Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Buffalo-nut - Pyrularia pubera   MichauxOnly member of Pyrularia in NC.
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Section 6 » Order Santalales » Family Cervantesiaceae
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AuthorMichaux
DistributionThroughout the mountains, and across the western and central Piedmont, east to Caswell and Mecklenburg counties. There are no known out-of-range disjunct locations farther eastward.

This is a central and southern Appalachian species, ranging from southwestern PA southwestward through the western half of the Piedmont province to north-central GA and eastern AL.
AbundanceGenerally common in the mountains; frequent to locally common in the western Piedmont (mainly in the foothills ranges), but uncommon in the central Piedmont.
HabitatThis is a species of mesic to somewhat dry hardwood forests, and it is not typically found in rich coves and other high diversity sites. Not surprisingly it favors moderate to steep slopes, at times in quite rocky areas, and is usually found in a variety of oak-hickory forests or other mesic forest types. It often grows near stands of Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) or Rosebay Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum), though it can at times be found in circumneutral soils.
PhenologyBlooms in April and May; fruits from July to October. Unlike with its fellow family-mates Nestronia and Buckleya, the large and distinctive fruit (drupe), a greenish “acorn”, is often seen.
IdentificationThis is a semi-parasitic, dioecious, and deciduous shrub that grows to a typical height of 6-10 feet tall. It has entire and elliptical leaves that are a bit larger than many other forest shrubs, as they average about 4 inches long. They have a somewhat distinctive look in that the surface seems “wrinkled” and the veins are “sunken down” to give a leaf a wavy and 3-dimensional appearance. Fortunately, the inflorescence is distinctive and is commonly seen on the plants for most of the growing season. They contain small green flowers in a several-inch-long cluster, and by July or August the large acorn-like fruit is conspicuous. Unlike Nestronia, this species is not clonal and thus does not grow in extensive stands, but as it is a frequently encountered shrub, you may see dozens or hundreds in a given forest stand.
Taxonomic CommentsNone. The other three members of the genus are found in Asia. Thus, no other North American species resembles this species.

Other Common Name(s)Oil-nut
State RankS4
Global RankG5
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