Geum rivale (Purple Avens)
|Also known as:||Water Avens|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade, sun; wet; meadows, fens, swamps, along streams and lakes|
|Bloom season:||June - July|
|Plant height:||1 to 2 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACW MW: OBL NCNE: OBL|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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1 to 3 long-stalked flowers in an open spreading cluster at tip of the stem. Flowers are ¾ to 1 inch long, initially nodding but turning erect after pollination, with 5 broadly triangular, pointed, reddish purple sepals enclosing 5 pale yellow to creamy white petals, infused and veined with purple and slightly shorter than the sepals. Flower stalks, outer surface of the sepals and stems are hairy.
Leaves and stems:
Primary basal leaves are fiddle shaped in outline, 6 to 8 inches long and 3½ inches wide, coarsely toothed, hairy, pinnately compound with 7 to 17 irregular leaflets, the smallest towards the base with 3 to 5 large leaflets crowded at the tip. Upper stem leaves are progressively smaller, becoming stalkless, simple and 3-lobed or palmately compound in 3s. Stems are erect, single or several, and hairy.
Like one of its common name suggests, Water Avens prefers wet, swampy habitats, typically in deep shady, northern forests. It is a circumpolar species native to parts of Europe and Asia as well as North America. Up close the flower can be surprisingly vibrant but its wispy growth habit and lush environment keeps it fairly cryptic until it's right at your knees. Of note is that a number of images taken in other regions show the flower petal color ranging from orange to red to pink and purple. This is possibly a regional trait but who knows? The dominant color in Minnesota is yellowish.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin and Marshall counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?