In flower now at JLBG is the rarely seen, Southeast native, Parnassia caroliniana. This amazing, but difficult to grow bog perennial begins flowering for us in mid-November. Even more odd than the plant itself, are it’s relatives. It’s a member of the Celastraceae, meaning its cousins include the genus, Euonymus, and the bittersweet vine, Celastrus.
In the wild, it’s only native to North Carolina, South Carolina, and a single population in North Florida, where it can be found in open pine savannas that are regularly subject to fire. Due to timber production, commercial agriculture, and housing, it has gone from being fairly widespread, to becoming vulnerable with a Global-3 rarity rank and only 80 known populations. We inherited our specimen from a friend of the late Larry Mellichamp, who got his start from Larry many years earlier. We’d love to figure out how to propagate and make this available, so fingers crossed.