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Blue Hearts, American Bluehearts, Prairie Bluehearts, Plains Bluehearts - Buchnera americana


Family: Orobanchaceae - Broom-rape family Genus Common Name: Bluehearts Native Status: Native
Buchnera americana - Blue Hearts, American Bluehearts, Prairie Bluehearts, Plains Bluehearts. Finding consistent information on the Buchnera genus has been somewhat difficult. It has been classified in the Scrophulariaceae family (Figworts), but as that family is being dismantled, Buchnera most recently has been placed in Orobanchaceae (Broomrape family), possibly in part due to its hemiparasitic nature - it gets some nourishment from the roots of other plants (no one plant species in particular), but also produces its own nourishment through photosynthesis. There are 138 species of Buchnera worldwide (from The Plant List), with several of them found in North America. Two Buchnera species are found only in a single state each - Hawaii has the introduced species Buchnera pusilla and Arizona has Buchnera obliqua. There is some dispute as to the identity of a species found in some southeastern states - either Buchnera longifolia or Buchnera floridana, depending on which authority to which you subscribe.

Buchnera americana is the most widely distributed North American species in the genus, and is found historically in 24 states. It now has protected status or is no longer present in at least 7 of them, perhaps in as many as 13 states. It is also very rare in Canada, being found only in a small area of Ontario, where it has Endangered status.

Found (at least historically) in:
AL, AR, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA

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Buchnera americana

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

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2009. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 23 Feb 2017). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

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Site: Ascalon Road, Walker County, GA Date: 2013-August-04Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The flower of Buchnera americana is a shade of purple (my wife says fuschia) or occasionally white. The corolla has 5 flaring lobes, each up to about .3 inches long, and has a hairy entrance to the corolla tube.
Buchnera americana

Site: Ascalon Road, Walker County, GA Date: 2013-August-04Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The outside of the corolla tube is hairy, as is the green/purple calyx. The corolla tube and calyx are about equal in length, and the calyx persists after the flower withers. American Bluehearts grows up to 3 feet tall with a hairy, rarely branching stem.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Buchnera americana

Site: Ascalon Road, Walker County, GA Date: 2013-August-04Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Buchenera americana leaves are mainly in the lower half of the stem. It has pointed leaf tips and 3 main leaf veins. The other Buchnera species with overlapping distribution (B. floridana or B. longifolia) have 1 main leaf vein and rounded leaftips.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Buchnera americana

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