Dutchman’s Breeches

Hello Friends!Tonight’s feature image is titled “Fairy Pants” because the flowers remind me of Tinkerbell’s laundry. All of the photos are my original work and are available as prints by following the instructions at the bottom of the page.

The forest floor has started to wake up. Each little wildflower I encounter on my short walk today was like a smile from God himself. I spotted wild geranium, trout lily, spring beauty, cohosh, may apples and others that will be covered in future posts.

Today is about Dutchman’s Breeches. The name, of course, comes from the resemblance to pantaloons. When I think about it, it’s easy to imagine that somewhere on the forest floor a tiny fairy sits on a mushroom waiting for her laundry to get dry.

Dutchman’s Breeches have no food or medicinal value that I’m aware of. In fact the USDA warns that they are toxic to livestock. However, that depends on your definition of medicine. Ingesting the plant is certainly not recommended and they don’t really have a pleasant scent if you crush them but the beauty they bring in early Spring is therapeutic for the soul.

Dutchman’s Breeches are also part of the natural calendar that I’ve written about a few times. They’re not edible themselves but they bloom at about the right time to dig ramps. (For my non Appalachian friends, ramps are a strong flavored wild leek). I have know of a patch of ramps close by and will try to get a good photo of them soon ( Which is harder than it sounds because patches of ramps are fiercely guarded by landowners).

Dutchman’s Breeches are an indicator species. Wherever they bloom the soil is going to be slightly acidic. If you wanted to grow something like blueberries and you have Dutchman’s Breeches then you’re going to need soil amendments in order for your blueberries to live. As mentioned above their presence also accompanies several other useful and beautiful woodland herbs. Most of them will be covered on a Forage Friday post but for now we have the beauty of the little white flowers that resemble pants.

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