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Southern Fernleaf False Foxglove, Southern Oak-leech, Cut-leaved Gerardia, Combleaf Yellow False Foxglove - Aureolaria pectinata


Family: Orobanchaceae - Broom-rape family Genus Common Name: Yellow False Foxglove, Oak-Leech Native Status: NativeDicot Annual Herb
Aureolaria pectinata - Southern Fernleaf False Foxglove, Southern Oak-leech, Cut-leaved Gerardia, Combleaf Yellow False Foxglove. Aureolaria is a genus of 9 or 10 species in eastern North America and Mexico. These species had been classified within Gerardia originally, but many were incorrectly placed there. When that was corrected and Aureolaria was created (along with several other formerly-Gerardia genera), the remainder of Gerardia was placed in Agilinis, which appears to be the most closely related genus to Aureolaria, with the key differentiator between the two genera being flower color, with Aureolaria yellow and Agilinis purple. Both are pollinated by bumblebees. Both genera were moved from Scrophulariaceae to Orobanchaceae based on recent DNA studies. All Orobanchaceae are hemi-parasitic; Aureolaria are parasitic on the roots of Oak trees (Quercus), thus providing the Oak-leech common name for the genus.

Aureolaria pectinata is a plant of oak forests in the southeastern United States from the Appalachians westward to the Ozarks and south into the coastal plains. It is very similar to Aureolaria pedicularia, but that species is more northern, with overlap primarily in eastern Kentucky, eastern Tennessee, and in the Carolinas. The morphological differences are subtle, largely being the degree of hairiness and the percentage of glandular vs non-glandular hairs. Since the plants presented on this page were photographed well west of the range of Aureolaria pedicularia, it was easy to decide this is Aureolaria pectinata. The flower of Dasistoma macrophylla also looks similar, but it is densely hairy within the corolla, and is parasitic upon the roots of Buckeye trees.

Found in:
AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MO, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, GS
Aureolaria pectinata

Distribution of Aureolaria pectinata in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 22 Nov 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: May Prairie State Natural Area, Coffee County, TN Date: 2017-July-10Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The flower of Aureolaria pectinata is yellow with a funnel shaped, five-lobed corolla. The shape of the flower is similar to that of Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea. The calyx of Aureolaria pectinata also has five leafy, toothed lobes.
Aureolaria pectinata

Site: May Prairie State Natural Area, Coffee County, TN Date: 2017-July-10Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The yellow flower is funnel shaped with 5 spreading lobes which are shorter than the corolla tube. The calyx and corolla tube are quite hairy (less so on Aureolaria pedicularia). Clearly the pistil and hairy stamens are exserted.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Aureolaria pectinata

Site: May Prairie State Natural Area, Coffee County, TN Date: 2017-July-10Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Southern Fernleaf False Foxglove grows upright to about 3 feet tall and usually has several branches.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Aureolaria pectinata

Site: May Prairie State Natural Area, Coffee County, TN Date: 2017-July-10Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The leaves and stem of Aureolaria pectinata are covered with glandular hairs. The leaf hairs on the similar Aureolaria pedicularia are usually nonglandular. The leaves are pinnately divided, having a fern-like appearance. The lobes of the leaves are usually pointed; on Aureolaria pedicularia they are usually blunt.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Aureolaria pectinata

References used for identification and information:

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer