Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Beach False Foxglove - Agalinis fasciculata   (Elliott) Rafinesque
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Section 6 » Order Scrophulariales » Family Orobanchaceae
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Author(Elliott) Rafinesque
DistributionOccurs over nearly all of the southern half of the Coastal Plain, and one of the relatively few native species that is clearly, if not strongly, increasing in recent decades. It ranges northeast to northern Dare County, and west into the southern Piedmont (Cabarrus County). A report and photo in iNaturalist in 2021 from Ocracoke Island appears to be A. purpurea instead. A specimen from Transylvania County, if correct, is the only one from the Mountains. Note that when RAB (1968) was published, there were just three county records! Now there are well over 20 counties known. VA has numerous county records for the eastern part of the state, though one wonders how many of these are A. purpurea and/or of escaped individuals. If these VA records are legitimate, then surely it is found well over much of the northern Coastal Plain of NC. Thus, something seems amiss, or else no one is collecting Agalinis plants in the northern Coastal Plain!

This is a Southeastern species, ranging from southern MD south to southern FL, and west to eastern TX. It does range far north in the Mississippi Valley to KS, MO, and southern IL. As this is a weedy species, increasing over its range, it can be expected to continue moving north in upcoming years.
AbundanceFairly common to locally common -- and increasing -- in at least parts of the southern Coastal Plain, including the Sandhills. Very rare in the southeastern Piedmont, where probably increasing. Should occur in the northern half of the Coastal Plain, owing to numerous records for eastern VA. The S3 State Rank of NCNHP is now outdated, and S4 is warranted, as this is a weedy species that is increasing.
HabitatThis is a species of a great array of sunny places, generally somewhat sandy, and formerly likely limited to moist sandy sites like savannas and flatwoods. However, most populations now are found in weedy fields, vacant lots, roadsides, and various other sandy places. Reasons for this species increasing and seemingly moving to sandier sites is not obvious.
PhenologyBlooms mostly in August and September, and fruits mostly in October.
IdentificationThis is the tallest and coarsest species of Agalinis in the state, typically reaching 3-4 feet tall, with a stout and quite scabrous stem. It is often quite branched, as well. It has a great number of paired, opposite, linear leaves, each about 1.5 inches long but very narrow; even though they are narrow, the plant is very "leafy" and "bushy". Adding to the leafiness is the very distinctive set of numerous small leaves as fascicles in the leaf axils; the other Agalainis species do not show axillary leaves. Along the branches at the outer ends are the racemes of bright rose flowers, each one being about 1-1.5 inches long and about 1-inch across. Unlike with the somewhat similar A. purpurea, the branches of A. fasciculata are virgate, typically coming off the main stem at a narrow, nearly upright angle. A. purpurea, found across the entire state, is a more rounded-looking plant with wide spreading branches. You should be able to find A. fasciculata fairly easily in the southern Coastal Plain, more easily from a moving vehicle, along roadsides. It helps to see the rose-purple flowers, but the plants are easily identified with the abundance of axillary leaves.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Fasciculate False Foxglove, Purple False Foxglove (the usual name for A. purpurea)
State RankS3 [S4]
Global RankG5
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