Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Pinebarren Death-camas - Stenanthium leimanthoides   (A. Gray) Zomlefer & Judd
Members of Melanthiaceae:
Members of Stenanthium with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Family Melanthiaceae
Author(A. Gray) Zomlefer & Judd
DistributionPresent essentially only in the Mountains, mainly in the northern counties. One record for the western Piedmont (Catawba County).

This species has a narrow north-south range, occurring mainly in the NJ Pine Barrens, and barely to Long Island (NY, where extirpated) and DE; and then disjunct to the Appalachians of WV, VA, NC, and northwestern GA. The BONAP map shows its occurrence much farther south in southern GA and then west to eastern TX -- mainly in the Coastal Plain; Sorrie & Weakley (2017) considers those as a different species.
AbundanceRare and local in the northern counties, south to the Black Mountains in Yancey County. Extremely rare in the southern Mountains and western Piedmont. This is a State Threatened species. Though the NC NHP gives it a State Rank of S1, the same as Anticlea glauca, this species has about 17 current occurrences in their database, of which four are rated excellent, and several more are rated good. Thus, a State Rank of S2 seems warranted.
HabitatIn NC, this is a species of rock outcrops and rocky summits, generally at high elevations. Most sites seem to be on acidic soils. They can occur in seepage areas on the rocks, as well as on shrub balds. The somewhat similar Anticlea glauca is restricted to calcareous rocks in the Mountains (and at just one currently known site). Note: In NJ, this species occurs in the Pine Barrens, in bogs and other wetlands.
PhenologyBlooms in July and August, and fruits in September and October.
IdentificationThis is a typical "tall, white lily", it having a cluster of very long and narrow basal leaves and a tall flowering stalk. The leaves average about 1-1.5 feet long but barely 1/3-inch across, thus appearing "strap-like". The flowering stalk grows to about 2-2.5 feet high and has one to several fairly dense and tight racemes of small flowers on the top third of the stalk, collectively forming a "panicle of racemes". Some plants may have just a single raceme, but those with multiple ones are quite distinctive looking, as the racemes are not arranged in the same plane but form a somewhat conical shape to the inflorescence. Each flower is barely 1/4-inch across, but has a yellow gland at the base of each of the 6 tepals. As with nearly all species in the genera Anticlea, Amianthium, Melanthium, Stenanthium, and Zigadenus, each is a very tall and striking wildflower when in full bloom. Biologists who have visited the Mile High Bridge at Grandfather Mountain in the summer have probably seen this species in bloom, where it can be found blooming with two other very rare species on the same outcrops -- Solidago spithamaea and Liatris helleri.
Taxonomic CommentsThis species was usually placed in the genus Zigadenus for much or most of the 20th Century. Pinebarren Death-camas is a Coastal Plain wetland species in the NJ Pine Barrens, but farther southward it is generally found in a completely opposite habitat -- high elevation rock outcrops! Many references consider it as ranging far to the south in Gulf Coast states, though Sorrie and Weakley (2018) considers that as another species, S. texanum. Thus, there are several differing philosophies as to what constitutes this species. In addition, as S. densum is a Coastal Plain savanna species from VA southward, a few authors think that S. leimanthoides might be just a northern form/taxon of it. Sorrie and Weakley (2017) are having none of that, and most references do treat them both as good species, though NatureServe annoyingly tacks on a "Q" to the Global Rank, as G4Q.

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS1 [S2]
Global RankG4Q
State StatusT
US Status
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