TWINFLOWER GROUND VINE
(Linnaea borealis) Honeysuckle family
Flowers - Delicate pink or white tinged with rose, bell-shaped,
about 1/2 in. long, fragrant, nodding in pairs on slender, curved
pedicels from an erect peduncle, 2-bracted where they join. Calyx
5-toothed, sticky; corolla 5-lobed, bell-shaped, hairy within; 4
in pairs inserted near base of tube; 1 pistil. Stem:
Trailing, 6 in. to 2 ft. long; the branches erect. Leaves:
Opposite, rounded, petioled, evergreen.
Preferred Habitat - Deep, cool, mossy woods.
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - Northern parts of America, Europe, and Asia. In
the United States southward as far as the mountains of Maryland,
and the Sierra Nevadas in California.
With the consent of modest Linnaeus himself, Dr. Gronovius
selected this typical woodland blossom to transmit the great
master's flame to posterity -
"Monument of the man of flowers."
But small and shy as it is, does Nature's garden contain a
lovelier sight than scores of these deliciously fragrant pink
bells swaying above a carpet of the little evergreen leaves in
the dim aisle of some deep, cool, lonely forest? Trailing over
prostrate logs and mossy rocks, racing with the partridge vine
among the ferns and dwarf cornels, the plant sends up "twin-born
heads" that seem more fair and sweet than the most showy pampered
darlings of the millionaire's conservatory. Little wonder that
Linnaeus loved these little twin sisters, or that Emerson
enshrined them in his verse.
Contrary to popular impression, this vine, that suggests the dim
old forest and exhales the very breath of the spring woods, will
consent to run about our rock gardens, although it seems almost a
sacrilege to move it from natural surroundings so impressively
beautiful. Unlike the arbutus, which remains ever a wildling,
pining slowly to death on close contact with civilization, the
twin-flower thrives in light, moist garden soil where the sun
peeps for a little while only in the morning. By nodding its head
the flower protects its precious contents from rain, the hairs
inside exclude small pilferers; but bees, attracted by the
fragrance and color, are guided to the nectary by five dark lines
and a patch of orange color near it.
JOE-PYE WEED; TRUMPET WEED; PURPLE THOROUGHWORT; GRAVEL or
KIDNEY-ROOT; TALL or PURPLE BONESET
(Eupatorium purpureum) Thistle family
Flower-heads - Pale or dull magenta or lavender pink, slightly
fragrant, of tubular florets only, very numerous, in large,
terminal, loose, compound clusters, generally elongated. Several
series of pink overlapping bracts form the oblong involucre from
which the tubular floret and its protruding fringe of
style-branches arise. Stem: 3 to 10 ft. high, green or purplish,
leafy, usually branching toward top. Leaves: In whorls of 3 to 6
(usually 4), oval to lance-shaped, saw-edged, petioled, thin,
Preferred Habitat - Moist soil, meadows, woods, low ground.
Flowering Season - August-September.
Distribution - New Brunswick to the Gulf of Mexico, westward to
Manitoba and Texas.
Towering above the surrounding vegetation of low-lying meadows,
this vigorous composite spreads clusters of soft, fringy bloom
that, however deep or pale of tint, are ever conspicuous
advertisements, even when the goldenrods, sunflowers, and asters
enter into close competition for insect trade. Slight fragrance,
which to the delicate perception of butterflies is doubtless
heavy enough, the florets' color and slender tubular form
indicate an adaptation to them, and they are by far the most
abundant visitors, which is not to say that long-tongued bees and
flies never reach the nectar and transfer pollen, for they do.
But an excellent place for the butterfly collector to carry his
net is to a patch of Joe-Pye weed in September. As the spreading
style-branches that fringe each tiny floret are furnished with
hairs for three-quarters of their length, the pollen caught in
them comes in contact with the alighting visitor. Later, the
lower portion of the style-branches, that is covered with
stigmatic papillae along the edge, emerges from the tube to
receive pollen carried from younger flowers when the visitor sips
his reward. If the hairs still contain pollen when the stigmatic
part of the style is exposed, insects self-fertilize the flower;
and if in stormy, weather no insects are flying, the flower is
nevertheless able to fertilize itself, because the hairy fringe
must often come in contact with the stigmas of neighboring
florets. It is only when we study flowers with reference to their
motives and methods that we understand why one is abundant and
another rare. Composites long ago utilized many principles of
success in life that the triumphant Anglo-Saxon carries into
larger affairs today.
Joe-Pye, an Indian medicine-man of New England, earned fame and
fortune by curing typhus fever and other horrors with decoctions
made from this plant.
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