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Aplectrum hyemale

Phonetic Spelling
a-PLEK-trum hy-EH-may-lee
Description

Putty root is a native found throughout the wooded slopes and ravines in eastern U.S.A. and Canada in the Orchidaceae (orchid) family.  It is the only member of the genus Aplectrum. It spreads underground through the growth of its corms, which are often linked by rhizomes and can release a sticky substance when crushed.  This sticky substance was once used to mend broken pottery hence the common name "putty root".  The other common name "Adam and Eve" is also in reference to the corms as they are often found in linked pairs.  This plant likes partial shade or dappled sunlight in the sugar maple and beech forests and swamps where it grows.  Its underground corms allow it to form large colonies in though it is more commonly found in small scattered patches.

A single leaf appears in late November and persists until March taking advantage of the sunlight available in the winter months due to the barren canopy of the deciduous plants that grow around it. The leaves are uniquely pleated and pin-striped, with parallel alternating silvery-white and green stripes. In late May or early June, the flower stalk emerges carrying several delicate flowers with no fragrance or nectar to attract pollinators though sweat bees are thought to be pollinators.

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#corms#showy leaves#tuberous#fall interest#NC native#summer flowers#swamps#native garden#small flowers#wildflower garden#FAC#woodland garden
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#corms#showy leaves#tuberous#fall interest#NC native#summer flowers#swamps#native garden#small flowers#wildflower garden#FAC#woodland garden
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Aplectrum
    Species:
    hyemale
    Family:
    Orchidaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The sticky gelatinous substance extruded from the corms was used to mend broken pottery.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    E. Canada to E. Central & E. U.S.A
    Distribution:
    Found from Oklahoma to the Carolinas
    Wildlife Value:
    Sweatbees are though to pollinate these flowers.
    Edibility:
    non-edible
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 8 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Wildflower
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Drainage:
    Frequent Standing Water
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    1 inch tan ridged capsule with a pointed tip. The capsules bend downward on the flower stalk.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Lipped
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    2-3 rays/petals
    Colored Sepals
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    In late May or early June, the 1 to 2 foot erect flower stalk emerges with a loose raceme of 8 to 20 pale greenish-purple (sometimes yellow or white with purple tinge) 1 inch flowers. The sepals form a triangular pattern, and the petals form a wrinkled two lipped tubular flower. Flowers appear on 1- to 2-foot slender, leafless stalk. The lower lip is white with purple spots (a small lobe on each side and wavy in front).
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    White
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    This plant has single, oval to elliptic, basal leaf with white veins that appear in fall and disappear after flowering. They are 4 to 6 in. long and 1 to 3 inche wide with entire margins, acuminate to acute tip, and they appear wrinkled. The leaves appear in late November and persist until March. They are uniquely pin-striped, with parallel alternating silvery-white and green stripes.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Stem is absent, flower stalks resemble stems and are quite tall and green.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Naturalized Area
    Riparian
    Slope/Bank
    Small Space
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Fairy Garden
    Native Garden
    Water Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Specimen