A family of herbs having regular perfect flowers and simple leaves, arranged oppositely, alternately or whorled about the stem. .
A. Yellow Loosestrife.
B. Four-leaved Loosestrife.
From July until September, our swamps are brightened by the golden-yellow wand-like spikes of Loosestrife, swaying on tall, slender leafy stems. We often find this species growing in company with the following, but the present one is fond of very wet places and is most abundant in boggy swamps that are impenetrable unless shod especially for it. Yellow Loosestrife has a tall, slender, simple stem from 8 to 24 inches high. The leaves are pointed-lanceolate, stemless and crowded along the stem, either oppositely or alternately. The flower spike is long and contains many buds on slender pedicels; they open, a dozen or more at a time, from the bottom of the spike upwards, each plant thus being in bloom for several weeks. Each flower has five, pointed golden-yellow petals, each with two small reddish brown spots near the base; the stamens and pistil project in a cone-like cluster, the stigma being so far removed from the anthers that self fertilization is not apt to occur. The setting of the seed depends largely upon small bees that visit the flowers for pollen. This Loosestrife is abundant from Newfoundland to Hudson Bay and southwards.
Four Leaved Loosestrife (Lysimachia Quad-Rifolia) is also a very common species found in low land in about the same range. The flowers are very similar but each petal has a single large spot of reddish brown at its base instead of a double one; the flowers appear from the axils of the upper leaves. The pointed, lanceolate leaves are whorled about the stem usually in groups of fours, occasionally more or less.
A. Shooting Star; Am. Cowslip.
B. Myrtle; Moneywort.
Shooting Star; American Cowslip (Dodecatheon Meadia) is a western species that grows in open woodlands and on prairies from Pa. and Md. to Manitoba and southwards through the Mississippi Valley.
The leaves are all in a tuft radiating from the base; they are oblong, bluntly-pointed and taper into troughlike stems. From the center of this cluster of leaves rises a bare flower stalk, 8 to 20 inches tall, branching at the summit into several slender, curving peduncles, each suporting a single nodding flower.
The flowers have five, light magenta, pink or even white petals each sharply reflexed and with purplish spots near the bases. The stamens project from the throat of the flower, the five golden anthers forming a conspicuous cone, within which is the slender pistil. The pistil matures before the anthers so that cross-fertilization is necessary and is performed by bees, that, in endeavoring to reach the little store of nectar at the bottom of the flower, must force their tongue between the anthers and come in contact with the stigma. Shooting Star blooms in April and May.