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Rough-leaf Loosestrife (Lysimachia asperulifolia)

Picture of Rough-leaf Loosestrife

Status:  Endangered

Description:  Rough-leaf loosestrife is a perennial herb in the Primrose Family (Primulaceae) that grows 30 to 60 centimeters (cm) tall.  Whorls of three to four entire, triangular shaped leaves encircle the stem.  The leaves are widest at the base (0.8 to 2.0 cm wide) and have three prominent veins.  Contrary to the common name, the leaf surfaces are smooth to the touch.  The yellow flowers are 1.5 cm across with yellow-orange anthers and occur on terminal racemes that are 3 to 10 cm long.  Flowering occurs from mid-May through June, with fruits (capsules) present from July through October.  Stipitate glands are usually present on most parts of the plant. This species is easily distinguished from Loomis’ yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia loomisii) a similar southeastern species by its broader, glandular leaves and much larger flowers.

Habitat:  This species generally occurs in the ecotones or edges between longleaf pine uplands and pond pine pocosins (areas of dense shrub and vine growth usually on a wet, peaty, poorly drained soil) on moist to seasonally saturated sands and on shallow organic soils overlaying sand.  Rough-leaf loosestrife has also been found on deep peat in the low shrub community of large Carolina bays (shallow, elliptical, poorly drained depressions of unknown origin).  The grass-shrub ecotone, where rough-leaf loosestrife is found, is fire-maintained, as are the adjacent plant communities (longleaf pine - scrub oak, savanna, flatwoods, and pocosin).  Suppression of naturally-occurring fire in these ecotones results in shrubs increasing in density and height and expanding to eliminate the open edges required by this plant.

Picture of Rough-leaf Loosestrife habitat

Distribution and Range:  Rough-leaf loosestrife is endemic to the coastal plain and sandhills of North Carolina and South Carolina.  The existing populations in North Carolina are located in the following counties: Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Richmond and Scotland.  The single extant site in South Carolina is located at the Fort Jackson Army Training Center in Richland County.  Most of the populations are small, both in area covered and in number of stems.  In addition to these extant populations, there are historical populations of rough-leaf loosestrife in Columbus county, North Carolina, and Darlington County, South Carolina.

Listing:  Rough-leaf loosestrife was listed as Endangered on June 12, 1987 under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (as amended).

Threats:  Fire suppression, wetland drainage, and residential and commercial development have altered and eliminated habitat for this species and continue to be the most significant threats to the continued existence of the species.

Why Protect Rough-leaf Loosestrife:  Extinction is a natural process.  Normally, new species develop through a process known as speciation at about the same rate they go extinct.  However, because of air and water pollution, over-hunting, extensive deforestation, the loss of wetlands, and other human-impacts, extinctions are now occurring at a rate that far exceeds speciation.  These actions are reducing the biodiversity on Earth.

The reduction of biodiversity reduces the ecological integrity of our environment.  All living organisms perform a function in our environment and are dependent on the functions of other organisms.  In turn, there is interconnectedness among species including us in the environment. 

For More Information about Rough-leaf Loosestrife... 

Do you need additional help? 

For additional information about Rough-leaf Loosestrife or the information presented on this webpage, contact Dale Suiter in the Raleigh Field Office at Dale_Suiter@fws.gov.

Questions related to the Service's endangered species program or other program activities can be addressed to the appropriate staff from our Asheville or Raleigh Field Offices.

Other Sites of Interest

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