Polk’s Most Wanted Plant – Walter’s Crownbeard

Published 10:04 am Tuesday, September 3, 2013

This month’s species in our ongoing series of “Polk’s Most Wanted” is a wildflower known as Walter’s Crownbeard (Verbesina walteri).

Verbesina walteri. (photo by Betsy George)

Verbesina walteri. (photo by Betsy George)

Walter’s Crownbeard is a member of the Aster Family of flowering plants that include well-known species such as Sunflower and Chrysanthemum. However, unlike most members of the Aster Family, Walter’s Crownbeard lacks ray flowers (‘petals’) and thus has the somewhat odd appearance of being a globular flower- in reality, many small individual flowers known as disk flowers that are grouped together (compound) and thus look like a small ball.

Walter’s Crownbeard prefers rich and moist habitats that may include bottomland forests or rich mountain coves. The distribution of Walter’s Crownbeard is also unusual, as it is found in coastal South Carolina, as well as a handful of piedmont and mountain localities in North and South Carolina. Additional areas for this species are also to be found west of our region in the Ouachita Mountains.

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This is a rare species in most regions where it occurs. Currently, Walter’s Crownbeard is known from three sites in Polk County. Flowering begins in late August to mid-September. Therefore, the time to search for this unusual species is now.

If you locate a population of Walter’s Crownbeard, please contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060, or e-mail comments, questions or photos to landprotection@pacolet.org.

The purpose of this project is to gain a better understanding of the flora and fauna in Polk County and document the species present in the county.