(Trientalis Americana) Primrose family
FlowersWhite, solitary, or a few rising on slender, wiry foot-stalks above a whorl of leaves. Calyx of 5 to 9 (usually 7) narrow sepals. Corolla wheel-shaped, 1/2 in. across or less, deeply cut into (usually) 7 tapering, spreading, petal-like segments. Stem: A long horizontal rootstock, sending up smooth stem-like branches 3 to 9 in. high, usually with a scale or two below. (Trientalis = one-third of a foot, the usual height of a plant.) Leaves : 5 to 10, in a whorl at summit; thin, tapering at both ends, of unequal size, 1 1/2 to 4 in. long.
Preferred HabitatMoist shade of woods and thickets.
DistributionFrom Virginia and Illinois far north.
Is any other blossom poised quite so airily above its whorl of leaves as the delicate, frosty-white little star-flower? It is none of the anemone kin, of course, in spite of one of its misleading folk-names; but only the wind-flower has a similar lightness and grace. No nectar rewards the small bee and fly visitors; they get pollen only. Those coming from older blossoms to a newly opened one leave some f the vitalizing dust clinging to them on the moist and sticky stigma, which will wither to prevent self-fertilization before the flower’s own curved anthers mature and shed their grains. Sometimes, when the blossoms do not run on schedule time, or the insects are not flying in stormy weather, this well-laid plan may gang a-gley. An occasional lapse matters little; it is perpetual self-fertilization that Nature abhors.