Comandra is a monotypic genus containing the single species Comandra umbellata. Its common names include bastard toadflax, umbellate bastard toadflax, and common comandra. The plant has a disjunct distribution; its four subspecies occur in North America and the Mediterranean.
Comandra is a perennial herb growing about 8 to 34 centimeters tall. The leaves are up to 3.3 centimeters long and are alternately arranged. The flowers lack petals but have five greenish white sepals. The flowers are insect-pollinated. The fruit is a drupe.
- Comandra umbellata ssp. californica – California bastard toadflax
- Comandra umbellata ssp. pallida – pale bastard toadflax, pine bastard toadflax
- Comandra umbellata ssp. umbellata
C. umbellata is semi-parasitic; it is not an obligate parasite because it obtains nutrition through photosynthesis. It has a wide host range, parasitizing over 200 known plant species. These include Aster, Antennaria, Solidago, Rosa, Rubus, Fragaria, Vaccinium, Acer, Betula, Populus, Carex, and some grasses.
A decoction of the plant parts was made by the Navajo people for narcotic and other medicinal usage. In times of food shortage, the berries were utilized by Native Americans as a food source, and though small, they have a sweet taste.
Comandra umbellata is the alternate host for the comandra blister rust (Cronartium comandrae), a rust fungus that affects pine species in North America. Comandra blister rust can cause tree losses of up to 7% in some regions where it is common.
When Comandra umbellata is infected by the rust aeciospores from the pine host, yellow blister-like spots bearing urediniospores appear on the leaves of the plant within 20 days. In the following weeks teliospores develop on brown hairlike telia that germinate to produce basidiospores, the fungal life stage capable of infecting pines.
- Der, J. P. and D. L. Nickrent. (2008). A molecular phylogeny of Santalaceae (Santalales). Systematic Botany 33(1), 107-16.
- Comandra umbellata. NatureServe. 2012.
- Mabberley, D. J. (2000). The Plant Book: A Portable Dictionary of the Vascular Plants. New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Comandra umbellata. Arches National Park, Utah. United States National Park Service.
- Comandra umbellata. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).
- Moss, E. H. (1926). "Parasitism in the genus Comandra". New Phytologist 25 (4): 264–276. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.1926.tb06695.x.
- Betty B. Derig and Margaret C. Fuller (2001). Wild Berries of the West. Missoula, Montana: Mountain Press Publishing Company. p. 159. ISBN 0-87842-433-4.
- "Bastard Toadflax (Comandra umbellata)". Native Wildflowers of the North Dakota Grasslands. Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- Woods, A. J. et al. (2000). "Predicted impacts of hard pine stem rusts on lodgepole pine dominated stands in central British Columbia". Canadian Journal of Forest Research 30 (3): 476–481. doi:10.1139/cjfr-30-3-476.
- Johnson, D. W. (1986). "Comandra Blister Rust". Forest Insect & Disease Leaflet 62.
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