Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for White-wicky - Kalmia cuneata   Michaux
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Section 6 » Order Ericales » Family Ericaceae
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AuthorMichaux
DistributionStrictly limited to the southern half of the Coastal Plain, and mainly in 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 Sandhills region, it is rare to uncommon, with more than 100 known occurrences (though many are off-limits at Fort Bragg). It is rare to locally uncommon southeastward to Bladen County, being found mostly within Carolina bays; it is very rare (and historical?) toward the coast. 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’ 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
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