Jun 03 2009
Though the subject says “June Blooms” I’m starting this month’s flower series with a plant whose flowers are far less noticable that its leaves.
Wild Yam used to be my mystery plant. In May I would see a single whorl of pleated, heart-shaped leaves floating above a stem. (Imagine this plant with only the bottom whorl visible.)
What could it be? My Newcomb’s wildflower guide requires a flower to key out the identity of a plant so I was stumped.
Eventually I noticed it had matured into a vine with insignificant flowers sprouting from the second whorl. Newcomb’s said: Wild Yam, Dioscorea quaternata.
The root of this plant was used by early Americans to treat colic and it has other medicinal uses as well.
I like Wild Yam because it’s pretty. I remember it because it was a mystery.
(photo by Dianne Machesney)