Description: White irisette is a perennial herb that lives in areas with partial sun. An individual white irisette plant is typically defined as a cluster of stems arising from fibrous roots. It generally grows from 10 to 16 inches tall and has winged stems. There may be 10 or more stems on one plant. White irisette flowers from late May through July. The seeds are very small and black; and three to six seeds are contained in each capsule.
Habitat: The species is found on mid‑elevation slopes, characterized by open, dry to moderate-moisture oak‑hickory forests. White irisette usually grows in shallow soils on regularly disturbed sites (such as woodland edges and roadsides) and over rocky, steep terrain.
Range: White irisette is known from Henderson, Polk and Rutherford Counties, North Carolina; and Greenville County, South Carolina.
Threats: White irisette is threatened by many human‑caused disturbances, such as residential development, road construction, and possibly herbicide use. It is also indirectly affected by the extirpation of elk and bison and possibly the suppression of fire. The elimination or suppression of these natural disturbances allows vegetative succession to occur, often accompanied by exotic invasive plants that out‑compete this native species.
Listing: September 26, 1991. 56 FR 48752 48755
Critical habitat: None designated
Why should we be concerned about the loss of species? Extinction is a natural process that has been occurring since long before the appearance of humans. Normally, new species develop (through a process known as speciation) at about the same rate other species become extinct. However, because of air and water pollution, forest clearing, loss of wetlands, and other human‑induced environmental changes, extinctions are now occurring at a rate that far exceeds the speciation rate.
All living things are part of a complex and interconnected network. We depend on the diversity of plant and animal life for our recreation, nourishment, many of our lifesaving medicines, and the ecological functions they provide. One-quarter of all the prescriptions written in the United States today contain chemicals that were originally discovered in plants and animals. Industry and agriculture are increasingly making use of wild plants, seeking out the remaining wild strain of many common crops, such as wheat and corn, to produce new hybrids that are more resistant to disease, pests, and marginal climatic conditions. Our food crops depend on insects and other animals for pollination.
Species Contact:Mara Alexander
office - 828/258-3939, ext. 238
fax - 828/258-5330
160 Zillicoa St.
Asheville, NC 28801