Clasping Venus Looking Glassor

Clasping Venus Looking Glassor

Clasping Venus Looking Glass

Revealed in a strange expanse of black; a mirror that sends its owner into a dreamscape of waking life, a place where dreams draw the parallel dreams of their owners. The mirror bends the viewer's vision, the way the legs of a chair do when the floor of the room shimmers from heat waves.The common name, Venus’ looking glass, refers to the seeds, which are slightly flattened and said to resemble a hand mirror. The genus name, Triodanis, is from the Greek treis (three) and odous (tooth), referring to the three lobes of the calyx that surround those flowers that don’t bloom. The species name, perfoliata, refers to how the stem appears to pierce the leaves due to their tight clasping.


Clasping Venus’ looking-glass (Triodanis perfoliata) is an annual herbaceous wildflower. Its bluish-purple blooms are wheel- or bell-shaped, five-lobed and sessile, developing at the leaf axil. The petals are lined with a deeper purple. Flower centers are whitish. Not all flowers open, yet they still produce seed as they are self-pollinating. Leaves are alternately arranged, and shell- to heart-shaped with bases that clasp the stem. The toothed margins make the leaves look ruffled. Stems are stiff with ridges and tiny hairs. They are usually unbranched. Seeds develop in a capsule that bears three indentations or covered pores. When the seeds are mature, the tissue covering the pore rolls up to allow the seeds to disperse.

Clasping-leaved Venus' Looking-glass, formerly Specularia perfoliata, is native but considered weedy in some parts of its range, where it may pop up in sidewalk cracks, empty lots, and other disturbed areas. In Minnesota, it is typically found in rock outcrops and open sandy prairies, less often roadsides, gravel pits and grassy banks. While references note it may reach heights of 3 feet, 1 to 2 feet is more common. Some references list two varieties (or subspecies) of Triodanis perfoliata while others consider these separate species; these are T. biflora (var. biflora) and T. perfoliata (var. perfoliata). Minnesota is currently among the splitters and recognizes these as separate species. (Source: www.minnesotawildflowers.info)


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