Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Carolina Bog-asphodel - Tofieldia glabra   Nuttall
Members of Tofieldiaceae:
Only member of Tofieldia in NC.
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Section 5 » Order Liliales » Family Tofieldiaceae
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DistributionPresent over nearly all of the southern half of the Coastal Plain, including the Sandhills region; ranges northward to Martin and Wilson counties, the northern edge of the species' range, as it is absent from VA.

This is a Carolina endemic species. It occurs only in eastern NC and south to the central Coastal Plain of SC. Reports and specimens from GA are actually Triantha racemosa.
AbundanceUncommon though fairly widespread, but often rare in areas between the coastal counties and the Sandhills, as suitable habitat in this "middle" region is more limited and more often impacted. Certainly very rare north of Croatan National Forest and the Sandhills. Several decades ago this species was tracked as rare by the NC NHP, but many more populations have been discovered in recent years. It can be numerous in sites well-managed with fire.
HabitatThis is another lily species that favors the wetter portions of pine savannas, but it also occurs along pocosin margins and in Sandhills seepage bogs and slopes. As mentioned above, most sites where it is found are managed by fire every few years.
PhenologyThis a fall-blooming species, essentially from late September through October, often not until October. Rarely it can be seen in bloom in very late August or in November. It fruits in October and November.
IdentificationThis is a grass-like lily with a clump of many basal, very narrow leaves that reach up to 9-12 inches high. The flowering scape grows to about 1-1.5 feet tall, somewhat higher than the leaves. The scape (and leaves) are clearly glabrous (very waxy to the touch), separating the species from the very similar Triantha racemosa, which grows in the same habitat but blooms in summer. The inflorescence is a fairly dense cluster (raceme) about 3 inches long, consisting of small white flowers, each about 1/4-inch across; the cluster resembles a "test-tube brush". In this species, the flowers occur singly off the stem, whereas in Triantha species the flowers are in clusters of two or three coming off the stem (as a thyrse), though at any distance each has a very similar "test-tube brush" inflorescence of snowy white flowers that are conspicuous to the observer. This latter species has a very rough scape, easily noted when running it between two fingers. Tofieldia glabra blooms during the period when large numbers of composites (Family Asteraceae) are in bloom in our savannas, long after the similar Triantha racemosa has finished blooming.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)White Asphodel, White False Asphodel, Smooth Tofieldia, Smooth Bog-Asphodel, White Featherling
State RankS4
Global RankG4
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B.A. SorrieFort Bragg, seepage in streamhead ecotone, Sept 1993. HokePhoto_natural
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