Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Yellow Colicroot - Aletris lutea   Small
Members of Nartheciaceae:
Members of Aletris with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Family Nartheciaceae
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DistributionKnown only from a single site in Pender County discovered by Robert Thornhill in 2012; disjunct from southeastern GA. A specimen from Robeson County (at DUKE) and annotated in 1992 as A. lutea, actually is A. farinosa as originally determined (per Sorrie in 2021).

This is a Deep South species, limited essentially from southern GA and LA south to the entirety of the FL peninsula.
AbundanceExtremely rare in NC; in fact, the known record appears to have consisted of just a single individual found in bloom, in 2011. Whether the species still survives currently is not known. It is a State Threatened species.
HabitatIn its main range, it is a species of wet pine savannas. The NC site is such a wet savanna, and Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is listed as one of the plant associates.
PhenologyBlooms mainly from March to June, much earlier than does Aletris aurea. The NC record was on June 28, with a flowering scape.
IdentificationThis species has a basal cluster of narrow leaves several inches long, and a flowering scape up to 2-3 feet tall. The top several inches of the scape contain a dense raceme of narrow golden-yellow flowers, each about 1/3-inch long. The similar A. aurea has globular or ball-shaped flowers where the tepals nearly close off the flower entrance; in A. lutea, the flowers are several times longer than wide and the tepals spread slightly to give the flower a distinct opening. It is hoped that further exploration of the savannas where the species was seen in Pender County can yield more plants. As savannas are dependent on prescribed periodic fire for maintenance of a healthy flora, it is hoped that the species can somehow manage to survive there.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS1
Global RankG4G5
State StatusT
US Status
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B.A. SorriePhoto taken 1968, Mobile County, AL. Scan from slide. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
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