VENUS' LOOKINGGLASS CLASPING BELLFLOWER
(Legouzia perfoliata; Specularia perfoliata of Gray)
Flowers - Violet blue, from 1/2 to 3/4 in. across; solitary or 2
or 3 together, seated, in axils of upper leaves. Calyx lobes
varying from 3 to 5 in earlier and later flowers, acute, rigid;
a 5-spoked wheel; 5 stamens; pistil with 3 stigmas. Stem:
6 in. to 2 ft. long, hairy, densely leafy, slender, weak. Leaves:
Round, clasped about stem by heart-shaped base.
Preferred Habitat - Sterile waste places, dry woods.
Flowering Season - May-September.
Distribution - From British Columbia, Oregon, and Mexico, east to
At the top of a gradually lengthened and apparently overburdened
leafy stalk, weakly leaning upon surrounding vegetation, a few
perfect blossoms spread their violet wheels, while below them
insignificant earlier flowers, which, although they have never
opened, nor reared their heads above the hollows of the little
shell-like leaves where they lie secluded, have, nevertheless,
been producing seed without imported pollen while their showy
sisters slept. But the later blooms, by attracting insects, set
cross-fertilized seed to counteract any evil tendencies that
might weaken the species if it depended upon self-fertilization
only. When the European Venus' looking-glass used to be
cultivated in gardens here, our grandmothers tell us it was
altogether too prolific, crowding out of existence its less
fruitful, but more lovely, neighbors.
The SMALL VENUS' LOOKING-GLASS (L. biflora), of similar habit to
the preceding, but with egg-shaped or oblong leaves seated on,
not clasping, its smooth and very slender stem, grows in the
South and westward to California.
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