April 30, 2017

Big Drain

Odontites vernus - red bartsia | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Odontites vernus – red bartsia | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Some plants can’t make it on their own, such as Odontites vernus, or red bartsia. This wildflower comes from a family of plants (the broomrape family) that are either partially or completely parasitic. Red bartsia is a hemiparasite, or partial, with special root structures that invade the roots of another plant. For O. vernus, the other plant would be one of several grass varieties from which it steals nutrients from the host plant while also photosynthesizing. Red bartsia is native to Europe and Asia, where it is quite common in some regions. In the North America, this hairy, foot-tall plant with pink-purple flowers can be found in many Canadian provinces and a sweep of northern tier states, including Maine.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.

In 2012, Glen began working to catalog the plants of Baxter State Park, which you can read about here and find out how to sponsor a plant of your own. Courtesy of a poll taken in 2012, Garden Maine is sponsoring this lovely plant.