I first found these interesting little flowers years ago in a wetland area. The plant likes moist soil.
The interesting little flowers next appeared along the road at a cold water spring. And this year they are in a runoff ditch down the road.
Each year I put these interesting little flowers in the Unknown folder with the name Ears. Each year I search for an identification and fail to find one.
The plant is about a foot tall with multiple stems and branches. The stems are thin so the slightest breeze shivers through the plant. They are covered with short hairs.
The leaves are opposite. The petioles are about a third the length of the leaf. The petioles are hairy. The leaves have no hairs.
Flowers are on stalks from the leaf nodes toward the ends of the stems. Looking head on two larger petals stick up (my ears) and two smaller ones hang down. Each is separate from the others. The flower is maybe half an inch long.
The flower extends from inside a cylinder covered with sticky hairs. This led me to think, since Royal Catchfly, Fire Pink and Wild Pink flowers are similar, perhaps this flower was in Caryophylaceae. I looked up pictures of all members of this group found in Missouri and came away disappointed.
The seed capsule forms inside this sticky cylinder. When the seeds are ripe, the cylinder splits to release them.
Finding these interesting little flowers is always a treat. They are much too pretty to be stuck with the name ears.
I am again trying to find these flowers on the internet. I am still having no luck.
Perhaps someone recognizes these interesting little flowers and can let me know what their name is. I would like to solve this long standing mystery.
People name things. Scientists devise a single name for each animal and plant. Plant common names aren’t that way.
A scientific name can describe some trait of a plant. More commonly they are from a person’s name or the place the plant was found.
There are mistakes. Our common milkweed has the name syriaca and is not found in Syria. The origin of this mistake goes back a few hundred years and is traced in “The Syrian Milkweed”.
Plant common names tend to describe some aspect of a plant. There is the purple milkweed called that because of its purple flowers. The swamp milkweed grows in swampy areas. Butterfly Weed is a milkweed that attracts butterflies.
A good plant to never taste is poison hemlock. Other plants to avoid are poison oak, ivy and sumac. However aromatic sumac is well worth a moment to take a whiff.
In my garden chickweed tries to take the place over every spring. Chickens love it.
Back in the ravines the bloodroot is an early spring wildflower. Its root is blood red.
Another spring wildflower is dead nettle. The leaves are similar to those of stinging nettle, but without the sting.
Presently one of the cranebills is blooming along the road and in the lawn. This common name is from the seed pod with its round top and long ‘bill’ hanging down resembling the head and bill of a crane.
Some plant common names are confusing as more than one refers to the same plant. The calloway pear can be called the Bradford pear and a couple of other names. The Rose of Sharon is also the Althea bush.
Just as there are books giving the meanings and origins of people’s names, there are books about the origins and meaning of common plant names. I have one called “Who Named the Daisy? Who Named the Rose?” by Mary Durant on my shelf. It is interesting to browse through a few names now and then.
Knowing a name for a plant does make the plant more interesting.