Epifagus virginiana is an annual herb, 10-50 cm tall, parasitic on roots of beech trees, plant without chlorophyll, much-branched, slender, stems tan, striped with purplish-brown.
Leaves reduced to scales0.2-0.4 cm long, triangular.
Flowers whitish, about 1 cm long, with 2 purplish stripes, tubular, bilaterally symmetrical, of two kinds, the upper flowers sterile, functionally male, open , lower flowers fertile (female), not opening, top-shaped, 0.5 cm long, 5-ribbed with cap; blooming and fruiting Aug.-Oct.
Fruit dry, a capsule opening to release seeds; dry plant sometimes persistent to following season.
Wetland status: UPL.
Frequency in NYC: Infrequent.
Habitat: Under beech trees (sometimes oak) in undisturbed woods. Found in forest soil under beech pH 4.8-5.1 (Gargiullo unpublished data).