Orobanchaceae (Broomrape family)
Description: Upright, hairy, herbaceous perennial 6-16 in. tall. Forms dense colonies from short rhizomes. Lower leaves in basal cluster, stem leaves alternate, reduced in size upward, blades deeply divided into toothed segments, fern-like. Flowers sessile in dense terminal heads with small, leaf-like bracts and a 2-lipped corolla, the hood-like upper lip arches over a 3-lobed lower lip, forming a tube-like corolla, yellow to reddish brown. Fruit a flattened capsule. Flowers Apr.-May; fruits May-July.
Habitat/range: Moist to dry forests, woodlands, and meadows. Common. Widespread in eastern North America. Taxonomy: The genus Pedicularis includes 350 species of hemiparasitic herbs in temperate regions of North America, South America, Europe, and Asia, including 2 species in the mountains and piedmont.
Ecology: Like many members of the broomrape family, the roots of Pedicu-laris tap into the roots of neighboring plants and divert water, mineral elements, and possibly carbohydrates. Because Pedicularis is green and photo-synthetically active, it's called a hemi-parasite. Holoparasites, in contrast, lack chlorophyll and can't manufacture their own food. Considered to be an obligate hemiparasite, its roots form thin rootlets that attach to almost any neighboring plant root by specialized organs called haustoria. Such parasitism can be detrimental to the host plant, causing reduced growth, reproduction, and survivorship. By reducing the growth of its neighbors, hemipara-sites can gain a competitive advantage in obtaining light and other resources.
Wildlife: The nectar-rich flowers are actively visited and pollinated by bumblebees.
Uses: American Indians used louse-wort to treat heart conditions, diarrhea, and anemia.
Phacelia fimbriata Michx.
Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf family)
Description: Annual from 4 to 16 in. tall, with weak, hairy stems. Lower leaves with petioles, upper leaves sessile, pin-nately lobed, up to in. long. Flowers white, cup-shaped, about one-half in. wide with 5 deeply fringed petal lobes. Fruit a capsule with 2-4 seeds. Flowers Apr.-June; fruits May-July.
Habitat/range: Moist forests on slopes and floodplains, including northern hardwood forests and cove forests. Uncommon (but with locally dense populations) in mountains. Restricted to the southern Appalachians, from Virginia south to Georgia.
Taxonomy: The genus Phacelia includes 150 species in North and South America, including 9 species in the mountains and piedmont. Fringed phacelia is similar to Miami mist (P. purshii), but has more deeply fringed white (rather than lavender-blue) petals.
Ecology: Numerous annuals occur in open, well-lit areas such as fields, lawns, and roadsides. In contrast, very few annuals occur on the forest floor of deciduous forests. One of the interesting exceptions is fringed phacelia, an annual that germinates in the fall, produces a rosette of overwintering leaves, and then flowers, fruits, and dies the following spring or summer. Given that annuals must start each year from seed, they are likely to be handicapped by small size when competing with older and larger perennials for resources such as light, soil moisture, and nutrients. More so than perennials, annuals depend on frequent establishment of new individuals from seed. A thick layer of leaves, freezing temperatures, and seasonal droughts are just a few of the obstacles that limit seedling establishment on the forest floor. An additional constraint is that annuals have just one growing season to reproduce, thereby increasing the risk of reproductive failure. The ecological characteristics that enable annuals such as fringed phacelia to occupy a habitat dominated by perennials have yet to be determined.
Uses: In woodland gardens (and in the wild) dense patches of flowering fringed phacelia resemble light coverings of newly fallen snow.
Phemeranthus teretifolius (Pursh) Raf.
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