Random Plant: Blue cohosh

Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides, Berberidaceae) photogaphed 04/15/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

About three weeks ago I noticed some interesting dark purple plants emerging from the leaf litter in a local forest.  I waited until the leaves and flowers opened up last week to revisit them and get an identification.

Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides, Berberidaceae) photogaphed 04/25/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

This is a blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides, Berberidaceae). It inhabits moist woodlands in eastern North America like the mesic southern forest in Michigan where I found it.

Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides, Berberidaceae) photogaphed 04/25/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

Once fertilized, the flowers will produce striking blue berries.  I’ll revisit these plants in the future to get some pictures of them.

Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides, Berberidaceae) photogaphed 04/15/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

Most member of this family (Berberidaceae) belong to the genus Berberis.  Those plants are known as barberries, and many are used in residential landscaping.  Barberries can be a useful deterrent to home invasion when planted in front of windows, since the stems are covered in stiff and sharp thorns.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Random Plant and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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