Carolina Redroot

Lachnanthes caroliniana (Lam.) Dandy

Lachnanthes caroliniana in flower
Joseph Allen Tauscher, Johnson Wildflower Center

Monocotyledoneae (Monocots)
State Protection
Listed as Endangered by New York State: in imminent danger of extirpation in New York. For animals, taking, importation, transportation, or possession is prohibited, except under license or permit. For plants, removal or damage without the consent of the landowner is prohibited.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
Critically Imperiled in New York - Especially vulnerable to disappearing from New York due to extreme rarity or other factors; typically 5 or fewer populations or locations in New York, very few individuals, very restricted range, very few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or very steep declines.
Global Conservation Status Rank
Apparently Secure globally - Uncommon in the world but not rare; usually widespread, but may be rare in some parts of its range; possibly some cause for long-term concern due to declines or other factors.


Did you know?

In Greek the genus name means wool flower and refers to the hairy flowers (Fernald 1950). The original description of the species spelled the name carolina, and it appears that way in some publications, but it was just a spelling error of the author (Weldy, Troy and David Werier 2010).

State Ranking Justification

There are two existing populations, one of which consists of four ponds that are closely connected hydrologically. There are four additional populations from the early 1900s that have not been rediscovered.

Short-term Trends

Populations fluctuate from year to year depending upon what level but they were more plants in the mid-1980s than have been seen since 2000. Sites should be surveyed every year to obtain more exact trends.

Long-term Trends

Plants have not been found at five historical locations but they should be checked again because of the fluctuating nature of this plant's populations. There seem to be fewer populations today and numbers are down but true trends are dependent upon more regular surveys.

Conservation and Management


Trampling and unregulated ATV use could threaten these populations.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

The pondshores need to be protected from direct disturbance by ATVs and excessive trampling. Exotic invasive species must be prevented from colonizing the shores and present populations must be eliminated. A natural buffer of at least 200 feet should be established around the ponds to prevent excessive runoff and pollution events.

Research Needs

Research is needed into the habitat requirements of this species in order to augment populations.



In New York it is only found on the upper edge of coastal plain pondshores.

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Coastal plain pond shore (guide)
    The gently sloping shore of a coastal plain pond with seasonally and annually fluctuating water levels. Plants growing on the pond shore vary with water levels. In dry years when water levels are low there is often a dense growth of annual sedges, grasses, and herbs. Submerged and floating-leaved aquatic plants, such as fragrant waterlily and pondweeds, may become "stranded" on the exposed shore. In wet years when the water level is high only a few emergents and floating-leaved aquatics may be noticeable. T

Associated Species

  • Drosera intermedia (spatulate-leaved sundew)
  • Juncus militaris (bayonet rush)
  • Ludwigia sphaerocarpa (globe-fruited seed-box)


New York State Distribution

This species is only known from Suffolk County on Long Island.

Global Distribution

This species is most common in Florida but extends west along the Gulf Coast to Louisiana and north along the Atlantic coastal plain to New York and Massachusetts where it is rare.

Identification Comments

General Description

Carolina redroot is a stout, erect, wildflower grows 2-8 dm tall. The stems are hairy above and become less hairy towards the bottom. The sap is red. The iris-like basal leaves are 3-10 mm wide and grow up to 4 dm tall. The stem leaves are smaller and bract-like. The stem is longer than the leaves and it terminates in a compact, whitish, densely woolly inflorescence that is rounded on the top or sometimes flattened. The flowers are 10-12 mm long, yellow on the inside and densely white-hairy on the outside. The three yellow stamens and long style stick out beyond the flower petals.

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

The best time to identify the plant is when it is in flower. It can be identified vegetatively by examining the red sap.

Similar Species

Vegetatively this may look like a small iris or a blue-eyed grass but when it is in flower it can't be mistaken for anything else.

Best Time to See

The leaves become visible in May but it doesn't flower until late July into September.

  • Vegetative
  • Flowering
  • Fruiting

The time of year you would expect to find Carolina Redroot vegetative, flowering, and fruiting in New York.

Carolina Redroot Images


Carolina Redroot
Lachnanthes caroliniana (Lam.) Dandy

  • Kingdom Plantae
    • Phylum Anthophyta
      • Class Monocotyledoneae (Monocots)
        • Order Liliales
          • Family Haemodoraceae

Additional Common Names

  • Redroot


  • Gyrotheca tinctoria (J.F. Gmel.) Salis.
  • Lachnanthes caroliana (Lam.) Dandy
  • Lachnanthes tinctoria (J.F. Gmel.) Ell.

Comments on the Classification

This species was originally published as Lachnanthes caroliana, but Gandhi (1999) indicates this is just a typographic error. Gandhi, K.N. 1999. Nomenclatural novelties for the Western Hemisphere plants. II. Harvard papers in Botany 4: 295-299. This is the name used in the Flora of North America and NY Flora Atlas.

Additional Resources

Best Identification Reference

Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2002. Flora of North America, North of Mexico. Volume 26. Magnoliophyta: Liliidae: Liliales and Orchidales. Oxford University Press, New York. 723 pp.

Other References

Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. D. Van Nostrand, New York. 1632 pp.

Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Mitchell, Richard S. and Gordon C. Tucker. 1997. Revised Checklist of New York State Plants. Contributions to a Flora of New York State. Checklist IV. Bulletin No. 490. New York State Museum. Albany, NY. 400 pp.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2010. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research University of South Florida]. New York Flora Association, Albany, New York


About This Guide

This guide was authored by: Stephen M. Young

Information for this guide was last updated on: September 16, 2021

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Lachnanthes caroliniana. Available from: Accessed June 21, 2024.