Lithospermum caroliniense (Carolina Puccoon)
|Also known as:||Hairy Puccoon, Carolina Gromwell|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; dry, sandy soil; prairies, open woods, woodland edges|
|Bloom season:||May - July|
|Plant height:||6 to 24 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Single, short-stalked flowers in the axils of 1 to a few arching branches at the top of the stem, giving the appearance of a (more or less) flat cluster at the top of the plant. Flowers are orange-yellow, about 1 inch across, tubular with 5 flaring, rounded petal-like lobes. The stamens are hidden inside the tube.
The 5 sepals at the base of the tube are narrowly triangular, about ½ inch long, densely covered in bristly hairs, and with a distinct ridge (keel) down the middle. The flowering branches elongate as the plant matures, with flowers open at the tip and fruit forming below. The leafy bracts at the base of the flowers become progressively smaller as they ascend the branch.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are up to 1½ inches long and ¼ inch wide, lance-linear, bluntly pointed at the tip, and stalkless. Leaf edges are toothless and hairy; the surface texture is slightly rough from short stiff hairs. Stems are multiple from the base (up to 12), unbranched except in the flowers, and sparsely to densely covered in short bristly hairs.
Fruit is a small, hard, egg-shaped nutlet, initially gray-brown, becoming shiny white when mature.
Carolina Puccoon is easily mistaken for Hoary Puccoon (Lithospermum canescens), which has smaller (½ inch) flowers, shorter sepals, and longer, softer hairs on the stems. There are 2 recognized varieties: var. caroliniense with flat sepals is present from Virginia south, and var. croceum, with keeled sepals and present from Oklahoma north, including Minnesota.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.
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