Bursts of white flowers - "star" could not be more apt!
These white flowers are among the most ethereal we have seen! They sit on top of a dark red stem, raised about a foot from a rosette of leaves. In the right light, the rest of the plant seems to disappear, leaving only floating white flowers.
Woodland Star will flower in the spring, and then the plant will die back to its roots, waiting until the next season to bloom again. While blooming, it is pollinated by a variety of bees, moths, and other insects.
One of the pollinators that visits Smallflower Woodland Star is the Greya genus of moths. These moths will lay their eggs on Woodland Star flowers, and in so doing, pollinate flowers with their abdomens. When the moth larvae hatch, they eat the developing flower seeds. Greya moths tend to choose the most fragrant flowers to visit. This leaves the flowers with an interesting evolutionary "decision" - do you become more fragrant, and benefit from more moth pollination? Or do you become less fragrant, and benefit from fewer seeds being eaten? These flowers have a lot of variation in fragrance between individuals, and it has been hypothesized that these moths are one reason why.
This plant is also known as the Steilacoom Flower, although it has been extirpated there, and many places in the Puget lowlands, which have largely been paved over. We believe we can bring it back into our yards!
Photo credit: By Jacob W. Frank - NPGallery, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=114321576
Photo credit: By Thayne Tuason - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67169193