Sandhills Pyxie-Moss Rescue

Graphic showing three images from the pyxie moss rescue: staff members using a shovel to dig it up, close-up of the flowers, and the longleaf pine savanna.

In January, staff from our horticulture department participated in a plant rescue in a longleaf pine savanna on Department of Defense land in eastern North Carolina that will soon be bulldozed.

Their main target was Sandhills pyxie-moss (Pyxidanthera barbulata var. brevifolia), a rare shrub that — in the entire world — grows only in six counties in the Sandhills of North and South Carolina.

In addition to pyxie-moss plants, they removed trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens) and turkey oak saplings. Some of the plants went to other nearby, protected sites, and our staff brought some back to our Sandhills Habitat. One pyxie-moss plant is now at the UNC Herbarium as a record of this population, which will be destroyed on its original site.

You’ll find several of the pyxie-moss plants blooming now in our Sandhills Habitat!

sandhills pyxie moss in bloom
Rescued Sandhills pyxie-moss in bloom in our Sandhills Habitat.