Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Toothwort

I’m happy to report that last week’s light blanket of snow does not appear to have harmed most of the spring wildflowers in central Iowa. Since the snow melted over the weekend, I’ve seen blooms and buds on many wildflowers while walking or bicycling in the Des Moines area. You can find a lot of spring beauties along the Clive Greenbelt trail and Sweet William (phlox) along the Sycamore trail, which connects the Inter-Urban trail with the Neal Smith trail by Saylorville. I wonder whether the frost short-circuited the dogtooth violets, though, because so many leaves were out before the snow, yet I’ve hardly found any blossoms since then.

This week’s featured flower is toothwort, a common woodland flower across Iowa and most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains. A few photos are after the jump, along with a bonus shot of wild geranium leaves. If you find those, come back a few weeks later to spot a very pretty woodland flower.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Toothwort is also known as “cutleaf toothwort,” and it’s easy to see why when you look at the deeply notched leaves.

 photo toothwortleaves_zps58df74c8.jpg

According to Wildflowers of Iowa Woodlands by Sylvan Runkel and Alvin Bull, “The name toothwort may come from the tooth-like shape of the fleshy tubers” underground. Pioneers used these tubers as a food source, fresh or dried. I’ve never dug them up or tried to eat them.

Like other plants in the mustard family, toothwort flowers have four petals. They are usually white, although they can have a light pink tone.

 photo toothwort4_zps04de359b.jpg

Each flowering stem usually has several blossoms. Here’s a closer view:

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Toothwort blossoms open during the day but are mostly closed in the early morning and evening. Here’s what they look like in the evening. The roundish leaves are wild ginger plants, which will develop flowers underneath the leaves soon.

 photo toothworth_wildginger2_zps5e824d60.jpg

Finally, here is a patch of wild geranium leaves. Keep an eye out for their distinctive shape and come back soon to see pink flowers blooming. I’ve seen wild geraniums in Des Moines’ Greenwood Park, among other places.

wild geranium leaves photo geraniumleaves_zpsa723529b.jpg

Tags: Wildflowers
  • Nice...

    Violets everywhere for me.  Did get some snaps of a Virginia Bluebell today while concentrating on morels.  Luscious light, and little reflective droplets on the blossoms.   Sorry, but morels take precedence right now.  

    • Virginia bluebells are on tap

      for next week or the following week. I’ve seen lots of violets too, but they keep blooming so long that it may be a while before I feature them. I am struggling to get good shots of the spring beauties. The little pink lines never come through for me, but if I can get that figured out, spring beauty may be next week’s flower.

      Congratulations on finding some morels. I know others who have struck out this spring.

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