Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Claspleaf twistedstalk

with 70 comments

Now there’s a mouthful for you, whether you use the scientific name Streptopus amplexifolius or the vernacular name claspleaf twistedstalk. Because very little foliage had turned colors in Waterton Lakes National Park when we were there on August 29th, the yellowing leaves of this species that we saw in several places were a welcome sight. So were the little red fruits, about a centimeter long, one of which the second photograph gives you a closer look at on a different claspleaf twistedstalk plant. Here’s a site with more information about the species. Here’s another. And here’s still another that includes ethnobotanical uses.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 29, 2017 at 4:55 AM

70 Responses

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  1. Very attractive berry. It’s like a name from a fairytale. The uses by native peoples are always interesting, and make me wish for scientific testing — like boiling the fishing nets with it, to improve the catch?

    Robert Parker

    December 29, 2017 at 5:25 AM

    • Now it’s up to you to write the fairytale of the claspleaf twistedstalk. If you have any scientific connections, maybe you can induce one of them to try the experiment with fishing nets.

      During a visit to Vancouver in 2000 I bought Plants of Coastal British Columbia. When preparing this post, I got the idea of looking up claspleaf twistedstalk in that book, and sure enough, it was there. The entry included even more historical and ethnographic information than the page I linked to (which seems to have copied some sentences from the book).

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 29, 2017 at 11:28 AM

  2. Very tempting berry! 🙂

    Indira

    December 29, 2017 at 5:55 AM

  3. The difference between the two photos is striking. The muted yellows and greens give the first photo a dreamy, ethereal feel. Even the berries seem muted. For some reason, it feels Victorian to me. The second seems all about structure: bold contrasts, curves, and obvious lines that suggest Art Deco. It’s instructive that both photos were taken on the same day.

    Not only that, the fruits look remarkably like our wolfberries.

    shoreacres

    December 29, 2017 at 7:25 AM

    • The muted Victorian/Arts & Crafts feel maybe reminds us of William Morris?
      Link to an exhibit at the Met: http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/objects?exhibitionId=%7b69f43939-8b5a-4f1a-a43e-0f405dc4edb3%7d#!?page=0&offset=20

      Robert Parker

      December 29, 2017 at 8:11 AM

      • Aren’t his designs a treat?

        melissabluefineart

        December 29, 2017 at 8:30 AM

        • Yes, don’t know much about it, but I really like the British Arts & Crafts stuff. We stopped by E. Aurora, NY to see some Roycroft stuff, but there wasn’t much there, so other than museum exhibitions, I haven’t seen very much, but it looks very appealing.

          Robert Parker

          December 29, 2017 at 8:53 AM

          • You remind us once again of how many places of cultural and historical interest there are in the Finger Lakes region. Too bad so much of upstate New York remains economically distressed. Someone should organize historic and scenic tours to the area, if such don’t already exist.

            Steve Schwartzman

            December 29, 2017 at 12:04 PM

            • Yes, we’re a poster child for “faded glories”. From East Aurora, it’s 1/2 hour drive to a couple of fantastic restored Frank Lloyd Wright houses, the Darwin Martin House and Graycliff. (I’d be happy to give tours, but everybody knows I’m a chronic fabulist and wouldn’t believe a word I say.)

              Robert Parker

              December 29, 2017 at 6:55 PM

          • I’ve mostly only seen examples in books. When I compare that period with what is made today for our homes, it makes me sad.

            melissabluefineart

            December 31, 2017 at 9:06 AM

            • On the other hand, modern houses are much better insulated and include many devices to make our lives easier. Too bad we don’t more often have convenience and style at the same time.

              Steve Schwartzman

              December 31, 2017 at 10:10 AM

              • Too often, when I look for houses all around the Puget Sound, I find shacks and glorified trailers being touted as “houses”. Then the prices and square footage zoom up to the stratosphere, with virtually nothing in between. I can’t help but wonder if the entire region needs to have its collective heads examined!

                melissabluefineart

                January 1, 2018 at 9:17 AM

                • It’s crazy like that up and down the west coast. One reason is that so many people want to live there. Another is that the people who do live there keep approving new bonds and higher taxes. Prices in Austin have also kept rising for the same reasons.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  January 1, 2018 at 12:00 PM

                • I saw today that a cabin I had my eye on sold for nearly twice the asking price.

                  melissabluefineart

                  January 2, 2018 at 10:12 AM

                • Yikes! Doesn’t bode well for you, alas.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  January 2, 2018 at 10:28 AM

                • Yeah it is really time I quit looking for now. But I’m addicted to it.
                  Hanging the big exhibit yesterday went well. I have a smaller one to hang today, with a few held in reserve for a couple of other exhibits coming up. Looks like a promising year. Maybe I can earn enough to buy a house!

                  melissabluefineart

                  January 4, 2018 at 11:14 AM

                • We sure hope so.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  January 4, 2018 at 11:16 AM

        • And we were talking about him just the other day.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 29, 2017 at 11:43 AM

      • Morris crossed my mind, but to my eye at least, the plant/photo doesn’t have the repetitive, stylized patterns of his work. It seems more like something that Morris might have made something from, once he spotted it.

        shoreacres

        December 29, 2017 at 11:31 AM

        • Too bad we can’t revive him and give him a shot at it.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 29, 2017 at 11:44 AM

        • more the colors. The Victoria & Albert site also had some fabrics and wallpapers that resembled the colors in the foliage

          Robert Parker

          December 29, 2017 at 12:05 PM

          • Thanks for the clarification. We visited the Victoria and Albert Museum about 20 years ago. What a great place.

            Steve Schwartzman

            December 29, 2017 at 12:10 PM

          • Now that I think about it, I used a Morris pattern in one of my posts that tends toward these colors.

            You also reminded me that, many years ago, I picked up two “books” of William Morris giftwrap in some museum shop. It might even have been in New York. They contained good-sized tear-out sheets of wrapping paper, and they certainly made a gift stand out. I wondered if any of those old books might still be knocking around, and behold ~ a woman in Toronto was selling one. You can see it here. There are images of all the papers at the bottom of the primary image.

            The item sold on December 29, 2017 because — well, I couldn’t help myself. 🙂

            shoreacres

            December 29, 2017 at 8:52 PM

      • William Morris is a longtime favorite of Linda (shoreacres).

        Steve Schwartzman

        December 29, 2017 at 11:43 AM

    • I see from my archive that I bounced around several times between specimens with still-green foliage and those with yellowing foliage. The second picture came three minutes before the first. As you pointed out, they do have quite a different feel from each other. Can’t say I made any connections to the Victorian period or Art Deco. Now that you mention it, I can see why the curves and lines in the second photograph suggested Art Deco to you.

      Central Texas falls outside the range of Carolina wolfberry, which I’ve seen only in pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 29, 2017 at 11:41 AM

  4. this is such a lovely plant and it looks absolutely magical upon closer look

    ksbeth

    December 29, 2017 at 7:30 AM

    • I hadn’t originally included the closeup, so I’m glad I added it at the last minute. I’d never even heard of this plant, which we saw in a bunch of places and which I photographed several times.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 29, 2017 at 11:46 AM

  5. Looks like it has delightful little flowers, too, and the whole thing is edible. In appearance it reminds me of Solomon’s Seal.

    melissabluefineart

    December 29, 2017 at 8:29 AM

    • The book I mentioned in my first reply, Plants of Coastal British Columbia, mentions Solomon’s seal and false Solomon’s seal as plants having similar flowers and therefore possibly confused with claspleaf twistedstalk. Unfortunately we visited too late in the year to see any of the flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 29, 2017 at 11:50 AM

      • And I don’t think I’d nibble on either of those, although I’d have to check. Interesting that they could look so similar but probably not at all related.

        melissabluefineart

        December 31, 2017 at 9:03 AM

        • One thing I’ve learned about from my interest in native plants is what botanists call convergent evolution, in which similar features develop in plant families that are unrelated (except insofar as everything is ultimately related).

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 31, 2017 at 10:01 AM

  6. I like the little twist in the stem. Nature has ways of dealing with situations. I wonder what brought that on.

    Something from the first link for more info. I think I won’t eat it.

    “Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

    The fruit is cathartic[172, 207]. An infusion of the stems and fruit has been used to treat ‘sickness in general'[257]. The plant is tonic[257]. An infusion of the whole plant has been used to treat stomach complaints and loss of appetite[257]. A compound infusion of the plant has been used in the treatment of spitting up of blood, kidney problems and gonorrhoea[257]. The root has been chewed in order to induce labour in cases of protracted delay[257]. A compound infusion of the root has been used as an analgesic in the treatment of internal pain[257].”

    Jim R

    December 29, 2017 at 8:54 AM

    • Like you, I puzzled over that kink in the flower stalk. I searched a bit but didn’t turn up anything about what function that kink might serve. I assume some traits arose through genetic mutation and don’t serve any purpose at all; perhaps this is one of those cases.

      The caveat you quoted reminds me of the disclaimer at the bottom of television commercials for dietary supplements: “This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.” When I see that, I always want to ask: “Then why are you trying to sell me this apparently ineffectual thing?”

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 29, 2017 at 12:00 PM

  7. Hi Steve,
    I did not read all your comments, so forgive me if someone else has asked this question before. Is this the same plant whose fruit is known as watermelon berry? I have eaten it numerous times during backcountry hikes. It is sweet but contains many seeds.
    Thank you,
    Tanja

    tanjabrittonwriter

    December 29, 2017 at 8:41 PM

    • Hi, Tanja. This species doesn’t grow anywhere in Texas and was new to me on this trip. I checked online and confirmed that one vernacular name for the plant is indeed watermelon berry. In spite of that, I found references to the plant having a cucumber-like taste. Given that you’ve eaten it, how would you describe the taste?

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 29, 2017 at 10:34 PM

      • Thank you for the clarification, Steve. I don’t recall any particular taste. The berry is very watery and slightly sweet, but the seeds are very prevalent, considering its small size. Not a favorite, but the red plumpness is hard to resist.

        tanjabrittonwriter

        December 30, 2017 at 4:24 PM

        • Given how small each fruit is, I wouldn’t have expected lots of seeds. Goes to show what I know. The red plumpness you mentioned drew me in to take closer looks than in the first picture.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 30, 2017 at 5:29 PM

  8. Another very merry and bright berry. I don’t think I would be tempted to eat many of these berries knowing that one of the names is scoot berry.

    Gallivanta

    December 30, 2017 at 3:21 AM

  9. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a clasp leaf twisted stalk in person before. So delicate looking.

    The Thrifty Campers

    December 30, 2017 at 1:11 PM

    • It was new to me, too. I hadn’t even heard of this plant, much less seen one. Up there it was common, and I saw it in a bunch of places.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 30, 2017 at 1:28 PM

  10. Beautiful photos, Steve, especially the second one, with those gorgeous curves and colors! (Though I find the subtle colors on the first photo equally attractive). We have this plant, and the similar Rosy twistedstalk (S. roseus), and their “friends” the Smilacinas and Disporum hookeri, Hooker’s fairybells. They all grow in similar woodland habitats, and all are very graceful covering the forest floor or adding their handsome leaf patterns to the trail-side foliage mix.

    bluebrightly

    December 30, 2017 at 1:21 PM

    • While researching this I came across some mentions of S. roseus, which I just noticed has been changed to S. lanceolatus:

      https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/flower/rose-twisted-stalk

      Chances are I saw some of it and the other species you mentioned, though without knowing what I was seeing (which of course applies to almost every plant up there). We’ll look forward to your playing them up in the months ahead.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 30, 2017 at 2:14 PM

      • Groan,,,,I can’t keep up with the changes. Birds, too. Splitting and lumping. Oh well! Yes, you may have seen them when you were in Canada…a wonderful group of plants, but then, I can say that about so many families and genera and species….I am just in love with flora in general! 😉

        bluebrightly

        January 14, 2018 at 12:39 PM

  11. Wonderful images Steve .. interesting that it is a member of the lily family

    Julie@frogpondfarm

    December 31, 2017 at 8:03 PM

    • You could’ve fooled me about it being a member of the lily family. In retrospect, the leaves do offer a bit of a clue.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 1, 2018 at 1:30 AM


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