Geocaulon lividum (Northern Comandra)
|Also known as:||False Toadflax, Timberberry, Pumpkinberry, Red-fruited Bastard Toadflax|
|Family:||Comandraceae (Bastard Toadflax)|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; moist to dry sandy or rocky soil; boreal forest, thickets, bogs, fens|
|Bloom season:||June - July|
|Plant height:||4 to 12 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: none MW: none NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Cluster of 1 to 5 flowers at the tip of a stalk arising from leaf axils in the upper half of the plant, the cluster stalk shorter than the attending leaf. 3-flowered clusters are common, with the lateral flowers essentially staminate (male), often dropping off early and only the center flower fertile and persisting to maturity. Flowering plants typically have 1 to a few clusters.
Flowers are about 1/8 inch across, green to purple, star-shaped with 5 triangular, petal-like sepals. In the center is a 5-lobed nectary disk, the lobes alternating with the short, creamy yellow stamens, and a single stubby style in the center. Flower stalks are short; all parts are hairless.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are alternate, 3/8 to 1½ inches long, up to ¾ inch wide, oval-elliptic to narrowly egg-shaped, rounded or blunt at the tip, toothless, hairless, and short-stalked. The veins are initially obscure but may become bright yellow. Stems are erect to ascending, mostly unbranched, hairless and smooth.
Northern Comandra is a parasitic plant, its rootlets attaching to the roots of a wide variety of host plants including spruce, pine, birch, willow, alder, twinflower, bearberry and asters. The inconspicuous flowers, blueberry-like leaves, and relatively short stature make it easily overlooked early in the season, but the bright orange-red fruits are much more eye-catching in late summer. The yellowing of leaf veins is caused by the Comandra blister rust, a fungus affecting about 30 Pinus species (including Jack pine), though according to the USDA Forest Service it is not as problematic here as it is in the west so the effect may not be often encountered in Minnesota. Northern Comandra is an alternate host for the fungus.
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- Northern Comandra plant
- Northern Comandra plant
- fruiting Northern Comandra
- Northern Comandra plants
- Northern Comandra habitat
- leaves with yellowed veins
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