About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Good year for Adder’s Tongue: Yellow flowers with splotched leaves

This wet spring has made it a good year for Adder’s Tongue. Also known as Trout Lily, Fawn lily, Dog's-tooth violet, Thousand leaf, Deer tongue, Yellow snowdrop, Yellow adder's tongue lily, and Yellow fawn lily, the scientific name is Erythronium americanum.
A lot of the diverse names result from the green leaves with purple mottling that resembles a brook trout to some, a deer's tongue to others. The two leaves that extend upward from the ground are similar to the ears of an alert fawn or are splotchy like the camouflage coat of a fawn. Adder's tongue refers either to the appearance of the leaves as they emerge in the spring or to the appearance of the emerging stamens of the flower, protruding like the tongue of a snake.

The common name dogtooth violet is a result of a deep root that ends in a corm or bulb. The corm is elongated into a cone shape that has the appearance of a dog's canine tooth, or dogtooth. Since the leaves emerge in the spring at about the same time as the violet, dogtooth violet was the result.

Adder’s Tongues are native to Michigan and grow in moist, fertile woods but can adapt to growing in many types of gardens. Be sure to watch out for these common spring flowers before June has passed and their above-ground parts have withered away. After that, they will be focusing their energies on spreading underground and making new shoots for next year.

They are low-growing plants that form colonies of plants of different ages. The youngsters are flowerless and have only one leaf, while older plants produce two leaves and a single yellow flower with petals that curl upwards like a tiny lily.
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