Clasping Leaf Twisted-stalk (Streptopus amplexifolius)
This is the most common of the 3 twisted-stalks in our region. It is distinguished by branching stems (seen in the photo below), and leaves that clasp completely around those stems, giving the impression that the stem might have been threaded with a needle through the leaf. The latin amplexor means surrounds, describing the leaf that surrounds the stem. The flowers have six — 3 inner and 3 outer– petals that curl back, all mostly white. The common name refers to the kinks in the stem at each leaf attachment, as well as the bent flower stems. We more frequently catch the post-bloom berries that are orange-red and turn dark later in the season.
We found these blooming near the related Rosy twisted-stalk (roseus), whose leaves simply join the stem and has rose colored flowers. We have yet to see the smaller version (streptopoides).
Native Americans had many names for the berries: owl-berries, frog-berries, witch-berries, black bear-berries; which they sometimes used medicinally, to induce labor, but which they generally thought to be inedible.