Duckfoot, Vancouveria hexandra
Berberidaceae – Oregon grape family
“Vancouveria” is derived from the name of the 18th century Pacific Northwest explorer Capt. George Vancouver (1758-1798). The flowers are six (“hex”) parted, with swept-back sepals and petals exposing the stamens, earning the name “inside-out-flower.” The leaflets are as fanciful as the flowers and resemble ducks’ feet.
The inside-out flower has underground stems (rhizomes) that send up compound leaves divided into leaflets of three. The leaflets fancifully resemble ducks’ feet. Despite the fragile appearance of the thin leaflets and petioles, the inside-out flower is a common herb carpeting the forest floor, along with relatives Oregon grape (Berberis nervosa) and vanilla leaf (Achlys triphylla, also known as “deerfoot,” rare in Springbrook Park). This plant is best appreciated up close. In spring, panicles of yellow or white flowers bob in the forest breeze. The six swept-back sepals and petals expose the six stamens and central pistil, thus resembling a shooting star (or inside out flower). Although Native people apparently had little practical use for this deciduous herb, inside-out flower today serves as a curious and delightful ground cover in the shaded reaches of a natural garden.
Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photo by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR