Sunday, May 07, 2006

Dwarf Ginseng

dwarf ginseng flowers

This is my third spring of trying to photograph and identify this handsome, small spring ephemeral. Last weekend gave me three sunny days for photography, and here it is: dwarf ginseng, Panax trifolius. I kept trying to reconcile the flowers with the Saxifragaceae, a mistake I made using the key in The Flora of West Virginia (WVU, 1972). When I finally read through all the "wrong" families, (my last resort--trial and error approach--it's a common flower, it has to be in here somewhere) I found it in the Araliaceae. Apparently, it has the panacea reputation of our other ginseng species, P. quinquefolia, and is recommended for everything from gout to existential malaise.

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