Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Elf Orpine - Diamorpha smallii   Britton ex Small
Members of Crassulaceae:
Only member of Diamorpha in NC.
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Section 6 » Order Rosales » Family Crassulaceae
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AuthorBritton ex Small
DistributionEssentially only in the Piedmont, found scattered across most of the province, but highly restricted owing to its specialized habitat. Known from one Mountain county (Henderson).

This is a Southeastern species limited mainly to the Piedmont. It ranges from southern VA (barely) , and south to central GA and central AL, and north into east-central TN.
AbundanceUncommon and local in the Piedmont, and very rare in the southeastern Mountains. This is a Watch List species.
HabitatThis species is essentially limited to granitic flatrocks, and there only at depressions with moisture or shallow water, where it grows in the very thin soil that is damp to wet. It may occasionally grow on other flatrocks, as long as the soils are acidic.
See also Habitat Account for Flatrocks
PhenologyBlooms in April and May, and fruits from May into June, withering soon afterwards.
IdentificationThis is a distinctive, tiny flatrock species with red stems and leaves. It grows only to about 2-3 inches tall, with several branches near the base. The numerous, very small leaves are thick and fleshy, ascending, ovate to elliptic and only about 1/4-inch long, At the ends of the branches grow the flower clusters, in cymes. The several flowers in each cluster are white, with 4 petals, but the flower is only about 1/5-inch across. The species is easily noted where present by the red color on the flatrocks, as the plants always grow in dense colonies -- at least where the pools are large enough. When in bloom, the population almost has a pinkish color as the white flowers mix with the red stems and leaves to make a very showy patch on the flatrock. This is the only species in the genus, but it is rather similar to Sedum pusillum, but that flatrock species has pale green foliage.
Taxonomic CommentsThis species was formerly included in the large genus Sedum, as S. smallii, for much of the last century.

Other Common Name(s)Essentially none
State RankS3
Global RankG4
State StatusW1
US Status
USACE-agcpFACW link
USACE-empFACW link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
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B.A. SorrieAnson County, 2009, Flatrock Church flatrock. AnsonPhoto_natural

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