It is native to California and southern Oregon, where it grows in wooded areas and chaparral. It is a parasite of manzanitas and madrones, which it parasitizes by penetrating them with haustoria to tap nutrients. The groundcone is visible aboveground as a dark purplish or reddish to brown inflorescence up to 18 centimeters long. Pale-margined purple flowers emerge from between the overlapping bracts.
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