State Status: Pennsylvania Endangered (PE)
PBS Status: WATCH
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4
Elephant's foot (Elephantopus carolinianus) is a perennial herb with a variably hairy stem that may grow to 1m tall. The leaves are arranged alternately, broadly elliptic in shape, shallowly toothed on the margin, hairy below, and up to 25cm long. The small, whitish or purplish individual flowers are grouped in flower heads, each of which is subtended by several leaflike bracts that give the plant one of its distinctive features.
Uncommon but not rare; some cause for long-term concern due to declines or other factors.
It grows in open woodlands, woodland borders, and serpentine barrens, often in somewhat disturbed conditions.
Flowers August - October
In Pennsylvania, it represents a southerly species and occurs at a northern border of its range, and has been found in a few southern, particularly southeastern, counties.
Populations of elephant's-foot are threatened by human-related habitat loss, natural succession, and invasive species. Deer browsing may be a problem in some locations.
Since the species may occupy disturbed habitats, active management may be required to create the proper successional stage and ecological conditions for the species to thrive.
Conservation Status Map
NatureServe. 2017. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://explorer.natureserve.org.
- NatureServe. 2018. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available at http://www.natureserve.org/explorer
- Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program. 2018.
- Rhoads, A.F. and W.M. Klein, Jr. 1993. The Vascular Flora of Pennsylvania. American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rhoads, A.F. and T.A. Block.
- 2007. The Plants of Pennsylvania: An Illustrated Manual. 2nd edition. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.