A Parasitic Plant in Bloom

Red/Purple Beech Drops

 
 
Rambling is a favorite activity of mine. It frequently takes me down meandering dirt roads and seldom-used trails that wind through forests of tall trees and fields of mountain flowers. On a recent ramble my vehicle ventured slowly along a dirt road as I peered out the window space in hopes of seeing one of nature's treasures. Since my eyes “see things,” I was soon rewarded with some plants I had never seen except in books; however, I recognized them immediately from my studies. Beech Drops.
 
Yellow Beech Drops
 
Beech Drops, Epifagus virginiana, are parasitic plants that grow on the roots of beech trees. They have no leaves. The plants can be reddish-purple, brown, or yellow and the blooms, which are about one-half inch long, are reminiscent of some of our wild orchids.
 
 
The flowering time is August to October, and the blooms do attract insects. The plants can reach 20 inches tall.
 
When you next go rambling, keep your eyes open for these unusual plants. Now is the time.