Saturday, May 26, 2018

Flaxleaf False Foxglove - Agalinis linifolia

The genus Agalinis contains 17 native species and can be a very difficult genus to identify individual species. One way to narrow down the possibilities is to use habitat first - does it occur in wet to dry soils, and in what part of the state is it located.  Flaxleaf false foxglove (Agalinis linifolia) is one of several species found in seasonally wet habitats such as wet prairies and open marshes and it is found nearly statewide in such conditions. It also is found across the Southeastern Coastal Plains from Louisiana to Maryland and Delaware.

As the common and scientific names suggest, it is characterized by having very narrow leaves (similar in appearance to flax) that may be 1-2 inches long.  These are appressed against the stem and not especially noticeable at first glance. Multiple stems arise from the base and are sparsely branched.  They can reach 3 feet in height, depending on the density of the adjacent vegetation.
False foxgloves get this name from the general similarity of their flowers to real foxgloves - genus Digitalis. All members of this genus are pink in color and most have darker purple spots inside the throat.  Flaxleaf false foxglove is no exception, but its flowers are large for the genus - up to 1 inch across, and the petals are noticeably "hairy" along the edges. Blooming is most common from summer to late fall. They are pollinated mostly by bumblebees and other large bees.

False foxgloves are semi-parasitic on the roots of other plants. As such, they are not easy candidates for home landscapes and are not currently being propagated by any of the nurseries associated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. There has always been a demand, however, as this genus is the larval host plant for buckeye butterflies. If you wish to try your hand at this species, look for the dry seed capsules in fall to early winter and scatter them directly into a moist-to-wet mixed/established wildflower meadow. If you are successful, you should notice seedlings the following spring.

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