Herbs or shrubs having perfect flowers, usually with five petals, and either opposite or alternate leaves. The seeds have copious albumen, which sep arates this family from the various species of the Rose Family.
A. Grass of Parnassus. Parnassia caroliniana. B. Early Saxifrage. Saxifraga virginiensis.
Grass Of Parnassus (Parnassia Caroliniana) is a pretty little swamp or meadow plant growing from 8 to 24 inches high. The flowers are a delicate creamy white, finely veined with greenish, and borne singly on long scapes; a single, heart-shaped leaf clasps each flower scape a short distance above its base. The basal leaves are long-stemmed, rather thick and coarse in texture, smooth-edged and bluntly pointed.
The flowers present rather an unusual appearance, both because of the veining and because the five fertile stamens alternate with the petals, leaving the yellowish anthers located just at the angle, formed where the petals overlap. We find this species in bloom from the latter part of June until the end of September, most abundantly in the latter month. It ranges from Newfoundland to Manitoba, south to Va. and Mo.
Early Saxifrage (Saxifraga Virginiensis) is a tiny-flowered plant that loves dry, sunny, rocky hillsides; in these places we may look for its flowers during March and April. The leaves are all basal; spatulate in shape, blunt ended, either rough-edged or toothed, rather coarse in texture, narrowing towards their base into clasping stems. The flower scapes are quite stout, hairy and rather sticky; the white flowers, in loose umbels at the top, are small and five parted. Saxifrage is common from N. B. to Minn, south to Ga. and Tenn.
Mitella diphylla. B. Foam Flower; False Mitrewort. Tiarella cordifolia.
Mitrewort (Mitella Nuda) is a tiny woodland plant that might readily escape our notice were it not for the peculiar little flowers. These are few in number, very short-stemmed, in a loose raceme at the top of a leafless, slightly hairy scape 4 to 7 in. high. The flowers have five petals, each with the edge beautifully fringed so as to give the flower a crystalline appearance almost like a snowflake. The leaves are on long, hairy stems from the root; they are rounded or kidney-shaped with rough or lobed edges.
These plants are often called "Bishops Caps" from the cap-like shape of the little seed pods. We find this species from Labrador to Saskatchewan, south to Ct. and Mich.
Two-Leaved Mitrewort (Mitella Diphylla) is a larger and sturdier species with similar flowers, but with two very short-stemmed, heart-shaped leaves clasping the flower stem oppositely about halfway up its length. The stem has more flowers at its top than the last species and is taller, ranging from 8 to 16 inches high. The basal leaves are heart-shaped, with three to five toothed lobes. This species is found in rich woods from N. E. to Minn., south to N. C. and Mo.
Foam Flower; False Mitrewort (Tiarella Cordifolia) has the general appearance of the last species. The slender, hairy flower scape, rising 6 to 12 in. from the rootstalk, has at the top a loose panicle of many small flowers, each on a long slender stem, thus differing from the short-stemmed flowers ' of Mitella. The leaves are all basal, on long hairy stems; heart-shaped, lobed and toothed and often mottled with brownish. The flowers have five petals and ten long stamens that give them a fuzzy appearance. Foam Flower is common from N. S. to Minn., southwards, flowering in May and June.