An early Spring-blooming plant is well into its seed-making time. Most trees are still growing out their leaves now in the middle of May, but the canopy is filling in fast.
The Spring Ephemeral we’re talking about is Cut-Leaved Toothwort, or Cutleaf Toothwort, Cardamine concatenata, which Peterson’s Wildflower Guide calls Dentaria laciniata – it’s an older name than the Cardamine moniker.
Note: DNA testing has revealed what scientists believe is the true lineage of plants, so older field guides may specify names for plants that may no longer apply. A great place to learn of multiple names for the same plant is the USDA Plants site. Just look under the synonyms tab for your particular flower. In this instance we see four names for our toothwort friend, excluding varieties that is.
(Photos start 24 March 2016 from Central Pennsylvania. Click on any small image to see a larger view.)
First flower of cut-leaved toothwort appeared on March 24. Note the plant on the right – you can see a single thick stem rising up from under the brown oak leaves, a layer of “cut leaves” and a topping of a dangling cluster of flowers. The plant on the left has no flowers and just one set of leaves.
Cutleaf toothwort is identified by a whorl of three leaves each with three narrow segments having distinct teeth. At 8-15 inches tall it’s found growing in rich woods and bottom lands.
As the days went on more plants arose from the leaf litter for a total of six plants, four of them flowering. The flower buds first show a light pink color before opening into a white four-parted blossom.