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July 2006: Featured Plant
Rhexia mariana var. exalbida: White Maryland Meadow-beauty

Rhexia mariana var. exalbida: White Maryland Meadow-beauty

What a delight to find a colony of these plants hiding under taller grasses and rushes in an unmowed wet part of a farmer's field. About a foot tall, but each plant packs pink flower buds, pure-white petals and unusual, elegant yellow anthers that fade to red. Splashes of red on nodes, petioles and leaf serrations and soft straight hairs throughout. Urn-shaped capsules persist on the dead stems until the plant returns the next summer. Something for everyone.

What more to ask in a native plant? An appropriate name, of course, which this one has. The common name of the genus is Meadow-beauty, Rhexia in the Melastomataceae, the Melastome Family. This Meadow-beauty is Rhexia mariana var. exalbida, White Maryland Meadow-beauty. Weakley (2006) describes it as
[In] wet pine flatwoods and savannas, wet meadows, ditches, and wet roadsides; uncommon. [Flowers] June-September. NC south to FL and west to MS. Merging into Rhexia mariana var. mariana from FL westward, var. exalbida appears quite distinct in NC, and it is here recognized for convenience. The white flowers and linear leaves are diagnostic.
USDA-PLANTS does not recognize this variety, lumping it with var. mariana, Maryland Meadow-beauty. But regardless of what it is called, it deserves a place in a native plant garden, in an average to damp location in part to full sun.

Image by Glenn Galau ©