Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Gulf Coast Swallow-wort - Pattalias palustre   (Pursh) Fishbein
Members of Apocynaceae:
Only member of Pattalias in NC.
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Section 6 » Family Apocynaceae
Author(Pursh) Fishbein
DistributionStrictly coastal, ranging north to northern Dare County.

This is a coastal species of the Southeastern states, ranging north to northern NC, and south to southern FL and TX (and much farther south).
AbundanceFairly common to locally common throughout.
HabitatThis species is restricted to salt marshes, maritime wet grasslands, and to the edges of maritime shrub thickets and maritime forests; mostly on barrier islands -- within sight of salt water.
See also Habitat Account for Wet-Mesic Maritime Mixed Herblands
PhenologyBlooms in June and July, and fruits from July to October.
IdentificationThis is a very slender herbaceous vine, twining on other vegetation, to a length of up to 3 feet or more. As most of the surrounding vegetation is low, it normally sprawls and twines near the ground (horizontally and not climbing vertically); often it seems to twine among itself (or neighboring plants) into a tangled mass/mess! The opposite leaves are extremely narrow, hardly any wider than the stem width, but are 2-3 inches long. From some of the nodes grows a flower cluster, on a pedicle of about 1-2 inches; the umbel of few flowers is about 1-inch across, with each relatively small flower being pale yellowish-white or pale greenish-yellow. This is often not an easy plant to spot when walking along the edge of a salt marsh -- in particular the ecotone between a marsh and a thicket or sand bar -- but it should be the only vine in such a habitat, and you actually can trip on it if not careful. You might need to spot the small whitish ball of flowers to notice the plant. Thankfully, it does have a quite distinctive and eye-catching capsule; it is very slender, about 2 inches long, but barely 1/4-inch wide. Thus, in late summer or fall, you may end up spotting the plant first by the light brown pods before you see the stem and leaves.
Taxonomic CommentsThis species seems to have its name changed every decade or two! It has normally been placed in the genus Cynanchum, and many references still inlcude it there. RAB (1968) had its name as C. palustre, but most references have or had it named as C. angustifolium. It briefly was placed into the genus Seutera as well. Weakley (2018) gives reasons why it should be moved into the genus Pattalias.

Other Common Name(s)Gulf Coast Serpentvine. In general, it has normally been named as "Swallow-wort".
State RankS3
Global RankG5
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