E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Geocaulon lividum (Richardson) Fernald
false toad-flax (false toadflax; northern comandra)
Santalaceae (Christmas Mistletoe family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Adolf Ceska  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #5531)

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Distribution of Geocaulon lividum
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Species Information

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Perennial parasitic herb from widespread rhizomes; stems erect, 1 to several in a clump, simple, 10-20 cm tall.
Basal leaves lacking; stem leaves alternate, entire, short-stalked, narrow to widely egg-shaped, 1.5-4 cm long.
Inflorescence of axillary or subterminal cymose clusters of 3 greenish-purple, apetalous flowers with the lateral pair soon deciduous, leaving an elongated terminal flower; calyces bell-shaped with 5 triangular lobes 1.5 mm long and spreading; stamens 0.5 mm long.
Drupe-like, round, fleshy, red, 5-10 mm wide.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Dry to mesic forests and bogs in the montane and subalpine zones; common throughout BC in and E of the Coast-Cascade Mountains except rare on the N coast and SC BC; N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to ME, NY, MI, WI, MN, MT, ID and WA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Geocaulon lividum

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 0 860 2160
Slope Gradient (%) 0 10 103
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 357 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(1), BAFA(1), BG(2), BWBS(596), CWH(15), ESSF(45), ICH(109), IDF(125), MS(102), PP(3), SBPS(150), SBS(729), SWB(56)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant/intolerant, montane to subalpine, transcontinental North American forb (rare in the Pacific region). Occurs in continental boreal and cool temperate climates on nitrogen-poor soils. Scattered in coniferous forests on water-shedding and water-receiving sites in the central and northern coast-interior ecotone; its occurrence increases with increasing continentality. Often associated with Hylocomium splendens, Pleurozium schreberi, and Ptilium crista-castrensis. An oxylophytic species characteristic of Mor humus forms.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is montane boreal & cool temperate.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Comandra lividum Richardson

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References