Some of my favorite spring flowers–and I have many favorites–are painfully shy, hiding inconspicuous blossoms under showy leaves.
Solomon’s seal (pictured above) is quite lovely, dangling clusters of small, whitish blossoms resembling lily of the valley…but you have to crouch to your knees to see them. Jack-in-the-pulpit (pictured right) is similarly reclusive, hiding a greenish spadix inside a green-streaked spathe, the entire arrangement shaded by the plant’s large, compound leaves.
Most of us associate the word “flower” with something showy and colorful: a splash of color that clamors to be noticed. But both Solomon’s seal and Jack-in-the-pulpit are masters of modesty, sheltering and concealing their reproductive parts rather than flaunting them for all to see. How many people have passed these two species growing right alongside a residential sidewalk, unaware that plant sex was happening beneath their eyes?