Lab 6: Mayapples and Sycamores


Go to last lab (Waterlilies) Go to next lab (SpringBeauty) Go to lab syllabus

Plants to key out (and learn):
31. Aquilegia canadensis (Ranunculaceae) 'Columbine'
Although botanically the flowers of this species are "regular," there is nothing ordinary about them. This species is found in a wide variety of habitats from dry to wet areas, including many people’s flower gardens. The color of the flowers you are keying is red or yellow, non-native cultivars of every color imaginable are available.

32. Sanguinaria canadensis (Papaveraceae) 'Bloodroot'
The roots are filled with a blood-red fluid giving it both its common and scientific names (sanguin is Latin for blood). The “pair of lungs” shaped leaves are a dead giveaway. This plant’s flowers do not preserve well, you will need to do a little floral-reconstruction—aided by the given floral formula—in order to key this plant.

33. Podophyllum peltatum (Berberidaceae) 'May-apple,' 'Mandrake'
Note that the floral formula is given for you. This is because the sepals fall off very early as well as a few of the stamens. Without this information (which can be obtained by dissecting a flower bud) it would be very difficult to key this plant with most manuals. Although this is called ‘Mandrake,’ it is not the same Mandrake that was used extensively in Europe as a medicinal plant. Nevertheless, it does have many medicinal properties. It is a powerful cathartic as well as a sialagogue and a cholagogue. Its apple-looking fruit can appear as early as May giving it its common name.


Species to learn:

34. Thalictrum dasycarpum (Ranunculaceae) 'Purple meadow-rue'
The unisexual flowers of this perennial herb are found arranged in pyramid-shaped inflorescences. These reduced flowers are found on separate male and female plants and adapted for wind pollination - a rarity in the buttercup family. The distinctively compound leaves are characteristic of the Ranunculaceae and are a good way to remember this one.

35. Caulophyllum thalictroides (Berberidaceae) 'Blue Cohosh'
You would have to go to Asia to find the only other species in this genus, so if you come across it in Wisconsin you can be sure that it is Caulophyllum thalictroides. Its flowers are green but its fruits are blue, very much resembling Blueberries. But be careful not to eat them as they are poisonous. Native Americans used them for their embryopathic properties.

36. Nelumbo lutea (Nelumbonaceae) 'American lotus-lily,' 'Water-chinquapin'
In addition to the material available in lab be sure to check out the small lotus display on the wall in the west end of the third floor of Birge. Throughout history a close relative of this species, Nelumbo nucifera the Oriental Sacred Lotus, has been revered in the mythology of various ancient cultures, specifically India and Egypt.

What is the "lotus effect?"

Who were the lotus eaters?


Genera to learn:
37. Dicentra (Papaveraceae - formerly Fumariaceae) 'Dutchman's breeches', squirrel-corn'
The two species that you may come across in Wisconsin are Dicentra cucullaria and D. canadensis, which are very difficult to tell apart from their vegetative features. Their flowers and color of rootstocks are distinctive though. The swollen rootstocks may be an adaptation for asexual reproduction and dispersal and were reportedly eaten by Native Americans. You may be familiar with the ornamental garden plant ‘Bleeding Heart,’ also a member of this genus .

38. Berberis (Berberidaceae) 'Barberry'
A non-native shrub with prickly stems and small, yellow flowers. Two species are commonly cultivated in the Midwest (often as purple-leaved cultivars) and have become aggressive weeds in recent years invading forests and swamps.

39. Platanus (Platanaceae) 'Plane tree,' 'Sycamore'
This tree has several distinctive characteristics. Its bark is smooth, whitish, mottled, and peeling. The flowers are in puff ball-like inflorescences. The leaves look somewhat like maple leaves, in fact one species (P. acerifolia) means “maple-leaf”. Most of the sycamore trees planted in cities are a hybrid (P. x hybrida) between the Western (P. occidentalis, native to North America) and Eastern plane trees (P. orientalis, native to the Orient).

40. Chelidonium (Papaveraceae) 'Celandine'
The only Chelidonium found in Wisconsin is C. majus.
It is an introduced and naturalized forb that has become an ecologically invasive weed. Look for the bright yellow flowers at your site, especially during the final exam time.