Dainty little woodland flowers are beautiful, too

We seem to be always impressed by the large, showy flowers—the roses, peonies, and so on. As such, we often miss the exquisite little ones which are almost under our feet, so to speak.
There are quite a few little flowers which have adapted themselves to living in the cool of the woods. Many of them are fragile and grow close to the ground.
Here are some of them:
•Twinflower
This is Linneae borealis, a slender creeping vine. From the main stem, uprights grow to perhaps four inches or so. On the bottom section of the upright are several pairs of leaves, which are small, rounded, and nearly always evergreen.
The flowers are at the top of the stem—and they are always in pairs. They are dainty pink bells, nodding away in even the slightest breeze.
They are very fragrant and if you are in an area where a lot of Twinflowers are growing, the perfume will fill the air.
They grow in cool and relatively open areas, usually a large number in one place. You likely will smell them before you see them.
•False Lily-of-the-Valley
This little flower (Maianthemum canadense) also is called the Canada Mayflower, which is a very poor choice for a name. It does flourish in Canada, but it also grows as far south as Tennessee and Georgia.
Also, there is another flower called the Mayflower, which is the “real” one, as anyone from Nova Scotia will promptly tell you.
If you know the domestic Lily-of-the-Valley, you will have no trouble at all in identifying this one, although the two are not related at all. It has two or three heart-shaped leaves, which are not from the same point on the stem, and they are very deeply indented.
The flowers are on a tall stem, each flower having its own little stalk (this type of flower arrangement is called a raceme). The individual flowers are white and quite tiny, each with four petals.
It is a very tiny plant, not more than six-eight inches overall. You will find it in open spaces under the big trees.
•Pipsissawa (Chimaphila umbellata)
This is another small flower of the cool, shady places. A single stem, not more than a foot high, carries several delicate, waxy flowers in a group. They are white or pinkish, and the petals turn back on themselves as they mature.
Leaves are shiny, and in groups along the stem. The plant spreads along the ground like a vine.
The Pipsissawa is an evergreen. The leaves which are mature this year actually grew last year, or even the year before. Very fragrant, you may easily smell the flowers before you see them.
This plant has been given a lot of names in the past—prince’s pine, king’s cure, love-in-winter, noble pine, etc. This gives you some idea of respect in which this little plant was held by the early settlers and the aboriginal peoples.
It was supposed to cure fevers and rheumatism, and act as a mild aphrodisiac. Today, it is still used as one of the ingredients in root beer.
These little plants are becoming more and more scarce in many places. So you shouldn’t pick them randomly, or tear up the roots.
They can be planted in your garden—if you have a cool, shady place for them. Their perfume will reward you many times over.

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