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).
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.
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.
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.
Trampling and unregulated ATV use could threaten these populations.
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 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.
This species is only known from Suffolk County on Long Island.
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.
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.
The best time to identify the plant is when it is in flower. It can be identified vegetatively by examining the red sap.
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.
The leaves become visible in May but it doesn't flower until late July into September.
The time of year you would expect to find Carolina Redroot vegetative, flowering, and fruiting in New York.
Lachnanthes caroliniana (Lam.) Dandy
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.
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.
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. 2023. 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 http://www.fccdr.usf.edu/. University of South Florida http://www.usf.edu/]. New York Flora Association http://newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu/, Albany, New York
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. 2023. Online Conservation Guide for Lachnanthes caroliniana. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/carolina-redroot/. Accessed January 30, 2023.