Saturday, December 19, 2015

Seedy Saturdays- Cutleaf Toothwort

Happy Saturday Everyone!  This week is about this interesting plant.

This member of the mustard family, unlike its siblings, has a rare and fleeting beauty.  This plant is a true ephemeral species, which means that it only appears aboveground briefly to reproduce and then goes dormant again, its entire growth and reproductive cycle lasting not much more than a month.  Cutleaf toothwort is a spring ephemeral and appears in late April or early May. 

This plant can be found in deciduous forests and wooded slopes that have a deep cover of leaf litter and soils that are high in organic matter.  When it appears, the stem rises from 8-15 inches, the leaves in groups of 3 with each one coarsely toothed and dissected.  The flowers of the cutleaf toothwort are white, sometimes pink, and are in clusters with the small black seeds contained in a long erect pod.  “Toothwort” in the name is in reference to the rootstalk with segments that are teeth-like and look like a string of beads. 

Fun fact:  The Native Americans loved the root for its peppery taste, as do many people still today. 

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