DOWNY FALSE FOXGLOVE





(Dasystoma flava; Gerardia flava of Gray) Figwort family



Flowers - Pale yellow, 1 1/2 to 2 in. long; in showy, terminal,

leafy-bracted racemes. Calyx bell-shaped, 5-toothed; corolla

funnel form, the 5 lobes spreading, smooth outside, woolly

within; 4 stamens in pairs, woolly; 1 pistil. Stem: Grayish,

downy, erect, usually simple, 2 to 4 ft. tall. Leaves: Opposite,

lower ones oblong in outline, more or less irregularly lobed and

toothed; upper ones small, entire.

Preferred Habitat - Gravelly or sandy soil, dry thickets, open

woods.

Flowering Season - July-August

Distribution - "Eastern Massachusetts to Ontario and Wisconsin,

south to southern New York, Georgia, and Mississippi." (Britton

and Brown.)



In the vegetable kingdom, as in the spiritual, all degrees of

backsliding sinners may be found, each branded with a mark of

infamy according to its deserts. We have seen how the dodder vine

lost both leaf and roots after it consented to live wholly by

theft of its hardworking host's juices through suckers that

penetrate to the vitals; how the Indian pipe's blanched face

tells the story of guilt perpetrated under cover of darkness, in

the soil below; how the broom-rape and beech-drops lost their

honest green color; and, finally, the foxgloves show us plants

with their faces so newly turned toward the path of perdition,

their larceny so petty, that only the expert in criminal botany

cases condemns them. Like its cousins the gerardias (q.v.), the

downy false foxglove is only a partial parasite, attaching its

roots by disks or suckers to the roots of white oak or witch

hazel (q.v.); not only that, but, quite as frequently, groping

blindly in the dark, it fastens suckers on its own roots,

actually thieving from itself! It is this piratical tendency

which makes transplanting of foxgloves into our gardens so very

difficult; even when lifted with plenty of their beloved

vegetable mould. The term false foxglove, it should be explained,

is by no means one of reproach for dishonesty; it was applied

simply to distinguish this group of plants from the true

foxgloves cultivated, not wild, here, which yield digitalis to

the doctors.



But if these foxgloves live at others' expense, there are

creatures which in turn prey upon them. Caterpillars of a peacock

butterfly, known as the buckeye (Junonia coenia), with eye-like

spots on its tawny, reddish-gray wings, divide their unwelcome

attentions between various species of plantain, the snapdragon in

the garden, gerardias, and foxgloves.



The SMOOTH FALSE FOXGLOVE (D. Virginica; G. quercifolia of Gray)

- which delights in rich woods, moist or dry, bears similar, but

slightly larger, blossoms on a smooth, usually branched, and

taller stem, whose lower leaves especially are much cleft

(pinnatifid). This species is commoner South and West, blooming

from July to September. All the foxgloves elevate their sticky

stigmas to the mouth of their tubes, that the pollen-dusted

bumblebee may leave some of the vitalizing dust brought from

another flower on its surface before she turns upside down and

enters in this unusual fashion to receive a fresh supply on her

way to the nectar in the base of the tube. Her pressure against

the pointed anther-tips causes the light, dry pollen to sift out;

on the removal of her pressure the gaping chinks close to save it

from small bees and flies. It falls out, therefore, only when the

bee is in the right position to receive it for export to another

foxglove's stigma. Hairy footholds on anthers and filaments are

provided lest the bee fall while reversed and sifting out the

pollen.



The FERN-LEAVED or LOUSEWORT FALSE FOXGLOVE (D. pedicularia; G.

pedicularia of Gray) - a very leafy species found in dry woods

and thickets from the Mississippi and Ontario eastward to the

Atlantic, north and south, has all its leaves once or twice

pinnatifid, the lobes much cut and toothed. It is a rather

sticky, hairy, slender, and much branched plant, growing from one

to four feet tall; the broad, trumpet-shaped, yellow flower,

which is sticky outside, measures an inch or an inch and a half

long, and is sometimes almost as wide across. "The most abundant

visitor, and the one for which the flower is most perfectly

adapted," says Professor Robertson, "is Bombus Americanorum. This

bee always turns head downwards on entering the flower. When it

enters, or backs out, the basal joints of its legs strike the

tips of the anther-cells, when the pollen falls out. I had often

wondered why this bee turned upside down to enter the flower....

I discovered that the form of the flower requires it. The

modification which requires the bees to reverse is associated

with the peculiar mode of pollen discharge. Smaller bumblebees

and some other bees which never or rarely try to suck hang under

the anthers and work out the pollen by striking the trigger-like

awns. They reverse of their own accord, since they are so small

they are not compelled to do so on account of the form of the

flower. The tube is large...so that most bumblebee workers could

easily reach the nectar if the tube were not curved in the

opposite direction from that of most flowers, and if the anthers

did not obstruct the entrance." Sometimes small bees, despairing

of getting into the tube through the mouth, suck at holes in the

flower's sides, because legitimate feasting was made too

difficult for the poor little things. The ruby-throated

hummingbird, hovering a second above the tube, drains it with

none of the clown-like performances exacted from the bumblebee.

Pilfering ants find death as speedy on the sticky surfaces here

as on any catchfly.





DOGFENNEL DUTCHMAN'S BREECHES WHITE HEARTS SOLDIER'S CAP EARDROPS facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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