Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Fernleaf Yellow False Foxglove - Aureolaria pedicularia   (L.) Rafinesque ex Pennell
Members of Orobanchaceae:
Members of Aureolaria with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Scrophulariales » Family Orobanchaceae
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Author(L.) Rafinesque ex Pennell
DistributionPresent over most of the Mountains, Piedmont, and southwestern parts of the Coastal Plain, but rare in the Sandhills region. It ranges east to the southern coastal counties, and disjunctly to Gates County in the northeastern Coastal Plain. This species and A. pectinata are often confused, and sadly, are often lumped together as a single species, making it difficult to discern range and abundance patterns.

This is a mostly Northeastern species, ranging from ME and MN south to SC and barely GA. It is mostly absent from TN and KY, despite it being collected from many NC mountain counties.
AbundanceCommon in the southern Coastal Plain east to Pender County; rare in the Sandhills proper. Fairly common in the eastern third of the Piedmont, but uncommon to infrequent in the central and western portions as well as in the mountains. Very rare in the northern Coastal Plain. In general, this species is somewhat more common in the state than is A. pectinata, with somewhat different ranges, this one being much more numerous in the northern half of the state than is A. pectinata.
HabitatThis species, as with A. pectinata, occurs in dry and usually sandy soil. It is most often seen in sandy Coastal Plain sites such as pine/scrub oak sandhills, on sand rims, and other sandy edges. In the Piedmont and Mountains, where sands are less numerous, it is most often found on dry wooded borders and openings of upland woods, and on dry roadbanks. It is a root parasite on oaks, and thus oaks must be present near the plants.
PhenologyBlooms in fall, in September and October, and fruits in October and November. The very similar A. pectinata blooms much earlier, from May to September, usually two to three months earlier than the other in the same location.
IdentificationThis is a quite bushy-looking herb, growing to 2.5-3 feet tall, with a rounded "crown" of many wide-spreading branches. The stem is sticky on the lower portion, but generally only hairy in the upper portions and on the branches. As with A. pectinata, it has numerous triangular-shaped, opposite leaves, about 1.5-2 inches long and half as wide, deeply pinnately cut into narrow segments, each of which tends to have obtuse lobes (as opposed to acute in A. pectinata). At the end of each branch is a short raceme of flowers, each bright yellow and bell-shaped, about 1.4 inches long and nearly as wide. You should be able to separate this from the other by its much later blooming period (September and October as opposed to ending by September), the hairy leaves that are not sticky (squeeze the leaf to check this), the more rounded lobes on the leaves, and the more rounded growth form, as A. pectinata has a "spikier" shape.
Taxonomic CommentsAs mentioned above, the species has often been lumped with A. pectinata, normally with the latter being dumped into A. pedicularia, but the references are not consistent. Most references are aware of the major difference in blooming period and realize that these two forms cannot be one and the same species.

Other Common Name(s)Annual Oak-leech
State RankS4
Global RankG5
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US Status
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B.A. SorrieWhispering Pines, roadside of South Lakeshore Drive, Oct 2013 (late flowering). MoorePhoto_natural

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