(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
Preferred Habitat - Waste lands, sandy fields, and roadsides.
Flowering Season - February-May.
Distribution - Throughout our area; naturalized from Europe and
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
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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