Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Awned Meadow-beauty - Rhexia aristosa   Britton
Members of Rhexia with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Myrtales » Family Melastomataceae
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AuthorBritton
DistributionThe southern third of the Coastal Plain, excluding the Sandhills proper; ranges north to Hoke, Cumberland, Sampson, and Onslow counties. Note that the species does occur in states to the north of NC.

This is an Atlantic Coastal Plain species, ranging from southern NJ and DE, south to GA and AL; not known from MD, VA, or FL.

AbundanceLocally uncommon to fairly common in the clay-based bays region of Hoke, Scotland, and Robeson counties. However, very rare to rare and local elsewhere in the range. This is a State Special Concern species.
HabitatThis is mostly a species of clay-based Carolina bays, as it grows in very shallow and often ephemeral pools, typically in pinelands or where there are cypresses in the bays. It also grows in some depression meadows in pine stands, as well as in margins of limesink ponds (especially in Brunswick County).
See also Habitat Account for Longleaf Pine Woodlands with Isolated Pools
PhenologyBlooms from June to September, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is one of many quite showy Rhexia species when in full bloom, but as it is rare, you must take care to identify it correctly. It has a usually branched stem, growing to about 2 feet tall, normally glabrous. It has scattered pairs of opposite leaves quite like those of R. alifanus, being narrowly lanceolate, quite virgate (ascending), about 2 inches long and 1/4-inch wide, with some long hairs along the entire margins; some leaves may have small teeth. The scattered flowers at the ends of branches and upper axils are similar to some others in the genus, being bright pink to rose (on average), with the 4 petals being rounded but with irregular shapes, and the spread flower about 1.5 inches across. To identify this species, look at the capsule in back, and note that this species has long yellow bristles around the edges of the capsule. An experienced biologist can usually identify it by its particular pool habitat, but you should make a habit of checking the hypanthium (capsule) behind the petals to be sure.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Bristly Meadow-beauty, Awnpetal Meadow-beauty
State RankS3
Global RankG3G4
State StatusSC-V
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B.A. SorrieSampson County, 2021, Pondberry Bay. SampsonPhoto_natural

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