Orobanchaceae, the broom-rape family.
Plant: Highly branched, parasitic plant 6"-18", without leaves or chlorophyll, and spike-like clusters of brownish- or magenta-marked flowers on brownish stems. Perennial
Flowers: Brownish or magenta-marked, about 1/2" long, tube-like, bilateral, with upper and lower lips. Corolla is shallowly five-lobed, and there are five highly reduced sepals. Flowers are in a spike-like arrangement on brownish stems, actually rising from the axils of small scales, which are vestigal leaves. There are often reduced, bud-like flowers on the lower stem which never open, but are self-fertilized and produce seed.
Leaves: Absent, represented by small, triangular scales. Pattern is alternate.
Fruit: A small, brown capsule.
Habitat: Deciduous woods under beech trees.
This native plant is parasitic on the roots of beech trees, and thus does not need leaves or
chlorophyll. The flowers, though small, have interesting markings.
Where to find it:
Common beneath beech trees in the upper woods in fall.