While building brush piles for small animals and birds to use as winter shelter in the woods surrounding our property I came across these beautiful, understated blossoms near the forest floor. Their common name is beechdrops.
Their scientific name, Epifagus (epi = under, fagus = beech) virginiana tells that they only grow under beech trees. They are parasites of beech tree roots, that do no harm, but provide an interesting form of annual undergrowth.
According to the Connecticut Botanical Society, beechdrops are a native plant that blooms in Connecticut woodlands from August through October. The plants have no leaves.
The entire plant grows from 6” to 20” tall, so it’s easy to overlook shorter beechdrops. The plants often remain standing, in dried form, through the winter. I’m anxious to look for them again after a light snowfall. I expect the skeletons of beechdrops will stand in beautiful contrast to freshly fallen snow.
If you find one, or some, stop to enjoy the 1/2 inch-long blossoms. They remind me of tiny orchids.
I’m regularly amazed by the new-to-me discoveries that reveal themselves on my own property. Autumn is a great season to walk Connecticut woodlands, they are wonderful classrooms for learning. All we have to do is visit and open our senses.