Piedmont Blacksenna


Piedmont Blacksenna. More than meets the eye. Yellow beauty hides the dark. A possible death.

Piedmont Blacksenna, Seymeria pectinata, is a member of the Orobanchaceae family, a family of parasitic plants. Pectinata makes its home in the hot sands of scrub country in central and southern counties. A herbaceous annual, Pectinata’s has erect multi stems that grow to a height of about two feet. Stems are hairy.  Leaves are lanceolate in shape about 3/8 of an inch in length and are opposite along the stems.

Solitary flowers grow from the leaf axils. There are five equal sized yellow petals that emanate from a cylinder like tunnel.  A shower of male stamens surround an extended white female style. The petals are covered with tiny hairs.  Sometimes there are red to brownish dots on the petals.  Blooms are around 3/8 of an inch in diameter.

Pectinata, as mentioned, is a parasite.  It hooks up with the root system of neighboring plants to draw off nutrients.  This species is related to the S. cassioides that hooks up to the root system of scrub pine trees causing severe damage and possible death. Pectinata also hooks up with pine roots, however, it is not certain what damage it may cause. Other common parasitic plants include Bluehearts, Buchmera Americana, and Beach False Foxglove, Agalinia fasciculate, both found on Fort Myers Beach and Lover’s Key.

Pectinata is found in eight SE States. The specimen in the picture was shot in the Koreshan State Park.


Dorothy Rodwell