Toadflax:
Both Photosynthetic and Parasitic

By William T. Hathaway
Toadflax (Comandra umbellata)

In several botany books this plant is referred to as “Bastard Toadflax” (Comandra umbellata) — member of the Sandalwood Family. Oddly enough, the plant is photosynthetic, manufacturing its own food; it is also parasitic in obtaining some of its nutrients from the roots of shrubs and trees.

The plant is found in dry fields and waste places, flowering during April-June in Pittsylvania County. I have stumbled across only one Toadflax site, and this is one of the plants pictured in this article. Since the plant is just 6 to 16 inches in height, it's quite likely that I have overlooked other Toadflax sites.

Also see this illustration in larger format.


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