In the fall, as acorns rain down on our heads and mushrooms abound, another rather strange plant pops up: the beech drop.
Beech drops don’t get their sustenance from chlorophyll. They are parasites that develop a structure called a haustorium. It grows into the beech roots to siphon off nutrients.
For pollination, beech drops rely on a specific species of ant – prenoleppis imparis, or winter ant. They attract other pollinators as well. I saw a small bumblebee hopping from flower to flower – and not just any flower. The bee was going from top to top. The top flowers on these plants are cross-pollinating. The lower flowers are self-pollinating.
Once your eye knows what it is looking for, you’ll see beech drops all around Rock Creek Park and our yards.
These photos were taken on the 2800 block of Davenport Street.