Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This perennial wildflower is 4-12" tall; it is branched at the base and often branched above. The ascending to erect stems are light to medium green, hairy, and terete. Alternate trifoliate leaves occur at intervals along the stems. The leaflets are ½-1½" long and 4-8 mm. across; they are elliptic in shape, while their margins are entire (smooth) and ciliate. The upper leaflet surface is medium green and glabrous to sparsely short-pubescent, while the lower leaflet surface is light green and sparsely short-pubescent. The petioles of the trifoliate leaves are up to ¼" long, light green, and hairy. The base of each petiole and a portion of the adjacent stem are surrounded by a pair of of green to brown stipules; each stipule tapers to a ciliate beak. The terminal leaflets have petiolules (basal stalklets) up to ¼" long, while the lateral leaflets are sessile (or nearly so). Leaf venation is pinnate; the veins along the upper leaflet surfaces often appear to be shiny. The flowers are produced individually (rare in clusters) from the axils of the leaves. The pedicels of the flowers are up to ¼" long. Each flower has 5 yellow petals, a light green calyx with 4-5 lobes, and the enclosed reproductive organs. The petals are arranged in a pea-like floral structure, consisting of a large banner, a pair of forward-projecting wings, and an enclosed keel. The flowers are oriented either laterally (with erect banners) or they are held erect (with the banners at the bottom). The blooming period occurs from late spring to late summer, lasting about 1½-3 months. Only a few flowers are in bloom at the same time. The flowers are replaced by small seedpods consisting of two segments
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Pencil Flower is fairly common in southern Illinois, while in the rest of the state it is rare or absent (see Distribution Map). Illinois lies along the northern range limit of this species. Habitats consist of upland rocky woodlands, bluffs, upland savannas, sandstone glades, prairies, and fields. Pencil Flower occurs in both higher quality natural areas and disturbed areas, especially where sandstone is close to the ground surface.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Stylosanthes riparia var. setifera Fernald:
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Stylosanthes riparia Kearney:
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Stylosanthes floridana S.F. Blake:
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Stylosanthes biflora var. hispidissima (Michx.) Pollard & C.R. Ball:
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Stylosanthes biflora (L.) Britton, Sterns & Poggenb.:
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Perennial, Herbs, Stems woody below, or from woody crown or caudex, Taproot present, Nodules present, Stems erect or ascending, Stems or branches arching, spreading or decumbent, Stems less than 1 m tall, Stems solid, Stems or young twigs glabrous or sparsely glabrate, Stems or young twigs sparsely to densely hairy, Leaves alternate, Leaves petiolate, Stipules conspicuous, Stipules green, triangulate to lanceolate or foliaceous, Stipules persistent, Stipules clasping stem at the base, Stipules adnate to petiole, Stipules connate to each other, forming a tuber or sheath, Leaves compound, Leaves pinnately 3-foliolate, Leaves odd pinnate, Leaf or leaflet margins entire, Leaflets opposite, Leaflets 3, Leaves glabrous or nearly so, Leaves hairy on one or both surfaces, Flowers in axillary clusters or few-flo weredracemes, 2-6 flowers, Inflorescences spikes or spike-like, Inflorescence axillary, Inflorescence terminal, Bracts conspicuously present, Bracteoles present, Flowers zygomorphic, Calyx 5-lobed, Calyx hairy, Petals separate, Corolla papilionaceous, Petals clawed, Petals orange or yellow, Banner petal ovoid or obovate, Wing petals narrow, oblanceolate to oblong, Wing tips obtuse or rounded, Stamens 9-10, Stamens or anthers dimorphic, alternating large and small, Stamens monadelphous, united below, Filaments glabrous, Style terete, Fruit a loment, jointed, separating into articles, Fruit unilocular, Fruit freely dehiscent, Fruit elongate, straight, Fruit rugose wrinkled or reticulate, Fruit exserted from calyx, Fruit beaked, Fruit hairy, Fruit 1-seeded, Seeds ovoid to rounded in outline, Seed surface smooth, Seeds olive, brown, or black.
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Dr. David Bogler

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Type Information

Holotype for Stylosanthes floridana S.F. Blake
Catalog Number: US 859518
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): G. B. Sudworth
Year Collected: 1891
Locality: De Funiak Springs., Walton, Florida, United States, North America
  • Holotype: Blake, S. F. 1920. Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 33: 51.
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© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Isotype for Stylosanthes riparia var. setifera Fernald
Catalog Number: US 3274295
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): M. L. Fernald & B. Long
Year Collected: 1938
Locality: Southampton, Virginia, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Fernald, M. L. 1938. Rhodora. 40: 438.
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© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Isotype for Stylosanthes riparia Kearney
Catalog Number: US 957918
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of alleged type specimen
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): T. H. Kearney
Year Collected: 1897
Locality: Collected along the French Broad River, between Paint Rock and Del Rio, Cocke, Tennessee, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Kearney, T. H. 1897. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 24: 565.
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© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Isotype for Stylosanthes riparia Kearney
Catalog Number: US 773463
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of alleged type specimen
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): T. H. Kearney
Year Collected: 1897
Locality: Collected along the French Broad River, between Paint Rock and Del Rio., Cocke, Tennessee, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Kearney, T. H. 1897. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 24: 565.
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© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Isotype for Stylosanthes riparia var. setifera Fernald
Catalog Number: US 1810802
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): M. L. Fernald & B. H. Long
Year Collected: 1938
Locality: East of Courtland., Southampton, Virginia, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Fernald, M. L. 1938. Rhodora. 40: 438.
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© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Isotype for Stylosanthes riparia Kearney
Catalog Number: US 313200
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of alleged type specimen
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): T. H. Kearney
Year Collected: 1897
Locality: French Broad River, between Paint Rock and del Rio., Cocke, Tennessee, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Kearney, T. H. 1897. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 24: 565.
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© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Pencil Flower is fairly common in southern Illinois, while in the rest of the state it is rare or absent (see Distribution Map). Illinois lies along the northern range limit of this species. Habitats consist of upland rocky woodlands, bluffs, upland savannas, sandstone glades, prairies, and fields. Pencil Flower occurs in both higher quality natural areas and disturbed areas, especially where sandstone is close to the ground surface.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Pencil Flower in Illinois

Stylosanthes biflora (Pencil Flower)
(beetle activity is unspecified; other insects suck nectar; butterflies are non-pollinating; observations are from Robertson and MacRae as indicated below)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Bombini): Bombus pensylvanica sn (Rb)

Bees (short-tongued)
Andrenidae (Panurginae): Calliopsis andreniformis sn fq (Rb)

Butterflies
Pieridae: Eurema lisa sn np (Rb)

Beetles
Buprestidae: Acmaeodera neglecta (McR), Acmaeodera texana (McR)

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Faunal Associations

The flowers of Pencil Flower are cross-pollinated primarily by bees (Robertson, 1929). This is one of the host plants of a leaf beetle, Sumitrosis ancoroides. The foliage is highly palatable to hoofed mammalian herbivores (Banta & Thro, 1995).
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Stylosanthes biflora

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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Source: NatureServe

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: This species is found from New Jersey to Florida, and in the west from Texas to Illinois.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full or partial sun, mesic to dry conditions, and a somewhat acidic infertile soil where there is reduced competition from other kinds of ground vegetation.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Wikipedia

Stylosanthes biflora

Stylosanthes biflora, known by the common name pencil flower, is a species of flowering plant in the legume family. It is native to the Southeastern United States where it is widespread in open areas of native vegetation. It producers yellow-orange flowers in the summer and fall.

This species is highly variable throughout its range, and numerous species had previously been segregated out of it. However, their morphological differences have been found to be so overlapping that the former segregates are now considered the same species.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Robert H. Mohlenbrock (1958). "The Stylosanthes biflora complex". Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 85: 341–346. 
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