The northern inside-out flower (Vancouveria hexandra) has a flower that resembles a shooting star in aspect. The six white petals and stamens are reflexed backward and folded over at the tips exposing the six purplish, glandular, hairy stamens surrounding the style. The stamens, pistil and stigma form a point in the center of the flower. The long, hairless pedicels (individual flower stalks) separate this species from the similarly colored redwood inside-out flower, which has hairy pedicels. The inflorescence is an open pannicle (flowers mature from bottom upward) on a long, slender stalk or peduncle.
Northern inside-out flower is a member of the Barberry Family. It grows from a rhizome and is often found in dense patches. The deciduous leaves are all basal and long-stalked. The stalks are hairy and brownish toward the base. The pinnate leaves are usually twice divided into threes. The leaflets are broad and squarish with three lobes and resemble duck feet. Superficially when not in flower, northern inside-out flower plants resemble maidenhair ferns.
The fruits of northern inside-out flowers are purplish, glandualar, hairy folicles (dry fruit arising from one carpel splitting on one side to release seeds). Each folicle has two valves that split to the base and contain several black seeds covered by a fleshy outgrowth.
A native perennial, northern inside-out flower grows at low to mid elevations in shady conifer forests and is found in California, Oregon and Washington.
American barrenwort is another common name for V hexandra. Captain George Vancouver (1757 – 1798), a British naval officer and explorer, is honored by the genus designation. The species, hexandra, means “with six stamens”.
These northern inside-out flowers were growing along the South Fork Trail in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (Humboldt County CA).
My next post will be another inside-out flower.