Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Pineland Scaly-pink - Stipulicida setacea   Michaux
Members of Caryophyllaceae:
Only member of Stipulicida in NC.
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Section 6 » Order Caryophyllales » Family Caryophyllaceae
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DistributionThroughout the southwestern 60% of the Coastal Plain, but only found at a few sites in the northern portion (Gates and coastal Dare counties). Barely extends into the southeastern edge of the Piedmont.

This is a Coastal Plain species, ranging from southeastern VA south to southern FL and eastern LA.
AbundanceCommon in the Sandhills region, and in suitable habitat southeast to the southern coast. Infrequent in the central Coastal Plain, and very rare north of Wilson and Craven counties. Very rare at best in the edge of the Piedmont.
HabitatThis is a species of xeric and deep sands, often seen on sand barrens of Carolina bay sand rims, fluvial sand deposits along rivers, and in more open places in Xeric Sandhill Scrub vegetation. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of plants were seen at the recently scraped rim of Green Pond Bay (Scotland Co.) in August 2020.
PhenologyBlooms from May to August, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is among the "wiriest" of all species, extremely slender and ranging to about 1-1.5 feet tall. It has very distinctive dichotomous branching, with each branch equal in length to another member of a pair, and at the same angle from the previous stem. The species has an overwintering basal rosette, and these are spatulate but short. The stem leaves are mere tiny bracts and thus the stem and branches appear "leafless". The flowers, quite small, are at the tips of several "sub-branches". The species has 5 white petals, spreading, and the flower averages about 1/6-inch across. Even though the flowers are tiny, at the tips of such slender branches they appear almost sizable! Of course, without the flowers you might easily overlook the species, though the odd branching pattern does catch your attention.
Taxonomic CommentsSome references list varieties, but Weakley (2018) does not.

Other Common Name(s)Wire-plant, Coastal Plain Wireplant. Most references use Pineland Scaly-pink, though it seems that in NC the most often used name is simply "Wire-plant".
State RankS4 [S4S5]
Global RankG4G5
State Status
US Status
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B.A. SorrieSandhills Game Land, xeric longleaf upland. April 2014. ScotlandPhoto_natural
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