Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Carey's Saxifrage - Micranthes careyana   (A. Gray) Small
Members of Saxifragaceae:
Members of Micranthes with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Family Saxifragaceae
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Author(A. Gray) Small
DistributionEssentially throughout the Mountains; not present downstate into the Piedmont.

This is a Southern Appalachian endemic; it ranges north only to WV, and south to northwestern SC and northern GA.
AbundanceThough recorded from nearly all Mountain counties, it is generally uncommon to infrequent. The NCNHP considers it as a Watch List species.
HabitatThis is a species of rock crevices where usually a bit moist or wet. It can be found near waterfalls, in various cracks and crevices in a variety of rock types, especially where there is a bit of seepage onto the rocks. It favors somewhat shaded places, included under overhangs.
PhenologyBlooms in May and June, and fruits shortly after blooming.
IdentificationThis species and most others in the genus have a cluster of basal leaves with short petioles. The leaf blade is ovate or rounded, about 1.5 inches across and wide, with many scalloped edges or low rounded teeth; the base is somewhat tapered to the petiole. The leaves of M. caroliniana, as well as the habitat, are very similar, as are the inflorescences. Each has a flowering stalk about 9-10 inches tall, with a large panicle of medium-sized white flowers (for the size of the plant). Each flower has 5 white petals, with the spread flower about 1/4-inch across. In M. careyana, the 5 sepals are at first erect and then spreading; in M. caroliniana, they start out spreading but later become reflexed (swept back). Also, in M. careyana, the filaments of this species are filiform (extremely narrow), whereas in M. caroliniana they are slightly clavate (club-like); Weakley (2018) mentions to "use 10x" hand lens! M. careyana is the more often found of the pair from the central mountains southward, where M. caroliniana does not occur. To see these, scrutinize rocks carefully, especially ones in shaded places and particularly where damp.
Taxonomic CommentsThe species formerly in the genus Saxifraga in NC have now all been moved to the genus Micranthes. As mentioned above, the taxonomy of this species and M. caroliniana has been confused in the past, and it is highly likely that some herbarium specimens are misidentified.

Other Common Name(s)Golden-eye Saxifrage
State RankS3
Global RankG3
State StatusW1
US Status
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