Wildflowers Monday – the Partridge berry

Mitchella repens – Partridge berry, twinberry, squaw vine

This is also in praise of little plants because partridge berry is a ‘ground hugger’, forming an excellent, evergreen carpet of small, rounded, shiny leaves with a whitish main vein. I can imagine it flowing over a big shaded boulder, mossy woodland humps or over a stony wall. But, sadly I have never seen it cultivated – little plants have sometimes difficulties to getting noticed…

Mitchella repens

Mitchella repens – partridge berry

Well-known and used traditionally by the Native Americans as a women’s herb (aid in menstrual complaints and childbirth, hence the name squaw vine); tested and still recommended by the modern herbal medicine. The berries were also used occasionally as food.

Mitchella repens flowers

Mitchella repens flowers – pink buds opening to white, tubular, fragrant flowers with fuzzy petals (you have to lay down to notice this); they are followed by large scarlet berries which are consumed by a variety of birds and mammals in late fall.

Mitchella repens fruits

Note: The name Mitchella was chosen by C. Linnaeus to honor his friend John Mitchell. A physician, keen naturalist and cartographer; he set up practice in America and over the years provided Linnaeus with information about many North American species, partridge berry included.

Thanks to someone’s comment regarding Mitchella cultivation, I realized I should mention that it is often found growing close to Gaultheria procumbens or on top of moss mounds, which indicates its inclination for a slightly acidic substrate. Give it a try! – not necessarily from seeds; the stems are easily rooting at the nodes and a small portion can be used same as a cutting (already rooted ;).

Mitchella and companions

Mitchella and companions (Gaultheria in the left-top corner)

Wildflowers Monday – Indian-physic

Gillenia trifoliata (syn. Porteranthus trifoliatus) – Bowman’s root, Indian-physic

This is another North American beauty for the shade garden. Not too often cultivated on its native grounds (talking Canada), but it holds an Award of Garden Merit from RHS :) which means it has worldwide appreciation.

Gillenia trifoliata detail

Gillenia trifoliata – particular flowers with red pedicels/calyces and 5 narrow white or pinkish petals; unmistakable if you see it flowering (Fam. Rosaceae)

Medium height, bushy perennial with deep green, healthy foliage that will turn bronze-reddish in the fall. Any shaded spot in the garden would lighten up in June when Bowman’s root is flowering!

Gillenia trifoliata

Gillenia trifoliata – Bowman’s root, Indian-physic

Common names derive from the former medicinal use of the dry root (laxative, emetic). Not difficult to grow from seeds.

Forgetfulness – Lilium pumilum

It’s understandable that people with large gardens forget some of the species they grow. I may also forget some because of moving them all the time from one container to another. In these situations, I use the method of ‘elimination’.

Lilium pumilum2To start with, I knew it was a Lilium ;) First I flirted with the idea of being Lilium martagon. Later, looking at the grassy foliage, I thought without much enthusiasm about L. lancifolium ‘Flore Pleno’. Only when it got close to flowering I remembered I also had/have a Lilium pumilum.

Lilium pumilum detail

Lilium pumilum detail

Of course now that it is in flower, it doesn’t look like one that’s easy to forget…

Lilium pumilum

Lilium pumilum – Coral lily

Native to China, Mongolia, Russia, and S. Korea (forest margins, mountain slopes). Nodding, scarlet, shiny flowers, smaller than those of L. martagon (and usually without spots), solitary to several, fragrant – heavy and sweet, like a super-scented Daphne. Narrow linear leaves in whorls around the stems (syn. L. potaninii, L. tenuifolium). For sun to part-shade, prefers moist locations.

Propagation: easy from seeds, bulb scales; bulbs said to be short lived(?) and edible/medicinal(?). It may be a while until I have enough to give them a try; for now I only admit to the fact that it is a tough one ;) And if it decides to be short lived this year, I hope there will be seeds.

Wildflowers Monday – up in the sky

Flowering trees & butterflies

A short break from the herbaceous perennials; the North American majestic tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera, is in full bloom right now and deserves a mention. I have a folder full of images but I couldn’t abstain last week and took more pictures (macro lens stretched to maximum :). In Southern Ontario, it can be also seen growing wild in a few localized areas that are part of the Carolinian forest.

Liriodendron tulipifera flower

Liriodendron tulipifera (yellow poplar, tulip tree)

Nearby, a large Eastern tiger swallowtail was feeding greedily on an Iris and I remembered that although it feeds on many perennials, it lays its eggs on trees, preferring species of Magnoliaceae – tulip tree included, and Rosaceae (occasionally Ptelea, Populus sp. and others). Something to remember when looking up to the sky….

Eastern tiger swallowtail on Iris

Eastern tiger swallowtail feeding on Iris

Liriodendron tulipifera flowering

Liriodendron tulipifera – host for the Eastern tiger swallowtail

Test, test – Eriogonum umbellatum var. porteri

Little plants series – the chameleon

It seems that my subscription form doesn’t always works, so I am testing with a little plant; actually from a category that should be better called ‘flat to the ground’ (or prostrate plants, botanically speaking ;) Eriogonum umbellatum (sulfur buckwheat), is well-known to the rock garden aficionados and mountain enthusiasts, and it has quite a few, hard to ID varieties.

E. umbellatum var. porteri (Porter’s sulphur flower) is the smallest of them all – a real golden nugget I acquired from Wrightman Alpines. In the wild it grows on rocky slopes and ridges at high-elevations in a few locations in Colorado, Nevada and Utah.

Eriogonum umbellatum var.porteri
Eriogonum umbellatum var. porteri – Bear in mind that this is a young plant and it needs a few more years to start glowing in its full splendour

Flat to the ground, or better said container, it is an all season interest plant: evergreen foliage with small leaves in tight rosettes, yellow bright flowers which turn red when fading (like in the featured image); the foliage will also acquire red and orange tones. Needless to say – pollinator friendly and a reliable, good companion for other little plants.

To make my point, two more images:

E. umbellatum var. aureum in full bloom in Wasatch Mts. (Utah), which is very similar with var. porteri; the later replacing var. aureum at higher elevations.

Eriogonum umbellatum var. aureum

Eriogonum umbellatum var. aureum (Wasatch Mts., Utah)

And an incredible old exemplar of E. umbellatum var. porteri which has turned red after pollination – growing at the Montreal Botanical Garden (which is renown, by the way, for its Alpine Garden).

Eriogonum umbellatum var.porteri - Montreal BG

Eriogonum umbellatum var.porteri ( Montreal BG)

Sort of a chameleonic plant I would say…

Wildflowers Monday – Hydrophyllum virginianum

It’s in the details

Conspicuously silver-marked, pinnate leaves which are among the first to appear early in the spring:

Hydrophyllum virginianum - early spring foliage

Hydrophyllum virginianum – early spring foliage

Curled flower buds with ciliate calyces which resemble an exquisite lace work; opening to reveal white or purple bell-shaped flowers with exerted stamens:

Hydrophyllum virginianum flowers

Hydrophyllum virginianum flowers

…recognized by pollination ecologists as very valuable because they attract large numbers of native bees. They must be delicious – often foraged by the bumblebees long after their prime:

Bumblebee on Hydrophyllum virginianum

Bumblebee on Hydrophyllum virginianum

Hydrophyllum virginianum grows very well in dry, shade conditions of hardwood forests, bottomlands and edges of the woods. Excellent as a groundcover in difficult shady areas and for naturalization projects. Although considered a bit weedy, I noticed that it is not capable to compete with the non-native invasive species, which are spreading in the remnants woodlots between newly developed residential areas.

Another Hydrophyllum that will save your time (and back) from weeding in the shady, moist areas of the garden, is the Broad-leaf waterleaf – Hydrophyllum canadense.

Hydrophyllum canadense

Hydrophyllum canadense

Wildflowers Monday – this and that

Maneuvering through heavy winds and rain we managed to take a few pictures, and most importantly, to collect seeds of Hepatica and Thalictrum thalictroides (Anemonella) this weekend (I am seriously thinking to start adding a ‘mosquito seed surcharge’ this year).

The smallest of the Mayflowers posing charmingly in front of a lichen covered tree trunk: Maianthemum canadense

Maianthemum canadense

Maianthemum canadense

Cypripediums glancing from beneath tickets:

Cypripedium parviflorum var. parviflorum

Cypripedium parviflorum var. parviflorum

A ‘ghostly’ Arisaema triphyllum that I stumbled upon trying to take pictures of the Cypripediums. Such variation in A. triphyllum! Very teasing to do from seeds; many forms are lurking in their genes…

Arisaema triphyllum

Arisaema triphyllum – albino form

Few Thalictrum thalictroides seeds – find them in the Shop

Thalictrum thalictroides seeds

Thalictrum thalictroides seeds

And, Hepatica seeds – moist packing, here I came!