Mystery Flora: Amethyst Bloom

Here’s a wonderful little tricorn flower for ye. This beauty was blooming in Icicle Gorge in May of 2013. Made the forest floor fairly pop, I can tell you.

Image shows a short but large flower with three large, spade-shaped leaves and three long, narrow petals. A green bracht looks like a fourth petal.
Mystery Flora I

I’ve mentioned before how much I love the flower-friendly Pacific Northwest. I especially love the way so many flowers grow happily beneath the forest canopy, so that I can photograph them even when it’s spitting rain, as it was that day.

Close-up of same flower.
Mystery Flora II

I love how these petals have white speckles dusted around their edges, and how they ripple like pennants in a breeze.

Whole flower from a different angle.
Mystery Flora III

It wasn’t alone, and as you can see, this one had got rather wetter. I love flowers in the rain. They make the rain seem rather magical.

Overhead view of one of the flowers, showing the leaves.
Mystery Flora IV

A thought struck me as I was editing these photos: I know the age of the schist in the gorge they’re growing in. I know the history of the rocks, at least in broad strokes, from the time they were born over 200 million years ago, to when they were metamorphosed a hundred million years later, through today, when the creek cut a gorge through ’em. I wonder if we have a similar story for these flowers? When you identify them, will we discover more to their story than just their name and a few facts about their current lives? Do they have a history as ancient as the schist, or are they positive youngsters?

And do we know the stories of the other flowers we find? Or is that still knowledge waiting to be discovered?

I can’t wait for spring. We’ve seen so many treasures in these northwest forests, but there are so many more waiting to be discovered. I’m so glad evolution gave rise to flowers, and gave us a hearty appreciation for them.

Mystery Flora: Amethyst Bloom

8 thoughts on “Mystery Flora: Amethyst Bloom

  1. 1

    Looks like trillium to me, but I’ve never seen any that color in the Cascades. The petals usually start out white and can get pinkish or even transparent as they age, but the ones here are almost purple. Definitely not the usual thing.

    I’ll have to keep my eyes out the next time I’m up near Leavenworth.

  2. 3

    Oh, trillium is about as common as dirt up here, but it’s usually T. ovatum and usually white. I’ve seen references to a dwarf, pink-petaled subspecies native to Vancouver Island, but I don’t know anything else about it. There’s also a lowland species (T. chloropetalum) that can get *really* pink, but the structure of the flowers is very different from Dana’s photos, so that’s not it.

    …That said, I got curious and spent a few minutes poking around on Google, and some of the local nurseries sell T. ovatum starts whose flowers age to a deep pink. I still think it’s weird, but it’s obviously not unheard of. I’ll add it to my personal list of interesting things to watch for. :)

  3. rq

    Red trillium. They’re a thing (as pointed out above, basically same as the white but just the pink variety, though this one could also be an aging white one, it’s hard to tell in the rain!). We had deep, dark reddish ones up in Canada where I grew up, quite rare, though. I think a garden variety, I can’t remember, I just know they were around.

  4. 8

    Regarding cladisitc history, there are certainly studies like that for other biological groups. The latest Science News reports on just such a study of insects, which traces the origin of various modern lines. Some groups have been evolving independently for 400 million years and more, but others (such as cockroaches) are a mere 150 million years old.

    No doubt there has been similar work done for flora.

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