May. 10, 2019

kitten-tails, Besseya bullii

At last! After many trips when timing was bad, I finally caught the kitten-tails in bloom. Kitten-tails are quite rare. They are listed as a protected species in every state they grow in. Rare enough that there seems to be no lore about them; no uses by Indians. And only two common names. In some places these are Bull's coral-bells. This flower spike is about three-quarters inch across. Note the little spikes of pistils projecting from the upper buds. It appears the pistils emerge before the stamens, probably limiting self pollination. Kitten-tails grow in well drained soil in open woods, often under oak, in IA(T), IL(E), IN(T), MI(E), MN(T), OH(X), and WI(T). Jackson Co MI, 5/9/19.