Native Umbellifers (Apiaceae, part 4)

Now that you know a little about umbellifers, have a look at these native wildflowers. Some of them are not as obviously umbelliferous as others; you would almost have to look at them with a hand lens to tell. (The bloom times mentioned below are for the Maryland Piedmont, based on recent years.)

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Erigenia bulbosa
Harbinger of spring, aka salt-and-pepper, blooms as early as mid March, and maybe as late as mid April. It’s listed S3 (watchlist) in Maryland, is endangered in New York and Wisconsin, and threatened in Pennsylvania. It’s a perennial of rich woodlands, with flowers in compound umbels; there are 1-6 flowers per umbellet and 1-4 umbellets per umbel*. The near umbel in this picture, with four umbellets, is about the width of a nickel.

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Zizia aurea
Golden alexanders can bloom as early as late March and if they start later, might last ’til late May. This species is also S3/watchlist in Maryland, and is listed as special concern in Rhode Island. The compound umbels typically have around 12 umbellets, each with about 21 flowers*.

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Osmorhiza claytonii
I’ve seen sweet cicely blooming as early as early April and as late as mid May. The plants tend to be in flower rather longer than the previoius two species. There are no conservation issues. This species also has compound umbels, with each umbellet sporting 4-7 flowers**.

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Chaerophyllum tainturieri
Hairy-fruit chervil generally blooms from about mid April to about mid May. Each flower measures around 3/32″ wide. This is another species whose flowers are in compound umbels. There are no conservation issues.

clustered snakeroot closeup

 

Sanicula odorata
Clustered snakeroot blooms for a long period, starting as early as late April and lasting maybe ’til mid June. It’s threatened in Massachusetts and New Hampshire but abundant in the Maryland Piedmont. In late May it seems to be a dominant understory forb, growing in great swaths in the woods along the Billy Goat B and C trails and the Cabin John trail. There are 20-60 flowers in each umbellet, and 1-5 umbellets per one-half inch wide umbel*.

 

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Cryptotaenia canadensis
Honewort also blooms for a long period of time, typically from late May to late June. Once again the flowers are in compound umbels, with 3-10 flowers per umbellet and 3-10 umbellets per umbel*. Like clustered snakeroot it grows profusely in Maryland piedmont woodlands.

 


*from Dr. John Hilty’s wonderful Illinois Wildflowers site.
**Minnesota Wildflowers

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