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Comandra umbellata (Bastard toadflax)
Bruso, George H.

Comandra umbellata

Comandra umbellata (L.) Nutt.

Bastard Toadflax

Santalaceae (Sandalwood Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N)

A parasitic plant with compact terminal clusters of small, greenish-white, funnel-like flowers.

Although a photosynthetic plant that manufactures its own food, it is also a parasite, obtaining some of its nutrients from the roots of trees and shrubs. Although usually found in dry fields, it is also seen in bogs that dry out periodically. The generic name derives from the Greek come ("hair") and andros ("a male") and refers to the hairy attachment of the anthers to the sepals. Northern Comandra (Geocaulon lividum), a related plant common in Canada, may be seen on some of the New England mountains. It is smaller and has purple flowers.


From the Image Gallery

8 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Subshrub
Fruit Type: Drupe , Nut
Size Notes: Up to about 16 inches tall.
Fruit: Pseudodrupe (drupe-like nut).

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul


USA: AK , AL , AR , AZ , CA , CO , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NV , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NS , NT , ON , PE , QC , SK , YT
Native Distribution: Maine south to Georgia; west to Alabama; north to Michigan.
Native Habitat: Dry fields, thickets.

Growing Conditions

Soil Moisture: Dry


Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Common Buckeye

Value to Beneficial Insects

Supports Conservation Biological Control

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Common Buckeye
(Junonia coenia)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Comandra umbellata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Comandra umbellata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Comandra umbellata


Record Modified: 2023-05-16
Research By: TWC Staff

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