Vascular Plants of North Carolina
View Plant List

Welcome to the "Vascular Plants of North Carolina" website!

This website aims to provide a compendium of all of the vascular plant taxa -- species as well as subspecies and varieties -- known to occur in North Carolina, or to have been reported as occurring in the state. The list provides information on the relative rarity or abundance of each taxon, both in the state and globally, as well as legal state and Federal statuses. In addition, the website will provide more detailed information on the geographic range, habitat, flowering and fruiting periods, and comments on the taxonomy and other notable features of each taxon. The website will also contain photographs of each taxon in the state, by providing an upload function for the public to submit photos to the website. Each taxon will also have a county dot map that shows the known occurrences in the state.

The original data for this website have been taken from the Biotics database of the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program (NC NHP), in November 2015. In general, the names and the global ranks from the database are provided by NatureServe (NS), with the state ranks provided by the NC NHP. Edits to the names and ranks have been made by the NC NHP in late fall 2016. The primary editor of the website (LeGrand) has made a number of changes to the (Most Prevalent) Common Name and some of the ranks; such changes are marked by * (= information was already in that field) or + (= the field was blank) after the names or ranks.

To see the entire list of the vascular plants, click on the green “View Plant List” link on the top of the Home Page screen, or on the left side of the screen, beneath "Home Page". This provides the entire state list, with the most primitive species grouped first (by Section #), and within each Section arranged alphabetically by Family, and genera arranged alphabetically within each Family. Also, the species are arranged alphabetically within each genus.

To search for a particular taxon/species, you can either
1) use the Search Bar (first row, in light lavender/blue) to enter all or part of the scientific name or the common name in the appropriate search box, and hit the orange Search tab. You may do the same to search for a family, by entering all or part of the family name in that search box. The Search function brings up just that taxon or family, with the rank and status information for that entity shown; or

2) to stay within the entire list, use the CONTROL-F or COMMAND-F keys on your keyboard to bring up a Find box, and entering text will take you to the first line on the entire list that matches your string. This is your best option to move around within the list, as the list is over 4,200 rows in length. Of course, you may also simply scroll up and down on the list with the gray tab/bar on the right hand margin of the screen.

The plant list as seen on the View Plant List screen has been formatted into 10 fields:

Section. This is a grouping of species/taxa based on taxonomy, with the most primitive groups listed first. These are taken from Weakley’s “Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States”, 2015.

    1. Clubmosses (Lycopodiophyta)
    2. Ferns (Monilophyta)
    3. Extant Gymnosperms (Acrogymnospermae)
    4. Magnoliids and Primitive Angiosperms
    5. Monocots (Monocotyledonae)
    6. Eudicots (Eudicotyledonae)

Family. This is the family name taken from the Biotics database. [The Weakley flora (above) has differing families. This website will convert over to the Weakley flora taxonomic treatment in the upcoming months.]

Scientific Name. This is the scientific (Latin) name taken from the Biotics database for the species, subspecies, or variety. [As mentioned above, this website will begin using the Scientific Names as in the Weakley flora shortly.]

(Most Prevalent) Common Name. The name in this field was that originally provided for the taxon in the Biotics database. However, LeGrand has changed a number of these to use the most prevalent (= most frequently used) common name as found on websites and in other references. Names were also edited for consistency within a genus name, such as use of, or removal of, hyphens. Such edits are marked with an *.

RAB Flora Synonym. This is the scientific name as found in the Radford, Ahles, and Bell’s “Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas”, 1968, where it differs from the Scientific Name on the website (i.e., the name used by NatureServe and the NC Natural Heritage Program). Scientific Name taxa on this website that were not mentioned in the RAB Manual – such as new taxa/species found in the state since 1968 – are listed as “not in RAB”. Where this field is blank, the Scientific Name on the website is the same as in the RAB manual. The phrase “in part” after a RAB Flora name indicates that the taxon was subsumed within the taxon listed in Scientific Name; this indicates that the taxon has most likely been split out from the taxon listed in the RAB manual. For example, Isoetes appalachiana, I. hyemalis, and I. valida have been split as new species out of Isoetes engelmannii, though a portion of the old I. engelmannii is still a valid species (because it is listed in Scientific Name). Many users of the website are likely more familiar with these older names than the new names, and thus this field should help avoid too much confusion with unfamiliar names in the Scientific Name field. NOTE: The website authors have not repeated the RAB Flora name for subspecies or varieties; thus, Aster dumosus is listed as the RAB Flora Synonym name for Symphyotrichum dumosum, but we have not bothered to list RAB Flora Synonym names for the three varieties. When looking for synonym names for varieties or subspecies, please check to see if any RAB Synonym is listed for the full species.

Weakley Flora Synonym. This is the scientific name as found in the Weakley flora (2015), where it differs from the Scientific Name on the website (i.e., the name used in Biotics by NatureServe and the NC NHP). As with the RAB Flora Synonym names, we have not repeated Weakley Flora synonyms for varieties and subspecies. Thus, please check the full species to see if there is a Weakley Flora Synonym. We will soon use the Weakley flora names as the “standard” [scientific names] for this list, replacing the Biotics database scientific names (which would then be listed in the sixth column as Biotics Synonym). Those taxa on the NatureServe/NC NHP list that appear to be absent in the Weakley flora are listed as “not in Weakley”.

State Rank. This is the measure of the relative rarity or commonness of a taxon in the state. The criteria were developed by NatureServe, and each state’s natural heritage program staff code the appropriate rank for each taxon. See State Rank at the bottom of the page for a listing of each rank code.

Global Rank. This is the measure of the relative rarity or commonness of a taxon globally. The criteria were developed by NatureServe, and their staff code the appropriate rank for each taxon. See Global Rank at the bottom of the page for a listing of each rank code.

State Status. This is the endangerment status for each taxon in the state. Taxa with no state status have this field blank on the plant list. See State Status at the bottom of the page for a listing of each status code.

US Status. This is the endangerment status for each taxon in the United States. Taxa with no US status have this field blank on the plant list. See US Status at the bottom of the page for a listing of each status code.

Beneath each Scientific Name are two active links, colored in blue:
BONAP. This is a link to the global county distribution of the taxon, as mapped by the Biota of North America Program – North American Vascular Flora. Though the taxa are mapped to the county level, the reader should use the maps only for a general overview of the entire range of the taxon across the country and across the state of North Carolina, as some counties included for the state may well be incorrect or of locally escaped individuals; plus, many taxa lack recent records. A small to moderate percentage of the taxa do not have range maps (especially varieties and subspecies), as there are typically taxonomic issues with them that BONAP does not recognize or accept. For these taxa you will see a “404 – File or directory not found” error. (To return to the plant list, click on the link to “Vascular Plants ….” at the top of your screen.)
Images This is a link to the Google Images for that taxon. As many users are aware, photos on Google Images often include related species or mis-identifications, so use caution when viewing the photos. (Again, to get back to the plant list, click on the link to “Vascular Plants ….” at the top of the screen.)

The Sort/Tally Bar (second row, in pale olive) is useful for finding a subset of the total taxa on the list; in addition, the list automatically gives the number of taxa within that sorted group. You will see nine possible sorts that can be done; the default is “Species with var/ssp”, which is “Species with varieties and subspecies included”. Please note that the number of taxa listed (currently 4,614) is for the default setting [i.e., “Species with var/ssp” and “All” double-counts hundreds of taxa and should NOT be used to tally the number of taxa in the state. The reason is that for every variety or subspecies on the list, there is also the full species on the list. Many people do not care about the subspecies and varieties of the various species and will want the ranks and statuses of the full species. Plus, many people are interested in knowing how many species of a group or the entire flora are in North Carolina, etc. By choosing the second sort (Species w/o var/ssp = species without varieties and subspecies), and with the “All” button checked as well, the current number of species reported in the state is 3,977. However, this tally also includes taxa reported from the state without documentation, reported falsely, hybrids, etc., and will also provide the user with an erroneous tally of taxa. You can also check the “Native” button, which excludes the Exotic species, to see how many species are native in the state. This Sort/Tally Bar also has additional sorts for “Uncertain” (light yellow), “Exotic” (salmon/orange), “Hybrid” (light blue), “Not in NC” (lilac), and “Not Valid” (light brown) [see below for more information].

The plant list has several colors of rows showing on the screen. Light olive/gray or medium olive/gray background indicates native taxa that are known from the state; the two colors alternate simply to make it easier to see the information on each row. Rows in light yellow indicate taxa of uncertain occurrence in the state; these have a State Rank of SR (State Reported). Rows in salmon/orange indicate taxa that are “exotic” --not native (SE = State Exotic) or apparently not native (SE?). Many of these may be native in Europe, South America, or another continent, but some might be native near North Carolina but are thought to be adventive to the state. Rows in light blue are hybrids (HYB) without described scientific names as species, subspecies, or varieties; thus, they are not of conservation concern by NatureServe. Rows in lilac indicate taxa that do not occur in the state; these were previously reported but have since been determined to not be in the state (SRF). Rows in light brown are taxa that currently are not considered valid by other references (SYN), especially Weakley’s flora. Some of these are now known by another scientific name; many others – generally varieties and subspecies --listed by NatureServe are not accepted nor included as valid taxa in other references. As a general rule, taxa in these five color-shaded groups are not conservation targets in North Carolina.

In the near future, the Scientific Name will be colored in blue to represent an active link. This will bring up the species account, containing numerous fields: Distribution, Abundance, Habitat, Phenology, Synonym (alternate scientific names), Other Common Names, Identification, Taxonomic Comments, NC Natural Heritage Program tracking status, County Range Map, and any photos.

There are several tabs on the left side of the homepage:
    “UNC Plant List” provides the Family, Scientific Name, and Common Names as found in “Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States; Working Draft of 21 May 2015” by Alan S. Weakley, of the University of North Carolina Herbarium (NCU).
    “Export Plant List” allows you to download an Excel (.xlsx) file of the most recent version of the material seen on the View Plant List screen (Section #, Family, Scientific Name, Primary Common Name, State Rank, Global Rank, State Status, and US Status). An Excel file allows you to add additional columns for checklists or other features, allows you to edit species names, to re-sort groups of species, and many other functions.

Enjoy browsing the website!

State Rank:
S1 = Critically imperiled in the state. Typically 5 or fewer occurrences or very few remaining individuals (<1,000).
S2 = Imperiled in the state. Typically 6-20 occurrences or few remaining individuals (1,000 – 3,000).
S3 = Rare or uncommon in the state. Typically 21-100 occurrences or between 3,000 and 10,000 individuals.
S4 = Apparently secure in the state. Usually more than 100 occurrences or more than 10,000 individuals.
S5 = Demonstrably secure in the state.
SH = Of historical occurrence, last record over 20 years ago, with at least some effort to relocate occurrences. Some expectation that it can be rediscovered.
SX = Presumed extirpated in the state.
SE = Exotic, presumed not native to the state.
SU = Unknown; unrankable due to lack of, or conflicting, information about status or population trends.
SR = Reported, but without conclusive documentation.
SRF = Reported falsely; reported in the state but almost certainly is not present
HYB = Hybrid; a hybrid not described as a taxon (denoted by “x” in the scientific name) and thus not of conservation value.
SYN = Synonym; the taxon is currently not recognized by Weakley (2015), because it is a synonym of a recognized taxon or because that reference does not consider it a valid taxon.
? = Uncertain rank; denotes an inexact or uncertain numeric rank.

Global Rank:
G1 = Critically imperiled globally. Typically 5 or fewer occurrences or very few remaining individuals (<1,000).
G2 = Imperiled globally. Typically 6-20 occurrences or few remaining individuals (1,000 – 3,000).
G3 = Vulnerable globally. Typically 21-100 occurrences or between 3,000 and 10,000 individuals.
G4 = Apparently secure globally. Usually more than 100 occurrences or more than 10,000 individuals.
G5 = Demonstrably secure globally.
GH = Historical; known only from historical occurrences, but with some expectation that it may be rediscovered.
GX = Presumed extinct.
GNA = Not applicable. Not a suitable target for conservation.
Q = Questionable taxonomy.
T_ = the rank of a subspecies of variety. For example, G4T1 indicates that the species is apparently secure globally, but the subspecies or variety is critically imperiled.
_NR = Not yet ranked by NatureServe.
? = Uncertain rank; denotes an inexact or uncertain numeric rank.

State Status: (E, T, and SC statuses are legal designations by the NC Plant Conservation Program. SR and W statuses are provided by the NC NHP).
E = Endangered
T = Threatened
SC-V = Special Concern – Vulnerable
SC-H = Special Concern – Historical
SR = Significantly Rare. Any taxon not already listed as E, T, or SC but which is rare in the state and needs monitoring.
SR-D = The species is disjunct to the state from a main range in a different part of the country or world.
SR-L = The range of the species is limited to North Carolina and adjacent states (endemic or near endemic).
SR-P = The species is at the periphery of its range in North Carolina.
SR-T = The species is rare throughout its range.
SR-O = The range of the species is sporadic or cannot be described by other Significantly Rare categories.

W = Watch List. Any taxon that is rare or otherwise threatened with serious decline but for which current information does not justify placement on the main list (as E, T, SC, or SR).
W1 = Rare, but relatively secure.
W2 = Rare, but taxonomically questionable.
W3 = Rare, but of uncertain documentation.
W4 = Rare, but possibly or perhaps not native.
W5 = Rare because of severe decline.
W6 = Regionally rare. Maybe be uncommon to abundant in much of the state, but of concern in one region.
W7 = Rare and poorly known.

US Status: (E, T, and C are legal designations by the US Fish and Wildlife Service)
E = Endangered
T = Threatened
C = Candidate (for E or T listing)
FSC = Federal Species of Concern. Species that appear to be in decline or otherwise in need of conservation and are under consideration for listing or for which there is insufficient information to support listing at this time.

1. The Biotics database has several hundred “unranked” taxa at the State level. The primary author has given each of these taxa a State Rank, based on information in Weakley (2015) and other references. Nearly always these ranks are followed by a “?”. In a handful of cases, SU is coded because there seems to be little information on abundance in the state. As one major goal of this website plant list is to provide a measure of commonness or rarity of each taxon, provenance in the state (native or not), and justification as a valid taxon in the state, it is critical that each taxon be given a State Rank and not left as “unranked” (coded as SNR in the Biotics database).

2. You will notice that a number of taxa do not have a numerical Global Rank assigned by NatureServe; these are shown as GNA, GNR, or TNR. Obviously, all non-cultivated taxa are native somewhere in the world and should have a numerical global rank. However, NatureServe is concerned primarily with numerical coding of taxa for the United States and Canada. Taxa native outside of this area are not conservation targets in these two countries due to being escapes/exotics, and thus typically are coded as GNA (Global Not Applicable for conservation). Taxa with a GNR can be of two types: a) taxa that are exotic or presumed exotic and simply have not yet been coded as GNA; or 2) newly described taxa – new taxa described for the first time or are recent splits of existing taxa. Where you see GNR or TNR for a taxon with a State Rank of SE or SE?, you should assume that the taxon is not native to the United States or Canada (e.g., Iris pseudacorus). Where you see GNR or TNR for a taxon with a numerical State Rank, you should assume that the taxon is native to North Carolina and thus to the United States but is most likely a newly described or newly split taxon that has not yet been given a numerical rank (e.g., Dichanthelium annulum).

3. There are literally several hundred taxa in the state where we are uncertain if they occur in North Carolina. Many or most of these are listed in Weakley (2015) as “NC?”, “reported in NC”, etc. This vascular plant website list is going to be somewhat inconsistent in treatment of such “uncertain” taxa for a while, until further information on them becomes available. Taxonomic splitting is rampant, as is taxonomic changing of scientific names. Thus, it is quite difficult to keep track of names of “new” taxa. We have tried to keep all of such taxa as SR (State Reported) or SRF (State Reported Falsely), but some likely are already coded as S1 or S1?. As a general rule, such “uncertain in NC” taxa will be color-shaded on the list (in yellow or purple).

4. The other troubling decision is the hundreds of taxa that are clearly known to occur in North Carolina but for which its provenance is uncertain. These are taxa that are native elsewhere in the United States, often in neighboring states (at least assumed to be native there), but which might be adventive in North Carolina, such that seeds or other plant parts may have arrived by unnatural means (such as being transported to the state by vehicles or by humans in some other way). A large number of these have a State Status of W4, but quite a few have already been coded numerically, such as S1, S1?, or S2?. However, quite a few have been coded as SE?, particularly ones known to be quite disjunct from the main range. Many of these uncertain species are characteristic of the Great Plains or other warm climate states and especially are taxa that inhabit fields, meadows, prairies, and other non-forested habitats. Species that inhabit ponds and other open aquatic sites also have a tendency to be widely disjunct from the main range and often fall into this uncertain provenance category. Thus, where there is considerable doubt about its nativity in the state, the State Rank is typically codes as SE? and is shaded in salmon/orange; if completely uncertain, the taxon is typically left unshaded.

Acknowledgments:
The authors thank Alan Weakley and Michael Lee, of the University of North Carolina (UNC Herbarium, North Carolina Botanical Garden) for providing the authors with a database of the scientific names and other synonyms from the "Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States" - Flora. In addition, thanks are due to Misty Buchanan, Director of the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, for providing the authors with a database of the scientific and common names, and the various ranks and statuses, of most taxa in the state (including animals as well as natural communities) from the Biotics database. For this website to be up-to-date, such exchanges of data with various agencies and organizations will need to continue.

BONAP - The Biota of North America Program North American Vascular Flora

Harry LeGrand (Chief Editor)
hlegrandjr@gmail.com
        Tom Howard (Website Administrator)
tom.howard@ncparks.gov