A collection of late spring ephemerals

This seems to be a season of airy, white flowers. We caught a few in between some May rain showers, gracing the woodlands and pleasing the pollinators...

Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia) is rich in tannins and other astringent compounds, but as is often the case with medicinal herbs, is also mucilaginous and soothing. Generally, the root and leaves are used, brewed into an astringent and tonic preparation for digestive complaints (indigestion, gallbladder colic) and urinary inflammation (including kidney stones).

Goldthread (Coptis canadensis) is a beautiful Ranunculus family plant (notice the multiple green carpels, each leading to a single seed later in the season). Its root is like a bright yellow string cris-crossing the humus, and is used as a "damp-heat" clearer (digestive torpor with inflammation, mostly) with similar qualities to goldenseal (another Ranunculus) and a similar chemical profile.

I was excited to find over a dozen dwarf ginsengs (Panax trifolium) in flower by a marshy, rocky spot off the main trail. This plant is a close relative to the more prized American ginseng, but is much tinier (4" tall) and its leaves are less rounded. Traditionally, it provided an important source of nourishing food (it's also called "groundnut" due to its tuberous root) that has the same sort of sweet /round flavor other that other members of the Panax genus have. Its medicinal qualities are very similar to American ginseng, though weaker: tonic, adaptogenic, enhancing energy and endurance without being overstimulating. A beautiful, classic Aralia flower: they always remind me of fireworks. An interesting fact about the dwarf ginseng: individuals can be male or hermaphroditic (this one appears to have only male flowers) and can change from season to season, or within the short flowering season itself, depending on needs.

Toothwort (Dentaria diphylla) is delicious. A spicy woodland Brassica, it was used as a circulatory warmer and "antispasmodic nervine" (as described by Cook). Smart spider is waiting.

A beautiful painted trillium (T. undulatum), though a bit past its prime and not exactly ephemeral (its flowers have appeared on woods walks for a few weeks now), certainly deserves a little attention... The root was traditionally employed, as a parturient and nervine.

Finally, a shot of some Solomon's seal (Polygonatum multiflorum) arching over Canada mayflowers (Maianthemum canadense) in a rocky crack.

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