Purple False Foxglove (Agalinis fasciculata)

I can’t imagine anyone not being enthralled with the blooms of Agalinis fasciculata. They grow in abundance on Ozarkedge and are one of my favorite later summer/early fall flowers.

Latin Name/Common Name- Agalinis is a combination of the word Aga from the Doric Greek meaning “very” and the Latin word linum, meaning “flax”. The plant is so named because it somewhat resembles flax. The term fasciculata means clustered in Latin.

As is often the case, there are many common names for Agalinis fasciculata. Some of these are also used to describe its’ close relatives- Agalinis tennufolia and Agalinis auriculata. Some of the common names for Agalnis fasciculata are purple false foxglove, clustered false foxglove, fasicled false foxglove, tall false foxglove, and beach false foxglove. They may also be referred to as a gerardia since these plants were once classified in the gerardia genus, which is no longer in use.  This makes a great case for learning the botanical names.

Flowers and buds in profusion

Bloom Color- This stunning flower resembles a beautifully painted urn. Depending on the light, the color may be described as fuchsia, lavender or purple.

The brightly painted urn

Blooms in August

Description- Agalinis fasciculata grows to 3 ft tall. The stems are stout, but a heavy rain may cause the plant to tilt toward the ground. Tufts of short, slender leaves are whorled along the angled stem.

After a hard rain, the heavy blooms weigh the plant down

Droplets of water on the petals

Stout stem with tufts of slender leaves

Early buds on the stem tips in August

Pink-tipped flower buds of Agalinis Fasciculata

Purple false foxgloves put on quite a show. Each large flower may be up to an inch long with many blooms appearing simultaneously on a plant. The tube-shaped flowers arise from short stalks. Each has five  lobes- two upper, two side and one lower. Each lobe is tipped with fine hairs that give the flower a soft woolly appearance.

Fine hairs give the petals a soft woolly appearance

Within the whitish corolla, purple dots are arranged on two yellow paths that invite and lead bees to the pollen. The anthers are yellow and the prominent style is white.  A profusion of fine purple hairs protects the anthers and upper portion of the style.  The outside of the tube is a bit lighter in color than the petals and may be dotted with light purple freckles.

Close-up showing the cilia protecting the reproductive organs

Small purple dots resemble freckles on the bloom

Bloom Time- On Ozarkedge, purple false foxgloves bloom in abundance in August through October. A few early blossoms may be found in July depending on the rainfall and seasonal temperatures.

Still in bloom with seed pods forming above the flower- Oct 23rd

Habitat- The preferred habitat is dry to mesic prairies and woodland edges. The plants grow in loose colonies. Agalinis fasciculata is hemiparasitic on the roots of grasses and other nearby herbaceous plants. Reports state that plant population increases with occasional ground disturbance because it removes competitive plants. On Ozarkedge, the Agalinis fasiculata were especially thick this past summer in a newly cleared field.

Agalinis fasciculata growing at the woodland edge with helianthus silphoides

What’s Growing Nearby? Many neighboring plants bloom alongside Agalinis fasciulata. Some of these include gaura, woolly croton, goldenrods, lespediza virginica, helianthus silphoides and silphium integrifolium.

Gaura is a common companion

Woolly croton and Lespedeza virginica with Agalinis fasciculata

Endangered List- Agalinis fasciculata are not endangered in Arkansas, but they aren’t so lucky in other states.  Maryland has placed them on the endangered list. They are listed as rare in New York and imperiled in Kansas. Click here to see the latest status on the USDA Plants Database.  This link should take you to the General page showing a map with US distribution. Click on the Legal tab to see the latest updates on its Threatened and Endangered status.

Early morning sun on Agalinis fasciculata

Interesting Tidbits- Agalinis fasculata is a host plant for the larval Dark Buckeye butterfly (Junonia nigro suffusa). In early September, nearly every plant on Ozark Edge was supporting several of these interesting looking Buckeye caterpillars. You can learn more about these butterflies here- http://www.enature.com/fieldguides/detail.asp?recnum=BU0022.

This caterpillar is the larval stage of the Dark Buckeye butterfly

Nearby a Buckeye butterfly rests on woolly croton