Elephantopus elatus

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Elephantopus elatus
Elephantopus elatus.jpg
Photo taken by Kevin Robertson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae ⁄ Compositae
Genus: Elephantopus
Species: E. elatus
Binomial name
Elephantopus elatus
ELEP ELAT dist.jpg
Natural range of Elephantopus elatus from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common name: Tall elephantsfoot

Taxonomic notes


A description of Elephantopus elatus is provided in The Flora of North America. It is usually a single plant, up to 1m tall, stems are rigid and brittle, with a pappus (modified calyx), flowers are lavender to white, and achenes are 3.5-4m. [1]


Distributed from South Carolina, south to Florida and west to Louisiana.



It is found in well drained, open pinelands, longleaf pine-wiregrass sand ridges, slash pine flatwoods, longleaf pine savannas, pine-oak woodlands, pine-palmettos woodlands, oak hammock woodland, edges of river banks, sandhills, and edges of upland mixed forest with exposed limestone.[1] In the dry prairies of South Florida, it is limited to the "Dry Mesic" community type, which is the highest and driest within that landscape, but which occurs on poorly drained to somewhat poorly-drained Spodosols, mostly arenic or aeric haplaquods (Immokalee and Myakka series), with a perched wet-season water table.[2] Is also found in human disturbed areas that have been logged or clear cut (like flatwoods), along the roadsides, and in roadside depressions.[1] Requires high levels of light in open areas.[1] Is associated with loam soil, sandy loam soil, limestone, and clay soil types. [1] It prefers dry soil to wetter soil.[3] It is found in dry flatwoods and sandhill communities. [3] The most notable difference in the vigor of the flowering response occurred 1 month after the burns and in the fall flowering censuses.[4] Associated species include Cocculus carolinus. [1]


It has been observed flowering from July to November. [1]

Seed dispersal

This species is thought to be dispersed by wind. [5]

Seed bank and germination

It was found viable in the seed bank of a pine flatwoods community in Florida in areas fire excluded for up to 29 years.[6]

Fire ecology

It responded positively to late winter annual and biennial burns.[3] Is abundant in area where there was a winter burn, observed in annually burned savannas, Longleaf pinelands, and in pine-oak woodlands. [1]


The following Hymenoptera families and species were observed visiting flowers of Elephantopus elatus at Archbold Biological Station. [7]

Halictidae: Augochlora pura, Augochlorella aurata, Augochloropsis metallica

Leucospididae: Leucospis slossonae

Megachilidae: Anthidiellum perplexum, Megachile albitarsis, M. brevis pseudobrevis, M. xylocopoides

Sphecidae: Isodontia exornata

Vespidae: Pachodynerus erynnis, Stenodynerus fundatiformis

Use by animals

These bees, Azcgochlora pura, Augochlorella aurata, Azegochloropsis metallica, Anthidiellum perplexurn, Megachile albitarsis, M. brevis pseudobrevis, and M. xylocopoides, were found on E. elatus.[8]

Conservation and management

Cultivation and restoration

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: http://herbarium.bio.fsu.edu. Last accessed: June 2014. Collectors: R.K. Godfrey, R. D. Houk, R. L. Lazor, John Lazor, K. E. Blum, J. Wooten, James D. Ray, Jr., O. Lakela, A. F. Clewell, J. P. Gillespie, R. E. Perdue, Cecil R Slaughter, Loran C. Anderson, Brenda Herring, Don Herring, Gary R. Knight, Robert Kral, D. B. Ward, T. Myint, Richard S. Mitchell, E. L. Tyson, S. S. Ward, R. R. Smith, A. A. Will, Paul O. Schallert, L. Baltzell, Paul L. Redfearn, Jr., R. Komarek, MacClendons, G. Wilder, and Billie Bailey. States and Counties: Florida: Bay, Calhoun, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Escambia, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Marion, Okaloosa, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St Johns, Taylor, Volusia, Wakulla, and Walton. Georgia: Grady and Thomas.
  2. Orzell, S.L. and E.L. Bridges. 2006. Species composition and environmental characteristics of Florida dry prairies from the Kissimmee River region of south-central Florida. Pages 100-135 in Land of fire and water: The Florida dry prairie ecosystem. Proceedings of the Florida Dry Prairie Conference, R. F. Noss (ed).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Glitzenstein, J. S., D. R. Streng, et al. (2003). "Fire frequency effects on longleaf pine (Pinus palustris, P.Miller) vegetation in South Carolina and northeast Florida, USA." Natural Areas Journal 23: 22-37.
  4. 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.
  5. Kirkman, L. Katherine. Unpublished database of seed dispersal mode of plants found in Coastal Plain longleaf pine-grasslands of the Jones Ecological Research Center, Georgia.
  6. 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.
  7. Deyrup, M.A. and N.D. 2015. Database of observations of Hymenoptera visitations to flowers of plants on Archbold Biological Station, Florida, USA.
  8. 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).