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Nodding Mandarin, Spotted Mandarin, Spotted Fairybells - Prosartes maculata


Family: Colchicaceae - Meadow Saffron Family Genus Common Name: Fairybells Native Status: NativeDicot Perennial Herb
Prosartes maculata - Nodding Mandarin, Spotted Mandarin, Spotted Fairybells. The five species of the genus Disporum that are in North America have been reclassified into a separate genus - Prosartes - which is placed in the Liliaceae family rather than the Colchicaceae family where Disporum resides. This is interesting in that it seems that Liliaceae is generally being disassembled, so I have to wonder if this family is a temporary holding place for Prosartes.

Prosartes maculata grows in rich deciduous forests from Michigan (where it may be extirpated) southward to northern Georgia and Alabama. In the southern part of its range is a plant of the more mountainous regions. It is less common than the similar Prosartes lanuginosa (Yellow Mandarin) and is considered rare or uncommon in every state where it is found.

Found in:
AL, GA, KY, MI, NC, OH, TN, VA, WV, GS
Prosartes maculata

Distribution of Prosartes maculata in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 28 Apr 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Piney River Trail, Rhea County, TN Date: 2016-April-08Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The inflorescence of Spotted Mandarin, as with all Prosartes, is at the end of the stem. There may be 1, 2, 3, or occasionally 4 showy flowers hanging under the leaves on pedicels that are about as long at the tepals. The plant is similar to Prosartes lanuginosa - Yellow Mandarin - with which it shares much of its range, but can easily be distinguished by the coloration. Yellow Mandarin has greenish-yellow tepals, while those of Spotted Mandarin are white with purple spots.
Prosartes maculata

Site: Piney River Trail, Rhea County, TN Date: 2016-April-08Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Nodding Mandarin will have 1, 2, 3, or occasionally even 4 showy flowers, but they hide underneath the final leaves of the stem. The white tepals abruptly narrow at the base, and are covered with purple spots.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Prosartes maculata

Site: Piney River Trail, Rhea County, TN Date: 2016-April-08Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The style of Prosartes species is 3-lobed at the very tip. Both the stamens and the style of P. maculata are exserted - well beyond the petals, unlike those of similar plant P. lanuginosa.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Prosartes maculata

Site: Piney River Trail, Rhea County, TN Date: 2016-April-08Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The leaves of Nodding Mandarin are alternate on the hairy stem, a stem which will grow less hairy with age. The final pair of leaves are so close together as to appear to be opposing instead of alternate. The inflorescence is opposite the final leaf.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Prosartes maculata

Site: Piney River Trail, Rhea County, TN Date: 2016-April-08Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Prosartes maculata may have a branch or two. The stem is sheathed at the branches.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Prosartes maculata

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer