Mustard Barberry, Spiderwort And Phlox Families
Iris Family Iridaceae
Read More Articles About: Wildflower Families
( Originally Published 1908 )
The Primrose family does not occupy so prominent a place among our American wild flowers as it does in England where the beautiful English primroses grow wild in great abundance and are familiar to everyone. With the exception of the Star-flower, the Shooting Star and the Pimpernel, the American members of this family are not especially attractive. The family is characterized by having flowers which are perfect and regular, with as many stamens as there are petals and a single style and stigma.
SHOOTING STAR. The American Cowslip or Shooting Star is an attractive wild flower which is found abundantly in open woods from Pennsylvania southward. The rose-purple or white flowers are pendent from slender stalks which arise from a more robust scape, the flowers usually being ten or more inches from the ground. The blossoms appear late in spring or early in summer.
LOOSESTRIFE. In damp, swampy places one is almost certain to find one or more species of Loosestrife in blossom throughout the summer. The commonest of these is the Yellow Loosestrif e which has an abundance of small flowers with five yellow petals borne in long clusters toward the top of the plant.
This Yellow or Golden Loosestrife has become naturalized from Europe as has also the closely related Spotted Loosestrife and the Creeping Loosestrife or Moneywort—the latter a lover of moist situations. The Whorled or Four-leaved Loosestrife is the most distinctive native species : the four leaves arise in whorls along the main stem.
PIMPERNEL. The Pimpernel or Poor Man's Weather Glass is a plant which is locally well known, being of especial interest on account of the sensitiveness to weather conditions, which causes the petals to close when the sky is be-clouded. The flowers are variable in color, being sometimes red, sometimes purple and sometimes white. The plants run over the ground, being often found along the borders of old gardens and in other places where it has escaped from cultivation.
STAR-FLOWER. There is always a sense of satisfaction in using such an appropriate name as that of the Star-flower. It required little imagination on the part of the one who first applied this name to the blossom of Trientalis, for it is a perfect white star that dots here and there the brown carpet beneath the woods. Its grace and beauty are beyond praise : the slender, round, straight stem rises vertically a few inches before it sends out its platform of long, linear, finely pointed leaves in a whorl, above which the slender pedicels of the one, two, or three flowers continue for about an inch until each is crowned by the star-like flower. A clear cut plant, it seems always sufficient unto itself, and I fancy one is less tempted to gather it than is the case with many other beauties of the wood.
It is a widely distributed species, being found from Labrador to Minnesota in the north and extending southward to Indiana and Virginia. It is especially likely to be found in damp woods, and has an extremely delicate odor.