Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - large-flowered yellow foxglove

The large-flowered yellow foxglove (Aureolaria grandiflora) is a hemiparasitic plants; it's green and photosynthetic and it's also a parasite on surrounding plants.  This particular yellow foxglove likes to grow in open oak-hickory glades. A cluster of axes can stand 4 feet tall, and with flowers over 1.5" across, it's quite striking. We observed both bumblebees and hummingbirds visiting the flowers and they both might affect pollination. Yellow foxgloves have generated a lot of taxonomic confusion various ones having been placed in the genus Gerardia or Agalinus.  All of these genera used to be in the snapdragon family, but now are in the Orobanchaceae with the familiar parasitic plants, the Indian pipes.  In our herbarium, specimens of yellow foxglove were mis-identified, placed under the wrong genus, and generally generated a mess that TPP hopes he finally got straightened out. 


Beth at PlantPostings said...

Interesting plant. Since it grows well in Oak/Hickory glades, it would probably be happy in my garden. But is it parasitic to the Oak trees?

The Phytophactor said...

Yes, I think so, but unlike our prairie hemiparasites, the yellow foxglove would have more of a standard host-parasite size differential such that the oak would not be affected in any significant way. If we have a decent seed collection (this requires a permit because of their location) you may have some. TPP warns you that these hemiparasites are not easy things to germinate. Contact me at my gmail address to take me up on this offer.