Carolina elephantsfoot (Elephantopus carolinianus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMON NAMES:
Carolina elephantsfoot
elephantsfoot

 

The common name alludes to the shape of the stem leaves, but North
American species do not necessarily resemble an elephant's foot.

 

SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS:
Elephantopus flexuosus Raf.
Elephantopus violaceus Sch. Bip.

 

CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.

 

TAXONOMY: The currently acceptaed name for Carolina elephantsfoot
is Elephantopus carolinianus Raeusch. From Greek elephantos "elephant"
and pous "foot". Although a member of the composite family, the flowers

of elephant's foot are not daisy-like in appearance because each flower

head contains only disc flowers. Similar in appearance and closely related

to the ironweeds (Vernonia).

 

NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States.

 

GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:

 

Habit: Carolina elephantsfoot is a native, herbaceous, perennial plant that

is either erect or ascending with generally one, occasionally 2 or more

stems. It reaches a height of from 1 to 3 feet. Stems variously hairy to

nearly non-hairy (with age), usually branched above with the branches

widely ascending.

 

Leaves: There are at least four leaf nodes on the stem before the first of

several oose branches. Leaves are mostly basal, otherwise alternate, sim-

ple, ovate to lanceolate or braodly elliptic, 4/5 to 8+ inches long, 1.2 to

3.6 inches wide. Leaf surfaces sparsely hairy with margins scalloped to

shallowly toothed. Leaf tip pointed or tapering-pointed. The basal leaves

often absent at flowering with base long-tapering to short-stalk while up-

per leaves progressively reduced, attached to stem.

 

Flowers: Carolina elephantsfoot has headlike flower clusters (arranged in

two or more compact heads), small, dense, 2/5 to 1 inch across, with term-

inating branch tips (when in full bloom, an entire inflorescence may be

mistaken for a large, single bloom). There are subtending bracts 1-3, leaf-

like, heart-shaped, equaling or exceeding cluster, somewhat folded length-

wise with tips pointed. The involucre is cylindric, 3/10 to 2/5 inch long

with involcural bracts 1/4 to 2/5 inch long, in 4 opposite pairs, outer 2 pairs

shorter than inner. The base is straw- colored; with green tips, minutely re-

sin-dotted, tapering to points. There are ray florets; disk florets 1/4 to 1/3

inch long, irregularly and deeply 5- lobed, white, white/pink to lavender

in color.

 

Fruit/Seeds: The fruit is a small, cylindrical, dry, 1/6 to 1/5 inch long, 8-

10-ribbed, brown, pubescent, tipped by whorl of 5-8 bristles about 1/5

inch long, enclosing a small seed.

 

Roots: Carolina elephantsfoot has a fibrous root system.

 

REGENERATION PROCESS: Carolina elephantsfoot propogates it-

self by reseeding.

 

HABITAT TYPES: Moist wooded areas particularly in lower areas,
bases of bluffs, stream banks.

 

SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Carolina elephantsfoot can be found in

open or shaded moist sites, often on sandy soils.

 

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Flowering period is from mid to late
summer (August to September).

 

GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Carolina elephantsfoot is naturally dis-

tributed from Florida to the Mid-Atlantic states and extends westward
into the Ohio Valley and lower Plains states. It does not naturally occur

in the New England states, upper Great Plains, the extreme southwest,

Rocky Mountain states, or the far western and northwestern Pacific

states. It has not been recorded in any province of Canada.

 

SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.

 

IMPORTANCE AND USES: The fauna associations for Carolina
elephantsfoot are not fully understood; however, in-field observations

indicate it does attract butterflies.

 

Perhaps best grown in native plant gardens, meadows and woodland gar-
dens. Marginal ornamental attributes for perennial borders. Large lower
eaves can form a nice ground cover if plants are massed.

 

 

Back to Inventory of Herb/Forb Families and Species

Home Page

Park Activities

   Calendar of Events
  
Volunteer Programs

   Park Regulations

Sky Meadows Park
  
Location
   Geography
   Habitats
   Trails
   Visiting Park

   Virtual Tours

Crooked Run Valley

   Historic District

   Architecture Sites

   Mt. Bleak

   Historical Events

   Park History

   Agriculture

Special Projects

   Blue Bird

   Biodiversity Survey

   BioBlitz

 

Home Page

Nature Guide

   Purpose

   Databases

   Copyright

Plants

   Trees

   Shrubs

   Vines

   Forbs/Herbs

   Ferns

   Grasses

Animals

   Mammals

   Birds

   Reptiles

   Amphibians

   Fish

   Butterflies

   Bees

Fungi

   Mushrooms

   Lichens