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.
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Toothwort is also known as “cutleaf toothwort,” and it’s easy to see why when you look at the deeply notched leaves.
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.
Each flowering stem usually has several blossoms. Here’s a closer view:
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.
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.