Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Savanna Meadow-beauty - Rhexia alifanus   Walter
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Section 6 » Order Myrtales » Family Melastomataceae
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AuthorWalter
DistributionOccurs throughout the Coastal Plain except absent in the northeastern quarter; ranges northeast to Halifax, Martin, Beaufort, and Carteret counties, and west to Montgomery and Richmond counties.

This Southeastern species occurs from extreme northeastern NC to central FL and west to eastern TX. Over its range there are collections for nearly all counties.
AbundanceCommon in the southern half of the range, mainly in the Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) zones north to Craven, Harnett, and Montgomery counties. Infrequent to rare in the northern part of the range.
HabitatThis Rhexia grows in a wide variety of damp to seasonally wet pinelands, favoring pine savannas and pine flatwoods. It also grows in pocosin borders, streamhead seepages, and other damp acidic soil usually near Longleaf and Pond Pines. Where clay is near the surface, plants may grow well upslope.
PhenologyBlooms from May to September, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a familiar species to biologists, and it is one of the favorite wildflowers of pine savannas. It is wand-like, growing unbranched to 2-3 feet tall, with a smooth and glaucous blue-green appearance. The numerous pairs of opposite leaves are lanceolate, about 2-3 inches long but only about 1/3-inch wide, entire, and strongly ascending. From several of the upper leaf axils and stem tip grow a handful of large, bright rose-colored flowers. The 4 petals are rounded but not symmetrical in shape, and the spread flower is about 2 inches across. All Rhexia species have striking yellow stamens that add to the bright color of the flower. Most flowers tend to face sideways. After flowering, the fruit is an pitcher-shaped capsule, strikingly narrowed in the middle, rounded at the base and with 4 persistent sepals as points at the top of the capsule. With some Rhexia species, the shape of the capsule is an important identification feature, but this very smooth, wand-like species with strongly ascending leaves will present no identification issues if and when the petals are no longer present. Photographers should never fail to take pictures of this species on a savanna walk.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Smooth Meadow-beauty. Many references spell the name as "Savannah", but this website and Weakley (2018) are correcting such "mistakes" to "Savanna", as common names almost always refer to habitats or natural communities (which ecologists spell without the "h") and not the city of Savannah, GA.
State RankS5
Global RankG5?
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