Parnassia caroliniana

Common Names:
Carolina grass-of-parnassus
Growth Habit:
CPC Number:
Profile Contributors:
Fully Sponsored

Reference Links

ITIS - Tropicos - USDA Plants - Fish & WildLife

Participating Institutions

The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
North Carolina Botanical Garden
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

The conservation of Parnassia caroliniana is fully sponsored.


Parnassia caroliniana is a moisture-loving species that occurs in the Coastal Plain and Sandhills of the southeast. It grows in fire-maintained, wet savannas and in ecotonal areas between pine uplands and seepage slopes or streamhead pocosins. The solitary white flowers of Carolina grass-of-parnassus are notable for their conspicuous green veins, which create a delicate pattern on the petals. In the early 1900s, the abundance of this species was noted by H.A. Rankin: hundreds of acres may be seen liberally dotted with its white starsit finds its best development in the lower places, and here it often almost covers the ground (Alexander 1934). This is not the case today, with activities such as timber production and commercial and residential development causing alteration of hydrology and fire regimes, which has diminished the range of Parnassia caroliniana and continues to pose a significant threat to its habitat.

The Carolina grass-of-parnassus closely resembles one of its rare relatives, Parnassia grandiflora, or large-leaved grass-of-parnassus. Both have basal leaves that are rounded with long leafstalks as well as a single, stalkless rounded leaf on the flower stalk. These two species can be distinguished primarily by their flowers, which appear in November for both species. The flowers of P. caroliniana have 9-18 green, brown, or yellow veins on each of its five white oval petals while P. grandiflora has only 5-9 bright green veins on each of its five white oval petals. (FNAI 2000)

Distribution & Occurrence


Conservation, Ecology & Research