Variations on a Theme: Leafcups


large-flowered leafcup
formerly Polymnia uvedalia, now Smallanthus uvedalia





white-flowered leafcup
Polymnia canadensis




What is that tiny white thing in the second photo?  There’s a story.  I’ve been keeping an eye on this plant for a few years, and this is the best shot of a flower I’ve been able to get. There are two stands of it in the general area of Billy Goat B.  One of them is regularly browsed upon by something (I’m assuming it’s deer, they’re responsible for a lot of damage); I’ve never seen the plants in flower.  The other stand is mostly atop an eight foot tall rock outcrop that I can’t get to.  In deep, deep shade.  I can see the plants just fine from below, and sometimes one of the plants near ground level hangs on long enough for me to get a good shot of a leaf


but the flowers have always been out of camera shot.

White-flowered leafcup, also known as small-flowered leafcup, grows two to six feet tall, with tiny little flower heads – less than an inch across – while the leaves can be more than a foot long.  It’s found in most of the eastern US except the far north and a few southern states, and is endangered in Connecticut and Vermont.


Large flowered leafcup is quite a showstopper.  This plant grows three to ten feet tall, with flowers up to three inches across.  You can find huge stands of it on the eastern end of Billy Boat C.  Check out just how big this leaf can be:


This leafcup is found more extensively through the southeast and west into Texas.  It’s threatened in Michigan and endangered in New Jersey and New York.


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