FIGWORT FAMILY - ScrophulariaceaŽ: Large Purple Gerardia

Gerardia purpurea

Flowers--Bright purplish pink, deep magenta, or pale to whitish, about 1 in. long and broad, growing along the rigid, spreading branches. Calyx 5-toothed; corolla funnel form, the tube much inflated above and spreading into 5 unequal, rounded lobes, spotted within, or sometimes downy; 4 stamens in pairs, the filaments hairy; 1 pistil. Stem: 1 to 2-1/2 ft. high, slender, branches erect or spreading. Leaves: Opposite, very narrow, 1 to 1-1/2 in. long.

Preferred Habitat--Low fields and meadows; moist, sandy soil.

Flowering Season--August-October.

Distribution--Northern United States to Florida, chiefly along Atlantic Coast.

It is a special pity to gather the gerardias, which, as they grow, seem to enjoy life to the full, and when picked, to be so miserable they turn black as they dry. Like their relatives the foxgloves, they are difficult to transplant except with a large ball of soil, because it is said they are more or less parasitic, fastening their roots on those of other plants. When robbery becomes flagrant, Nature brands sinners in the vegetable kingdom by taking away their color, and perhaps their leaves, as in the case of the broom-rape and Indian Pipe; but the fair faces of the gerardias and foxgloves give no hint of the petty thefts committed under cover of darkness in the soil below.