Sunday, April 22, 2012

Early Meadow Rue Gender Confusion

Yesterday on our wildflower drive, Ed took this picture of Thalictrum dioicum, early meadow rue.  The plant is so delicate and airy we almost missed it.

This picture is of a another  plant and the difference in color and appearance was intriguing.

Both plants have beautiful lacy foliage reminiscent of a maidenhair fern.  Last night I got out my wildflower books.  The name dioicum tells you that early meadow rue has male plants and female plants.  The male and female flowers are different.  The flowers bloom early like a spring ephemeral, but the beautiful plant remains through the summer.  It sounds perfect for the shade garden.
 I wanted to see more information about this plant so I gave Google images a try.  I searched for "early meadow rue female flowers".  What a mess that is!  After what seemed like searching for a needle in a haystack, I found these links with images and  information: blue jay barrens, and wiseacre gardens . Now I'm pretty sure I have seen both male and female flowers, but I still don't know  which is which. What it comes down to is that next spring I will be searching my native plant sources for early meadow rue.  I just need to get a boy and a girl.  The gender confusion will work itself out.  I will love both plants either way!

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