Trilisa odoratissima

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Trilisa odoratissima
Carphephorus ordoratissimus Gil.jpg
Photo taken by Gil Nelson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae ⁄ Compositae
Genus: Trilisa
Species: T. odoratissima
Binomial name
Trilisa odoratissima
(J.F. Gmel.) Herb.
CARP ODOR dist.jpg
Natural range of Trilisa odoratissima from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common names: Vanilla-leaf, Deer's-tongue

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: Carphephorus odoratissimus; C. odoratissimus (J.F. Gmelin) Herbert var. odoratissimus; T. odoratissima var. odoratissima[1]

Varieties: none[1]


A description of Trilisa odoratissima is provided in The Flora of North America.




It is found in frequently burned pine flatwoods or dry prairies[2] and moist areas, depressions, and seepages within burned upland longleaf pine-wiregrass communities[3] and oak-pine woodlands on Ultisols, as well as sand ridges within flatwoods and pine-saw palmettos.[4] It was absent from the seed bank in disturbed and undisturbed sites in North Carolina.[5] It occurs primarily on sandy and drying loamy soils.[4] It is found in disturbed areas such as roadsides, fields, and ditches as well as undisturbed sites.[5][4] T. odoratissima does not respond to soil disturbance by clearcutting and chopping in north Florida flatwoods forests.[6] T. odoratissima is restricted to native groundcover with a statistical affinity in upland pinelands of South Georgia.[7] While this species is found in the uplands, it is found in the lowlands as well (FSU Herbarium).

Associated species include Quercus, Pinus, Pinus elliottii, Sabal palmetto, and Aristida stricta.[4]


It has been seen flowering September through November and fruiting in October through November.[4]

Fire ecology

Trilisa odoratissima is fire-tolerant,[5] as shown by populations that have been known to persist through repeated annual burns.[8][9] T. odoratissima was a prevalent species on burned plots.[10]


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

Apidae: Bombus pennsylvanicus

Halictidae: Augochlorella aurata, Halictus poeyi

Megachilidae: Coelioxys octodentata, C. sayi, Dianthidium floridiense, Megachile albitarsis, M. inimica

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Cultural use

The leaves have been used as a vanilla-like flavoring in pipe tobacco and cigars. Additionally, a tonic can be made from the leaves for treating malaria.[12]

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 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.
  2. Carrington, M. E. and J. J. Mullahey (2013). "Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) flowering and fruiting response to time since fire." Rangeland Ecology & Management 66: 43-50.
  3. Kirkman, L. K., M. B. Drew, et al. (1998). "Effects of experimental fire regimes on the population dynamics of Schwalbea americana L." Plant Ecology 137: 115-137.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: June 2014. Collectors: L. C. Anderson, E. L. Bridges, E. H. Butts, A. F. Clewell, R. K. Godfrey, R. D. Houk, R. Komarek, R. Kral, R. L. Lazor, J. Morrill, R. A. Norris, S. L. Orzell, J. D. Ray Jr., P. L. Redfearn Jr., V. I. Sullivan and R. White. States and Counties: Florida: Bay, Duval, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Nassau, Okaloosa, Pasco, Polk, Putnam, Santa Rosa, Taylor, Wakulla, and Walton. Georgia: Grady and Thomas.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Cohen, S., R. Braham, et al. (2004). "Seed bank viability in disturbed longleaf pine sites." Restoration Ecology 12: 503-515.
  6. Moore, W.H., B.F. Swindel, and W.S. Terry. (1982). Vegetative Response to Clearcutting and Chopping in a North Florida Flatwoods Forest. Journal of Range Management 35(2):214-218.
  7. Ostertag, T.E., and K.M. Robertson. 2007. A comparison of native versus old-field vegetation in upland pinelands managed with frequent fire, South Georgia, USA. Pages 109–120 in R.E. Masters and K.E.M. Galley (eds.). Proceedings of the 23rd Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference: Fire in Grassland and Shrubland Ecosystems.
  8. Robertson, K.M. Unpublished data collected from Pebble Hill Fire Plots, Pebble Hill Plantation, Thomasville, Georgia.
  9. Platt, W.J., R. Carter, G. Nelson, W. Baker, S. Hermann, J. Kane, L. Anderson, M. Smith, K. Robertson. 2021. Unpublished species list of Wade Tract old-growth longleaf pine savanna, Thomasville, Georgia.
  10. Kush, J. S., R. S. Meldahl, et al. (1999). "Understory plant community response after 23 years of hardwood control treatments in natural longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) forests." Canadian Journal of Forest Research 29: 1047-1054.
  11. Deyrup, M.A. 2015. Database of observations of Hymenoptera visitations to flowers of plants on Archbold Biological Station, Florida, USA.
  12. Korchmal, Arnold & Connie. 1973. A Guide to the Medicinal Plants of the United States. The New York Times Book Company, New York.