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Kevin Doyle

Virginia Meadow-beauty (Rhexia virginica)

Life history

Species overview

Virginia Meadow-beauty (Rhexia virginica), a State Special Concern plant, is found in wet, acid ditches, as well as in ponds and lakes with fluctuating water levels in the bed of Glacial Lake Wisconsin. Blooming occurs early July through late August; fruiting occurs late July through early September. The optimal identification period for this species is late June through late September.

Synonyms: Rhexia purshii, Rhexia septemnervia, Rhexia stricta, Rhexia virginica var. purshii, Rhexia virginica var. septemnervia Rhexia virginica var. virginica


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Angles of the stem obviously (although narrowly) winged.
  • Flower characteristics: Terminal cymes appearing in late summer. Petals rose-lavender, 15 to 20 mm, often bristly on the back. Contrasting bright yellow stamens. Sepals narrow, acute or gradually tapering to a sharp point, the margins concave at the tip. Anthers 5 to 7 mm.
  • Fruit characteristics: Capsule; seeds coiled.
  • Leaf characteristics: Opposite, ovate to lance-ovate, 2 to 7 cm, usually a third to half as wide, sometimes bristly on one or both sides.


  • Blooming phenology: early July through late August
  • Fruiting phenology: late July through early September
  • Optimum time to identify: late June through late September


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Pinus banksiana, Quercus ellipsoidalis, Polygala cruciata, Rhynchospora capitellata, Muhlenbergia uniflora, Viola lanceolata, Bartonia virginica, Euthamia graminifolia, Solidago canadensis.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Virginia Meadow-beauty (Rhexia virginica). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Rhexia virginica in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of March 2012.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS3
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in wet, acid ditches, as well as in ponds and lakes with fluctuating water levels in the bed of Glacial Lake Wisconsin.
  • Soils: Moist to wet, sometimes acidic soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Virginia Meadow-beauty. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Coastal Plain Marsh 3
Southern Sedge Meadow 1
Inland Beach 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Virginia Meadow-beauty. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Avoid disturbance to shorelines and the forest-beach interface.
  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.
  • Maintain and restore open habitat through selective clearing and brushing.


Virginia Meadow-beauty  [Photo #24634]

Photo © John Scholze.

Virginia Meadow-beauty  [Photo #24635]

Photo © John Scholze.

Virginia Meadow-beauty  [Photo #24636]

Photo © John Scholze.

Virginia Meadow-beauty  [Photo #24637]

Photo © John Scholze.

Virginia Meadow-beauty  [Photo #24638]

Photo © John Scholze.

Virginia Meadow-beauty  [Photo #12218]

In the Central Sand Plains the Virginia meadow-beauty (WI Special Concern) is disjunct from its main range to the east and south of Wisconsin. This species inhabits open wetlands with moist, sandy substrates, including the rare Coastal Plain Marsh communi

Photo by Thomas Meyer, WDNR.

Virginia Meadow-beauty  [Photo #12219]

Photo by Thomas Meyer, WDNR.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition