Friday, May 2, 2008

More fine foliage.

I have written of bloodroot, a life-long favourite forest plant. It’s a herbaceous perennial, native to eastern North America but has made it into the nursery trade out here, so I have a patch in my garden for old time’s sake. Its multi-lobed leaves are a point of interest beneath yet another (yawn) west coast Rhododendron. Here and here are images of its gradual unfurling.

Perhaps it was bloodroot-lust that made a western forest plant catch my eye. Vanilla leaf is another herbaceous perennial often found on damp slopes and forest floors and it too has funky, multi-lobed leaves, although of a very different configuration - two elephant-ear leaflets and a third shaped like an arrowhead .
Vanilla leaf, Achlys triphyllum.

It produces a showy white spike that sticks up above the leaves, but the leaves alone are attractive, a relatively pale green, and in well-established populations may form a carpet across the forest floor as rhizomes criss-cross. The dried leaves have a vanilla-like scent.

According to Pojar & MacKinnon, “After the leaves die and wither, the veins persist through much of the fall and winter as a lacy network.” What an excellent feature. Gives you something else to talk about well into mushroom season.

My bloodroot today.

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