Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Southern Bush-honeysuckle - Diervilla sessilifolia   Buckley
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Section 6 » Order Dipsacales » Family Diervillaceae
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AuthorBuckley
DistributionOccurs over all of the central and southern Mountains, with the northernmost record being from Mitchell County. It does not occur in the Piedmont.

This is a Southern species, mainly limited to the Appalachians but also is found in lower mountains to the west. It occurs only in western NC, and adjacent parts of SC, GA, and TN, as well as northern AL.
AbundanceGenerally infrequent to fairly common, at least locally. Most numerous at the higher elevations, above 3500 feet. This is, by far, the most common of the three Diervilla species in the state.
HabitatThis species favors partial sun in rocky conditions, such as in rocky woods, bluffs, roadbanks, outcrops, and rocky stream banks. It has a wider range of habitats, and a bit more tolerance of disturbances, than do the other two Diervilla species. It is not hard to see from a number of places along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the southern half of the mountains, as high elevation roadbanks are quite suitable for the species.
PhenologyBlooms from June to August, and fruits from August to October.
IdentificationAs with other bush-honeysuckles, this species is a deciduous shrub growing only to 2-3’ high but often considerably broader. It has opposite, serrate, and lanceolate leaves that average about 4” long; and its pale yellow flowers in clusters at or near the branch tips are also similar to the others. However, this species differs from D. lonicera in its sessile leaves (with essentially no petiole), and from D. rivularis in its essentially smooth/glabrous twigs and undersides of leaves. (D. rivularis is quite hairy on the undersides of the leaves and on the twigs.)
Taxonomic CommentsThere are no issues with this being a valid species. However, some references (e.g., RAB 1968) included D. rivularis within D. sessilifolia. This necessitated a varietal name for this taxon – D. sessilifolia var. sessilifolia.

Weakley (2020) splits out the family Diervillaceae from Caprifoliaceae, but provides no taxonomic basis for this move. We will await further developments.
Other Common Name(s)Smooth Southern Bush-honeysuckle
State RankS4
Global RankG4?
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