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Dwarf Ginseng Flowering

5-21-18 dwarf ginseng2

This perennial wildflower is 3-8” tall and graces the forest floor at this time of year with its globular mass of tiny, white flowers. Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius) is related to the Ginseng used for herbal medicine, but because it’s not used for this purpose, its population is not threatened like that of its larger relative.

The flowers of some plants are all staminate (male), while the flowers of other plants are perfect (male & female). You can distinguish them from each other by closely examining the flower parts. Each staminate flower has a single non-functional style (stalk that connects the pollen-collecting stigma with the ovary), while each perfect flower has 3 styles. Individual plants are capable of changing their gender from year-to-year. (Photo: staminate Dwarf Ginseng flowers)

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5 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    So dainty….another plant I’ve never seen…

    May 21, 2018 at 8:14 am

  2. Pingback: 20180518-19, Yellow Warblers, Catbirds, Cooper’s Hawk and ephemerals in the rain | Brtthome's Blog

  3. Kathryn

    Such a pretty little plant. I’ll be on the lookout.

    May 21, 2018 at 2:05 pm

  4. How lovely!
    And I love the gender fluidity fact. Any idea what would cause a plant to make that change, in a particular year? Or does it seem to be random, with no “why”?

    May 21, 2018 at 9:00 pm

    • I honestly don’t know. I do know that jack-in-the-pulpit also changes gender, and that is dependent upon the availability of nutrients (more = female, in order to make seeds). Perhaps that affects dwarf ginseng’s gender as well?

      May 22, 2018 at 8:40 am

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