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Furbish's lousewort (Pedicularis furbishiae)

Aids to Identification: Furbish's lousewort is unique among louseworts because of its yellow flower with a 5-lobed calyx. It has fern-like leaves, occuring in a basal rosette and continuing up the stem. In flower, it produces a stem 40-100 cm high with 1 or more cylindrical racemes of tubular yellow flowers, each flora about 1 cm long. The racemes elongate as the glowers develop into fruits.

Ecological characteristics: This plant, endemic to the banks of the St. John River, has very specific habitat requirements. It grows on a narrow strip of sloped riverbank which is damp, yet not too close to the water, and close enough to the forest to benefit from the shade. It is found in mixed shrub and herb associations with some common roadside asters and clovers, as well as rare species, such as bird's-eye primrose, prairie rattlesnake root, and St. John tansy. The open habitat required of Furbish's lousewort is maintained by the yearly scouring of the ice. Like all louseworts, the plant is hemiparasitic, requiring connection to a host plant through haustoria on the roots.

You can learn more about this species by visiting its page on the Maine Natural Areas Program website.

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