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Common Herb Species of the Northwest Forest

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Circaea alpina
Dwarf Enchanter's Nightshade
Onagraceae (Evening Primrose Family)

Description

General - delicate, fleshy, low, weak-stemmed perennial from a thin rhizome with tuberous thickenings; flowering stems usually hairless near base, hairy above.

Dwarf Enchanter's Nightshade Leaves - opposite; succulent, pale green; 2 - 5 cm long; egg- to heart-shaped, pointed at the tip, margins coarsely toothed, hairless; leafstalks long with narrow wings.

Flowers - in sparse, elongated, stalked clusters of 8 to 12 at tip of stem or the leaf angle; individual flowers very small (about 2 mm long) with 2 white or pinkish petals, 1 - 3 mm long; 2 sepals, bent backwards; each flower on a stalk up to 5 - 6 mm long; appearing in mid-summer.

Fruit -small (about 2 mm long), teardrop shaped capsule, densely covered with soft, hooked hairs; appearing in late summer and early fall.

Habitat

Infrequent; primarily on rich, fresh/moist mineral soils; most common in lowland and swampy stands.

Notes

May be confused with non-flowering, larger Cornus canadensis, found in rich, moist/wet forests. It differs from this species primarily in the structure of its rhizome, which lacks tuberous thickenings.

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