Plant A Day – Dogtooth Violet

Dogtooth Violet Erythronium americanum

Dogtooth Violet
Erythronium americanum

The members of the Erythronium genus go by a number of peculiar common names, seemingly used interchangeably among the species.  Fawn-lily, Trout-lily, Adder’s Tongue, and Dogtooth Violet.

Now everyone knows that it got the name Trout-lily because the leaves look like a brook trout.  From that, you can presume that Fawn-lily also came from the spotted leaves.

A little research suggests that the bulb looks like a dog’s tooth, hence Dogtooth Violet, even though it’s not a violet and only sort of looks like a violet.  Now I need to go dig some up and take a look.

If you look closely, the central spike, which is the pistil, is sort of split in two, thus looking somewhat like a snake’s tongue.  At least that’s what it says on the internet, which is an infallible source of information.  Seems like a stretch to me.

All in all, I find it interesting to speculate why ancient mankind came up with the various peculiar names for plants.

The leaves have various amounts of spotting

The leaves have various amounts of spotting

In the spring you'll find vast groupings of the singular leaves sprouting from the forest floor, with scattered flowers among them.

In the spring you’ll find vast groupings of the singular leaves sprouting from the forest floor, with scattered flowers among them.

eram5_leaf_003

The flowering part of the plant usually consists of one or two leaves and one flower on a stem.

The flowering part of the plant usually consists of one or two leaves and one flower on a stem.

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