Liliaceae (Lily family)
Description: Perennial herb with 2-5 (usually 3) basal leaves from 6 to 12 in. long, elliptic to ovate with long hairs on leaf margins. Flowers with similar petals and sepals (3 each), white with purple and green speckles, in a terminal umbel of erect flowers at the end of a leafless stalk 8-15 in. tall. Fruits round, dark blue-black berries. Flowers May-June; fruits Aug.-Oct.
Habitat/range: Mesic to dry ridges and slopes, red oak forests, northern hardwood forests, and cove forests. Common in mountains. Appalachian Mountains from New York south to Georgia.
Taxonomy: The 2 species of Clintonia in our region can be distinguished by the color of their flowers and fruits: speckled wood lily has white flowers and dark blue-black berries while bluebead lily (C. borealis) has yellow flowers and bright blue berries. When not in flower or fruit, look for long hairs on the leaf margins: only speckled wood lily has such hairs. Bluebead lily generally occurs at higher elevations, but the 2 species occasionally occur together.
Ecology: The genus Clintonia is thought to have originated in eastern Asia and later migrated to North Amer ica across the Bering land bridge that joined present-day Alaska and eastern Siberia. Roughly 1,000 miles across, the land bridge became available several times over the last 70,000 years due to the rise and fall of global sea levels during the Pleistocene ice ages. The Bering land bridge is of immense biological significance, not only because humans from Asia migrated across this bridge to colonize the Americas, but also because many plant and animal species that evolved in Asia migrated across it to reach North America.
Wildlife: Various birds and small mammals seek out speckled wood lily's fruits and disperse the seeds.
Uses: Hunters rubbed the roots of speckled wood lily on their traps as the odor was thought to attract bears.
Commelina erecta L.
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