Persicaria careyi (Carey's Smartweed)
|Also known as:||Carey's Heart's-ease|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; moist soil; swamps, bogs, shorelines, thickets, roadsides, fields|
|Bloom season:||July - September|
|Plant height:||1 to 4 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: none MW: FACW NCNE: FACW|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Densely packed spikes, usually drooping or nodding, 1 to 4 inches long at the tips of branches at the top of the plant and from the upper leaf axils. Flowers are about 1/8 inch long, rose pink to purplish with 5 petals but most appear bud-like and barely open. Hidden inside the flower are 5 pink-tipped stamens and 2 styles.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are alternate, 2½ to 7 inches long and 1/3 to 1 1/3 inches wide, toothless with a fringe of short hairs around the edges, narrowly lance shaped, tapering to a pointed tip, tapering at the base, short-stalked or stalkless. The upper surface is sparsely hairy and lacks the dark spot common on related species. The lower leaf surface is sparsely hairy but usually more densely hairy on the veins, sometimes with glandular hairs.
At the base of the leaf is a brown to reddish, membranous sheath (ocrea) that surrounds the stem, has pale ribbing, bristly hairs up to ¼ inch long around the edge, and spreading hairs on the surface.
Stems are erect, glandular hairy in the upper plant and into the flowering branches, smooth to spreading hairy (but not usually glandular) in the lower plant. Plants rarely root at the nodes in the lower plant and have no stolons or rhizomes.
Carey's Smartweed can be distinguished from all other Persicaria species in Minnesota by the glandular hairs in the upper plant combined with long, spreading white hairs on the leaf veins and ocrea. According to the DNR, this species was only recorded once in the state, in Carlton county in 1940, not seen since, and was consequently designated a Special Concern species. It is curious that it has that status rather than the “Historical” status given to a number of other species with few records but not seen in at least 50 years. If it is still present in the state, we would be at the western fringe of its range. It is not so rare in Wisconsin based on the number of collections in the Freckmann Herbarium so it may yet be rediscovered in Minnesota's eastern border counties.
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Photos courtesy Lorry Erickson taken in Warrens, Wisconsin.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?