Plant Progression: Starflower and Cucumber Root


When leaves first emerge, I often mistake cucumber root (Medeola virginiana) for starflower (Lysimachia borealis) at a glance. Both have a thin purple-ish stems and a whorl of similarly-shaped and colored leaves. They tend to appear in the same places, and are of comparable size early on.

But look closer - starflower leaves have pronounced, branching veins. Cucumber root, as a member of the lily family, has veins that run parallel from stem to leaf tip. And starflower's stem is smooth while cucumber root's is positively fuzzy.

Starflower on left, cucumber root on right:
 

As soon as buds appear, the differences become obvious. Starflower has only a single whorl of leaves, and the buds appear on long, tiny stalks. Cucumber root develops a second, smaller whorl of leaves above the first, and the buds first appear nestled within them.

Starflower on left, cucumber root on right:
 

Neither have reached bloom yet in my woods as of May 19 - I'll update this when they do.

June 1 edit: the starflower is blooming! June 15 edit: the cucumber root is blooming!
 

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