Diamorpha smallii (Elf Orpine) in Late Winter

The granitic flatrocks of the Mitchell Mill State Natural Area are colorful on a late winter day, with red colonies of Diamorpha smallii scattered across a background of dark green mosses and light green lichens. The plants are currently in their semi-dormant rosette stage with no aerial stems showing yet.

Diamorpha smallii - Elf Orpine

Diamorpha smallii – Elf Orpine

Diamorpha smallii - Elf Orpine

Diamorpha smallii – Elf Orpine

Diamorpha smallii is a succulent winter annual whose seeds are disseminated by water. The seeds germinate in November and December. This winter, colonies of D. smallii have spread widely from their normal locations onto many of the adjacent flatrocks, including some areas where they have not been seen before. Some of the colonies are nestled in wet mosses and some are out on open flatrock, either partially or completely submerged in small pools of water. These shallow pools can freeze completely overnight and thaw in the bright afternoon sun. This can happen repeatedly with no apparent effect on the plants themselves.

Diamorpha smallii Partially Submerged

Diamorpha smallii Partially Submerged

Occasionally green colonies can be seen.

Green Rosette of Diamorpha smallii

Green Rosette of Diamorpha smallii

A closeup of the compact rosettes.

Compact, Rosette Form of Diamorpha smallii

Compact, Rosette Form of Diamorpha smallii

It will be interesting to keep track of the colonies to see if they can survive in the new locations through the coming spring. Diamorpha smallii is a rare plant in North Carolina: Status T – Threatened; Rank S2 – Imperiled.

Herb Amyx

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s