Circaea lutetiana (Enchanter's Nightshade)
|Also known as:||Broadleaf Enchanter's Nightshade|
|Family:||Onagraceae (Evening Primrose)|
|Habitat:||shade; moist woods, thickets|
|Bloom season:||June - August|
|Plant height:||1 to 2 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Loose cluster of stalked flowers (raceme) more or less evenly spaced along the top of the stem, often with a few lateral racemes from the base of the cluster and/or the uppermost axils. Flowers are white to pinkish, 1/8 to ¼ inch in diameter, with 2 divided petals deeply notched that can look like 4, 2 long white stamens projecting from the center, and 2 sepals that bend back away from the flower with the hairy ovary beneath them. Flower and cluster stalks are covered in short white hairs.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are opposite with pairs at right angles to the pair below, up to 5 inches long and 3 inches wide, toothed around the edges, narrowly to broadly egg-shaped to oblong, tapering to a point at the tip, on a stalk 1 to 2 inches long. Leaves become rather smaller towards the top of the plant. Stems below the flower clusters are mostly hairless.
Enchanter's Nightshade spreads by both seed and rhizomes, often creating small colonies in woodlands across much of Minnesota. There are recognized 2 varieties (or subspecies, depending on the reference): var. canadensis (also known as Circia canadensis) is the North American species and var. quadrisulcata (C. quadrisulcata) its Eurasian counterpart. Closely related is Alpine Enchanter's Nightshade (Circaea alpina), a much smaller plant which has open flowers all clustered at the top of the raceme rather than along the stem, and rarely gets more than 10 inches tall at maturity.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Ramsey counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?