Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for American Featherfoil - Hottonia inflata   ElliottOnly member of Hottonia in NC.
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Section 6 » Order Primulales » Family Primulaceae
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DistributionPresent over the northern third of the Coastal Plain, barely into the adjacent Piedmont (Granville and Chatham counties); occurs south to Johnston and Lenoir counties. Photographed by E. Ungberg in 2020 in southern Granville County.

This is a sparse Eastern species with a range extending from ME to southeastern MO, and south to GA and eastern TX. Most records are from the Coastal Plains -- Atlantic and Gulf, and up the Mississippi Valley.
AbundanceUncommon to perhaps infrequent, at least depending on water levels, in the Coastal Plain south to Edgecombe and Martin counties; very rare to rare elsewhere in the range. This is a Significantly Rare species, with a State Rank given by the NCNHP of S1? Based on the number of records, S2 may be more accurate, especially as a few sites can contain large number (e.g., 500 estimated at the Granville County site).
HabitatThis is a species of slow-moving or stationary waters, found in millponds, pools, backwaters and oxbows of rivers (blackwater and brownwater), and swamp openings.
See also Habitat Account for Coastal Plain Herbaceous Ponds and Sloughs
PhenologyBlooms from April to July, and fruits from May to August.
IdentificationThis is a very odd, and somewhat "ugly" plant, looking much more like a Myriophyllum or Proserpinaca than a species of Primulaceae somewhat related to loosestrifes (Lysimachia)! The submersed/floating leaves are quite feather-like, finely divided into numerous needle-like segments, each leaf being about 2" long and 3/4" wide. The flowering "stalks" are erect (with curved bases), extremely fleshy and inflated, each segment about 2-3" tall to another node. At such a node there are several tiny white flowers with bracts around this "joint", above which are one or two more fleshy segments, with the joints each containing tiny white flowers. These fleshy "stems" are about the size of your "pinkie" and light green; thus, a plant can reach about 6-8" tall. It is best to look at photos or drawings of the species to fully understand what this species truly looks like, as words cannot fully describe it! Without any stems, the species can be very difficult to identify. These floating plants often can be locally numerous some years and very rare in others, perhaps owing to water levels. It is suspected that the exotic Alligator-weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides) has impacted some populations by out-competing the Hottonia.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Water-violet (a name that seems totally inane), Featherfoil
State RankS1? [S2]
Global RankG4
State StatusSR-O
US Status
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