Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Virginia Dayflower - Commelina virginica   L.
Members of Commelina with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Commelinales » Family Commelinaceae
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AuthorL.
DistributionFound throughout the Coastal Plain and the eastern two-thirds of the Piedmont, with a known record from the extreme southwestern mountains ("moist area beside road between Murphy and Tipton" in 1948). Generally absent in the western Piedmont and mountains. Seems to also be absent from the extreme northeastern part of the state close to the Outer Banks.

This species has a wide range in the southeastern states. It ranges north to NJ, westward to KS, and south to central FL and eastern TX.
AbundanceCommon in the western and central Coastal Plain and locally common in the Piedmont. Uncommon in the eastern part of the Coastal Plain, being absent on coastal islands. Extremely rare in the southwestern mountains.
HabitatThis is one of the more common herbaceous species growing in deep shade of wet woods, shores of rivers and streams, in drier parts of swamps, floodplain pools and oxbows, and other places within floodplains that contain standing water. It can grow in tidal swamp forests, but usually it is found where the water is standing and in moderate to heavy shade.
PhenologyBlooms and fruits from July to October.
IdentificationFor much of the first half of the growing season, someone who walks in bottomlands or drier parts of swamps may often see plants growing in pools with a few scattered, shiny and entire lanceolate or ovate leaves with parallel veins. Some of these might be grasses, a very few might be rare species of Platanthera orchids, but many will likely be this widespread species. In summer it reaches 2-2.5 feet tall, much taller than the others in the genus; and it often grows in dense, monoculture stands. The leaves reach about 4 inches long and 1-1.5 inches wide, a few of them scattered on the stem. One to several moderately large medium to light blue flowers are near the top, growing out from a leaf-like spathe. All three petals are blue in this species, and the lower petal is nearly as large as the top two; the flower averages about 1 inch across. The other NC species of dayflowers (Commelina) are found either in dry and sandy/rocky soil or in disturbed places. The exotic C. communis could grow in shaded wetlands, but it has the lower petal quite small and white in color. Though each Virginia Dayflower plant might not be strikingly beautiful when in bloom, a stand of these in bloom is certain to catch your attention. It takes little time to become familiar with it while walking through wet woods, though rubber boots and bug spray may be helpful before you enter the forest.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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