Elusive Wildflowers Part 4 – Indian Cucumber Root

This little wonder hides in plain sight.  For years I’ve been marching past stands of them, ignoring them as just part of the undergrowth.  This year though I looked closer and wondered what they were.  Then the other day I noticed they made the most delicately strange little flowers under those leaves.  I wasn’t prepared to shoot that day, but knew I’d look for them again and go for it.  Yesterday was relatively still wind-wise (rejoice!!!) and so when I found some by the Merrimack river, I got one shot that I like.  And a bonus spider that I only noticed in post.

They stand on tall stalks with two levels of leaves that all grow from the same spot and look a bit like umbrellas with missing sections.  The flower buds start on top of the leaves, facing up, but when they bloom they turn downwards into a nodding position.  The blooms themselves are about 2cm wide including those enormous…stamens?  Looking at them you could guess that they are part of the lily family, but would still be puzzled at why they’re called Indian cucumber root.  It’s for the taste apparently.  Indians did use them for food and I guess Europeans thought they tasted like cucumbers.  I’m tempted to dig some up after they’re done blooming and taste for myself.

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2 responses

  1. Wow, I’ve never seen this. I love the photo and your description of the plant.

    May 31, 2012 at 6:38 am

  2. Pat

    It’s amazing what you see when you take a closer look. To the spider, it’s a great shelter.

    May 31, 2012 at 11:00 am

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