April 24, 2017

Some Enchanted Nightshade

Circaea alpina - small enchanter's-nightshade | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Circaea alpina – small enchanter’s-nightshade | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Circaea alpina is a native woodland plant that is found in the damp forest understory throughout temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Known as Small Enchanter’s-Nightshade, this member of the evening primrose family is small but determined: The diminutive plant stands 3 to 10 inches tall and disperses its fruit in the form of burrs that attach to fur, feather and clothing. The flowers themselves are tiny, about 1/8 inch across. The genus Circaea comes from Greek mythology, named after the enchantress Circe. The nightshade moniker has no relation to the nightshade family,  Solanaceae, which contains the deadly nightshade, a poisonous species, but also the tomato and potato.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.

In 2012, Glen began working to catalog the plants of Baxter State Park, which you can read about here and find out how to sponsor a plant of your own. Courtesy of a poll taken in 2012, Garden Maine is sponsoring this lovely plant.