Habitats of North Carolina
Habitat Group:
Habitat Type:
Members of Longleaf Pine Woodlands:
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Longleaf Pine Woodlands
Wet, Sandy, Fire-maintained Herblands
General Description Habitats maintained by frequent fire were once one of the most distinctive features of the North Carolina Coastal Plain, with thousands of acres burning every year following lightning strikes. Due to extensive efforts to suppress natural wildfires, however, these communities are now represented mainly by a few relicts that are artificially maintained by prescribed burning. The habitat type described here -- associated with wet, sandy soils -- was once one of the most extensive in the Coastal Plain and still contains one of the richest assemblages of distinctive animals and plants of any habitat in the state.

The plant members of this particular habitat -- including the Venus Flytap, probably our most emblematic species -- are all herbs that are shade-intolerant and consequently that require an open canopy and sparse-to-absent shrub layer to survive. In these habitats, the openness is created and maintained by frequent fire, with sites burning on at least a 3-5 year return interval; many of the plants in this habitat only flower following a fire. Additional requirements are for soils that are fairly wet to constantly moist, but not flooded for extended periods. Species in this particular type of savanna grow on sandy, organic-poor substrates where soil water is acidic. Species associated with mucky peatland soils, often growing in close proximity to the members of this habitat, occupy a different and much larger range of habitats and are treated separately. Savannas that have a high clay or loam content in their soils also possess a different set of defining members and are consequently treated as a different habitat.

Most of the animals belonging in this habitat are Lepidopteran symbionts of the plant species, including the Venus Flytrap Cutworm moth, one of our rarest but most obscure species. The others are either suspected to belong to that category, e.g., the Carolina Schinia are more generalized in their host plants but nonetheless show a high fidelity to this habitat type. All of the Orthopterans fall in the second category, as do some of the Lepidopterans, e.g., Grammia placentia.

Like the plants, these insect species are adapted to frequent fire but unlike the plants, only a few survive through a fire in place, mainly as eggs or pupae located below ground. Most instead probably rely on a metapopulation strategy, involving survival and quick recolonization out from unburned patches of their habitat. Consequently, they typically require larger tracts of habitat than do the plants -- enough to ensure that some unburned patches persist. They also need longer intervals between burns -- sufficient to allow recolonization to keep up with local extirpation. In nearly all cases, these requirements make them far rarer than their host plants.

Abiotic Factors
Biotic Structure
Co-evolved Species Groups Phagic and Competitory Symbioses:
Dionaea muscipula // Hemipachnobia subporphyrea
Liatris species // Schinia sanguinea
Sporobolus brevipilis // Atrytone arogos-Photedes carterae

Several more of the insects in this group are probably also monophagous on plants that are specific to this habitat type but whose relationships have yet to be documented.

Determining Species
Taxa Global RankState RankProbability of Extirpation (PE)
Acronicta sinescripta G3G4SH0.00
Amolita roseola - Pink Sedge Moth G5S2S30.0164
Apamea inebriata - Drunk Apamea G3G4S1S20.1284
Argyria nummulalis GNRSU0.0020
Crambus multilinellus - Multinellus Grass-veneer Moth GNRS2S40.0058
Eubaphe meridiana - Little Beggar Moth G4S2S30.0164
Grammia placentia - Placentia Tiger Moth G3G4S2S30.0164
Hemipachnobia subporphyrea - Venus Flytrap Cutworm Moth G1S10.3584
Leptostales laevitaria - Raspberry Wave Moth G4S2S30.0164
Photedes carterae - Carter's Noctuid Moth G2G3S2S30.0164
Schinia carolinensis - Carolina Schinia G3S2S30.0164
Agalinis aphylla - Scaleleaf False Foxglove G3G4S30.0058
Agalinis obtusifolia - Bluntleaf False Foxglove G4S2S30.0164
Aletris aurea - Golden Colicroot G5S30.0058
Amphicarpum amphicarpon - Pinebarrens Peanut-grass G4S30.0058
Asclepias cinerea - Carolina Milkweed G4SH0.00
Asclepias longifolia - Longleaf Milkweed G4G5S2S30.0164
Asclepias pedicellata - Savanna Milkweed G4S30.0058
Asclepias rubra - Red Milkweed G4G5S30.0058
Balduina atropurpurea - Purple Honeycomb-head G2S10.3584
Bartonia verna - White Screwstem G5S20.0460
Bigelowia nudata var. nudata - Pineland Rayless-goldenrod G5T4T5S40.0007
Calopogon barbatus - Bearded Grass-pink G4S30.0058
Calopogon pallidus - Pale Grass-pink G4G5S30.0058
Carphephorus tomentosus - Woolly Chaffhead G4S40.0007
Chaptalia tomentosa - Woolly Sunbonnets G5S40.0007
Cirsium lecontei - LeConte's Thistle G3S20.0460
Cleistesiopsis divaricata - Large Spreading Pogonia G4S30.0058
Dionaea muscipula - Venus Flytrap G2S20.0460
Erigeron vernus - Early Whitetop Fleabane G5S50.00
Helenium pinnatifidum - Southeastern Sneezeweed G4S20.0460
Helenium vernale - Savanna Sneezeweed G4S10.3584
Helianthus heterophyllus - Variableleaf Sunflower G4S30.0058
Hypoxis sessilis - Glossyseed Star-grass G4S10.3584
Liatris spicata var. resinosa - Dense Blazing-star G5T3T5S30.0058
Lilium catesbyi - Pine Lily G4S30.0058
Linum floridanum - Florida Yellow Flax G5S40.0007
Lysimachia loomisii - Loomis's Loosestrife G3S30.0058
Marshallia graminifolia - Grassleaf Barbara's-buttons G4S40.0007
Oxypolis ternata - Savanna Cowbane G3S30.0058
Pinguicula caerulea - Blue Butterwort G4S30.0058
Pinguicula lutea - Yellow Butterwort G4G5S10.3584
Pinguicula pumila - Small Butterwort G4S20.0460
Platanthera blephariglottis - Small White Fringed Orchid G4G5S30.0058
Platanthera conspicua - Large White Fringed Orchid *S30.0058
Platanthera integra - Yellow Fringeless Orchid G3G4S20.0460
Platanthera nivea - Snowy Orchid G5SH0.00
Polygala brevifolia - Litteleaf Milkwort G4G5S20.0460
Polygala hookeri - Hooker's Milkwort G3S2S30.0164
Rhexia lutea - Yellow Meadow-beauty G5S40.0007
Solidago pulchra - Carolina Goldenrod G3S30.0058
Solidago verna - Spring-flowering Goldenrod G3S30.0058
Spiranthes longilabris - Giant-spiral Ladies'-tresses G3S10.3584
Tiedemannia filiformis ssp. filiformis - Water Cowbane G5TNRS2S30.0164
Triantha racemosa - Coastal False-asphodel G5S40.0007
Trilisa paniculata - Hairy Chaffhead G5S30.0058
Xyris floridana - Florida Yellow-eyed-grass G4G5S10.3584
Xyris serotina - Acid-swamp Yellow-eyed-grass G3G4SH0.00
Zigadenus glaberrimus - Sandbog Death-camas G5S40.0007
Andropogon mohrii - Mohr's Bluestem G4S20.0460
Anthenantia rufa - Purple Silkyscale G5S20.0460
Aristida simpliciflora - Southern Three-awn G3G4S1S20.1284
Calamovilfa brevipilis - Pinebarren Sandreed G4S30.0058
Muhlenbergia expansa - Cut-over Muhly G5S40.0007
Rhynchospora divergens - Spreading Beaksedge G4S20.0460
Rhynchospora galeana - Short-bristle Beaksedge G3S2S30.0164
Rhynchospora latifolia - Giant Whitetop Sedge G5S30.0058
Rhynchospora oligantha - Feather-bristle Beaksedge G4S30.0058
Rhynchospora pusilla - Fairy Beaksedge G4G5S20.0460
Rhynchospora species 2 - Croatan Beaksedge GNRS10.3584
Rhynchospora wrightiana - Wright's Beaksedge G5S30.0058
Scleria baldwinii - Baldwin's Nutrush G4S20.0460
Sporobolus teretifolius - Wireleaf Dropseed G2S10.3584
Syngonanthus flavidulus - Yellow Hatpins G5S30.0058
Atrytone arogos - Arogos Skipper G2G3SH0.00
Atrytonopsis loammi - Loammi Skipper G2SH0.00
Neonympha areolatus - Georgia Satyr G3G4S20.0460
Eotettix pusillus - Little Eastern Grasshopper G2G3S20.0460
Melanoplus decorus - Decorated Spur-throat Grasshopper G2G3S2S30.0164
Melanoplus nubilus - Nubile Melanoplus G2G3S20.0460
Mermiria picta - Lively Mermiria G5S30.0058
Expected Number of Extirpations with a PE value (Sum of PE) = 4.4996
N = Number of Extant Species with a PE value = 70
Average PE = ENE/N = 0.0643
Number of S5 species = 1
Proportion of Secure Species = Number of S5 Species/N = 0.0143
Habitat Risk Index = ENE x (1 – PSS) = 4.4353

Estimated Risk to the Determining Species
Estimated Security of the Habitat
Index of Habitat Imperilment
Identified Risks
Observed Trends
Distribution Map
Major Conservation Reserves
Priority Areas for Surveys and Conservation Protection
Stewardship and Management Recommendations
References LeBlond, R.J., 2001. Endemic plants of the Cape Fear Arch region. Castanea 66:83-97

Sorrie, B.A., 2011. A field guide to wildflowers of the Sandhills Region: North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Univ of North Carolina Press.

Sorrie, B.A. and Weakley, A.S., 2001. Coastal plain vascular plant endemics: phytogeographic patterns. Castanea 66:50-82.

Sorrie, B.A. and Weakley, A.S., 2006. Conservation of the endangered Pinus palustris ecosystem based on Coastal Plain centres of plant endemism. Applied Vegetation Science 9:59-66.
Updated on 2022-01-01 00:08:45