Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Canada Frostweed - Crocanthemum canadense   (L.) Britton
Members of Crocanthemum with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Family Cistaceae
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Author(L.) Britton
DistributionNearly throughout the Coastal Plain, particularly prevalent in the Sandhills region. Ranges sparingly in the southern Piedmont, and to one site in the southern mountains (Buncombe County).

This species has an odd Eastern range. Though it is essentially a Coastal Plain species in NC, it ranges widely to the north of the state. It occurs -- not surprisingly owing to the scientific name -- across southeastern Canada, south to AL in the East, and to MO and IL farther west; but it is scarce south of OH and IL.
AbundanceFairly common and somewhat widespread in the Sandhills and counties to the east, toward the southern coast. Uncommon in the northern and eastern Coastal Plain. Rare in the southeastern Piedmont, and casual in the mountains, though this region is well within the overall range.
HabitatThis is a species of sandy soil, found in open sandy woods, pine sandhills, wooded borders, fields, and some clearings. It is not a classic species, however, of Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris)/scrub oak sandhills, though it can and does occur in this habitat.
PhenologyBlooms in April and May, and fruits from June to October.
IdentificationThis is the most numerous and most widespread Crocanthemum in the state, all other seven species being relatively rare in the state. It has an erect stem, mostly unbranched or branched from the base, reaching only about 8" tall. The numerous leaves (stem only) are alternate, ascending, lanceolate to elliptical, only about 4/5" long and 1/4" wide, and quite pubescent. The tip of a stem has only one or two flowers, each of the 5 petals being medium yellow, obovate, and the spread flower is about 1" across. Several other species in the genus occur in its range, but only C. carolinianum and C. nashii are somewhat similar. The first of these has only 2-4 stem leaves, as opposed to many more (often 10-20) in C. canadense, plus it also has basal leaves that are lacking in C. canadense. If flowers are visible, they are noticeably larger in C. carolinianum, often 1.5" across, and usually 2 or more flowers are present. C. nashii, very rare in NC, has the ovary and capsule(s) "densely stellate pubescent" (Weakley 2018), versus glabrous in all other members of the genus.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

All NC species of Crocanthemum were formerly placed in the genus Helianthemum.
Other Common Name(s)Canada Sunrose, Longbranch Frostweed
State RankS3 [S4]
Global RankG5
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