
• Distribution (first in NC and then globally)
• Abundance
• Habitat
• Phenology (blooming and fruiting periods)
• Identification (a general description of characters useful in identification)
• Taxonomic Comments
• Other Common Name(s)
• State Rank
• Global Rank
• State Status
• Status

County Range Map – Each map contain records of the possible following types, in the following confirmation hierarchy (in descending order):

Collection – Natural occurrence. Records are based on specimens in herbaria, and are believed by the editors to represent occurrences in natural settings and locations. Most data are from the SERNEC website, which lists collections from herbaria across the country. In some cases, records from the USDA website, and RAB (1968), are included, as these tend to be based on specimens (though the herbaria cannot be traced).

Literature – Natural occurrence. Records (from likely natural settings and locations) are based on occurrences found on various websites or publications, including papers in journals, that are available to the public but which are not clearly specimens in herbaria.

Photo – Natural occurrence. Records (from likely natural settings and locations) are based on identifiable photographs.

Sight – Natural occurrence. Records (from likely natural settings and locations) are based on sight reports by reputable botanists/biologists.

Collection – Provenance Uncertain occurrence. Records are based on specimens in herbaria, but for which the editors feel there is uncertainty about whether the location of the species is natural. In most cases, such a location is outside the known or expected range for natural occurrences, and there is a chance that the species has escaped, been planted, or otherwise is not present in typical habitats for the species (such as occurrences along roadsides, fencerows, and waste ground). [NOTE: Many or most such county records have not yet been added to the maps, or may already be on maps but currently exist under Collection – Natural occurrence. Such existing records almost always are at the periphery of a species’ range.]

Other – Provenance Uncertain occurrence. All non-specimen records and reports of a species for which the editors feel there is uncertainty about whether the location of the species is natural. [See the NOTE for Collection – Provenance Uncertain occurrence.]

Collection – Non-natural occurrence. Records are based on specimens in herbaria, but for which the editors feel are definitely not at a location of natural occurrence. Such locations may include arboretums, gardens, yards, and other highly man-altered sites. They may be in somewhat natural habitats but are far from the expected range. [NOTE: Very few such non-natural occurrences have been added to the maps by the editors as yet. ]

Other – Non-natural occurrence. All non-specimen records and reports of a species for which the editors feel are definitely not at a location of natural occurrence. [See the NOTE for Collection – Non-natural occurrence.]

BONAP. This is a link to the global county distribution of the taxon, as mapped by the Biota of North America Program – North American Vascular Flora. Though the taxa are mapped to the county level, the reader should use the maps only for a general overview of the entire range of the taxon across the country and across the state of North Carolina, as some counties included for the state may well be incorrect or of locally escaped individuals; plus, many taxa lack recent records. A small to moderate percentage of the taxa do not have range maps (especially varieties and subspecies), as there are typically taxonomic issues with them that BONAP does not recognize or accept. For these taxa you will see a “404 – File or directory not found” error. (To return to the plant list, click on the link to “Vascular Plants ….” at the top of your screen.)

Images This is a link to the Google Images for that taxon. As many users are aware, photos on Google Images often include related species or mis-identifications, so use caution when viewing the photos. (Again, to get back to the plant list, click on the link to “Vascular Plants ….” at the top of the screen.)

The plant list has several colors of rows showing on the screen. Light green background indicates Native taxa that are known from the state. Rows in salmon/orange indicate taxa that are Exotic --not native (State Rank of SE = State Exotic) or apparently not native (State Rank of SE?). Many of these may be native in Europe, South America, or another continent, but some might be native near North Carolina but are thought to be adventive to the state. Rows in yellow indicate taxa of Uncertain occurrence in the state; these have a State Rank of SR (State Reported). Rows in light blue are Hybrid (State Rank of HYB) without described scientific names as species, subspecies, or varieties; thus, they are not of conservation concern by NatureServe. Rows in lilac (Not in NC) indicate taxa that do not occur in the state; these were previously reported but have since been determined to not be in the state (State Rank of SRF). Rows in light brown are taxa that currently are considered Not Valid by other references (State Rank of SYN), especially Weakley’s flora. Some of these are now known by another scientific name; many others – generally varieties and subspecies --listed by NatureServe are not accepted nor included as valid taxa in other references. As a general rule, taxa in these last five color-shaded groups are not conservation targets in North Carolina.

The Sort/Tally Bar (second box at the top of the list) is useful for sorting a subset of the total taxa on the list, by using up to two radio buttons. In addition, the list automatically gives the number of taxa within that sorted group. You will see many possible sorts that can be done; the default is All, with no button selected on the second row. This selection lists every taxon -- full species as well as all of the known varieties and subspecies of them. As there is duplication of taxa in such a tally of "All" (for example, Shortia galacifolia is counted along with its two varieties), we provide no number of taxa. Also, when All is selected along with a button in the second row, such as Native, the tally represents duplicates and cannot be used (e.g., the 3,665 for All - Native double counts, as does All - Exotics and other combinations using All.) However, by selecting "Species" (regardless of whether the species has varieties or subspecies if any at all) on the top row, one can determine (and see on the screen) the total number of species in the entire flora of North Carolina -- by selecting Native on the second row (2,979 species as of April 2019), for the number of native species in the state, and then selecting Exotic for the number of non-native species in the state (997 as of April 2019). Combining these numbers gives the total number of species in the state (3,976 as of April 2019). For those people who wish to determine the number of recognized taxa in the state (i.e., all of the varieties and subspecies, plus all of the full species without such "sub-taxa"), click on "Intraspecific Taxa" on the top row, then click Native to see the number of native taxa (3,247 infraspecific taxa as of April 2019), and also click on Exotic to see the number of non-native taxa (1,009 as of April 2019). Combining these numbers gives the total number of infraspecific taxa in the state ( 4,256 as of April 2019). Note that selecting any combination of the groups presents a shorter listing on the full screen than for the default All; thus, selecting Species and Hybrid shows just the full species names (but not varieties or subspecies) of the state's hybrids, and the screen contains only entries in light blue.

As of April 2019, NC County Range Maps (counties colored for different levels of confirmation) have been provided for all of the native woody species, orchids, "carnivorous plants", and a number of other monocots (some lilies and sedges) . Species accounts will be written for all other NC taxa, continuing with additional monocot families. Taxa with completed maps are highlighted with a Scientific Name in bold font. Those with species accounts written have a green bar over the word Account; otherwise, the name is in bold but a green bar is over the word Map. The county range maps show below the species accounts. In addition, it is hoped that photos will be provided for each species on the website over time.

There are several tabs on the left side of the homepage:
    “UNC Plant List” provides the Family, Scientific Name, and Common Names as found in “Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States; Working Draft of 21 May 2015” by Alan S. Weakley, of the University of North Carolina Herbarium (NCU).
    “Export Plant List” allows you to download an Excel (.xlsx) file of the most recent version of the material seen on the View Plant List screen (Section #, Family, Scientific Name, Primary Common Name, State Rank, Global Rank, State Status, and US Status). An Excel file allows you to add additional columns for checklists or other features, allows you to edit species names, to re-sort groups of species, and many other functions.

Enjoy browsing the website!

State Rank:
S1 = Critically imperiled in the state. Typically 5 or fewer occurrences or very few remaining individuals (<1,000).
S2 = Imperiled in the state. Typically 6-20 occurrences or few remaining individuals (1,000 – 3,000).
S3 = Rare or uncommon in the state. Typically 21-100 occurrences or between 3,000 and 10,000 individuals.
S4 = Apparently secure in the state. Usually more than 100 occurrences or more than 10,000 individuals.
S5 = Demonstrably secure in the state.
SH = Of historical occurrence, last record over 20 years ago, with at least some effort to relocate occurrences. Some expectation that it can be rediscovered.
SX = Presumed extirpated in the state.
SE = Exotic, presumed not native to the state.
SU = Unknown; unrankable due to lack of, or conflicting, information about status or population trends.
SR = Reported, but without conclusive documentation.
SRF = Reported falsely; reported in the state but almost certainly is not present
HYB = Hybrid; a hybrid not described as a taxon (denoted by “x” in the scientific name) and thus not of conservation value.
SYN = Synonym; the taxon is currently not recognized by Weakley (2015), because it is a synonym of a recognized taxon or because that reference does not consider it a valid taxon.
? = Uncertain rank; denotes an inexact or uncertain numeric rank.

Global Rank:
G1 = Critically imperiled globally. Typically 5 or fewer occurrences or very few remaining individuals (<1,000).
G2 = Imperiled globally. Typically 6-20 occurrences or few remaining individuals (1,000 – 3,000).
G3 = Vulnerable globally. Typically 21-100 occurrences or between 3,000 and 10,000 individuals.
G4 = Apparently secure globally. Usually more than 100 occurrences or more than 10,000 individuals.
G5 = Demonstrably secure globally.
GH = Historical; known only from historical occurrences, but with some expectation that it may be rediscovered.
GX = Presumed extinct.
GNA = Not applicable. Not a suitable target for conservation.
Q = Questionable taxonomy.
T_ = the rank of a subspecies of variety. For example, G4T1 indicates that the species is apparently secure globally, but the subspecies or variety is critically imperiled.
GNR = Not yet ranked by NatureServe.
? = Uncertain rank; denotes an inexact or uncertain numeric rank.

State Status: (E, T, and SC statuses are legal designations by the NC Plant Conservation Program. SR and W statuses are provided by the NC NHP).
E = Endangered
T = Threatened
SC-V = Special Concern – Vulnerable
SC-H = Special Concern – Historical
SR = Significantly Rare. Any taxon not already listed as E, T, or SC but which is rare in the state and needs monitoring.
SR-D = The species is disjunct to the state from a main range in a different part of the country or world.
SR-L = The range of the species is limited to North Carolina and adjacent states (endemic or near endemic).
SR-P = The species is at the periphery of its range in North Carolina.
SR-T = The species is rare throughout its range.
SR-O = The range of the species is sporadic or cannot be described by other Significantly Rare categories.

W = Watch List. Any taxon that is rare or otherwise threatened with serious decline but for which current information does not justify placement on the main list (as E, T, SC, or SR).
W1 = Rare, but relatively secure.
W2 = Rare, but taxonomically questionable.
W3 = Rare, but of uncertain documentation.
W4 = Rare, but possibly or perhaps not native.
W5 = Rare because of severe decline.
W6 = Regionally rare. Maybe be uncommon to abundant in much of the state, but of concern in one region.
W7 = Rare and poorly known.

US Status: (E, T, and C are legal designations by the US Fish and Wildlife Service)
E = Endangered
T = Threatened
C = Candidate (for E or T listing)
FSC = Federal Species of Concern. Species that appear to be in decline or otherwise in need of conservation and are under consideration for listing or for which there is insufficient information to support listing at this time.

NOTE: A Rank or Status given in brackets -- such as [S4] or [W7] -- is that suggested by website editors, where that rank or status differs from that assigned by the NC NHP or by NatureServe.

1. The Biotics database has several hundred “unranked” taxa at the State level. The primary editor has given each of these taxa a State Rank, based on information in Weakley (2015) and other references. Nearly always these ranks are followed by a “?”. In a handful of cases, SU is coded because there seems to be little information on abundance in the state. As one major goal of this website plant list is to provide a measure of commonness or rarity of each taxon, provenance in the state (native or not), and justification as a valid taxon in the state, it is critical that each taxon be given a State Rank and not left as “unranked” (coded as SNR in the Biotics database).

2. You will notice that a number of taxa do not have a numerical Global Rank assigned by NatureServe; these are shown as GNA, GNR, or TNR. Obviously, all non-cultivated taxa are native somewhere in the world and should have a numerical global rank. However, NatureServe is concerned primarily with numerical coding of taxa for the United States and Canada. Taxa native outside of this area are not conservation targets in these two countries due to being escapes/exotics, and thus typically are coded as GNA (Global Not Applicable for conservation). Taxa with a GNR can be of two types: a) taxa that are exotic or presumed exotic and simply have not yet been coded as GNA; or 2) newly described taxa – new taxa described for the first time or are recent splits of existing taxa. Where you see GNR or TNR for a taxon with a State Rank of SE or SE?, you should assume that the taxon is not native to the United States or Canada (e.g., Iris pseudacorus). Where you see GNR or TNR for a taxon with a numerical State Rank, you should assume that the taxon is native to North Carolina and thus to the United States but is most likely a newly described or newly split taxon that has not yet been given a numerical rank (e.g., Dichanthelium annulum).

3. There are literally several hundred taxa in the state where we are uncertain if they occur in North Carolina. Many or most of these are listed in Weakley (2015) as “NC?”, “reported in NC”, etc. This vascular plant website list is going to be somewhat inconsistent in treatment of such “uncertain” taxa for a while, until further information on them becomes available. Taxonomic splitting is rampant, as is taxonomic changing of scientific names. Thus, it is quite difficult to keep track of names of “new” taxa. We have tried to keep all of such taxa as SR (State Reported) or SRF (State Reported Falsely), but some likely are already coded as S1 or S1?. As a general rule, such “uncertain in NC” taxa will be color-shaded on the list (in yellow or purple).

4. The other troubling decision is the hundreds of taxa that are clearly known to occur in North Carolina but for which its provenance is uncertain. These are taxa that are native elsewhere in the United States, often in neighboring states (at least assumed to be native there), but which might be adventive in North Carolina, such that seeds or other plant parts may have arrived by unnatural means (such as being transported to the state by vehicles or by humans in some other way). A large number of these have a State Status of W4, but quite a few have already been coded numerically, such as S1, S1?, or S2?. However, quite a few have been coded as SE?, particularly ones known to be quite disjunct from the main range. Many of these uncertain species are characteristic of the Great Plains or other warm climate states and especially are taxa that inhabit fields, meadows, prairies, and other non-forested habitats. Species that inhabit ponds and other open aquatic sites also have a tendency to be widely disjunct from the main range and often fall into this uncertain provenance category. Thus, where there is considerable doubt about its nativity in the state, the State Rank is typically codes as SE? and is shaded in salmon/orange; if completely uncertain, the taxon is typically left unshaded.

Acknowledgments:
The authors thank Alan Weakley and Michael Lee, of the University of North Carolina (UNC Herbarium, North Carolina Botanical Garden) for providing the authors with a database of the scientific names and other synonyms from the "Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States" - Flora. In addition, thanks are due to Misty Buchanan, Director of the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, for providing the authors with a database of the scientific and common names, and the various ranks and statuses, of most taxa in the state (including animals as well as natural communities) from the Biotics database. For this website to be up-to-date, such exchanges of data with various agencies and organizations will need to continue.

BONAP - The Biota of North America Program North American Vascular Flora

References mentioned in the Species Accounts:

Lance, R. 2014. Haws: A Guide to Hawthorns of the Southeastern United States. Privately published.

Radford, A.E., H.E. Ahles, and C.R. Bell. 1968. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. [Shown as RAB (1968) in the accounts.]

Weakley, A.S. 2018. Flora of North Carolina (subset of Flora of the South) -- Working Draft of 4 October 2018. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Weakley, A.S., J.C. Ludwig, and J.F. Townsend. 2012. Flora of Virginia. Botanical Research Institute of Texas Press, Fort Worth.

For a complete list of references, click on the References link in the menu sidebar.

Harry LeGrand
(Chief Editor)
hlegrandjr@gmail.com
        Bruce Sorrie
(County Range Maps Editor, Cyperales Editor, co-Editor)   
basorrie@gmail.com
Tom Howard
(Website Administrator)
tom.howard@ncparks.gov