Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Navel Cornsalad - Valerianella umbilicata   (Sullivant) A. Wood
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Section 6 » Order Dipsacales » Family Valerianaceae
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Author(Sullivant) A. Wood
DistributionAn odd range, with a cluster of records for the central Piedmont, and a second cluster in the southern Mountains. Seemingly absent in the northern Mountains and most of the Piedmont foothills.

This is a species found mostly northwest of NC, from MA west to IL, and south to SC and AL.
AbundanceApparently rare to locally uncommon in the southwestern Mountains and in the northern Piedmont, but very rare in the central and southern Piedmont. The NCNHP lists it as SH (historical), as SERNEC shows no collections within the last 20 years. However, even though the species may well have declined in recent decades, there is little justification for calling a species of fields and other disturbed areas collected from 13 counties as "historical", and the website editors feel that a State Rank of S2? is best. For example, the Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora calls it "Frequent to locally common in the sw. mountains and s. Piedmont" -- and thus it certainly is not of historical occurrence in NC. Rightfully, the NCNHP does treat it as a Watch List species, and certainly new collections or records are needed.
HabitatThis is a somewhat ruderal species, of moist and open habitats. It grows in wet meadows, openings in bottomlands, roadsides, and other disturbed places.
PhenologyBlooms in April and May, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is an herb of medium height, with an erect stem to about 1.5' tall. It has scattered pairs of opposite stem leaves, each somewhat oblanceolate with a rounded apex, about 2" long and much narrower. As with the more numerous V. radiata, it is the flower clusters that are quite distinctive and identify a plant to this genus. At the ends of several dichotomous branches are the clusters, each with a tight handful of white flowers, and rather rounded in shape when viewed from above, about 1" across. The flowers are noticeably larger than those in V. radiata, which has each cluster strongly packed into a tight rectangle when viewed from above. As mentioned in Abundance, there is a need for new collections of this species, not just for documenting new counties but also to gain a better understanding of its current abundance level.
Taxonomic CommentsA few older references named this as V. intermedia.

Weakley (2020) places Valerianella and Valeriana into family Valerianaceae, but without taxonomnic justification. The papers he cites are a mixed bag without concensus. We will await further developments.
Other Common Name(s)Northern Cornsalad
State RankSH [S2?]
Global RankG4G5
State StatusW7
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