Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Plymouth Rose-gentian - Sabatia kennedyana   Fernald
Members of Gentianaceae:
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Section 6 » Order Gentianales » Family Gentianaceae
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DistributionLimited to the Waccawaw River floodplain and a few adjacent tributaries, in eastern Columbus and western Brunswick counties.

This species has a highly disjunct range, found only in southern Nova Scotia, eastern MA and RI, then to southeastern NC and adjacent SC.
AbundanceLocally common along the Waccamaw River, but abundance can vary from year to year depending on water levels; most numerous in the upper (narrower) portions of the river, in Columbus County, and less numerous farther downriver where the river has high banks. Uncommon on tributaries. This is a State Threatened species. The NCNHP's State Rank of S2 is far too liberal, considering the limited number of records (7-8) and the fact that only several are consistently in good condition. And, considering that so many widespread Sabatia species in the state have a rank of S3, the State Rank of this species is clearly S1.
HabitatThis species in NC occurs only along drawdown zones along a blackwater river and its tributaries, and thus water levels might be poor for large populations in some years, especially in very wet seasons.
PhenologyBlooms from June to August, and fruits from August to October.
IdentificationThis is the tallest species of Sabatia in the state, with some individuals reaching about 3-4 tall tall or more. The opposite stem leaves are lanceolate, about 2-3 inches long. Most of the numerous branches are opposite off the stem. Atop these many branches and stem grow single very large flowers, each on a somewhat short stalk. The flower has about 10 petals on average, bright rose to pink with yellow at the base, and the spread flower is about 2 inches across. In this species, in addition to the pink and yellow on a petal, there is a noticeable red band separating these colors, and the pink color on the petal tends to become white next to the red band. Thus, a flower has 4 colors from the tip to the middle/base -- rose-pink, white, red, and yellow! As would be expected, a 3-foot-tall plant in wet ground along the Waccamaw River, with often 10-20 or more scattered large (and multi-colored) flowers will catch attention!
Taxonomic CommentsOlder references, such as RAB (1968), listed this as a variety of S. dodecandra, as S. dodecandra var. kennedyana. All references now consider this as a valid species. Weakley (2018) states "Studies underway suggest that Carolina plants may differ varietally from those in New England (Sorrie, pers. comm.)".

Other Common Name(s)Plymouth Gentian, Plymouth Rose
State RankS2 [S1]
Global RankG3G4
State StatusT
US Status
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