Floerkea proserpinacoides (False Mermaid)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Floerkea
Family:Limnanthaceae (Meadow Foam)
Life cycle:annual
Origin:native
Status:
  • State Threatened
Habitat:part shade, shade; cold, moist. rich deciduous woods and ground water seeps
Bloom season:May
Plant height:4 to 12 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: FACW 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: 3-petals

[photo of flower] The small, inconspicuous flowers are borne singly in leaf axils on the upper stem on a slender curved, often nodding stalk that is shorter than the attending leaf stalk. The open flower is between 1/8 and ¼ inch across with 3 broad, flaring, triangular to lance shaped sepals, 3 much smaller tongue-like white petals, and 3 to 6 yellow stamens around an obscure cleft style in the center. The rapidly developing fruits quickly obscure the petals and stamens.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound Leaf type: lobed

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate, up to 3 inches long and 1½ inches wide on a slender stalk, compound or deeply divided into 3 to 7 linear or oblong to elliptic segments each between ¼ and ¾ inch long. Stems are few branched, slender and smooth, very weak, typically sprawling or semi-erect on surrounding vegetation. The plant is a cool, lime green throughout.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

The ovary develops quickly, splitting into 1-3, globe-like, 1/10 inch fruits with a warty surface, clustered in the flower center, obscuring the persistent petals and stamens. In fruit, the flower stalk elongates up to 1½ times the length of the attending leaf stalk.

Notes:

A heat intolerant species, False Mermaid in Minnesota is restricted to sites with cold ground water seepage or ephemeral ponds in cool shaded woodlands in our southeastern counties and the Mille Lacs Lake area. An exceptionally fleeting spring ephemeral, it typically completes its annual life cycle in the first two weeks in May in our southern populations, and only extends to the end of May in the east central part of our state. Both its structural fragility and restrictive habitat requirements contribute to its rarity and susceptibility to human disturbance. According to the DNR, it was first listed as a Special Concern species in 1984 and elevated to Threatened in 1996.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at Mille Lacs Lake, Aitkin County.

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