Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Indian Pink - Spigelia marilandica   (L.) L.
Members of Loganiaceae:
Only member of Spigelia in NC.
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Section 6 » Order Gentianales » Family Loganiaceae
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Author(L.) L.
DistributionKnown as native only for the extreme southwestern counties in the Mountains, near the GA and TN borders. A photo report of a few plants in South Mountains State Park (Burke County) in June 2021 is hereby placed in the Provenance Uncertain category, as it is well to the east-northeast of other records. NCNHP has five records for Cherokee County, and Weakley (2018) also mentions Macon County. First discovered by David Danley and Gary Kauffman on the E side of Lake Hiwassee, in Cherokee County on 2 July 1999 (specimen at WCU). SERNEC specimens from farther eastward into the Piedmont are clearly not natural occurrences, and the many iNaturalist photos from across the Mountains and Piedmont likewise have to be dismissed as plantings, escapes, or otherwise not documented as wild plants.

This is a Mid-South species, ranging north to MO and southern KY, southeastward across the southwestern tip of NC but to include most of SC, and then south to the FL Panhandle and eastern TX. Though there are SC records for several counties along the NC border, so far there are no legitimate Piedmont records for adjacent NC.
AbundanceRare in a handful of sites in the vicinity of Hiwassee Lake in central Cherokee County; extremely rare elsewhere in the southwestern corner of the state. This is a State Threatened species.
HabitatThis is a species of moderate to rather high pH soil, on mesic to rich forested slopes. Several NC records are from sites that are not of high quality, but over its range elsewhere it does favor rather high quality, Rich Cove Forest or Basic Mesic Forest habitats.
PhenologyBlooms in May and June, and fruits from late June to July.
IdentificationThis is a striking wildflower, with brilliantly colored flowers, not soon to be forgotten. It has an erect and unbranched stem that reaches about 1.5 feet tall, rarely to 2 feet tall. It has several pairs of broad opposite leaves, these being ovate and quite rounded at the base so as to appear clasping, entire on the margins, and about 3 inches long and half as wide at the base. Experienced biologists should be able to identify the species by its ovate/triangular paired leaves that are clasping at the base, but once the inflorescence is visible, it is obvious to even the public. The flower cluster is terminal, usually just a single spike-like helicoid cyme; it contains 5 or more long and tubular crimson to bright red corollas, with 5 short but widely-flaring tips that expose the yellow of the inside of the tube. Each flower is about 1.5 inches long, and all of them face the same direction, normally straight up, on the slightly curved spike. Even though it does not bloom at the peak of the spring wildflower season in April or very early May, it have more visual effect in bloom when fewer wildflower species are competing with it in May and June. And, thankfully it often occurs in moderately dense stands, and thus the deep red flowers with yellow tips create a memorable sight.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Pinkroot, Woodland Pinkroot
State RankS1
Global RankG4
State StatusT
US Status
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B.A. SorriePhoto taken at calcareous woodland in Francis Marion NF, SC, May 2021. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
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