Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis)

While lying on the ground photographing the Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) from this post, I moved the camera to the left to focus on another set of blooms, and instead found the tiny hearts of Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis). Yeah! I was hoping to find this plant this year because I had never photographed it. With the Dutchman's Breeches in full bloom, this flower had not yet reached its peak and was still showing the green of a new blossom instead of the white it would eventually show (this weekend when I was on the trail, the Squirrel Corn blossoms were white, while all the Dutchman's Breeches were gone. It was as if tiny wood fairies had come along and taken all the wash down!). As I focused in closer, little drops of condensation collecting in the corolla captured my attention. At first I assumed they were dew drops coating the outside of the plant, but after studying them, I could see they glistened inside the plant! "Hmmm...what is that?" went through my mind. Not knowing anything about the structure of the plant, I wondered if nectar had dripped down to the translucent tissue, but when I got home, I did a little research and learned nectar was stored in the rounded spurs at the top of the "heart," so my next guess was condensation. An email to Jim McCormac (thanks, Jim!) confirmed condensation...there is always something new to learn...and marvel at!

Condensation collects at the base of the corolla in a Dicentra canadensis blossom.

...tiny drops of water trapped inside the corolla glisten and sparkle, adding to the charm of the little heart.

Squirrel Corn, Dicentra canadensis, is a native perennial related to the cultivated Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis) we often grow in our gardens.

As the sun struck the plant, the tiny water droplets glowed through the translucent tissue.


...the little corn "niblets" that give Squirrel Corn its name. These little yellow bulblets or tubers really do like look like pieces of corn. I brushed aside the leaf litter to check it out...and had to laugh when I saw them!

18 comments:

grammie g said...

Hi Kelly ....absolutely amazing close up photos and very interesting plant...yes there is so much to learn...something new ever day!!

Montanagirl said...

Amazing! Such great close-ups of something I've never seen before. We're never too old to learn something new. Thanks, Kelly!

Laure Ferlita said...

I learn something every time I visit! Thanks for sharing such cool images and info!

NicoleB said...

What an intriguing name & one that actually looks like it has truth to it :)
Fascinating and beautiful plant too - I love your photos of it!

Elaine said...

Supurb macros! I am ready to see some wildflowers sprouting....

Janice K said...

Wow! If it weren't for digital photography and macro lenses would we even see things like this. How awesome! My first look at the bulbs made me think of egg yolks. Thanks for all your research. I'm not sure I have seen that flower, but I will be looking for it.

Carol Mattingly said...

Love these Kelly. Really lovely closeups. Carol

Lois Evensen said...

Just amazing images! I am always learning something new. Wonderful.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Wow---gorgeous macros, Kelly... Isn't it amazing what we learn when we look closer and closer into nature... Thanks for sharing!!!!
Hugs,
Betsy

Out on the prairie said...

Amazing find and photos Kelly. I like the "corn" nodules.

Grizz………… said...

Great close-up "wet belly" shots again, Kelly. I haven't seen any squirrel corn yet, but there are still plenty of Dutchman's breeches around. Isn't it odd that as close as we live to one another, the wildflowers could be at least a week different?

Cicero Sings said...

Veeerrrry interesting! Loved the close ups and the condensation.

Anne McCormack said...

Your post inspired me to look this plant up. I have seen it around eastern Missouri, but I didn't know that it's fairly rare in my state. Great photo, and very cool that Jim McCormac (no relation) was able to solve the puzzle.

Jeni said...

Love these photo's Kelly. Again printable.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Fascinating post and really extraordinary photos, Kelly. I love learning about these little flowers as you do.

Kelly said...

thanks, everyone! I really enjoyed photographing the Dutchman's Breeches and the Squirrel Corn (what a fun names, both of them!).

Grizz...I know. i was amazed how just one week on the trail made a huge difference. There were still a few Dutchman's Breeches around, but most were gone, replaced by the Squirrel Corn. These were new areas I had not seen before. The removal of the invasive honeysuckle opened up so much! Maybe they are little micro-climates.

DeanO said...

Fantastic and informative photography...as always!

Robin Robinson said...

Lovely images, Kelly. And great info on the origin of the name, too.