Jul 08 2014
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.
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)