Stenanthium gramineum (Ker-Gawl.) Morong

eastern featherbells

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Eastern featherbells is native to the southeastern United States, but not to New England, where it has been collected only in Connecticut. This is a strikingly ornamental species, and is sometimes cultivated in the native wildflower garden.

Habitat

Forest edges, forests

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
Connecticut
Leaf arrangement
  • alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
  • basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
Leaf blade shape
the leaf blade is linear (very narrow with more or less parallel sides)
Leaf blade length
200–700 mm
Flower petal color
  • green to brown
  • white
Flower petal length
4–10 mm
Petal fusion
  • the perianth parts are fused to form a tube, cup, or bell shape
  • the perianth parts are separate
Inflorescence type
  • the inflorescence is a panicle (branched with the individual flowers on stalks)
  • the inflorescence is a raceme (a long unbranched stem with stalked flowers growing along it)
Ovary position
the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
Fruit type (specific)
the fruit is a capsule (splits along two or more seams, apical teeth or pores when dry, to release two or more seeds)
Fruit length
6–10 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Axillary bulblets
    there are no bulblets being produced in axils
  • Flowers
    Bulblets replace flowers
    there are no bulblets where the flowers are located
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused (the number of carpels equals the number of locules)
    Flower petal color
    • green to brown
    • white
    Flower petal length
    4–10 mm
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Form of style
    the flower has two or more completely separate styles
    Fringed petal edges
    the petals are not fringed
    Inflorescence type
    • the inflorescence is a panicle (branched with the individual flowers on stalks)
    • the inflorescence is a raceme (a long unbranched stem with stalked flowers growing along it)
    Marks on petals
    the petals have spots or streaks on them
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of pistils
    3
    Number of styles
    3
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal fusion
    • the perianth parts are fused to form a tube, cup, or bell shape
    • the perianth parts are separate
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals resemble petals in color and texture
    Sepal length
    4–10 mm
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are separate from one another
    Spathe
    the plant does not have a spathe
    Spathe form
    NA
    Stamen length
    1–4 mm
    Stamen number
    6
    Stamen position relative to petals
    NA
    Stamens fused
    the stamens are not fused to one another
    Stamens fused outwards
    the stamens are not fused to the petals or tepals
    Style petal-like
    the style is not broad and flattened like a petal
    Tepals
    the petals and sepals are similar in size and color
  • Fruits or seeds
    Berry color
    NA
    Fruit compartments
    there are three locules in the fruit
    Fruit length
    6–10 mm
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a capsule (splits along two or more seams, apical teeth or pores when dry, to release two or more seeds)
    Other markings on berry
    NA
  • Glands or sap
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
  • Growth form
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Underground organs
    • the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
    • the plant has one or more swollen storage organs underground, such as bulbs, tubers or corms
  • Leaves
    Leaf arrangement
    • alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
    • basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
    Leaf blade basal lobes
    the leaf blades do not have basal lobes
    Leaf blade base
    the leaf blade clasps the stem at the base, or the leaf blade goes all the way around the stem, so that the stem appears to pierce the leaf blade
    Leaf blade base shape
    the base of the leaf blade is cuneate (wedge-shaped, tapers to the base with relatively straight, converging edges), or narrow
    Leaf blade cross-section
    the leaf blade is U- or V-shaped
    Leaf blade faces
    both surfaces of the leaf blade are exposed
    Leaf blade form
    Fully-formed (i.e., expanded), +/- green leaf blades are found somewhere on the plant
    Leaf blade length
    200–700 mm
    Leaf blade shape
    the leaf blade is linear (very narrow with more or less parallel sides)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    the upper side of the leaf blade is relatively uniform in color
    Leaf blade veins
    the lateral veins are parallel or slightly arched in the direction of the tip
    Leaf blade width
    5–30 mm
    Leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets
    Stipule twining
    NA
    Stipules
    there are no stipules on this plant
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    Connecticut
    Specific habitat
    • edges of forests
    • forests
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the leaves have no particular smell
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Flowering stem leaves
    there is at least one fully-formed leaf on the flowering stem

Wetland Status

Occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FAC)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
absent
Massachusetts
absent
New Hampshire
absent
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

None

Native to North America?

Yes and no (some introduced)

Sometimes Confused With

Chamaelirium luteum:
leaf blades spatulate to oblanceolate, 5-20 cm long, and plants from rhizomes (vs. S. gramineum, with leaf blades narrow-linear, 20-70 cm long, and plants from bulbs 30-80 mm long).
Veratrum latifolium

Synonyms

  • Helonias graminea Ker-Gawl.
  • Stenanthium gramineum (Ker-Gawl.) Morong var. micranthum Fern.
  • Stenanthium gramineum (Ker-Gawl.) Morong var. robustum (S. Wats.) Fern.
  • Stenanthium robustum S. Wats.

Family

Melanthiaceae

Genus

Stenanthium

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Stenanthium gramineum (Ker-Gawl.) Morong E

eastern featherbells. Helonias graminea Ker-Gawl.; Stenanthium gramineum (Ker-Gawl.) Morong var. micranthum Fern.; S. gramineum (Ker-Gawl.) Morong var. robustum (S. Wats.) Fern.; S. robustum S. Wats. • CT. Forest openings and clearings.