Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Tall Rattlesnake-root - Nabalus altissimus   (L.) Hooker
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Author(L.) Hooker
DistributionMountains and Piedmont; several scattered sites on the Coastal Plain that support Piedmont-like soils.

Newf. to MI, south to GA and LA.
AbundanceCommon in the Mountains and across the Piedmont as well. Rare into the upper and central Coastal Plain. There usually are many immature plants (single leaves on the ground) for every adult plant.
HabitatMesic to moist forests of varying composition; often on loamy or rocky slopes in somewhat nutrient-rich soils; margins of floodplain forests.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting August-October.
IdentificationRattlesnake-roots are characterized by nodding heads of ray florets only, alternate leaves that are roughly triangular and irregularly lobed and/or toothed, and milky juice. Tall Rattlesnake-root grows 2-7 feet tall and has pale tan to cream-colored pappus (feathery hairs attached to seeds), and straw-colored or pale yellowish florets. From N. serpentarius it differs in leaves relatively thin-textured (vs. thick) and florets less than 8 per head (vs. more than 8 in the latter species). The irregularly-cut leaves are familiar features of montane and Piedmont forests, and many are of immature plants; thus, biologists should know how to identify this species from just the leaves.
Taxonomic CommentsPreviously named as Prenanthes altissima.

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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