Annuals. Stems simple or branched, 4–10 dm, glabrous, white-pubescent, or sparsely glandular-pubescent. Leaves: petiole 3–5 mm; blade lanceolate, 12–70 x 8–30 mm, margins pinnatifid (less than 1/2 to midvein) to 2-pinnatifid, first sinus deeper than second when both present, surfaces glabrous, rarely white-pubescent. Bracts leaflike, 9–15 x 4–6 mm, margins pinnatifid to (rarely) 2-pinnatifid. Pedicels (2–)8–13 mm, pubescent to glandular-pubescent. Flowers: calyx pubescent and/or glandular-pubescent, tube turbinate, 4–8 mm, lobes linear, sometimes narrowly lanceolate, 4–12 x 1–3 mm, margins crenate to pinnatifid; corolla tube 17–32 mm, glabrous or sparsely pubescent, lobes 8–16 x 5–13 mm; filaments 15–22 mm, ciliate; style 25–27 mm. Capsules ellipsoid, 10–13 x 5–6 mm, hispid. 2n = 28.
Phenology: Flowering Jun–Sep.
Habitat: Roadsides, oak woods, pine barrens, clearings, dry, sandy soils.
Elevation: 10–900 m.
Ont., Conn., Del., D.C., Ga., Ill., Ind., Ky., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Pa., R.I., S.C., Tenn., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.
Species of Aureolaria typically parasitize oaks (Quercus spp.); two studies have documented A. pedicularia parasitizing non-oak species: Pinus taeda and Vaccinium arboreum (L. J. Musselman and H. E. Grelen 1979), and unidentified Ericaceae (C. R. Werth and J. L. Riopel 1979). In a study of seed coat morphology of Aureolaria and some related genera, A. pedicularia was documented to be the only species in the genus with unwinged seeds (J. M. Canne 1980). F. W. Pennell (1935) recognized five infraspecific taxa within A. pedicularia based on subtle characters (for example, stem distally closely pubescent, not or only slightly glandular, and leaves puberulent, scarcely or not glandular, versus stem distally glandular-pubescent to hirsute, and leaves glandular puberulent to pubescent). He recognized these infraspecific taxa at both the varietal and subspecific ranks (at different times). No infraspecific taxa are recognized here.