Thorny Chalices

Motherwort, a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, is a common plant of shady waste areas, trail edges, farmyards, and other disturbed woody locations. This plant originated in Eurasia and probably was introduced to North America through cultivation because of its reputation as a simple. It is now naturalized here, and often considered an invasive.

The smell of Motherwort, distinctively more astringent than the more pleasant mints, brings to mind vivid images of the lane and pasture and feed lot around our family's small dairy barn. Despite its prevalence then, I did not know the name of this plant until recent years. Where I live now, it is noteworthy as being among the first green leaves one sees every spring.

Today I took a close look at the dried, overwintered remains of the flowering plant. Each calyx, after the flower is gone, resembles a thorny chalice (the five spines a sharp abstraction of the five-petalled flowers). Inside each calyx are four nutlets containing each a single seed. The nutlets are obpyramidal in shape, two millimeters in length, with a pubescent top. No doubt these spiny constructions are meant to catch in animal fur and disperse their seeds when and where they drop off their carrier. Equally obvious is the success of said design given the world-wide distribution of this plant.

Publicado por scottking scottking, 25 de março de 2017, 02:52 AM


Fotos / Sons


Agripalma (Leonurus cardiaca)




Março 24, 2017 03:18 PM CDT


Motherwort, seeds
St Olaf Natural Lands
Northfield, Minnesota


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