(Circaea Lutetiana) Evening Primrose family

Flowers - Very small, white, slender pedicelled, in terminal and

lateral racemes. Calyx 2-parted, hairy 2 petals, 2 alternate

stamens. Stem: 1 to 2 ft. high, slender, branching, swollen at

nodes. Leaves: Opposite, tapering to a point, distantly toothed,

2 to 4 in. long, slender petioled. Fruit: Pear-shaped, 2-celled,

densely covered with stiff, hooked hairs.

Preferred Habitat - Woods; shady roadsides.

Flowering Season - June-August.

Distribution - Nova Scotia to Georgia, westward to Nebraska.

Europe and Asia.

Why Circe, the enchantress, skilled in the use of poisonous

herbs, should have had her name applied to this innocent and

insignificant looking little plant is not now obvious; neither is

the title of nightshade any more appropriate.

Each tiny flower having a hairy calyx, that acts as a stockade

against ants and other such crawling pilferers, we suspect there

are abundant sweets secreted in the fleshy ring at the base of

the styles for the benefit of the numerous flies seen hovering

about. Among other visitors, watch the common housefly alighting

on the knobby stigma, a most convenient landing place, where he

leaves some pollen carried on his underside from other nightshade

blossoms. In clasping the bases of the two pliable stamens, his

only available supports as he sucks, he will surely get well

dusted again, that he may fertilize the next blossom he flies to

for refreshment. The nightshade's little pear-shaped seed

vessels, armed with hooked bristles by which they steal a ride on

any passing petticoat or trouser leg, reveal at a glance how this

plant has contrived to travel around the globe.

A smaller, weaker species (Circaea alpina), found in cool, moist

woods, chiefly north, has thin, shining leaves and soft, hooked

hairs on its vagabond seeds. Less dependence seems to be placed

on these ineffective hooks to help perpetuate the plant than on

the tiny pink bulblets growing at the end of an exceedingly

slender thread sent out by the parent roots.