Streptopus amplexifolius (Clasping-leaved Twisted-stalk)

Plant Info
Also known as: Watermelon Berry, White Mandarin, Wild Cucumber
Genus:Streptopus
Family:Liliaceae (Lily)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, shade; rich, moist woods
Bloom season:June
Plant height:20 to 48 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 6-petals Flower shape: bell Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] 1 or 2 hanging, stalked flowers arising from most leaf axils. Each bell-shaped flower is 1/3 to about ½ inch long and pale greenish-yellow to white with 6 narrow, widely flaring lobes. 6 stamens of unequal lengths and a 3-lobed style are inside the tube. The flowers are typically hidden under the leaves and may go unseen. Flower stalks are up to 2 inches long, wiry and bent or twisted.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are 2 to 6 inches long, 1 to 2½ inches wide, hairless, toothless or minutely serrated around the edges, lance-oblong to narrowly egg-shaped with a sharply pointed tip, several prominent parallel veins, and a heart-shaped base. The underside is pale, covered in a waxy bloom.

[photo of leaf base and stem] The base of the leaf clasps the stem and the basal lobes nearly joined on the other side of the stem. The stem is hairless except sometimes at the base, freely branched, erect in the lower plant with branches widely spreading, and often zig-zags some between the alternately attached leaves.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] Fruit is an oval-elliptic berry 1/3 to ½ inch in diameter that ripens from light green to yellow-orange or red and contains many seeds.

Notes:

We spent some years searching for Clasping-leaved Twisted-stalk, never quite knowing exactly what the difference was between it and the related Rose Twisted-stalk (Streptopus lanceolatus), and never quite sure which we were encountering in the wild (turned out to be all Rose Twisted-stalk after all). Finally we were pointed to a known population (thanks Otto!) and it was immediately clear. Clasping-leaved Twisted-stalk is a much larger plant, more heavily branched, and lacks the fringe of hairs on leaf edges and the hairy stems that are characteristic of Rose Twisted-stalk. The distribution within the state is another clue: Clasping-leaved Twisted-stalk is limited to the Arrowhead region, where Rose Twisted-stalk is found across the northern half of the state as well as southern counties bordering Wisconsin. Note that some references list multiple varieties of S. amplexifolius, but these are not recognized in Minnesota.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Cook County.

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