Backyard Wilderness Blog
May 2013 - page 2
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The following three photos show Coptis trifolia, also
known as Goldthread, Three-leaf Goldthread and Canker Root. The small, white flowers appear in late April, followed by the leaves a week or so later.
The photo below shows beautiful, sweetly scented, but poisonous, Lily-of-the Valley, (Convallaria majalis.) I intentionally posted this photo on a separate page, apart from Bluebead Lily to avoid confusion. If you scroll back to the previous page to compare the leaves of these two plants, you can see the similarity and how easy it can be to make a tragic mistake, especially early in the season when the leaves first appear and there are no flowers for comparison.
Deriving the name Goldthread from its bright golden-yellow rhizome, this plant was used medicinally by First Peoples and early American colonists alike.
Called Canker Root by Europeans who observed Native Americans using the rhizome to treat canker sores, recent studies have revealed that it contains strong antibiotic compounds. The flowers, shown above, have five or six petals.
Spreading by seed and underground rhizome, Coptis trifolia often grows large colonies in dry, acidic soil on the forest floor.
Both of the photos shown left-middle are of Trillium. The top one is Trillium erectum, or Purple Trillium. The bottom-middle one is Trillium grandiflorum, Great White Trillium. Both are edible after boiling when they first emerge as curled up spikes in early spring. Better to just enjoy the beauty of these two as they are endangered in some areas.
Canada Mayflower, Maianthemum canadense, shown below, produces juicy, deep red berries in late June. The berries are a little bitter, but Native Americans mixed them with sweeter ones, then dried them to make a fruit pemmican. This plant often grows in vast colonies throughout the forest.