Elephantopus carolinianus

From Coastal Plain Plants Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Common name: Carolina elephantsfoot [1], leafy elephant's-foot [2]

Elephantopus carolinianus
Elephantopus carolinianus AFP.jpg
Photo by the Atlas of Florida Plants Database
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicots
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Elephantopus
Species: E. carolinianus
Binomial name
Elephantopus carolinianus
Natural range of Elephantopus carolinianus from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Taxonomic Notes

Synonyms: none[2]

Varieties: none[2]


Elephantopus carolinianus is a perennial forb/herb of the Asteraceae family native to North America. [1] It can reach heights of between 1 to 3 feet with flowers ranging in color from pink to purple.[3]

The root system of E. carolinianus includes corms which store non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) important for both resprouting following fire and persisting during long periods of fire exclusion.[4]. Diaz-Toribio and Putz (2021) recorded this species to have an NSC concentration of 146 mg/g (ranking 39 out of 100 species studied) and water content of 58.8% (ranking 13 out of 100 species studied).[4]

According to Diaz-Torbio and Putz (2021), Elephantopus caroliniaus has corms with a below-ground to above-ground biomass ratio of 1.05 and nonstructural carbohydrate concentration of 146 mg g-1.[5]


E. carolinianus can be found along the southeastern United States, from Texas to New Jersey.[1] It is also native to the West Indies.[2]



E. carolinianus proliferates in mesic to dry forests and woodlands. [2] Specimens have been collected from roadside depressions, edge of upland woods, rich woods, moist woods, slope of hardwood forest bluffs, hammock, river floodplain, sandy loam, mixed hardwood, sandy river bank, and mesic floodplain. Soils include moist loamy sand, muddy loam, moist loam, silt, alluvial soil, , and rocky soils.[6] It is listed as a facultative and facultative upland species, where it commonly occurs in non-wetland habitats but can also be found in wetland areas.[1] This species can also be found in the pine-oak-hickory associated habitat.[7]

Associated species: Eupatorium sp., Pterocaulon sp., Acer rubrum, Fagus grandifolia, Liquidambar styraciflua, Pinus sp., Desmodium sp., Lygodium japonicum, Vernonia sp., Brintonia discoidea, Sanicula canadensis, Hexastylis arifolia, Tipularia discolor, and others.[6]


Generally, E. carolinianus flowers from August until November.[2] It has been observed to flower from August to November as well, and fruit from the same time period.[8][6]

Fire ecology

E. carolinianus is not fire resistant, but has a medium fire tolerance. [1]

Herbivory and toxicology

Elephantopus carolinianus has been observed to host aphids such as Uroleucon sp. (family Aphididae).[9] This species consists of approximately 2-5% of the diet for large mammals.[10] It has been found to be eaten by white-tailed deer in small amounts.[11]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

E. carolinianus is listed as endangered by the New Jersey Office of Natural Lands Management Department of Environmental Protection and Energy, and by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. [1]

Cultural use

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 USDA Plant Database https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=ELCA3
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Weakley, A.S. 2020. Flora of the Southeastern United States. Edition of 20 October 2020. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  3. [[1]] Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Accessed: May 3, 2019
  4. 4.0 4.1 Diaz-Toribio, M.H. and F. E. Putz 2021. Underground carbohydrate stores and storage organs in fire-maintained longleaf pine savannas in Florida, USA. American Journal of Botany 108: 432-442.
  5. Diaz‐Toribio, M. H. and F. E. Putz. 2021. Underground carbohydrate stores and storage organs in fire‐maintained longleaf pine savannas in Florida, USA. American Journal of Botany 108(3):432-442.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 URL: http://herbarium.bio.fsu.edu. Last accessed: June 2018. Collectors: Loran C. Anderson, Cecil Slaughter, Richard S. Mitchell, R.Kral, R.K. Godfrey, D.B. Ward, R.R. Smith, G. R. Cooley, R.J. eaton, James D. Ray Jr., O. Lakela, J. Allen, R. Lassiter, J. Lassiter, William B. Fox, S.G> Boyle, Bob Lazor, E.S> Ford, J. M. Kane, C.J. Hansen, C.M. Morton, Peter H. Raven, Tamara Engelhorn Raven, Sidney McDaniel, M.B. Brooks, David Morgan, Robert Norris, John Nelson, Delzie Demaree, Virginia Crouch, James Burkhalter, P. L. Redfearn, D.F. Houck, W.D. Reese, Norlan Henderson, John Beaman, G.G. Hedgecock, K. Smith, W.M. Longnecker, B.C. Tharp, J.J. Brady, Fred A. Berkely. States and counties: Florida ( Wakulla, Leon, Volusia, Jackson, Gadsden, Alachua, Gadsden, Liberty, Hernando, Washington, Citrus, Martin, Bay, Dixie, Calhoun, Holmes, Gulf) Georgia (Baker, Grady, Upson, Thomas) Texas (Gonzales, Dallas, Anderson, Cherokee) Tennessee (Blount) North Carolina (McDowell, Chatam) Alabama (Lee, Escambia, Perry, Choctaw) Missouri (Jefferson, Wright, Franklin, Dade) Kentucky (Powell) Mississippi (Jones, Hinds, Yazoo) Louisiana (Lafayette)
  7. Bostick, P. E. (1971). "Vascular Plants of Panola Mountian, Georgia " Castanea 46(3): 194-209.
  8. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. www.gilnelson.com/PanFlora/ Accessed: 21 MAY 2018
  9. Discoverlife.org [2]
  10. Miller, J.H., and K.V. Miller. 1999. Forest plants of the southeast and their wildlife uses. Southern Weed Science Society.
  11. Gee, K. L., et al. (1994). White-tailed deer: their foods and management in the cross timbers. Ardmore, OK, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.