Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Savanna Seedbox - Ludwigia virgata   Michaux
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Section 6 » Order Myrtales » Family Onagraceae
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AuthorMichaux
DistributionPresent over the southern half of the Coastal Plain, including the Sandhills region, ranging north to Dare, Pitt, Johnston, and Moore counties.

This is a Southern Coastal Plain species, ranging from southeastern VA (historically) and eastern NC south to central FL and southern MS.
AbundanceFairly common to common in well-managed Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) forests, from Carteret and Richmond counties southward. Uncommon to infrequent away from Longleaf Pine stands.
HabitatAs with L. hirtella, this is a classic pine savanna species, found in very similar habitats to that species. It also occurs in wet pine flatwoods, as well as damp powerline clearings that mimic a savanna, plus sandhill seepages.
PhenologyBlooms from June to September, and fruits soon after flowering.
IdentificationThis is one of the relatively few showy species of Ludwigia, and is one of three similar species that grow mainly in the state's pine savannas. It is erect, unbranched to sparsely branched, growing to about 2-3 feet tall, with a distinctly smooth stem and leaves. The widely scattered stem leaves are alternate, sessile, lanceolate, ascending, and about 2.5 inches long and 1/2-inch wide, rounded at both ends and entire on the margins. The flowers, in middle and upper axils, are conspicuous, have 4 bright yellow petals, rounded, with the spread flower about 1-inch across. It is always a good idea to check the sepals and capsule of Ludwigia species, and this species has essentially smooth sepals, and they are ovate to elliptical and about 2/5-inch long, strongly reflexed, almost "glued to" the flower base/capsule. The other two conspicuous savanna species -- L. hirtella and L. maritima -- both have sepals that are quite hairy (in addition to hairy stems and leaves). In addition, L. hirtella has very slender sepals that are spreading. You will discover that this species and L. hirtella are reasonably frequent in savannas, but that L. maritima is scarce and may require much searching (and it does not range to the Sandhills).
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Savanna Primrose-willow
State RankS3 [S3S4]
Global RankG5
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