Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Pine-barren False Foxglove - Agalinis virgata   Rafinesque
Members of Orobanchaceae:
Members of Agalinis with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Family Orobanchaceae
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AuthorRafinesque
DistributionLimited to the southeastern coastal counties, plus several in the far southwestern corner of the province (Richmond and Scotland counties).

This is a mostly Atlantic species ranging from NY to GA.
AbundanceUncommon in well-managed Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) sites near the coast, though local and generally quite rare away from natural/managed areas. Rare and local in various bays in the Richmond and Scotland counties region. It is a State Threatened species.
HabitatThis is a species mainly of pine savannas, but it also occurs in some high diversity clay-based Carolina bays.
PhenologyBlooms in September and October, and fruits in October and November.
IdentificationThis is a medium-sized Agalinis, growing to about 2' tall, rarely to 3' tall. It has several strongly virgate (ascending) branches from the upper part of the quite smooth stem. It has numerous linear, opposite leaves, about 1-1.5" long and very narrow, as in A. purpurea. At the tips of the branches are the short racemes of scattered rose-purple flowers, each about 4/5" long and nearly as wide -- somewhat smaller than the flowers of A. purpurea. The only species to truly confuse with it is indeed A. purpurea, but that species has widely branched stems to yield a rounded or broad crown about as wide as tall, with many branches at right angles to the stem. It also has somewhat scabrous stems. As a result, A. virgata looks rather narrow, taller than wide, and not as "leafy" as well. If in doubt, run your finger along the stem and branches of A. virgata, and they should feel quite smooth to the touch and not a bit rough. If you spend time in fall in some well-managed savannas, you have a chance to see this relatively scarce species.
Taxonomic CommentsSome references lump this species into A. fasciculata, but this seems incomprehensible, as that species has numerous small fascicles of leaves in leaf axils. Some lump it into A. purpurea, a little more understandable, but still odd and not a good decision; it is named then as A. purpurea var. racemulosa. NatureServe does not consider it as a good species, but it is not clear "where it went" -- apparently it was dumped into A. purpurea. As a result, the website editors have had to devise a Global Rank for it, as Weakley (2018) considers it as valid; the NCNHP has it in its database as G3G4Q, but this was before NatureServe demoted it.

Other Common Name(s)Branched False Foxglove
State RankS2
Global RankGNR [G3G4]
State StatusT
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