Sunday, September 1, 2019

Beach False Foxglove - Agalinis fasciculata

There are 16 species of false foxgloves (Agalinis spp.) vouchered in Florida and most are quite difficult for even seasoned botanists to distinguish from one another. Beach false foxglove (A. fasciculata) is one of the most frequently encountered species, however, occurring statewide in a wide variety of habitats - including beach dunes, throughout the state. It also occurs throughout the eastern half of the U.S. from Texas in the west, to Kansas and Illinois in the Midwest, and to New York in the east.
False foxgloves are annuals and root parasites. As such, they require a nearby and suitable host plant shortly after germination to persist. For this reason, they are not propagated by any of the nurseries I am familiar with. I have had great success in getting seeds to germinate, for example, but no luck getting the seedlings to a size suitable for transplanting into a wildflower bed.
Growth is rapid in the spring. The plants reach their mature height of about three feet by mid-summer. In this species, the leaves are narrow and linear, about 1 inch long and appressed against the stem.
Flowering occurs in the summer to fall. Each light purple flower is about one inch long, with a deep throat speckled with darker purple dots and often with a few yellowish lines. There are five petals fused together to form the floral tube. The blooms are of particular interest to large bees such as bumblebees.
False foxgloves serve as an important host for the common buckeye butterfly.  As such, they would be a valuable addition to a mixed butterfly garden if this species were more easily propagated.  These species all produce numerous seed capsules that ripen in fall and each is filled with a great many tiny dark seeds. For anyone desiring to give this plant a try, scatter the seed on the soil surface in a mixed planting and hope for the best.

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