Yellow False Foxglove was seen blooming along Lawson Road (just east of the concrete plant) in Little Rock by one of our Arkansas Native Plant members. He stopped, took pictures and got them to us for a “neat plant alert.” And even neater than usual because there has been so little rain!
Yellow false foxgloves are some of our showiest, most spectacular wildflowers, with 2-3 inch tubular corollas that are worked by large bumblebees. They are especially impressive coming into bloom, as they do, in the late summer, when about the only color left in the landscape is provided by the sunflowers, asters, and goldenrods. The genus Aureolaria comprises only eleven species, all North American, with ten species in the eastern U.S. and one in Mexico.
Plants are green and photosynthetic, however, they are hemiparasitic, mostly on the roots of oak trees, from which they draw both water and mineral nutrients. This year, they’re blooming cheerily after one of the hottest and driest summers on record—a feat made easier, perhaps, by their ability to siphon water from the oaks. The false foxgloves have recently been removed from the figwort family, the Scrophulariaceae, and reclassified in the broom rape family, Orobanchaceae, a group which previously held only root parasites without chlorophyll, like our native beech drops and one-flowered cancer root.
Copyright @ 2012 Arkansas Native Plant Society