Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Golden-crest - Lophiola aurea   Ker-Gawler
Members of Nartheciaceae:
Only member of Lophiola in NC.
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Section 5 » Order Liliales » Family Nartheciaceae
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DistributionLimited to the southeastern corner of the state, mainly restricted to Brunswick County, but with a few records for Columbus, New Hanover, and Onslow counties. Despite much field work, it has yet to be found in Pender County.

This Coastal Plain species has a disjunct range. It is found widely in the southern half of NJ, formerly in southern DE, and then again in southeastern NC. It "skips over" VA and SC and is found primarily from southern GA and northern FL to eastern LA. Highly disjunct to southern Nova Scotia. Its known range encompasses only several dozen counties.
AbundanceRare and clearly declining in Brunswick County, owing mainly to fire suppression. Very rare elsewhere from Onslow to Columbus counties. The NCNHP lists 14 records, but only about 10 are listed as extant, and nearly all of these have not been seen or searched for since the 1990s, when Richard LeBlond conducted the Brunswick County natural area inventory. Considering that practically all records are from un-protected sites, it is clear that Lophiola is in a precarious condition in NC, and the State Rank should be moved from the NCNHP's S2 to this website's recommended S1. Not surprisingly, it is a State Endangered species, and it is urgent that one or more sites be acquired to protect the species in perpetuity.
HabitatThis species is not found in savannas, per se, but in the wettest portions of them, as well as in "savanna sloughs" and ditches adjacent to savannas. These sites tend to be "boggy" spots.
PhenologyBlooms in late May into June; fruits in August and September.
IdentificationThis is an unusual plant that has no close relatives, and Lophiola is a monotypic genus, further emphasizing the urgent need for conservation of this interesting species. It grows to 2-3 feet tall, with an number of virgate/erect branches toward the top of the stem. The entire plant is covered in short thick white hairs, giving it a "woolly" look, different from all other NC plants except Carolina Redroot (Lachnanthes caroliniana). It has insignificant leaves -- hardly needed for identification owing to the woolly stems, and at the tips of many of the stems are the small but odd, yellow flowers. Each flower, barely 1/4-inch across, has woolly yellow hairs over the six sepals, and this fuzzy-looking flower gives it the common name of Golden-crest. At some distance, the plant with the fuzzy flowers might resemble a composite with only ray flowers, such as a thistle, dandelion, or some other member of that family. To look for this species, search roadside ditches and swales/sloughs in the western part of Brunswick County, especially close to the Waccamaw River.
Taxonomic CommentsThe species was formerly named as Lophiola americana. This species/genus was often included with Lachnanthes in the Family Haemodoraceae. Currently, Weakley (2018) has Lophiola assigned to the Family Nartheciaceae (with Aletris and Narthecium), though Lachnanthes is retained in Haemodoraceae.

Other Common Name(s)Nearly all references use Golden Crest, Golden-crest, or Goldencrest.
State RankS2 [S1]
Global RankG4
State StatusE
US Status
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B.A. SorrieBrunswick County, 2006, ridge-and-swale area just E of Waccamaw River. BrunswickPhoto_natural
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