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Herbs & Plants

Venus’s Looking Glass

Botanical Name: Triodanis perfoliata
Family: Campanulaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales
Genus: Triodanis
Species: T. perfoliata

Synonyms:
*Campanula perfoliata L.
*Legousia perfoliata (L.) Britton
*Prismatocarpus perfoliatus (L.) Sweet
*Pentagonia perfoliata (L.) Kuntze
*Dysmicodon perfoliatum (L.) Nutt
*Specularia perfoliata (L.) A.DC.

Common Names: Venus’s Looking Glass, Clasping Venus’ looking-glass, Clasping bellflower

Habitat:Venus’s Looking Glass is native to North and South America, the natural range extending from Canada to Argentina. It is also naturalized in China, Korea and Australia.

Description:
Venus’s Looking Glass is an annual unbranched flowering plant. It is usually 4-12″ tall, and rarely becomes taller. The central stem is light green and deeply grooved, with lines of small white hairs along the ridges. The alternate leaves are also light green, and strongly clasp the stem. However, at the top of the stem are a pair of opposite leaves. These leaves are up to 1″ long and nearly as wide. They are broadly cordate, with wavy or dentate margins that are slightly ciliate. Along the margins, the leaves may assume a purplish color in bright sunlight. There is a milky sap in both the stem and leaves. From each leaf axil in the upper half of the plant, are 1-3 flowers, although only one of these will be in bloom at the same time. Each flower is deep violet or purple and about ½” across. It has a short tubular corolla with 5 spreading lobes. There are darker lines of purple that converge toward the throat of the flower. The throat is whiter than the rest of the flower, from which emerges a prominent white pistil and several stamens.

The blooming period occurs during the early summer and lasts about a month. There is no floral fragrance. This plant also produces self-pollinating flowers on the lower half of the stem, whose petals never open. The ovaries develop into small oval capsules, which split open into 3 parts to about the middle. This releases the numerous tiny seeds, which are lens-shaped and reddish brown. They are dispersed readily by the wind, and can be carried a considerable distance. The root system consists of a taproot.

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Cultivation:
The preference is full sunlight, and mesic to slightly dry soil. This plant flourishes best in poor soil that is either gravelly or sandy. It doesn’t tolerate much competition from taller plants. Foliar disease is not a significant problem during the period of active growth and blooming, after which this plant will fade away.

Uses:
The Cherokee take a liquid compound of root for dyspepsia from overeating, and take an infusion of roots taken and use it as a bath for dyspepsia.

The Meskwaki use it as an emetic to make one “sick all day long”, and smoke it at ceremonies.

Small bees are the most common visitors of the flowers. This includes Little Carpenter bees, Plasterer bees, Green Metallic bees, and other Halictine bees. The Plasterer bee Colletes brevicornis is an oligolege of Venus’ Looking Glass. Other insect visitors include bumblebees, flies, small butterflies, and skippers. The seeds are too small to be of any interest to birds. Mammalian herbivores may consume this plant, although it is of minor importance as a food source.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triodanis_perfoliata
https://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/prairie/plantx/venusx.htm

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