Mustard Barberry, Spiderwort And Phlox Families
Iris Family Iridaceae
Read More Articles About: Wildflower Families
( Originally Published 1908 )
The curious flowers of the plants of this family have no petals but have many seeds that develop in the six-celled ovary. The interesting climbing plant called Pipe Vine or Dutchman's Pipe, which grows wild in the southern states and is very generally planted about porches in the north-ern states, is the typical illustration of this group.
WILD GINGER. In the north there is but one common herbaceous wild flower belonging to the family. This is the Wild Ginger, which is a curious flower and one that is likely to be over-looked by the careless stroller in the June woods. The large, kidney-shaped leaves are conspicuous enough, but they hide the bell-like blossom at the base of their rather long stems. The flower-stalk is very short, just holding the flower above the surface of the ground. At first the blossom is held upright, but later the stem turns around so as to turn it downward, as shown in the picture.
Notwithstanding its lack of beauty, this blossom is of decided interest to the naturalist, for it is adapted to pollination by flies which seek it out and carry the pollen from one flower to another. " Within the cosy cup," writes Neltje Blanchan, " one can usually find a contented fly seeking shelter or food. Close to the ground it is warm and less windy. When the cup first opens, only the stigmas are mature and sticky to receive any pollen the visitors may bring on their bodies from other asylums where they have been hiding. These stigmas presently withering, up rise the twelve stamens beside them to dust with pollen the flies coming in search of it. Only one flower from a root compels cross-fertilizing between flowers of distinct plants to insure the most vigorous seed, as Darwin proved. After fertilization, the cup nods, inverted, and the leathery capsule following after it, bursts irregularly, scattering many seeds.
The typical form of the Wild Ginger is widely distributed in eastern America. Two other species have recently been separated from it. One is the Long-tipped Wild Ginger in which the calyx-lobes are long and slender; the other is the Short-lobed Wild Ginger in which the calyx-lobes are short and triangular. Both of these species are widely distributed as far west as Iowa.