Vascular Flora of Piedmont Prairies: Evidence from Several Prairie Remnants


J. Eric Davis, Jr

Additional Authors:

Cathrine McRae, Bret L. Estep, Lawrence S. Barden, and James F. Matthews


March – 2002


Echinacea laevigata, Asteracea, Helianthus schweinitzii, Lotus helleri, Fabaceae, Symphiotrichum georgianum

Once scattered throughout the Piedmont region of the Southeast, the Piedmont prairie ecosystem is now relegated to disturbed sites such as roadsides and power line rights-of-way. Unlike the megafauna, the flora of this nearly extinct ecosystem persists in habitat fragments with uncertain futures. The purpose of this paper is to document the results of a five-year study of the vascular flora of six sites, including two that could be considered remnant Piedmont prairies. We collected 548 species and discarded those with no association to the Piedmont prairie ecosystem: nonnative, woodland, and wetland species. The remaining 277 species form a species list for the historic Piedmont prairie community. Four species are Federally- listed: Echinacea laevigata (Asteraceae), Helianthus schweinitzii (Asteracaeae), Lotus helleri (Fabaceae), and Symphiotrichum georgianum (Asteraceae). While no one knows the floral composition of historic Pied- mont prairies, this species list can be used to identify and evaluate prairie remnants in the Carolina Piedmont.