Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for American Golden-saxifrage - Chrysosplenium americanum   Schweinitz ex Hooker
Members of Saxifragaceae:
Only member of Chrysosplenium in NC.
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Section 6 » Order Rosales » Family Saxifragaceae
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AuthorSchweinitz ex Hooker
DistributionStrictly in the Mountains, being present nearly throughout, except absent from the extreme southwestern counties.

This is a Northern species, ranging from eastern Canada south to MN and NJ, and down the Appalachians to northern GA.
AbundanceUncommon to infrequent, but tiny and easily overlooked; certainly not, however, a rare species. It does seem to be very rare (if not absent) in the extreme southwestern corner of the state. The NCNHP considers this as a Watch List species.
HabitatThis species requires wet and shaded places in the middle and higher elevations. It occurs in rocky, wet seepages in cove forests and Northern Hardwood Forests, in seeps in Boulderfield Forests, and on wet ground next to small streams and creeks. It does prefer rocky places and can be found growing over wet rocks.
PhenologyBlooms from March to June, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is an odd member of the family, seemingly more like a liverwort than a vascular plant. It lies nearly flat on the ground and is often matted. A stem is branched but only reaches about 4-5 inches long. Lower leaves are opposite and upper ones are alternate, but all are essentially sessile, rounded to ovate, somewhat entire but may have wavy edges, and barely 2/5-inch long. At the ends of the branches are solitary flowers, each only about 1/5-inch wide, composed of 4 sepals (no petals) that are almost triangular and greenish in color, with a reddish disk and dull reddish anthers. Thus, each flower has a reddish tint to it, helping a biologist to spot these tiny mat-like plants. Otherwise, the plants without flowers would easily be passed over, perhaps as a non-vascular plant. You have a much better chance of spotting the plant if it is growing on the face of a rock instead of buried on the ground amid or under taller vegetation.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Golden-saxifrage, Water-mat
State RankS3
Global RankG5
State StatusW1
US Status
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USACE-empOBL link
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B.A. SorriePhoto taken 1983, North Attleboro, MA. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
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