Jul 08 2014

Detective Work

Published by at 7:15 am under Plants,Quiz

Perfoliate, alternate, entire (photo by Kate St. John)

Today we'll have a plant identification quiz.  I have an answer but you may have a better one.

I found this plant on June 29 at Dead Man's Hollow in Allegheny County.   The leaves are so distinctive that its identity begs for some detective work.  Here are the clues I gathered:


  • alternate on the stem,
  • edges are entire (not toothed),
  • leaves are perfoliate.  (The stem perforates the leaves, a very cool feature.)
  • bottom leaves are larger than the violet leaves nearby.

The plant had no flowers and no buds.  Instead it had developing fruits which gave me clues about the flowers.  Here are two photos of the fruits.

Developing fruit, 3-sided with 6 sections (photo by Kate St. John)


Developing fruit, 3-sided with 6 sections (photo by Kate St. John)

The fruits are:

  • on stems that sprout from perfoliate spots on the leaves
  • three sided with a seam in the middle of each side.  Does this mean the flower was three-petaled or six-petaled?
  • still maturing?  Or are they in their final form?

I looked up "six petals with alternate, entire leaves" in my Newcomb's Wildflower Guide and found a familiar spring wildflower with perfoliate leaves.

However, I am not completely satisfied with my identification.  I have never seen "my plant" arc horizontally like this when it's blooming and the fruits in the illustration look different.  Is my Newcomb's Guide missing a species?  Have I never noticed that the plant "lies down" in the summer?  Are the fruits going to match the illustration when they mature in a few weeks?

So here's the quiz:  What plant is this?

Leave a comment with your answer.  I'll post my guess after I've heard from you.

UPDATE:  See the Comments for the answer and a link to the flowering version of this plant.


(photos by Kate St. John)

10 responses so far

10 Responses to “Detective Work”

  1. Sue Hannonon 08 Jul 2014 at 7:40 am

    Is it Solomon’s Seal?

  2. Ephraim Zimmermanon 08 Jul 2014 at 7:51 am

    Uvularia grandiflora (large-flowered bellwort)! cool plant from a really neat place!

  3. Kate St. Johnon 08 Jul 2014 at 10:32 am

    Thanks to Ephraim & Dianne we have a positive ID of this plant. Yes, it’s Large-flowered Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora). When I see it in the spring it is not leaning over … but this one might be leaning to get more light at the edge of the trail. Here’s what it looks like when it blooms: http://www.birdsoutsidemywindow.org/2009/05/23/may-flowers-large-flowered-bellwort/

  4. Dianne Machesneyon 08 Jul 2014 at 8:42 am

    Large-flowered Bellwort, Uvularia grandiflora.

  5. Lindaon 08 Jul 2014 at 8:57 am

    Yikes, no clue but I feel that I have seen this before. Where is Dead Man’s Hollow?

  6. SUe Vertosickon 08 Jul 2014 at 9:42 am

    Looks like a false Solomon’s seal?

  7. George Bercikon 08 Jul 2014 at 9:48 am

    Looks a lot like Twisted Stalk or Rose Twisted Stalk (Rosy bells). Don’t know about
    those perfoliate leaves though. Possible horticultural escapee?

  8. Hayleyon 08 Jul 2014 at 10:33 am


  9. Tom Prunieron 08 Jul 2014 at 11:06 am

    Thanks – We saw this on Mt Yamaska near St Pie Quebec two weeks ago. Now we know!

  10. jackon 11 Jul 2014 at 11:59 am

    Looks like solomon’s seal. I have a green and white version of this plant in my shade garden.

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