Genus of the Week
Week of Feb. 16-22
This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of all available Web resources on a particular genus.
This week's genus:
Photo taken by J. Forman.
May not be used without permission.
Family: Santalaceae; The Sandalwoods
Number of Species:at least 2
Greek Root: "come" - meaning hair, and "andros" - meaning male; in reference to the "hairy attachment of the anthers to the sepals" (Audubon Guide)
The genus Comandra can be labeled semiparasitic, i.e. species have photosynthetic ability yet also have parasitic tendencies, deriving some nutrients by connecting its roots with those of nearby trees or shrubs. Their common names (Bastard Toadflax, False Toadflax) is a reference to the resemblance of the stem and leaves to those of the Toadflaxes (Genus Linaria), members of the Snapdragon Family.
Here are a few links to images and descriptions of different Comandra species:
- The Northern Prairie Science Center has detailed information about Comandra umbellata (Bastard Toadflax), considered a native species in North Dakota.
- Here are some images of C. umbellata:
- There is still some confusion as to whether certain populations in this genus are subspecies of C. umbellata, or whether they should be treated as separate species. A species referred to as Northern Comandra (Geocaulon lividum) is also classified as C. lividum. For more information, see this page from Texas A&M University.
- For those of you interested in plant parasitism, this page is a reference list of journal articles concerning the family Santalaceae. Use your browser to search for the word Comandra.
- The genus Comandra is the proud (?) carrier of part of the life cycle of Cronartium comandrae (Comandra Rust), a fungus that attacks pine trees. If you're interested, the Pine Stem Rust Management Guidebook published by the Ministry of Forests in Canada will give you even more information.
- Forey, Pamela. Wild Flowers of North America. New York, Gallery Books: 1991.
- Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
- Neiring, William A. and Nancy C. Olmstead., eds. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Alfred A. Knopf, New York: 1979.
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