VERNAL WHITLOWGRASS





(Draba verna) Mustard family



Flowers - Very small, white, distant, growing on numerous scapes

1 to 5 in. high; in formation each flower is similar to all the

mustards, except that the 4 petals are 2-cleft, destroying the

cross-like effect. Leaves: 1/2 to 1 in. long, in a tuft or

rosette on the ground, oblong or spatulate, covered with stiff

hairs.

Preferred Habitat - Waste lands, sandy fields, and roadsides.

Flowering Season - February-May.

Distribution - Throughout our area; naturalized from Europe and

Asia.



An insignificantly small plant, too common, however, to be wholly

ignored. Although each tiny flower secretes four drops of nectar

between the bases of the short stamens and the long ones next

them, it would be unreasonable to depend wholly upon insects to

carry pollen, since there is so little else to attract them.

Therefore the anthers of the four long stamens regularly shed

directly upon the stigma below them, leaving to the few visitors,

the small bees chiefly, the transferring from flower to flower of

pollen from the two short stamens which must be touched if they

would reach the nectar. In spite of the persistency with which

these little blossoms fertilize themselves, they certainly

increase at a prodigious rate; but how much larger and more

beautiful might they not be if they possessed more executive

ability



A similar but larger plant, with its hairy leaves not only tufted

at the base, but also alternating up the stiff stem, is the HAIRY

ROCK-CRESS (Arabis hirsuta), whose white or greenish flowers,

growing in racemes after the usual mustard fashion, are quickly

followed by very narrow, flattened pods two inches long or less.

Around the world this small traveler has likewise found its way,

choosing rocky places to display its insignificant flowers

throughout the entire summer to such small bees and flies as seek

the nectar in its two tiny glands. It is not to be confused with

the saxifrage or stone-breaker.





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