Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Sawtooth Frogfruit - Phyla nodiflora   (L.) Greene
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Section 6 » Order Lamiales » Family Verbenaceae
Author(L.) Greene
DistributionEssentially along and near the entire coast. Taxon editors have not found the specimen voucher for Cumberland County (RAB dot).

This is a widespread Southern species, ranging from extreme southeastern VA south to the Gulf Coast, and ranging northward in the West to OR. In the South Atlantic states, it is essentially coastal except in FL.
AbundanceFairly common to locally common to very common, often in dense stands. The NCNHP's State Rank of S3 is woefully conservative, and this is an S4 species in the state.
HabitatThis is a rather weedy native species in NC, growing along sandy roadsides, lawns, clearings, dunes, and other similar places. It can grow in damp sands in more natural places, in interdune swales and on shell middens. As it is a low-growing species, it must survive in places with little other competition.
PhenologyBlooms from late May to frost, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a mostly decumbent, creeping plant, rooting at nodes. It has two or more leaves at a node, and these are rather short and obovate to spatulate, about 1" long and 3/4" wide, with serrations toward the apex. The flower clusters are on slender raised stalks, often 2-3" tall, and are in a dense rounded ball, with tiny white flowers (about 1/5" across at most) as in P. lanceolata. From above, the flowers are arranged in a whorl, quite conspicuous. As it grows along the ground, it typically occurs in dense patches, many yards across. The other species has much longer and more elliptical leaves, about 4 times as long as wide, and it is more erect as well. Thankfully for this species, it grows low enough that it can often escape mowers of coastal roadsides, as in some such places it carpets the ground.
Taxonomic CommentsThese two species were formerly placed in the genus Lippia.

Other Common Name(s)Common Frogfruit, Creeping Frogfruit, Turkey-tangle Frogfruit, Texas Frogfruit, Capeweed. This species simply does not have a common name that has stuck with numerous websites and references. Note that the group common name has often been call "Fogfruit" instead of "Frogfruit". It is not clear which is correct, or best to use.
State RankS3 [S4]
Global RankG5
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US Status
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