Agalinis purpurea (Purple False Foxglove)

Plant Info
Also known as: Purple Gerardia, Purple Agalinis
Family:Orobanchaceae (Broomrape)
Life cycle:annual
Habitat:sun; along shores, wet meadows, fens
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:1 to 2 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: irregular Flower shape: tubular

[photo of flowers] Single flowers on slender stalks less than ¼ inch long arising from the leaf axils. Flowers are ½ to 1 inch long, 1/3 to 1 inch across (depending on variety), the tubular throat white with pinkish purple spots and 5 light pink to purple lobes, finely hairy around the edges, that flare out around the mouth of the tube. The lower 3 lobes are often curved up at the edges, the 2 upper lobes are slightly smaller and more opened with dense hairs into the throat. Inside the tube are creamy white tipped stamens and a single white style. The fused sepals forming the calyx have 5 sharp lance-like teeth.

Leaves: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are 1 to 2 inches long, linear, toothless, stalkless, with a prominent central vein, oppositely attached, may be rough textured on the upper surface and are sometimes purple tinged. Occasionally smaller leaves develop in the axils. Stems are angled and smooth or slightly rough to the touch, and mostly erect.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a shiny globular capsule about ¼ inch across, containing many tiny seeds.


There are 2 varieties of Purple False Foxglove in Minnesota, the more common var. parviflora (formerly known as Agalinis paupercula) and the rare var. purpurea. The 2 are distinguished by the size of the flowers and length of the calyx lobes relative to the calyx tube. Var. purpurea flowers are larger—typically ¾ inch or longer—with calyx lobes typically less than half as long as the calyx tube. Var. parviflora flowers are typically ½ to ¾ inch long with a narrower tube, and calyx lobes from just under half to as long as the tube. A. purpurea is also similar to Slender-leaved False Foxglove (Agalinis tenuifolia), which is most easily distinguished by its long flower stalk. Agalinis spp. is partially parasitic, though it is unknown (to me) what species are host plants. This trait has moved the Agalinis genus from the Scrophulariaceae (Figwort) family to the Orobanchaceae (Broomrape) family.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Linda - Aitkin county, Lone Lake
on: 2015-09-01 23:05:15

Found many of these growing on our shore on the north side of the lake in August

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