Sunday, May 15, 2011

Appalachian Fameflower (Phemeranthus teretifolius)

Phemeranthus teretifolius is one of two Phemeranthus sp. that may be found in the Piedmont area of Georgia and the Carolinas. Phemeranthus teretifolius is known by several common names: Quill Fameflower, Appalachian Rock-pink, Appalachian Fameflower, or Rock Portulaca. We’d read that this flower could be found at the Rock and Shoals Outcrop Natural Area.

The lure of the Appalachian Fameflower is that each flower only opens for a few hours late in the afternoon. If the flower is not fertilized by a passing insect while it is open, it will self-fertilize. Since we made our visits in the early to mid-afternoon, I never thought I’d see this fameflower in bloom. But fate stepped in…

On April 29th, we arrived at the trailhead a little later than usual and met a DNR staff member who was making sure the mailbox was well stocked with trail maps and doing some repairs to the area beside the steps descending to the trail. We got to talking and time passed. So we were a little late getting started on the trail although we were a lot better informed about the area. Thanks.

We’d noticed some succulent leaves on short stout stems during our visit in mid-April. Clearly, these plants were perennials but, since I hadn’t done my homework on fameflowers – that they belonged to the family Portulacaceae – I didn’t realize that these were fameflower plants.

We arrived at the upper rock at the outcrop at about 4:30 pm. A number of the succulent plants had, or were developing buds.

At 4:36 pm, we thought the best we could hope for were photographs of partly opened blooms.

But as we were photographing the blooms, they appeared to open a little, almost imperceptibly.
But it was real!

At 4:41 pm, the bloom opened a little more….

And a little more still…

Until, at 4:43 pm, the bloom had opened completely.

Of course, as the blooms began to open, we knew that we were witnessing the opening of the Appalachian Fameflower. Something I didn’t think I’d be fortunate enough to see. It was quite extraordinary to sit and watch a bloom open before one’s eyes.

As we made our way down over the lower stone outcrop to leave, we found that many fameflowers had opened in the area between the two outcrops.

Phemeranthus teretifolius
is native to the United States: From Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama. Phemeranthus teretifolius is distributed more widely in the Piedmont in Georgia than is Phemeranthus mengesii.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Distribution Map:

- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Phemeranthus teretifolius (Quill Fameflower)

Compare with:
Phemeranthus mengesii (Menges' fameflower)
- University of North Carolina Herbarium: Phemeranthus teretifolius

Compare with: Phemeranthus mengesii

Identification resources:

- Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Phemeranthus teretifolius (Appalachian Rock-pink, Appalachian Fameflower, Rock Portulaca)

Compare with: Large-flowered Rock-pink, Menges' Fameflower, Large-flowered Fameflower, Menges' Rock Pink (Phemeranthus mengesii)

- Carolina Nature:
Appalachian Rock-pink, Talinum - Phemeranthus teretifolius

Related posts:

- Rock and Shoals Outcrop Natural Area; Part 1, Blue Trail

- 2010: Year Of The Wildflower – Wildflower Index

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