White Avens (Red Root)

Geum canadense
Rosaceae (roses)

Branched perennial with stems velvety hairy. Flowers small, petals white, sepals green interspersed with petals, 10 or more stamens, the sepals about as long as the petals. Blooms May–October. Basal leaves long-petioled, often pinnate (like a feather); stem leaves alternate, usually with 3 leaflets with oblong, lobed and toothed divisions. Uppermost leaves often undivided, sessile. Stipules occur at all nodes. Fruit a burrlike mass of seeds with pointed receptacles and the numerous dried styles protruding.

Similar species: Spring avens, or early water avens (G. vernum) has yellow or cream-colored flowers, blooms April-June and is most common in moist places in eastern and southern Missouri. Rough avens (G. laciniatum) has white flowers with the petals mostly shorter than the calyx lobes. It is found only in northern and central Missouri. Prairie smoke (G. triflorum) has large, plumelike fruiting heads. Pale avens (G. virginianum) is rare and scattered in southern Missouri.

Height: 1½ to 2½ feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
A very common plant in Missouri's open woods, on hillsides, in valleys and ravines and along streams. To some people, it a desirable garden plant, though others consider it weedy. It spreads readily from seeds.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Human connections: 
The seeds (technically called achenes) are "sticktights"; each has a slender hook that attaches the seed to fur, feathers and clothing. It is an efficient way for the plant to distribute itself, but it can be tedious to pick them from wool socks after a hike!
Ecosystem connections: 
A variety of insects visit the flowers for nectar, pollen or both, often pollinating the plant in the process.
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