Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

This wildflower is easy to identify because of the small basal lobes on some of its leaves. It is closely related to the purple-flowered Agalinis spp., which are also partially parasitic on other plants. In addition to its peculiar basal lobes, Ear-Leaved False Foxglove has wider leaves than the latter species. Return
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Description

This native annual plant is about ½–2½' tall and unbranched. The central stem is round and has numerous white hairs. The opposite leaves are about 2" long and ¾" across. They are broadly lanceolate and sessile against the stem, with smooth margins and fine white hairs covering the upper and lower surfaces. Each of the upper leaves usually have two small lobes at the base, which resemble ears. The inflorescence consists of a spike of flowers in the upper half of the plant. These flowers are purple, pinkish purple, or lavender. Each tubular flower is about ¾" long, with 5 short lobes that flare outward. Sometimes there are purple dots inside the corolla. The reproductive parts consist of 4 stamens and 1 stigma near the upper inner surface of the corolla. Each flower is subtended by a large green calyx that is hairy and divided into 5 triangular parts. The blooming period occurs during late summer and lasts about 3 weeks. A fruit develops within each calyx that contains numerous small seeds. At this time, the entire plant becomes reddish brown. These seeds are probably distributed by the wind to some extent. The root system consists of a central taproot and secondary roots – the latter are often parasitic on the roots of other plants, particularly Aster spp. However, in the absence of a suitable host, Ear-Leaved False Foxglove can meet its own needs adequately through photosynthesis.
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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Ear-Leaved False Foxglove is a rare plant that occurs in scattered counties throughout most of Illinois, except the extreme south (see Distribution Map). It is state-listed as a threatened plant. Habitats include mesic black soil prairies, thickets containing grasses and occasional shrubs, savannas, woodland borders, abandoned fields, and areas along railroads (particularly where remnant prairies occur). This plant is found in both high quality habitats and somewhat disturbed areas. It is intolerant of frequent mowing or grazing; however an occasional wildfire may improve germination of the seeds, as well as reducing competition from shrubs and other kinds of plants. The species Aster ericoides (Heath Aster) and other aster species of mesic black soil prairies are beneficial because they are suitable hosts for the parasitic roots.
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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Primarily in the Midwestern and South-central United States, with some outlying populations (or former populations). Presumed extirpated in Michigan and New Jersey. Historical in West Virginia. In Texas, it is known only from a late 19th century specimen and there is some uncertainty about its nativity (Pennell 1921 cited by Poole et al. 2007).

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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Ear-Leaved False Foxglove is a rare plant that occurs in scattered counties throughout most of Illinois, except the extreme south (see Distribution Map). It is state-listed as a threatened plant. Habitats include mesic black soil prairies, thickets containing grasses and occasional shrubs, savannas, woodland borders, abandoned fields, and areas along railroads (particularly where remnant prairies occur). This plant is found in both high quality habitats and somewhat disturbed areas. It is intolerant of frequent mowing or grazing; however an occasional wildfire may improve germination of the seeds, as well as reducing competition from shrubs and other kinds of plants. The species Aster ericoides (Heath Aster) and other aster species of mesic black soil prairies are beneficial because they are suitable hosts for the parasitic roots.
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Comments: Mesic to dry prairies, fallow fields, borders of upland sterile woods and thickets, marl/calcareous prairies, tallgrass prairies, blackland prairies, prairie-like glades, barrens, and openings.

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Associations

Faunal Associations

Bumblebees are the most important pollinators of the flowers, where they seek nectar. Other long-tongued bees also visit the flowers, including miner bees and leaf-cutting bees. Little information is available about this plant's relationship to mammalian herbivores; because the foliage is not known to be toxic, it is probably consumed by them occasionally. Photographic Location
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Flower-Visiting Insects of Eared False Foxglove in Illinois

Tomanthera auriculata (Eared False Foxglove)
(Long-tongued bees collect pollen or suck nectar; Halictid bees collect stray pollen [csp] & are non-pollinating; observations are from Robertson)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus auricomus sn, Bombus impatiens sn cp, Bombus penyslvanica sn cp fq; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Melissodes boltoniae cp; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile brevis brevis sn cp

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Lasioglossum versatus csp np

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 21 - 300

Comments: Widspread but uncommon.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Agalinis auriculata

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Agalinis auriculata

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 6
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N3 - Vulnerable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G3 - Vulnerable

Reasons: Widespread distribution but rare and local throughout its range. Its habitat is threatened by development, inappropriate intensive mowing that prevents the plants from flowering, fire suppression/succession to woody vegetation. Conversion to cropland is also a potential threat, although the species can reappear in formerly cultivated areas. Hemiparisite, dependent on a healthy forb community rich in composites.

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Global Short Term Trend: Unknown

Global Long Term Trend: Decline of 30-50%

Comments: There has been a significant decline in population numbers rangewide, though it is difficult to quantify (Watson, 1989). In Pennsylvania, several populations were destroyed by road construction (PA-NHP 2007). Declines are primarily due to habitat loss from development, succession, fragmentation, and habitat managment practices such as mowing during flowering (Molano-Flores et al. 2007). Biological aspects such as seedling survivorship and availability of hosts may also contribute to its decline (Molano Flores et al. 2007).

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Threats

Degree of Threat: Very high - medium

Comments: Management (fire) needed to control succession. Threatened by habitat destruction for use in agriculture and other human development and by natural succession. Another threat is repeated mowing in the summer months, which removes the upper portion of the plant before seeds are formed. Also threatened by the planting of exotic grasses in pastures (OK-NHI 2006). Insect herbivory may also be a factor threatening Agalinis auriculata (Mulvaney et al. 2006).

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Management

Biological Research Needs: Information on the range of hosts utilized by this root parasite and viability of seeds in seed banks over long periods of time is needed.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full or partial sun and mesic conditions. This plant typically grows in rich, loamy soil. It appears to have few problems with disease. The seeds can be slow to germinate; it is possible that a heat treatment simulating the effects of a wildfire may be beneficial in this regard.
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Wikipedia

Agalinis auriculata

Agalinis auriculata is a species of flowering plant in the broomrape family known by the common names earleaf false foxglove, auriculate false foxglove, and earleaf gerardia. It is native to the United States, where it occurs from Minnesota to New Jersey to the southern states.[1]

This plant is a hairy annual herb producing a stiff stem up to 90 centimeters tall. The flowers are pink with purple spots and they bloom in July through September.[2] The plant is hemiparasitic, green with chlorophyll to accomplish photosynthesis, but also parasitic on other plants to obtain some nutrients. In cultivation the plant was able to parasitize Helianthus occidentalis and Rudbeckia fulgida and it was observed to connect to a grass, possibly Poa compressa, in the field.[1]

This plant has a widespread distribution and it was formerly more common than it is today. It appears to require soil disturbance in order to germinate. In the past, this disturbance may possibly have been caused by herds of bison. The plant can colonize mounds of earth which has been turned over by pocket gopher (Geomys bursarius).[1]

There are 40 to 50 known occurrences today, mostly made up of small populations. The largest populations are in Arkansas, Missouri, and Mississippi.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Agalinis auriculata. Center for Plant Conservation.
  2. ^ Agalinis auriculata. The Nature Conservancy.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Classified in the genus Tomanthera in many floras; has also been treated as a species of Gerardia or Aureolaria.

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