Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Roan Mountain Bluet - Houstonia montana   Small
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Section 6 » Family Rubiaceae
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AuthorSmall
DistributionLimited to high elevations, ranging south to northeastern Buncombe County. Records for Swain and Jackson counties are perhaps at non-natural sites.

This is a Southern Appalachian endemic, found only in southwestern VA, western NC, and adjacent eastern TN. Most sites are somewhat close to the TN state line, especially on Roan and Grandfather mountains.
AbundanceIn suitable high elevation rocky summits, it can be locally fairly common, but it is rare overall in this region of the northern mountains. It is a Federal and State Endangered species, even though NatureServe only considers it as a variety of H. purpurea.
HabitatThis species has a restricted habitat -- high elevation (mostly over 4000 feet) crevices of rocky summits, or on grassy balds near outcrops at the summit.
See also Habitat Account for High Elevation Rock Outcrops
PhenologyBlooms in June and July, and fruits from July to August.
IdentificationThis species is very similar to H. purpurea, and often considered as a variety of it. However, in this rare species, the flowers are lavender-purple to rosy-purple, as opposed to white or lavender-white, and somewhat larger than those of that common species. (No, the flowers are simply not "purple" or "deep purple" as some references state.) Also, the rare species has a glabrous stem between leaf nodes, whereas in H. purpurea, the stem nodes are pubescent. See Weakley (2018) for a few additional, small characters. Be aware that H. purpurea is a quite common and widespread species and could occur in somewhat close proximity. But, normally when in bloom, you'll know H. montana when you see it!
Taxonomic CommentsSome references treat this as a good species, as does Weakley (2018), but many also as a variety -- H. purpurea var. montana.

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS2
Global RankG5T2 [G2]
State StatusE
US StatusLE
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