Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Tall Meadow-rue - Thalictrum pubescens   Pursh
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Section 6 » Order Ranunculales » Family Ranunculaceae
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DistributionPresent throughout the mountains, and mostly just the northern halves of the Piedmont and Coastal Plain, though there are records scattered over the last two provinces.

This is a somewhat Northern species, ranging across eastern Canada and the northern states, south to SC, AL, and MS.
AbundanceFrequent in the mountains, though not truly common. Infrequent to fairly common in the northern halves of the Piedmont and Coastal Plain. Rare to uncommon in the southern Piedmont and the southern half of the Coastal Plain.
HabitatThis is a wetland Thalictrum, favoring openings in swamps, bottomlands, wet thickets, stream banks, bogs, and marshes.
PhenologyBlooms from May to July, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a quite tall species, growing to 4-5 feet tall. It is very similar to, and easily confused with, T. revolutum, which can grow in similar habitats. Each has mainly bi-ternately divided leaflets (3 groups of 3 leaflets), each leaflet having mainly 3 lobes with the middle the widest, and lobes rounded. In this species, the leaflet undersides do not have small glands (visible with a hand lens) but are somewhat pubescent. Both have sessile stem leaves, and both have large and open panicles of small flowers -- male on one individual plant and female on a separate plant. In this species, the white filaments on the male plants radiate in all directions into a showy ball of white color, as opposed to in T. revolutum, where the filaments on the male flowers droop, like with T. dioicum. T. coriaceum generally has wide leaflets with several teeth on each leaflet lobe, instead of 3 smoothly rounded lobes; and T. macrostylum normally has many leaflets that are entire and unlobed, plus most leaflets are narrower than 1/2-inch wide. Individuals of tall meadow-rues can often be seen on various walks, but normally you must look carefully at the leaves and flower parts to be certain what you have.
Taxonomic CommentsFormerly named, such as by RAB (1968), as Thalictrum polygamum.

Other Common Name(s)Common Tall Meadow-rue, Late Meadowrue, King-of-the-meadow
State RankS3S4 [S4]
Global RankG5
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