Epifagus virginiana


Other Names:
Cancer Drops, Clapwort, Virginia Broomrape, Beech-drops, Beech Drops

Beechdrops are a native parasitic plant found in most of Virginia. A parasitic plant is one that derives some or all of its nutrition from another plant — in this case, the roots of the American Beech. It is in the genus Epifagus, with "epi" meaning "on" and "fagus" being the genus of the American Beech. Beechdrops are in the broomrape family and can grow to be 4 to 18 inches tall. They completely lack chlorophyll, so many of their stems are brown. From a distance, Beechdrops can appear to be dead, even when they are in bloom. The flowers tend to bloom from July through October, so you can see them during the fall bird migration at Monticello Park.

Identification Tools

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North America Virginia

Dry Beechdrops plant in winter

Close-up of Beechdrops seed capsules

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