Saturday, May 30, 2009

An Image Revisited

Remember this picture from Devil's Lake last week?  I have discovered that it is a squawroot or cancerroot, Conopholis americana.  Squawroot is a non-photosynthetic parasitic plant that feeds on the roots of several species of trees, most commonly oak.  (Note the oak leaves surrounding it in the photo -- we can be pretty sure this is its energy source here).  The suckers on the squawroot's roots cause large knobs to form on the oak's roots.  Despite being parasitic, they don't hurt the oaks because they are small and few, compared to the huge trees they steal nutrients from.  Squawroot blooms in May and June and is native to the eastern USA.   

Squawroot gets that particular common name because Indian women used to use it to help alleviate the symptoms of menopause.  When steeped in boiling water (then cooled) it will shrink or pucker the skin.  So the idea is it will shrink the uterus... 

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