Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Grassleaf Roseling - Cuthbertia graminea   Small
Members of Commelinaceae:
Members of Cuthbertia with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Family Commelinaceae
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DistributionThroughout the Sandhills region, and eastward to encompass most of the southern half of the Coastal Plain. Records north to Beaufort, Johnston, and Montgomery counties. Because there are a few records for southeastern VA, it could perhaps be found in northeastern NC.

This is a Coastal Plain species ranging north to southeastern VA, and south to central FL. It is known only from Atlantic Coast states -- VA, NC, SC, GA, and FL.
AbundanceCommon and widespread in the Sandhills region, east to Harnett and Cumberland counties. Fairly common eastward to Wayne and Pender counties, but rare east to Beaufort and Craven counties. The NCNHP's State Rank of S3 is puzzling and much too conservative. It is practically S5 in the state, but to be slightly conservative, owing to a species requiring sandhills communities for existence, this website recommends a rank of S4S5.
HabitatThis is a species found in sandy soil, mainly in association with Longleaf Pine sandhills communities. It can also be found on some Carolina bay sand rims, as well as forest borders, roadbanks, and trail margins. However, it is not found in dunes or most sandy places near the coast. It is a species that handles fire suppression quite well; many herbaceous species in sandhills communities can disappear quickly after several years without fire. Thus, it can be seen in rather poorly-maintained pine stands and edges in the Sandhills.
PhenologyBlooms from May to July, and occasionally later. It fruits shortly after blooming.
IdentificationThis is a small species with numerous grass-like basal leaves, each about 6-8 inches long but just 1/5-inch wide. The slender stem rises to only to 9-12 inches high, topped by 3-10 rose-colored flowers that have a spread of about 2/3-inch. The three petals are quite rounded to rhombic, such that a flower looks nearly triangular when viewed from above. When in bloom, the species looks like no other plant, other than its sister species -- C. rosea, which occurs to the west of the range of C. graminea, in the southern Piedmont. Cuthbertia rosea has the leaves somewhat spreading (as opposed to more erect or strongly ascending in C. graminea), and it has broader leaves that can range to 1/4-1/2-inch wide. It takes little walking effort in the Sandhills region to become familiar with Grassleaf Roseling, at least from mid-May to September, as most natural areas contain the species. Even though the flowers are small, there are not many bright rose-colored flowers in drier sandhills and it might be one of the few wildflowers in bloom in some poorly-burned sites.
Taxonomic CommentsFor most of the last century this species was placed in the genus Tradescantia. Both of these two Cuthbertia species were essentially included within one entity and named as Tradescantia rosea. In RAB (1968), this taxon was listed as T. rosea var. graminea, and the other as T. rosea var. rosea. Obviously, in recent years these two have been pulled out of Tradescantia. Some current references now move these two to a different genus -- Callisia (i.e., Callisia graminea). This website follows Weakley (2018) and uses Cuthbertia.

Other Common Name(s)Slender Roseling
State RankS3 [S4S5]
Global RankG5
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US Status
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B.A. SorrieSandhills Game Land, xeric longleaf-wiregrass, June 2015. ScotlandPhoto_natural
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