“I Found This Plant ...”

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Published on: May. 2, 2006

Last revision: Nov. 29, 2010

it is not a true grape and its fruits are not edible. Hardly noticeable when bearing its tiny, greenish-yellow flowers in late spring or early summer, this vine’s fruiting clusters in autumn are its real attraction. The clusters of berries can exhibit several different colors at the same time, including orange, pink and turquoise, all with a silvery cast.

Too aggressive for ornamental use, the raccoon grape can proliferate when climbing and can pull down small trees with its weight.

Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) and green dragon (Arisaema dracontium)

These related species are found in forested areas and display interesting flowering parts in the spring. Most observers recognize jack-in-the-pulpit, but green dragon is less familiar and less conspicuous, lacking the easily recognized “jack” and “pulpit.”

Individuals of both species occasionally grow to 2 1/2 feet tall, dwarfing their usual heights of around 1 foot. They produce similar fruiting structures, and it is these fruit clusters that many observers can’t match to the plants. This is because the readily identified foliage has withered before the fruits become conspicuous against late summer or early fall vegetation. The clusters are composed of dozens of reddish-orange berries packed tightly at the top of a stalk, somewhat resembling a stubby, brightly colored ear of corn.

Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus)

This shrub or small tree is rather nondescript, except when in flower or fruit. It grows throughout Missouri, mostly in forests along streams, but can be found in urban landscapes where some natural vegetation remains.

The purple flowers appear in delicate, stalked clusters as early as late April. Although small, they can be numerous enough to capture one’s attention. Supported by long stalks, the fruits develop by September or October into four-lobed, pink capsules that split open to reveal bright-red seed coverings.

The name wahoo is derived from a Dakota term for “arrow wood,” a reference to the straight branches that were used for arrow shafts.

Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora) and pinesap (Monotropa hypopithys)

These related species are noteworthy because they lack the green pigment chlorophyll. Rather than manufacturing their food themselves, they get their nutrients from an association with a fungus in the soil that transfers carbohydrates from another plant that is photosynthetic (uses sunlight to manufacture food).

When it emerges through brown forest leaf litter, the ghostly appearance of Indian pipe makes you question whether you’re looking at a plant or some type of mushroom. It is actually a flowering, seed-producing plant with white stems, leaves and

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