Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Return of a Jewel

While walking in Wildwood recently, I saw my friend Clyde Kessler. As we wandered, talking and listening for birds, he showed me an area where he had found a couple of foamflower plants about ten years ago and asked me to help him hunt. He had not seen any signs of the plants for three or four years. Well, I didn't know what they looked like, so I wasn't much help and we soon gave up. The following Saturday, I received an email from him saying that he had found the white flowers in full bloom. I grabbed my camera and headed out!

I could see that I was in for a treat - there were about a dozen plants (a welcome increase from the couple of ten years ago!) with white flowers spikes rising above the floor of green. I began snapping lots of photos and getting a closer look.

The Latin name for the plant is Tiarella cordifolia. The word tiarella means little tiara or crown, and the blooms certainly rival any of the jewelry adorning the queens and princesses seen in the media at the royal wedding this weekend.

I can imagine that a fairy princess might choose one of these sparkling flowers for a crown. As with most wildflowers, foamflowers have a variety of common names: heartleaf foamflower (The leaves do not look heart-shaped to me!), false miterwort (The leaves of this plant look very much like miterwort leaves), sugar scoop (Clyde's favorite), coolwort, and Allegheny foamflower. Whatever the name, it is a lovely treasure and I feel very fortunate to have had my camera handy when I first saw its freshest flowers.

When I visited Wildwood today, I checked on the foamflowers. Many of them are bearing fruit now as the flowers drop off. Yes, Clyde, we can see where the sugar scoop name might have come from!

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