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Common Herb Species of the Northwest Forest

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Mitella nuda
Naked Mitrewort
"Bishop's-Cap"

Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage Family)

Description

Naked Mitrewort General - a small perennial, with long, slender, creeping rhizomes (often stolon-like); stems erect, 3 - 20 cm tall, with fine gland-tipped hairs, usually leafless.

Leaves - at stem base, few, long-stalked, ehart-shaped to kidney-shaped, 2 - 5 cm across, round-toothed, with scattered, stiffly erect hairs above.

Flowers - in few-flowered clusters (spikes) at stem tips, greenish yellow, small, saucer-shaped, inconspicuous; petals divided into 4 pairs of thread-like lobes (like television antenna); 10 stamens; appearing in early-summer.

Fruit - capsules, 2 - 3 mm long, open widely into shallow cups; seeds shiny, black; ripening in late-summer.

Habitat

Moist forests, thickets, and streambanks; widespread across our region, north to southern N.W.T. and southern Yukon.

Notes

The common and Latin names come from the diminutive of mitra, which means 'cap' or 'mitre'. Presumably the seed capsule was thought to resemble a bishop's mitre, though one reference suggests that it looks more like 'a tattered French-Canadian toque'! The species name, nuda, means 'naked' in reference to the bare stem.


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