Sunday, May 27, 2012

Appalachian Fameflowers Are Blooming!

May 26th, 2012. There’s a tiny granite outcrop by a rural road in Greene County that we visit regularly throughout the year. It’s on our way back from Hancock County. It’s probably not much more than 50’ x 20’ in area but it has some of the essential granite outcrop plants; Appalachian Stitchwort (Minuartia glabra), Elf Orpine (Diamorpha smallii), Grimmia moss, lichen and last, but not least, fairly large areas of Appalachian Fameflower (Phemeranthus teretifolius).

The Appalachian Fameflower is fascinating because flowers don’t open until late afternoon and then only for a few hours. If the flower is not fertilized by a passing insect while it is open, it will self-fertilize. We first saw this plant in bloom at the Rock and Shoals Natural Area near Athens in 2011. The flowers were closed when we arrived at the granite outcrop at 4:30 pm. As we photographed what we thought were buds, the flowers began to open until they were completed open after about 10 minutes.

Then, late last year, we found them at the granite outcrop in Greene County. Last week, we stopped by the outcrop. We couldn’t see the plants from the truck but when we got out, we could see carpets of the succulent leaves that heralded their ‘arrival’ again this year. Yesterday we stopped by again. The flowers weren’t immediately visible but, again, when we walked over to the outcrop we could see that the plants were blooming.

A small area carpeted with the fameflower plants.

A close up of the plant. This is a perennial and the black stub at the base of the succulent leaves is evidence that these plants are several years old.

An individual plant in bloom. The flowers are only about 1/2 inch in diameter.

A couple of flowers.

A single flower in profile. Individual flower stems may have several flowers. Developing buds are visible below the open flower.

Individual flowers

This Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) was actively working this patch of flowers and probably pollinating it at the same time.

Phemeranthus teretifolius is one of two Phemeranthus sp. that may be found in Georgia and the Carolinas. Phemeranthus teretifolius is known by several common names: Quill Fameflower, Appalachian Rock-pink, Appalachian Fameflower, or Rock Portulaca. 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

Identification resources:

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

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

Distribution Map:

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

- University of North Carolina Herbarium: Phemeranthus teretifolius

Related post:
- Appalachian Fameflower (Phemeranthus teretifolius)


A.L. Gibson said...

Fantastic post! I'm a huge fan of the Fameflowers although I've never seen them in bloom. I've only seen P. calcaricus in the central basin of TN but it was too early in the year. I love the succulents; just a bummer Ohio only has two species (Sedum ternatum and Manfreda virginica).

I need to head down south to see these wonderful plants

JSK said...

Glad you enjoyed it. The nice thing is that this species will bloom for several months so a wide margin of time for viewing. Hope you do get to see it sometime.

Mike B. said...

Very cool! Great shot of the butterfly.

JSK said...

Thanks. This was the only good one I got. This butterfly was on the move!