Stoneseed or Hoary Puccoon
If it were not for the vibrant yellow-orange color of these flowers, you would probably miss this plant completely while walking in woods. I found this little colony of hoary puccoon in bloom in April, near Shawsville, and at the time, I did not know what it was. The plants were growing on a sunny, dry, exposed hillside below some scraggly young trees. I had to go home figure out what they were!
The flowers of hoary puccoon are small, tubular, 5-lobed, and lack a petiole, which means they seem to sit right on the plant rather than being raised above it. The flowers usually appear in clusters. The leaves are small and narrow and covered with short hairs, as is the stem. Individual plants are only 4 to 15 inches in height.
The genus name refers to the little nutlets produced as seed. Lithospermum means stone/seed. The species name canescens refers to the short hairs covering the plant. The common name, hoary refers to the hairy aspect of the plant. Puccoon is an Algonquian name for a plant that produces dyes —Native Americans processed the roots of stoneseed for red or yellow pigment.