Erigenia, Greek, born in the spring.
A low, smooth, perennial herb, found in open woods and alluvial bottom-lands. Western New York to Minnesota and Kansas, south to Maryland and Tennessee. Common in northern Ohio. March, April.
Simple, from a deep, round tuber, three to six inches high, bearing at its summit a small compound umbel.
One or two, divided into three segments, which are cut and lobed and cut again.
Mostly compound, one to four slender rays which bear small white flowers with conspicuous dark stamens; involucre usually a single leaf.
Adheres to the ovary.
Five, flat, entire, white.
Five, exserted; filaments white; anthers large, deep purple.
Nearly orbicular, notched at both ends, glabrous.
This exquisite creature, a plant of the Middle West, is fortunate both in its name and that name's significance - Erigenia, Born in the Spring - for it is one of the earliest to bloom as well as the smallest and most delicate of our early visitors. The reason it can do so well lies in the fact that deep in the ground is a tuber, and from this the stem forces its way upward to sun and light.
This little tuber looks not unlike a tiny potato dotted with many eyes, and by the time the flowers appear many slender, fibrous roots have been produced. It is about the size of a hazelnut and is sunken from two to four inches beneath the surface. It sends up a simple stem which bears, usually, two compound leaves that show themselves at or a little above the surface as the bloom appears. The plant is one of the Umbellifera and its bloom is a compound umbel, of three or four small umbels. Each of these consists of four or five florets, each floret with five white petals, and less than a quarter of an inch across. The stamens are five, protruding; filaments white, and anthers dark purple. The styles are two and white. So white are the petals and so dark the anthers, that the country name, Pepper-and-Salt, is well deserved.
In northern Ohio the plant can be hopefully looked for in maple-sugar camps and usually blooms at the time of sugar-making. By the first of May its chosen haunts are covered with a lace-like canopy four inches from the ground, made of the spreading, delicately divided leaves, and among them are the tiny brown fruits of the carrot clan. By June its race is run, its foliage dies, and deep in the ground a bulb awaits in the darkness another spring.
Harbinger-of-Spring. Erigenia bulbosa