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Kevin Doyle

Prairie Fame-flower (Phemeranthus rugospermus)

Life history

Species overview

Prairie Fame-flower (Phemeranthus rugospermus), a State Special Concern plant, is found in open, sandy prairies, barrens and in moss on exposed bedrock outcrops, often where there is little competition from other forbs. Blooming occurs late June through early August; fruiting occurs early July through early September. The optimal identification period for this species is early July through late August.

Synonyms: None


  • Distinguishing characteristics: The leaves, which are entirely basal and succulent, distinguish this species from other species with pink, 5-parted flowers.
  • Flower characteristics: Inflorescence 1 to 2 dm; flowers pinkish to deep rosey red, open in late afternoon only; petals 6 to 8 mm; stamens 10 to 25; style divided 1/4 to 1/3 its length into 3 linear stigmas.
  • Fruit characteristics: 4 to 5 mm; seeds minutely roughened and strongly wrinkled, grey over black.
  • Leaf characteristics: Leaves numerous, crowded, on a short stem, succulent, cylindrical, 3 to 8 cm.


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


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Pinus banksiana, Quercus ellipsoidalis, Selaginella rupestris, Arabis lyrata, Linaria 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 Prairie Fame-flower (Phemeranthus rugospermus). 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 Phemeranthus rugospermus in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of March 2012.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS3
Global RankG3G4
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 open, sandy prairies, barrens and in moss on exposed bedrock outcrops, often where there is little competition from other forbs.
  • Soils: Thin, sandy soils over sandstone.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Prairie Fame-flower. 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
Oak Barrens 2
Pine Barrens 2
Oak Opening 1
Dry Cliff 2
Sand Barrens 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Prairie Fame-flower. 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.
  • Avoid locating landings, staging areas, or access routes in open sandy areas dominated by native grasses.

Management guidance

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

  • Maintain low canopy cover areas for savanna and barrens plant species.
  • Prescribed burns and/or brushing may be beneficial (dependent on local site conditions).


Prairie Fame-flower  [Photo #10100]

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Prairie Fame-flower  [Photo #10101]

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Prairie Fame-flower  [Photo #22559]

Phemeranthus rugospermus is found on mossy crevices of dry cliffs. Its succulent leaves help prevent water loss in this hot, dry environment.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor, WDNR.

Prairie Fame-flower  [Photo #12228]

Photo by Thomas Meyer, WDNR.

Prairie Fame-flower  [Photo #12229]

Photo by Thomas Meyer, WDNR.

Prairie Fame-flower  [Photo #12515]

Photo © R. Barloga.

Prairie Fame-flower  [Photo #12516]

Photo © Lee Olson.

Prairie Fame-flower  [Photo #12517]

Photo © Lee Olson.

Prairie Fame-flower  [Photo #1417]

Photo © L. Olsen.

Prairie Fame-flower  [Photo #1418]

Photo © Robert H. Read.

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