Wildlife Wednesday 04/10

Happy #WildlifeWednesday! One of the first spring wildflowers to appear at TWC this spring is cut-leaved toothwort. Also known as pepper root and crow’s toes, this woodland wildflower is part of the family of flowering plants known as mustards.

Cut-leaved toothwort is widespread in the eastern United States and also found in Quebec and Ontario in Canada. It grows in rich forest habitats and wooded slopes with leaf litter and high-quality soil full of organic material.

The plant is fairly easy to identify by its dissected and toothed leaves that form in whorls of three. The plant has delicate white and pink flowers that grow in clusters at the terminus of each stem. The flowers have four petals and appear bell-shaped because they never fully open.

The plant is an important early source of nectar for many native species of bees and other pollinators. It is also a host plant for caterpillars of the imperiled West Virginia white butterfly. 

Cut-leaved toothwort is currently very easy to find at The Wilderness Center, appearing in large numbers in particular along the Wilderness Walk and Sigrist Woods trails. Truly ephemeral in nature, it does not bloom for very long so come visit soon for a stroll and to admire this beautiful plant!

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