Youth-on-age (Tolmiea menziesii)
This odd-looking member of the saxifrage family occurs almost exclusively in the western portion of the Northwest U.S. and Canada. The unusual name, we are told by Elizbeth L. Horn in Coastal Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest, comes from the plant’s ability to produce small buds at the base of the leaves in the late summer, “making each leaf appear to carry a second, smaller leaf.” The plant’s other names, “pig-a-back,” and “thousand mothers,” come from the same reason.
The four dark red hooks are actually the petals. Three stamens emerge from each flower, each with an orange-ish anther.
The genus name honors William Fraser Tolmie (1812-1886), a physician with the Hudson Bay Company, while the species name honors Archibald Menzies (1754-1842), a Scottish botanist and surgeon for the Vancouver Expedition of the late eighteenth century.
The plant resembles its relative, Fringecup, and the two are often found nearby one another, in moist woods at lower elevations.