Oregon Fetid Adder’s Tongue (Scoliopus hallii)
This wildflower has been on our most wanted list for some time…It shows up very early in the spring with the trilliums before the cold rains subside, you also have to be south of Portland, and then need to look closely for the tiny blooms amidst the moss. But sweet is the plant hunter’s reward!
There are two species of Scoliopus in the world; one in Oregon (S. hallii) and the other in California (S. bigelovii). The California species (which is sometimes found in far southwest Oregon) is slightly larger, and more dramatic than the Oregon species. Both have leaves similar to those of Bead lilies. The common name refers to the resemblance of the large sepals to a snake’s tongue. The petals are actually the three thin strands arching toward each other at the top of the flower. “Fetid” describes the smell of rotting meat that supposedly emanates from the flowers (we found no evidence of this) and attracts pollinators. This uncommon plant could easily be missed, due to its small size and somewhat inconspicuous coloration.