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Beetleweed (Galax urceolata)

Also known as wandplant, wandflower, Galax.

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Summary

An evergreen perennial mostly limited to the southern Appalachians.

Range - Expand

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Native

This tentative map is based on the FHWA's ERA. This data lacks information on Canada, but also overestimates native ranges, especially around the edges, as this post explains. We have not yet reviewed or fixed this map.

USDA Plants Profile for Galax urceolata

Fire Effects Information System (FEIS) Article for Galax urceolata

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Habitat

Found on shady sites in woodlands, in well-drained, acidic soils rich in organic matter, including some rocky soils. Although most populations are in mountains, it can also be found on the coastal plain. Usually grows better on moist sites but also found in dry, wooded sites.

Found in all successional stages of forests; it often is the dominant herbaceous plant in the understory in disturbed and second-growth forests during the early stages of succession, but it persists into later stages in smaller numbers.

Life Cycle

Little is known about germination requirements, seedling establishment and survival, seed banking, or lifespan in this species.

This species is, however, capable of reproducing both vegetatively (by rhizomes) and by seed. Individual leaves are typically retained for 18 months.

Faunal Associations

Galax is a preferred browse for white-tailed deer and wild turkey, especially during fall and winter when other foliage is scarce. These species rely on galax as a food source most during years when acorns are scarce.

Uses

This plant is frequently gathered from the wild for flower arrangements, particularly its foliage, which tends to stay green a long time after being picked; such harvesting has threatened wild populations.

It is occasionally cultivated in gardens, which has led this plant to become established in the wild at several locations quite far north of its native range.

This species is the only member of its genus; the broader Diapensiaceae family, however, contains a few related plants, including pincushion plant (Diapensia lapponica), flowering pixiemoss (Pyxidanthera barbulata) and the rarer littleleaf pixiemoss (Pyxidanthera brevifolia), as well as oconee bells (Shortia galacifolia). All of these plants are native to North America; there are some non-native plants in this family as well but none have become established here.

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