Western Meadowrue (Thalictrum occidentale)
In moist meadows or forests you will often see these odd looking plants. As a dioecious species, it has different male and female plants. In this case the males (photo below) are more subdued with a ragged looking cluster of dangling stamens that disperse pollen in the wind. The female plant (above) has (in our experience) more colorful upright pistils to catch pollen. There are no real petals to speak of. The attractive leaves are sometimes tipped with red, and resemble crimson columbine (also in the buttercup family). A few similar species can be found in the northwest, some of which have bisexual flowers.
Some interesting tidbits from Wildflowers of the Canadian Rockies (Scotter & Flygare):
- the seeds and leaves were used by Native Americans as a perfume and insect repellent.
- the roots were a source of yellow dye.
- the leaves were powdered and used as a tonic for horses.