January 21, 2020

Sowing Wild Oats

Uvularia sessilifolia - Wild oat

Janine Pineo Photo | Uvularia sessilifolia – Wild oat

Garden Note: We’re ringing in summer all this week with a tribute to wild Maine, the best vacationland to roam. Enter our drawing to win a copy of “The Plants of Acadia National Park,” with a shot of some of the excellent descriptions pictured below. Sign up now because the deadline to enter is when summer arrives a little after 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 20.

Say Uvularia sessilifolia a few times and you’ll wonder why this sweet spring flower was cursed with such a moniker. Which is why the common name is such a relief. We’re glad nature sowed these wild oats throughout the our woodlands, for the inch-long, bell-shaped blossoms in a creamy shade of yellow are among the first flowers to arrive in May. Also known as sessile-leaved bellwort, this plant has leaves that are attached to the base without a stalk, giving the plant its unique appearance. Wild oat is a member of the lily family, growing to a foot in height at most. According to Go Botany, this bellwort is the most common one in New England. It also has edible leaves that can be cooked as greens. From the “National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers” we have this explanation of its botanical name: “At one time, these plants were thought to be good for treating throat diseases because the drooping flowers resembled the uvula, the soft lobe hanging into the throat from the soft palate.” Huh.

Uvularia sessilifolia or wild oat can be found in "The Plants of Acadia National Park"

Uvularia sessilifolia or wild oat can be found in “The Plants of Acadia National Park”