Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Lanceleaf Rose-gentian - Sabatia difformis   (L.) Druce
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Section 6 » Order Gentianales » Family Gentianaceae
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Author(L.) Druce
DistributionA Coastal Plain species, found throughout the southern 60% of the province, including the Sandhills region. Scarce in the northern portions of the Coastal Plain, as well as in the southern portion of the Piedmont, west to Mecklenburg and Lincoln counties.

This is a Coastal Plain species, ranging from NJ south in coastal states to central FL and southern MS.
AbundanceFairly common in much of the southern Coastal Plain, more so in the Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) zones of the southern coastal counties and in the Sandhills. Uncommon in the central portions of the province, north to Johnston and Beaufort counties, and very rare farther north. Very rare in the Piedmont portion of the range. By numbers of individuals, it is the commonest Sabatia in the Coastal Plain.
HabitatThis is a classic pine savanna species, but it also occurs along pocosin borders, streamhead seepages, wet pine flatwoods, wet powerline clearings, clay-based Carolina bays, and rarely in ditches and damp pond margins.
PhenologyBlooms from May to September, and fruits from September to frost.
IdentificationThis is a familiar species to biologists spending much time in savannas and other Coastal Plain acidic wetlands. It is a fairly robust Sabatia, often to 2 feet tall, with rounded to slightly angled stems. The several pairs of opposite leaves are lanceolate and about 2 inches long, rather thick or glossy, with an acute tip. The plant has a moderate number of ascending branches, and the ends of each branch contain a flower, yielding a somewhat flat-topped inflorescence. Each of the 5 petals is white, with yellow at the base, and the spread flower is rather large, at 1.5 inches across. Thus, this is a striking species when in full bloom, hard to miss in a savanna, though many other plant species in bloom in a savanna in summer will also have white flowers. It can be confused with the smaller and more slender S. quadrangula, but that species is found mainly in the Piedmont (and into the edge of the Sandhills); it has distinctly square stems, rather linear leaves, and flowers barely 1-inch across. S. difformis is the most numerous of the Coastal Plain Sabatia species in the state, even outnumbering the statewide S. angularis over much of the area. A visit to a savanna in summer should successfully encounter this species.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)White Sabatia
State RankS4
Global RankG4G5
State Status
US Status
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B.A. SorrieAntioch Bay, July 2001. Scan from slide. HokePhoto_natural
B.A. SorrieCamp Lejeune, mesic-moist pineland. 16 Sept 2016.
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