Agalinis purpurea (Purple False Foxglove)
|Also known as:||Purple Gerardia, Purple Agalinis|
|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):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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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 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.
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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Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.
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