No, this is not an invasion of the pod people, this is a Wild Ginger plant.
The Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) is a native wildflower to the Eastern US blooming in early spring then creating a wonderful ground covering later in the season. This has made it an attractive plant for home gardens that get a lot of shade.
Remember, it is illegal to harvest wildflowers from local or national parks/forests without obtaining a permit! If harvesting from private property, only do so with the express permission of the landowner. Support your local native plant nursery by purchasing plants that have not been wild collected is a very good option.
Hidden in at the base of the two broad leaves is a tiny purple/brown flower. "The color and the location of the flower have an unusual and interesting story. The flower evolved to attract small pollinating flies that emerge from the ground early in the spring looking for a thawing carcass of an animal that did not survive the winter. By lying next to the ground flower is readily found by the emerging flies. The color of the flower is similar to that of decomposing flesh. Whether these flies pollinate the flower or not is in some dispute. Never the less they do enter the flower to escape the cold winds of early spring and to feast upon the flowers pollen. Some of the pollen attaches to their bodies and is taken with them when they visit the next flower."
The root of this plant gives off a ginger-like aroma, but it is not recommended for consumption. It is a completely different plant from the ginger root which you can purchase at the store (which is safe for consumption). The leaves of this plant may also cause irritation (which I found out the hard way) with a light nettle-like sting.
Look for broad pointed pairs of leaves in shady/partly shady wooded areas, to identify follow the stems to the base to see the unmistakably unique flower of this awesome wildflower.
Usually I separate individual flowers for the spotlight series, but the three below have such similarly shaped flowers, are all part of the mint family, and can be found nearby blooming about the same time, I though it would be best to show them together so you can see the similarities and differences side by side.
Purple flowers you may find almost everywhere you go. What are they? How can you tell them apart? Why are they everywhere?
You will find the first two blooming soon in a field nearby.
Known by many other names- ground-ivy, gill-over-the-ground, alehoof, tun hoof, cats foot, field balm, and run-away-roin, is a regular in fields, yards, gardens, waste areas, really anywhere being a non-native invasive species to North America.
This plant grows low to the ground (rarely rising up past an inch or two unless it's creeping over another plant or rock). It can be differentiated from Henbit (not pictured, I have yet to find a specimen nearby) by the scalloped palmate leaves whereas Henbit has the same scalloping but the leaf goes the whole way around the stem (whorled).
Ground ivy was once used as a flavoring and clearing agent in beer brewing before it was replaced by hops in the 17th century (up til then hops was considered dangerous).
It has also been used to cure a wide variety of ailments...
...disorders of the bladder, kidneys, digestive tract, gout, coughs, colds, ringing in the ears, asthma, jaundice, headaches, and as an astringent and diuretic!
There are only two species of hepatica in North America, both live in the same area: the sharp-lobed and the round-lobed hepatica. Both species look the same except for the three deeply lanceolate lobed leaves are either pointed at the end or rounded.
Each plant plant has several slender, hairy stalks that lead to a pretty flower of five to nine petal-like sepals.
Fun fact- there are no true petals on these flowers, instead they're classified as sepals
"Usually green, sepals typically function as protection for the flower in bud, and often as support for the petals when in bloom."
These flowers come in a variety of colors - white, pink, purple, and blue!
Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.