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Epifagus virginiana

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
ep-ih-FAG-us vir-jin-ee-AN-uh
Description

From the Greek word 'epi' meaning 'upon' and 'phagos'  translating to 'beech', comes Beach-drops which is a parasitic wildflower only found growing under Fagus grandifolia or American Beech trees in eastern North America.  They are considered parasitic due to its dependency upon the Beech tree to survive.  The roots of the Beech tree release chemicals into the soil that trigger the germination of Beechdrop seed. Beech-drops have no chlorophyll and survive solely by getting its nutrients from American Beech tree roots. It has interesting copper-purple flowers that appear on erect stalks from late summer into fall and will grow up to 16 inches tall. The leaves are small, brown and scale-like. There are usually several tan or brown stems that grow up from a wooly base.

The flowers are arranged alternately along the stem.  The lower flowers are self-fertile, small and shaped similar to a bud. The upper flowers are typically sterile and have a tubular shape.  After blooming, they are replaced with a small seed capsule containing tiny seeds that can be blown by the wind.  

This plant will only grow at the base of beech trees and does not tolerate being separated. It is not suitable for flower gardens. Please enjoy it in its native habitat.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Its dependency on the American Beech does not allow this plant to be transplanted to another site.

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#white flowers#brown#fall interest#herbaceous#NC native#copper leaves#colonies#native wildflower#wildflower garden#native annual#parasitic#flowers late summer#herbaceous annual#colonizing#native#colony
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#white flowers#brown#fall interest#herbaceous#NC native#copper leaves#colonies#native wildflower#wildflower garden#native annual#parasitic#flowers late summer#herbaceous annual#colonizing#native#colony
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Epifagus
    Species:
    virginiana
    Family:
    Orobanchaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    A tea was made from the plant to treat ailments
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    SE. Canada to E. U.S.A. and Mexico
    Distribution:
    AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
    Wildlife Value:
    Long-tongued bees may visit the flowers.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Food Source
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Native Plant
    Wildflower
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3b, 3a, 4b, 4a, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a, 9a, 9b, 10b, 10a, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The dry fruits will split open when ripe.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    White, brownish or purple tubular flowers in axils of scattered, dry scales.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Cream/Tan
    Purple/Lavender
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Scale-like leaves without green pigments are triangulare to ovate in shape and 2-4 mm in size.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    The stiff to ascending, tan to brown stems are often marked with purple or yellow-brown. The stems are typically smooth, but can be lightly pubescent.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Pollinators