In spring when the woods still contain the compact, the colorful, or the flowerful plants, there grows a tall, ragged-looking stem of a plant which seems to belong more to open roadsides in summer than to the shade of hilly woods. Now in company with the flowers of bluebells, the sponge-like growth o1 morels, and the flash of the scarlet tanager in the broad new leaves of the oaks, is sicklepod, one of the Mustard family.
Arabis canadensis L.
May - June Deep woods.
The stem is pyramidal, tapering from a leafy base, up, up, graduated to smaller leaves as it goes, not branching for a long time, until the top expands into many thin branches which all extend upward and produce small greenish yellow flowers. They are a rather disappointing result of all that promising growth. Following the flowers, the seeds rapidly develop in long, thin, curved seed pods these are the sickle-shaped pods which gave the plant its name. The stalk remains during most of the summer, the seed sickles now three inches long, curving, dry, releasing the tiny seeds, so that next spring the same cycle of a tall stalk in the damp ravine will interrupt itself in small flowers and more sickle-shaped pods.
Similar to the above although a shorter plant is the smooth rock cress ( Arabis laevigata) which i- found growing on the sides of rocky ravines. It is emphatically a shade plant. In contrast with the last is -and cress (Arabis lyrata) one of the earliest spring flowers in the -and dunes and on rocky banks. The basal leaves are lyrate but those on the stems are linear. A close relative, the Virginia rock cress- (Arabis vir-ginica) is found in rocky woods and in the fallow fields. The plants usually are prostrate and much branched at the base with pinnatifid leaves.