Beech Drops

Mar 2, 2019

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. One of the unexpected pleasures of walking through the woods is the occasional foray into deeper growth in order to see a man about a dog. A plant you might overlook unless stopped and focused upon the ground, is beech drops, Epifagus virginiana. Epi for upon and fagus for beech – this parasitic plant grows on the roots of beech trees. This is an easy plant to miss. It is multi-branched but with very slender stems, growing about a foot tall. The stems are covered with plain brown scales and the flowers are inconspicuous. Without any chlorophyll, this plant is completely reliant upon its connection with the beech tree roots to get its nourishment. Fortunately, it does little harm to the overall health of the tree.   Evolution is fascinating, a little parasitic organism that can only live in association with one specific plant.