SOLVED: Tiny woodland tubers ? , Maryland

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Took a hike yesterday, the day after some heavy rains. These tiny tubers (I think) had washed into a depression in the path along the river. There were hundreds of these things. I thought seeds at first glance because of the uniform sized round ones, but looking closely, some do appear to be tubers, attached to each other, and when I split one the texture is tuberlike. The actual color is off white to pale greenish.

This area is sadly heavy with invasives such as garlic mustard and bittersweet. Also along this bank are loads of box elders and sycamores, and a nice patch of ostrich fern.
Any guesses as to what these might be?

I've thrown all these in a pot with dirt in case they are likely to sprout and clue us further.

This message was edited Jun 3, 2012 7:43 PM

Thumbnail by sallyg
Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

Dutchman's Breeches have similar tubers. The plants would be dormant by now and heavy rain may have washed out the tubers and there would be no debris from above-ground parts of the plants. Should be a common spring plant in the park you were visiting. Just a thought.

Iowa City, IA(Zone 5a)

I think greenthumb is right; Dutchman's breeches form clumps of dozens and dozens of these individual little tubers, which are barely under the surface, and could wash out very easily.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Well, that sounds nice! I have several dozen in my pot; I just may get some next spring. These tubers were found right in the footpath and I feel sure they could not have survived there, if I had left them. Someone in Plantifles describe them as like tapioca pearls, and that is what they look like.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I apologize for having left this unsolved. I now have tiny round leaves in the pot with the tubers, many of them and look unfamiliar, not some weeds from my yard.

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

Sally - why not wait until the plants reveal their ID before marking this solved?

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Well, ok by me. though I do have faith in your prediction. Do you know if emerging tubers of Dutchmens breeches have a tine round leaf, almost violet leaf shaped, to start? I see in PF they are dissected, the mature leaves.

I guess I marked it solved twice so hope I can indeed unsolve it.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Here are the tubers, sprouting, Feb 2013.

I feel sure this is the tubers, not some local thing, due to the number of them in this pot. They are about a half inch at the biggest.

Thumbnail by sallyg
Portland, OR(Zone 8a)

Looks like Ranunculus ficaria

Sorry having problem posting link
This message was edited Feb 5, 2013 4:10 PM

This message was edited Feb 5, 2013 4:23 PM

This message was edited Feb 5, 2013 5:28 PM

Beautiful, BC(Zone 8b)

Reminds me of Asarum

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

The local asarums do not have tubers like the top photo. They certainly are not Dutchman's Breeches, but I don't know of any local plant with little tubers and leaves like in the second photo. Guess I will sometime this spring.:-)

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

Very interesting Growin, but the local Asarum, A. canadensis has elongated rhizomes, very different. I am quite familiar with them having made candied "Wild Ginger" root on occasion. Surprised to see such variation within the genus. Thanks

Having now looked at the link provided by GardenGuyKin I am almost 100% certain that the mystery plant is Ranunculus ficaria, or Lesser Celandine. I was unaware of the root system of this plant even though I have see the plant far too often. Oddly enough, the link GGK provided is about a stream in a town I used to live in and I have walked through the very setting where the pictures were taken on numerous occasions. Small world.

This message was edited Feb 5, 2013 11:45 PM

Beautiful, BC(Zone 8b)

I just happened to find that pic which looks similar to your original pic. Can't say I've seen the rhizomes myself though.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I agree with Ranunculus ficaria. Given the location I found the tubers, being heavily "invaded," I think that makes Celandine more likely than ginger.
Thanks for the help!
GardenGuyKin, that is an informative link there.

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