bastard toadflax

(Comandra umbellata ssp. umbellata)

Conservation Status
bastard toadflax (ssp. umbellata)
 
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

UPL - Obligate upland

     
  Midwest

FACU - Facultative upland

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Bastard toadflax is a 4 to 12 tall, erect, often branched, leafy, perennial herb that rises from fibrous roots and horizontal rhizomes. It often forms colonies and a single clone can cover a large area. It is semi-parasitic, deriving water and nutrition from the roots of other plants, but also getting nutrition from photosynthesis. Hosts for this parasite includes herbs such as Aster, Antennaria, Solidago, shrub species such as Rosa, Rubus, Fragaria, Vaccinium, tree species such as Acer, Betula, Populus, as well as Carex and various grasses.

The stems are light green, hairless, leafy, and usually branched.

The leaves are alternate or scattered, hairless, and untoothed. They are green on both sides, possibly somewhat lighter green on the underside, but they are not glaucous. They are oval, more than half as wide as long, or oblong, two to four times longer than wide with nearly parallel sides. They are ¾ to 2 long and up to ¾ wide. They attach to the stem with a short leaf stalk or no leaf stalk at all. The tips are usually pointed.

The inflorescence is a compact, somewhat flattened cluster of 12 or more small flowers at the end of some of the stems.

The flowers are ¼ wide and funnel-shaped. There are 3 to 6 (usually 5) petal-like, greenish-white to white tepals (sepals), fused at the base into a floral tube (hypanthium), and flared at the tips. The tepal lobes beyond the floral tube are less than long. There are no petals. The flowers are not fragrant.

The fruit is small, to ¼ thick, nearly spherical, fleshy, edible, and contains a single seed. They are at first green, then turn brown as they mature.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

4 to 12

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

Greenish-white to white

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
 

Pale bastard toadflax (Comandra umbellata ssp. pallida) is a more western variety and has been recorded only in Clay and Becker counties in the northwest. The leaves are thicker, often narrower, more or less glaucous, and lack evident lateral veins. The tepal lobes beyond the floral tube are narrower and long or longer. It has larger fruit, ¼ to thick.

False toadflax (Geocaulon lividum) is a northern species. It has been recorded only in Cook and Roseau Counties. It has greenish-purple flowers rising from the middle and upper leaf axils. The flowers do not have a hypanthium. The fruit is an orange to red, juicy berry.

 
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Dry, moderate, or wet. Prairies, prairie fens, open woods, shores, dunes. Full or partial sun.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

May to July

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

3, 4, 7, 24.

 
  8/6/2020      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Santalanae  
 

Order

Santalales  
 

Family

Comandraceae (bastard toadflax)  
 

Genus

Comandra  
  Species Comandra umbellata (bastard toadflax)  
       
 

In A revised classification of Santalales (Nickrent, D. L. et al. 2010), based on molecular DNA sequences, four new families were named that previously were included in the family Santalaceae. The new family Comandraceae contains two genera: Comandra, with one species; and Geocaulon, with one species. Comandra umbellata is the only species in the genus Comandra.

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Comandra richardsiana

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

bastard toadflax

bastard-toadflax

false toadflax

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Axil

The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.

 

Glaucous

Covered with a whitish, waxy coating, as on a plum or a grape.

 

Hypanthium

A cup-like tubular structure of a flower formed from the fused bases of sepals, petals, and stamens, that surrounds the pistil. Its presence is diagnostic of many families, including Rose, Gooseberry, and Pea.

 

Sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

 

Tepal

Refers to both the petals and the sepals of a flower when they are similar in appearance and difficult to tell apart. Tepals are common in lilies and tulips.

       
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  bastard toadflax (ssp. umbellata)   bastard toadflax (ssp. umbellata)
       
  bastard toadflax (ssp. umbellata)   bastard toadflax (ssp. umbellata)
       

Inflorescence

  bastard toadflax (ssp. umbellata)   bastard toadflax (ssp. umbellata)
       

Leaves

  bastard toadflax (ssp. umbellata)    
       

 

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