Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Downy Yellow False Foxglove - Aureolaria virginica   (L.) Pennell
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.) Pennell
DistributionNearly statewide, though might be absent from parts of the mountain region -- no records for the far southwestern counties, nor from most of the northern mountains. Gaps in parts of the Coastal Plain are not likely real absences.

This is a wide-ranging Eastern species, ranging from New England to northern FL, and west to eastern TX.
AbundanceFrequent to common in the Piedmont. Fairly common in most of the Coastal Plain, though locally uncommon. Infrequent to fairly common in the central and southeastern mountains. This is the most common of the five Aureolaria species in the state, and the only one with a State Rank of S5.
HabitatThis is a species of mesic oak and oak-hickory forests, being a root parasite on oaks. It can occur in rocky soil, but it typically is found on dry to mesic slopes of hardwood forests.
PhenologyBlooms from May to July, and fruits from August to September.
IdentificationThis is a fairly tall herb, unbranched or nearly so, and thus wand-like, reaching 3' tall or more. The stem is rather scabrous, with a number of opposite leaves along the stem. Each leaf is lanceolate and about 4" long and 1.5" wide, most with several rounded lobes, of varying depth to the midrib; however, many of the upper leaves are entire, and smaller. The upper 6-10" of the stem contains the raceme of large bright yellow flowers, one per leaf axil; each flower is about 1.4" long and nearly as wide. The species can look quite a bit like A. levigata at times, if all leaves are entire, but this latter species has smooth stems, whereas A. virginica has pubescent and somewhat rough stems to the touch. Normally, you should be able to see a few leaves with obvious lobes. Both species can grow fairly close together, in dry to mesic oak forests in the mountains and western half of the Piedmont, and thus be careful in the identification. This is a species that should be seen on quite a few walks across the state in drier oak forests, and when in bloom it is impossible to overlook.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Downy Oak-leech, Virginia Oak-leech
State RankS5
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
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Lori ArentBrookshire Park, Boone, Watauga County; 7 July 2020 WataugaPhoto_natural
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