Friday, May 13, 2022

Golden Orbs

This is goldthread (Coptis trifolia), a common name that refers to its bright yellow, threadlike roots. The root has also been used medicinally to cure mouth sores, so may also be known by some as canker root.

It's a teeny native that grows comfortably in shade, as an understory in old growth forests. It is very sensitive to disturbances like logging and clearing for development projects, and is not always able to come back from these disruptions - it relies on endomycorrhizal (symbiotic) associations with other plants to survive (U.S. Forestry Service) and its very shallow roots make it vulnerable to mechanical disturbance of the soil.

And don't be fooled - the obvious yellow orbs of this flower are actually the petals! The whitish things that look like petals are the sepals, the part that contains the petals. Each yellow petal has a dimpled top, filled with nectar that attracts solitary bees and hoverflies.

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