Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Roseroot - Rhodiola rosea   L.
Members of Crassulaceae:
Only member of Rhodiola in NC.
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Section 6 » Order Rosales » Family Crassulaceae
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DistributionKnown for certain (collections) only at the Roan High Bluff (also known historically as "Lyons Bluff") portion of Roan Mountain massif, in Mitchell County. Collections and reports elsewhere -- from Ashe County to Avery County -- almost certainly refer to Hylotelephium telephioides (a native species also or rocky places) or to some other member of Crassulaceae, perhaps even a non-native species.

This is a Boreal and Arctic-Alpine species of eastern Canada, south only to NY and PA, and then highly disjunct to a single peak in western NC.
AbundanceFormerly known for certain only from Roan Mountain, apparently last seen in 1981. However, this site has been searched for in recent years and the species has gone missing. Its disappearance was certainly due in part to over-collecting of this tiny and localized population, and probably also to a documented localized landslide. The NCNHP has assigned a State Rank of SH. This is a State Endangered species.
HabitatThis species grew only in high elevation rocky summits, near the top of a peak. The plants grow/grew in thin soil in crevices and cracks in rocks, often where near vertical.
PhenologyBlooms in July and August, and fruits in August and September.
IdentificationThis is a very fleshy herb, often with several stems from the base, growing to about 8-10 inches tall. The thick, glaucous leaves are alternate but very crowded along the stem, sessile, generally elliptical in shape, about 1-1.5 inches long and 3/4-inch wide, and entire to slightly toothed toward the apex. The many leaves all tend to be about the same size, from the base to the top of the plant. The flower cluster at the top of the stem is very dense and only about 1 inch wide, with the many individual flowers being greenish-yellow in color, then turning purple in age. In bloom, it should not be confused with other species. However, when not in bloom, it can be confused with the generally more robust Hylotelephium telephioides. Weakley (2018) states that "Dwarfed, high elevation forms of Hylotelephium telephioides, with narrow, nearly toothless leaves, have been confused with Rhodiola rosea; they are perhaps readily distinguished only in flower or fruit."
Taxonomic CommentsFormerly named as Sedum rosea.

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankSH
Global RankG5
State StatusE
US Status
USACE-agcpFACU link
USACE-empFACU link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
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B.A. SorriePhoto taken 1983, Mount Equinox, VT. Female flowers. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
B.A. SorriePhoto taken 1988, Anse au Clair, Labrador. Male flowers. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
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