Carphephorus corymbosus

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Carphephorus corymbosus
Carps cory.jpg
Photo by Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia,
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae ⁄ Compositae
Genus: Carphephorus
Species: C. corymbosus
Binomial name
Carphephorus corymbosus
(Nutt.) Torr. & A. Gray
CARP CORY dist.jpg
Natural range of Carphephorus corymbosus from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common names: Coastal Plain chaffhead; flatwood chaffhead

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: Liatris corymbosa Nuttall The Flora of North America

Varieties: none


A description of Carphephorus corymbosus  is provided in The Flora of North America. Carphephorus corymbosus is a perennial herbaceous composite. Plants of this species consist of an acaulescent rosette of spatulate to oblanceolate leaves from thickened, fibrous roots, and a long green terete stem which branches into an inflorescence with purple to lavender flowers. Plants have alternative leaves which become progressively smaller distally.[1]


It can be found in upland sandy habitats of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.[2] It occurs in open, sandy areas in sand pine scrub, sandhills, and open pinewood barrens from southeastern Georgia, throughout most of peninsular Florida.[1]



This species has been found in upland sandhills, dry to relatively wet pinelands, flatwoods, pine-palmettos environments, prairies, and longleaf-scrub oak-wiregrass savannas. [3][4] It can also be found in human disturbed areas such as roadsides, clearings, around powerlines, bulldozed areas, and cut pine forests. This species thrives in open light conditions in dry, loamy sand, drying sand, as well as moist sandy peat of pine-saw palmetto flats.[5]

Associated species include Bigelowia nudata, Liatris laevigata, Coleorachis rugosa, saw palmetto, turkey oak, Quercus virginiana, longleaf pine, slash pine, sand pine, Quercus laevis, Q geminata, Q incana, and Vaccinium elliottii. [5]


In Suwannee River State Park, Florida, terete stems first appear in late May and reach full length by early June. Around mid-June buds develop on the ends of the corymbs; flowers appear in mid-August. Leaf fall occurs in December and the stems and corymbs dry out but remain standing well into the next year, and often may be seen alongside new basal rosettes with stems. On several occasions, a root mass was dug up; it bore a new basal rosette with a stem and an old dried stem from the previous year.[6] C. corymbosus has been observed flowering from June to November, with peak inflorescence in October.[2][7]

Seed bank and germination

Plants in this genus (not identified to species) were found viable in the seed bank of a flatwoods habitat in Florida after more than 30 years of fire exclusion.[8]

Fire ecology

It is fire-tolerant.[4] Heuberger observed that the duration of flowering for C. corymbosus was longer in burned patches.[9] Fires directly and indirectly effect insect abundance –grasshopper densities on the flowering plants (including Carphephrous corymbosus) were significantly affected by burn frequency with higher numbers in one, two and five year plots.[10]


The following Hymenoptera families and species were observed visiting flowers of Carphephorus corymbosus at Archbold Biological Station:[11]

Halictidae: Halictus poeyi

It is visited by Papilio glaucus (eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly).[12]

Use by animals

Kerstyn found that grasshopper densities on Carphephorus corymbosus were highest on one year, two year, and five year plots. Densities were lowest on the control (unburned) plots and seven year plots. It is possible that burning, which serves to replenish nutrients, results in better plant quality, which would explain why grasshopper densities are greater on more frequently burned plots.[10] Bees, Halictus ligatus Say and Bumelia tenax L. were found on C. corymbosus.[13] C. corymbosus attracts many species of butterflies when in flower. Green lynx spiders are pollinator predaotrs and are often found on the flower heads waiting for a hapless insect to visit.”[2]

Conservation and management

Cultivation and restoration

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Corey, D. T. (1992). Comments on the phenology of Carphephorus corymbosus (Compositae). Rhodora 94(879): 323-325.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Hammer, Roger L. Everglades Wildflowers: A Field Guide to Wildflowers of the Historic Everglades: Including Big Cypress, Corkscrew and Fakahatchee Swamps. Guilford: Falcon, 2002. 17. Print.
  3., more citations needed
  4. 4.0 4.1 Kalmbacher, R., N. Cellinese, et al. (2005). Seeds obtained by vacuuming the soil surface after fire compared with soil seedbank in a flatwoods plant community. Native Plants Journal 6: 233-241.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: July 2015. Collectors: Loran C. Anderson, L. Baltzell , Tara Baridi, Robert Blaisdell, Boothes, Richard Carter, A.F. Clewell, George R. Cooley, D. B. Creager, D. B. Creager, F. C. Creager, R. J. Eaton, Nancy Edmonson, Rex Ellis, G. Fleming, P. Genelle, Robert K. Godfrey, S. C. Hood, Richard D. Houk, R. Kral, Kurz, O. Lakela , Bob Lazor, R. W. Long, S.W. Leonard, T. MacClendon, John Morrill, R. E. Perdue, J. E. Poppleton, A. G. Shuey, Cecil R. Slaughter, S. D. Todd, Wagner, R. P. Wunderlin States and Counties: Florida: Bay, Bradford, Brevard, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Dixie, Duval, Hernando, Highlands, Jackson, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Manatee, Nassau, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam , Sarasota, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union Compiled by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
  6. Comments on the Phenology of Carphephorus corymbosus (Compositae) by David T. Corey. Journal: Rhodora, Vol. 94, No 879, pp. 323-325, 1992.
  7. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 7 DEC 2016
  8. Maliakal, S.K., E.S. Menges and J.S. Denslow. 2000. Community composition and regeneration of Lake Wales Ridge wiregrass flatwoods in retlation to time-since-fire. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 127:125-138.
  9. Heuberger, K. A. and F. E. Putz (2003). "Fire in the suburbs: ecological impacts of prescribed fire in small remnants of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) sandhill." Restoration Ecology 11: 72-81.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Kerstyn, A. and P. Stiling (1999). "The effects of burn frequency on the density of some grasshoppers and leaf miners in a Florida sandhill community." Florida Entomologist 82: 499-505.
  11. Deyrup, M.A. 2015. Database of observations of Hymenoptera visitations to flowers of plants on Archbold Biological Station, Florida, USA.
  12. Leary, Patrick R. Photograph in Northeast Florida State Forest, posted to Florida Flora and Ecosystematics Facebook Group October 3, 2016.
  13. Deyrup, M. J. E., and Beth Norden (2002). "The diversity and floral hosts of bees at the Archbold Biological Station, Florida (Hymenoptera: Apoidea)." Insecta mundi 16(1-3).