Sunday, April 18, 2010

Venus' Looking Glass (Triodanis perfoliata)

Also known as Clasping Bellwort, this annual wildflower has a very unique appearance.  The leaves clasp directly around the stem with no petiole. 
The unbranched stem grows 1-2 foot tall and deep violet to purple flowers appear from each leaf axil on the upper half of the plant.  The flowers have five petals, are about 3/4 inch across, and appear in groups of 1-3 at each leaf axil, but only open one at a time.  The flowers open in the morning and last one day.  They are pollinated by small butterflies and bees. 
The flowers on the lower half of the stem never open but are self-pollinating.  The tiny seeds are wind-dispersed and the plant can become weedy or invasive in some locales.  The main bloom period is spring to early summer.  Venus' Looking Glass grows in full sun, and poor soil that is well-drained.  They do best in areas with sparse or low vegetation.  They are native to most of North America.
This is the first year I've seen them on my property but there must have been at least one plant last year because this year I've got about a dozen.  By next year I'll know if it's going to become weedy.  I'm guessing it won't because I haven't seen large patches of this anywhere around here.
If you're wondering how on earth it got a name like Venus' Looking Glass, it's because there is a related species that has larger seeds that are very shiny (like a looking glass).

7 comments:

Ami said...

That is a real unique plant with interesting name and pretty flower! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

noel said...

aloha alan,

wonderful post of this little plant, i would love to go to your brom plant sale, i'm sure you'll have alot of great varieties for sale?

NanaK said...

Interesting. I'll have to look for these. I haven't noticed any before.

africanaussie said...

How interesting, just as you enjoy the "different" plants on my blog, I enjoy the different ones on yours!

AaronVFT said...

This is such an unique and cute plant! I love the purple flowers on tall stalks and cute yellow green leaves.

Linda said...

What a pretty flower! I love the simple shape and contrasting colors. Haven't seen it in the Portland area, I suspect you might find it in Eastern Oregon. Must be on the look out when next out there.

Carla said...

I have the spiderwort growing too. I love the periwinkle blue colors.

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