Tom's Blog

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Large-flowered false foxglove in full bloom

Large-flowered false foxglove (Aureolaria grandiflora) is in full bloom now. This attractive plant is especially interesting because it is a parasite on oaks. (It is actually called a "hemiparasite" because it does not kill the host plant.) It is a member of the Snapdragon (or Figwort) family, which has quite a few other hemiparasites, such as wood betony, lousewort, and Indian paintbrush. Seeds of false foxglove germinate normally but never grow as full plants unless their roots can parasitize oak roots.

We introduced this species to Pleasant Valley Conservancy when we first removed all the invasive shrubs and trees back in the early 2000s. The seeds were planted under the drip line of the oaks, which is where the tiny roots of the tree are present. It took several years for the original seedings to get established, but since then it has spread on its own.

We now find it widespread in our savannas. It seems to be flourishing especially well this year, probably because of the good rains we have been having.


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