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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