Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Carolina Elephant's-foot - Elephantopus carolinianus   Raeuschel
Members of Asteraceae:
Members of Elephantopus with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Asterales » Family Asteraceae
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DistributionThroughout the state; rare on the Outer Banks (Shackleford Banks, Carteret County). This species appears to be sparse in the outer Coastal Plain and in the Sandhills proper, probably due to fewer nutrients or minerals in the soil.

NJ to KS, south to FL and TX; West Indies.
AbundanceCommon in the Piedmont and western half of the Coastal Plain (except the Sandhills); fairly common in the southern half of the Mountains, and locally so in the lower Coastal Plain. Rare to absent in the northern Mountains and a few coastal counties.
HabitatMesic to moist (sometimes dry) soils of floodplain forests, bottomlands, pine-hardwood slope forests, maritime forests; openings in the above. Shows a preference for brownwater river systems over blackwater ones.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting August-October.
IdentificationElephant's-foots have a characteristic whorl of 3 triangular, leafy bracts immediately below the heads. This character separates Elephantopus from Vernonia, which has heads the same size and color (pink to purple). In most species, the bracts and heads sit atop long, nearly leafless, stems, but in this species there are well-developed stem leaves. Also, this species lacks the broad basal leaves that the other species have.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Leafy Elephant's-foot
State RankS5
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
USACE-agcpFACU link
USACE-empFACU link
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Photo Gallery
B.A. SorriePhoto elsewhere in NC, by Jeff Pippen. UnionPhoto_natural
B.A. SorrieFloodplain forest, Sixmile Creek, June 2010, leaves and stem. UnionPhoto_natural
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