Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Dixie Whitetop Aster - Sericocarpus tortifolius   (Michaux) Nees
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Section 6 » Order Asterales » Family Asteraceae
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Author(Michaux) Nees
DistributionCoastal Plain and Sandhills; absent from the northeastern part of the state. Rare on the Outer Banks (southwest of Atlantic Beach). A specimen from Rutherford County proves to be S. asteroides.

Coastal Plain, NC to southern FL and southeastern LA; inland to central GA and central AL.
AbundanceCommon over most of its range, but uncommon to infrequent in the northernmost counties, and very rare along the southeastern edge of the Piedmont. It arguably can be given a State Rank of S5, and the Global Rank moved to G5.
HabitatXeric/dry to mesic Longleaf Pine-Wiregrass savannas, sandhills, pea swales, and clearings; locally in Loblolly Pine-oak woodlands. Occurs in drier and sandier soil, on average, than the other two species in the genus.
See also Habitat Account for General Fire-maintained Herblands
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting August-October -- much later than the others in the genus.
IdentificationOur three species of "whitetop aster" used to be included in the genus Aster. In the field they have a distinct gestalt, due to far fewer ray florets per head (maximum of 6), and these are always white. Dixie Whitetop Aster is distinct in its broadly elliptical (to almost rounded), but short, leaves that are held at various angles, and also in its taller stature (1.5-3 feet). Unlike the other two "whitetop asters", the leaves in this species are dull and not shiny, and the twisted and rounded look to them, some almost perpendicular to the ground, makes the identification easy, even without flowers.
Taxonomic CommentsFormerly treated as Aster tortifolius.

Other Common Name(s)Twisted Whitetop Aster
State RankS4 [S5]
Global RankG4 [G5]
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