It comes when the woods of Illinois long since have been given over to the weedier plants and the lush growth of summer. The oak woods are dense and rank with harsh plants and stinging nettles, with horseweeds and mosquitoes and poison ivy. Contrasting with the neatness and orderly growth of leaf and flower in the spring woods, the woods of summer in Illinois are overgrown, for the most part unpleasant to penetrate.
Cryptotaenia canadensis (L.) DC.
June. Woods, bottoms.
Yet even this period of growth and time is important in the ecological scheme of this particular region. The humidity and heat of summer, in which the horseweeds attain a height ranging from ten to fourteen feet in a good season, is the same heat and humidity which makes the remarkable corn crop of Illinois develop to its fullest extent.
There in the woods where the shadows are deep, the honewort blooms inconspicuously and makes its seeds. The leaves usually are borne in threes or fives, are of varying sizes, sharply saw-toothed and dark green. The plant is somewhat aromatic. The flowers are sparsely produced on scanty, delicate umbels.
In late summer and autumn when hikers again find their way into a woods in which frost has laid low many of the objectionable plants, the honewort seeds are dispersed. Lightly they a.re attached to clothing which brushes past them, or they cling to the fur of a dog, or to a cow's tail. and drop off elsewhere. And in the passing of the autumn and winter and with the coining of another spring, new honewort plants spring up from the places where the seeds came to rest.