Flatrock Pimpernel – Lindernia monticola – in North Carolina

Lindernia monticola, Flatrock Pimpernel, is a small native perennial primarily associated with granitic flatrock and outcrop plant communities in North Carolina.  It is listed by the Natural Heritage Program as a Watchlist 1 plant with a rank of S2 – (Imperiled).  Watchlist 1 plants are rare, but are considered relatively secure and do not require specific site monitoring.  Lindernia monticola is one of only two species of Lindernia in North Carolina, L. dubia being the other.  Both are members of the Linderniaceae family, sometimes known as the false pimpernels.  Another common name for L. monticola is Piedmont False Pimpernel.  Below is a photo of a small population seen at a granitic flatrock in early May, in Wake County, NC.

Lindernia monticola
Flatrock Pimpernel
Population

As seen below, the leaves are short and elliptical, and are found almost entirely in a basal rosette.

Lindernia monticola
Flatrock Pimpernel
Basal Leaves

As the stems shoot upward, the leaves become greatly diminished until they are barely visible.  As the two photos below illustrate, even at the margins of the flatrocks, there remains enough soil depth to support competitive grasses and sedges.

Lindernia monticola
Flatrock Pimpernel
Stems and Flowers

Lindernia monticola
Flatrock Pimpernel
Stems and Flowers

The flowers are illustrated in the two exposures below.  The two lobes of the upper lip of the flower, as well as the three lobes of the bottom lip can be easily seen.  The basal leaves are said to be glandular and punctate.  The flower in the second photo appears to show similar characteristics.

Lindernia monticola
Flatrock Pimpernel
Flower

Lindernia monticola
Flatrock Pimpernel
Flower

The genus Lindernia was named for Franz Balthazar von Linden (1682-1755), a German botanist, artist and physician.*

There are various definitions of pimpernel.  The one that fits this purpose best is a plant belonging to the primrose family, especially the scarlet pimpernel – Lysimachia arvensis, which is a non-native.  It would be logical that a false pimpernel would be a plant that looks like a pimpernel but is something else.  However, the Lindernias and the primroses have entirely different flower forms, and it would be quite a stretch to mistake one for the other.   It would be interesting to know how the false pimpernel got its name.

Herb Amyx

*The Eponym Dictionary of Southern African Plants, 2006-2016, M. Charters, Sierra Madre, CA.   http://www.calflora.net/southafrica/plantnames.html

 

 

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