Flower of the Day: Dwarf Ginseng

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Panax trifolius; Araliaceae

Dwarf ginseng is another of the spring ephemerals that grows in moist deciduous woodlands.  Don’t confuse it with American ginseng (P. quinquefolius).  The two are quite similar in appearance, the main difference being the length of the petiolules (the stalks of the leaflets), which are much longer in the latter species.  In dwarf ginseng, the petiolules are very short or altogether absent.  The other distinguishing feature is the berry color (yellow for dwarf, red for American).  At first glance you might think the plant pictured above has five leaves, but it doesn’t; there are three leaves in a whorl on the stem, each with five leaflets.

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As far as I know this plant has no commercial value, and so is not subject to poaching, which is threatening populations of American ginseng (which is listed as threatened or vulnerable in ten states).  Still, an over-eager novice poacher could do some damage.

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So could an over-eager photographer.  It was very difficult to get close to these subjects without trampling anything.  All of these pictures are Lightroom zoom-ins.

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