Galax, Beetleweed or Wandflower
Identification: Flowers white, with 5 rounded petals. Flowers arranged in a long spike. Leaves large, round, with an indented base. Base of plant with red, scaly bracts. Plant 1 to 2 feet in height.
Distribution: Throughout most of the Appalachian Mountains from West Virginia south to Georgia and Alabama. Also recorded from New York and Massachusetts.
Habitat: Galax is found in mountain forests.Galax is an evergreen herbaceous perennial plant of the Southern Appalachian Highlands, now endangered in the Montreat wilderness. The leaves are in great demand by florists, but cannot be cultivated commercially. Consequently, distributors of floral materials pay teams of pickers to harvest the leaves illegally from public and private land, like the Montreat hiking areas. Serious soil erosion often results from such commercial harvesting, and the galax species may soon become officially endangered.
DESCRIPTION:A spike standing 16 - 24" erect from low lying dark evergreen leaves, the flower cluster conatins flowers that are only 1/16" wide, with 5 petals united at the base.
FLOWERS:May to July
HABITAT:Open and rocky deciduous woods.
NOTE:The species name was recently changed from aphylla to rotundifolia.