Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Creeping Eryngo - Eryngium prostratum   Nuttall ex de Candolle
Members of Apiaceae:
Members of Eryngium with account distribution info or public map:
Google Images
Section 6 » Order Apiales » Family Apiaceae
Show/Hide Synonym
AuthorNuttall ex de Candolle
DistributionScattered over much to most of the state, though clearly scarce to absent in the northwestern Piedmont and northern Mountains. Seemingly absent also from much of the far eastern part of the state.

This is a Southern species, ranging from southern VA and southern MO south to central FL and eastern TX. The Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora considers all records in that state to be of uncertain provenance, and Weakley (2018) states: "definitely native southward, perhaps only rather recently spread to the northern parts of our area". Though certainly some of the records from NC could fall into this category, where found in lawns, for example, most SERNEC specimens are rather old and certainly appear to represent native populations.
AbundanceNot nearly as numerous as might be expected from its range in the state and its choice of habitats -- mostly uncommon, except obviously absent to very rare in the far eastern counties and in the northwestern part of the state.
HabitatThis is a wetland species, but it is found more in damp ground than in truly wet places. It grows on exposed mud of lake and pond shores, low meadows, ditches, openings in bottomlands, and wet or damp roadsides or damp lawns. Most sites are in sunny places with little competing vegetation, as it is a very low-growing species.
PhenologyBlooms from May to October, and fruits soon after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a prostrate species, rooting at nodes, with numerous stems growing in different directions. From each node grow a few very small ovate to elliptical leaves on slender petioles. The blades are only about 1-1.5 inches long and about half as wide, usually toothed; a few leaves are palmately lobed. The small flower clusters are in very dense "cones", of minute bright blue flowers, and a slender stalk. This cone is only about 1/4-inch tall and somewhat narrower. No other plant even closely resembles this "belly plant" or "mat plant", especially its odd tiny balls of blue flowers practically on the ground. In fact, many biologists and nearly all laypeople have no idea the identity of this unusual plant.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Spreading Eryngo
State RankS3S4
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
USACE-agcpFACW link
USACE-empOBL link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieWhispering Pines, old farm pond by Niagara-Carthage Road, Aug 2015. MoorePhoto_natural

View Mapping Selection Options
Select a source
Select an occurrence type