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Galax urceolata (Poiret) Brummitt. Galax, Beetleweed. Phen: May-Jul; Aug-Oct. Hab: Mountain forests, rock outcrops, nearly ubiquitous in the Mountains, more restricted in habitat elsewhere, moist to dry slopes in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain, often associated with Kalmia latifolia or Rhododendron maximum. Dist: The genus consists of this single species, with a range centered in the Southern Appalachians, occurring in NC, SC, GA, AL, e. TN, KY, VA, WV, and MD.

Origin/Endemic status: Endemic

Taxonomy Comments: Diploid and tetraploid races exist, and both are present in our area (Nesom 1983). In NC, diploids are the predominant race in the Mountains, the s. Piedmont, and the s. and c. Coastal Plain; tetraploids predominate along the Blue Ridge Escarpment, the n. Piedmont, and the n. Coastal Plain. In SC, diploids occur in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont, tetraploids in the mountains and escarpment. In GA, the pattern is similar, with diploids extending farther into the Piedmont and tetraploids restricted to the Mountains and upper Piedmont. In AL, only diploids are known. In VA, however, tetraploids occupy the Coastal Plain and e. Piedmont, diploids in the upper Piedmont and Mountains. A study of the flavonoids supported the idea that the tetraploid is an autopolyploid derivative of the diploid. Because of the close morphologic similarity, substantially sympatric distributions, and apparent general absence of demonstrable ecologic differentiation between the two races, it seems best not to attempt to taxonomically distinguish them (Nesom 1983; Soltis, Bohm, & Nesom 1983; Burton & Husband (1999).

Other Comments: "Galax-pulling" (the gathering of the often bronze-colored evergreen leaves for the florist trade) is an important folk industry in the mountains.

Synonymy: = FNA8, K1, K3, K4, NE, NY, Tn, Va, W, Scott & Day (1983); = Galax aphylla L. – C, F, G, RAB, S, WV, misapplied

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image of plant© Alan M. Cressler | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Keith Bradley | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Gary P. Fleming | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Carol Ann McCormick | Original Image ⭷