Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for White-wicky - Kalmia cuneata   Michaux
Members of Ericaceae:
Members of Kalmia with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Ericales » Family Ericaceae
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DistributionStrictly limited to the southern half of the Coastal Plain, including the Sandhills. It ranges southeastward to Pender County, but it is apparently of historical occurrence in that county.

This species is endemic to the Carolinas, ranging only from east-central NC southwestward to southwestern SC (Aiken County).
AbundanceIn the state as a whole it is uncommon, with more than 120 records in the NCNHP database (perhaps 90 or fewer if duplicate records were combined). These records are roughly equally distributed in 3 areas: Sandhills Game Land, Fort Bragg, and Carolina bays in the middle Coastal Plain. Today it is rare toward the coast (e.g., Holly Shelter Game Land in Pender County). As this is a fire-dependent species, it is declining in places where fire has been suppressed, and thus is found now mostly on conservation lands managed with fire. It is an NC Watch List species.
HabitatThis is a classic sandhill-pocosin ecotone species, being found in seepages, margins of streamhead pocosins, within Carolina bays in low pocosins, or along bay or other pocosin margins.
PhenologyBlooms from late May into June; fruits in September and October.

IdentificationThis is one of several dozen “pocosin” shrub species that grow along the ecotones of upland longleaf pine stands and streamhead or other pocosins. Because it is a somewhat low (2.5-4-foot tall) shrub, it gets easily shaded out by taller shrubs if not burned at several year intervals. Despite it having rather thick and somewhat shiny, oblanceolate leaves, it is our only deciduous Kalmia species. Thus, to identify it – it can be easily overlooked or passed off as Carolina Laurel (K. carolina) when not in bloom – you may need to see the fairly large white flowers (with a red basal ring). The latter species has thicker, more glaucous, blue-green leaves and its flowers are rose-pink. White-wicky has strongly ascending branches, and relatively few branches, such that it is a rather narrow-looking shrub, with typical dark-green leaves. You are probably not likely to find a new location for it, but if you work along the outside and margins of streamhead pocosins in the Sandhills you may encounter it, especially at sites where the habitat is burned every few years.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)None, other than the mixed usage of a hyphen, one vs. two words, etc. (i.e., White Wicky or Whitewicky).
State RankS3
Global RankG3
State StatusW1
US Status
USACE-agcpFACW link
USACE-empFACW link
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B.A. SorrieRichmond County, 2012, streamhead ecotone N of Thrower Lane and W of beaver pond. RichmondPhoto_natural
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