Starflower is Blooming!

The leaves have been up for a while.  And now, so are the blossoms.


Starflower (Trientalis borealis) is an unusual star… a seven-pointed star.  Well, technically, it could be anywhere from five- to nine-pointed.  But most often seven.  Seven leaves in a whorl.  Seven petals.  Seven sepals.

Starflower Range MapStarflower is a plant of cool woods or high slopes where the soil is peaty, acidic.  It also goes by the common names May Star and Star of Bethlehem and was formerly referred to by the Latin name Trientalis americana.  It produces seeds, but can also spread by underground rhizomes, which is why if you find one, you often find many.

These sentences from a website piqued my curiosity:

Trientalis borealis is also subject to Smut fungus (Urocystis trientalis) which negatively affects all life stages of the herb (Piqueras 1999). The fungus is a species-specific pathogen that first appears as white spores on the underside of leaves followed in the late summer as black pustules on the leaves and stalks (Whigham and Chapa 1999). It is believed that systematic infection of the offspring may occur through stolons (Piqueras 1999). Infected shoots are preferred vegetation of voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) and scale insects (Arctothezia cataphracta). Their consumption greatly reduces the occurrence of infection*, which develops in autumn (Piqueras 1999), and could potentially select for higher disease resistance in Trientalis borealis (Whigham and Chapa 1999). (source)

*The emphasis is mine.  Curious that consumption of the plant (when it is infected) can actually strengthen the species, isn’t it?  Nature is wicked cool.

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