Blue-bead lily

clintonia_borealis

Blue-bead lily is as recognizable for its prominent yellow flowers as its dark blue berries that appear later in the Summer. While the leaves are not similar, the berries could be mistaken for blueberries or blue cohosh. Blue-bead lily fruits are not edible and are reputed to be mildly toxic but no literature supports or refutes this. They taste bad anyway.

Its reproduction works at two speeds. Clintonia grows in clumps on the forest floor through vegetative reproduction. Those clumps are not individual plants but one big clone that has spread through its rhizomes over the years. Why? Because sexual reproduction through its fruit is a costly and rare event. Only about 10% of ramets (individual in a clone) flower each year. It takes about 8 times as much energy to produce a fruit than to produce a new ramet. It isn’t really known how often reproduction through its fruit is successful. This could work in two ways for the species with climate change: It seems resistant to slower environmental changes but could be susceptible to abrupt ones. For example, individual populations could be resistant to warming, up to a point, but will likely be very slow to expand their northern limit into newly available areas because dispersal is so slow. Another factor is high deer populations – they reduce Clintonia densities because they like to eat the young emerging leaves in the Spring.

Reference: Flore printanière 

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