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Arabis georgiana Harper – Georgia Rockcress

Categories:Ecology Native Plants Perennials Rare Plants West of the Fields

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Georgia rockcress is rare and endangered, with less than an estimated 5,000 plants in existence. The known plants are spread among 28 surveyed sites, nine in Georgia. Some of the surveyed sites have only two or three plants (Source: University of Georgia). Arabis georgiana Harper is native to Georgia and Alabama. It is possible there are more we are unaware of. Four Georgia rockcress populations are on conservation easements, with three more on either military bases or private preserves.

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is clearly concerned and is cultivating Georgia rockcress. Should you visit the botanical garden in March you can see it blooming in the public gardens.

When we discuss the effects invasive plants such as honeysuckle and privet have on native ecosystems, maybe we are not aware of the species being threatened. Arabis georgiana Harper is one of these species. It helps to put a name to what we are losing. It makes it personal.

Georgia rockcress was given Endangered Species Act Protection in 2014.

Georgia rockcress was documented by botanist Roland M. Harper in 1903. The plant bears his name, Arabis georgiana Harper. He was 25 years old when he discovered it. R.M. Harper continued his work for the State Geological Survey of Alabama for more than a half-century until his death in 1966.

He is a University of Georgia graduate. A short but interesting biographical essay about R.M. Harper is found here.

Georgia rockcress
Georgia rockcress flower detail

Georgia Rockcress description and habitat

It is a plant of shallow outcrops, rocky slopes, and the granite outcrops of the Piedmont.

The white flowers are small, 3/8″ across. Each has four petals surrounding light yellow stamens. They are borne in clusters atop thin stems up to three feet tall. It flowers in March and April and can be found in west Georgia and middle Alabama. Basal leaves are 1-3″ long. It is part of the Mustard family (Brassicaceae).

It is a short-lived perennial herb that is not aggressive in growth habit. Other plants, especially non-native invasives, out-compete it easily. Georgia rockcress hangs on regardless.

Other resources for Arabis georgiana Harper:
Lady Bird Johson Wildflower Center
Georgia Wildlife

Georgia rockcress

Genus/speciesArabis georgiana Harper
Common name(s)Georgia rockcress
Of notenative to Georgia and Alabama. Extremely endangered.
Fall colorinsignificant
Water requirementsmoist soil conditions, high
Soil qualityrich, well-drained, average, poor
Suggested use(s)bog gardens, native collections, naturalized
Typeherbaceous perennial
Nativeyes
Invasiveno
Deer resistantno
Deciduous or evergreendeciduous
Flower colorwhite
Bloom periodearly spring, mid to late spring
Exposurefull sun, afternoon shade, filtered light

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